The Lenovo Miix is more than capable of serving the needs of some people, but it's a definite niche; ultrabooks will be better for many. However, it's light, flexible and corporate-friendly, and its one of the better machines of its kind.
Fast to wake
Generally runs smoothly
Battery life could be better
No always-accessible USB port
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For all of its ups and down, Microsoft's Surface RT was a statement that Windows tablets could be as slim, light and sexy as the iPad, while the Surface Pro offered the full software support we'd expect from a Windows machine in a similar package.
Of course, with the Surface Pro being heavier and more expensive than its RT brother, and offering less battery life, the ideal tablet would be the full Windows 8 OS of the Pro with the light specs of the RT, wouldn't it? That's what Lenovo thought, with this thin, light, Intel-powered full Windows 8 tablet, the Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 10.
Like the Samsung Ativ Smart PC and the Acer Iconia W510, this is based on Intel's new Atom processors, which offer performance and battery capabilities along the lines of what you'd expect from Apple's iPad 4. It's what enables the Lenovo Miix 10 to run Windows 8, but be only 9.9mm (0.4-inches) thick and weigh just 576g (1.27lbs). And like those two machines, it comes with a keyboard, so you can easily turn it into a thin and light laptop substitute.
Pulling the Lenovo Miix out of its box for the first time, the (lack of) size and weight is definitely the first thing you'll notice. It's nearly half the weight of the Surface Pro, and considerably lighter than the Surface RT, Samsung Ativ Smart PC or iPad 4.
The Lenovo Miix offers a 10.1-inch screen, which sits in a glossy all-black front. It's a 16:9 screen, with a resolution of 1366 x 768, meaning that in landscape orientation it looks like most computer monitors, but in portrait orientation it looks severely tall. But then, the Lenovo branding and touch-sensitive Windows button along the wider edges make it clear that it's designed for landscape use.
The back rounds off in shimmering silver plastic that is embarrassingly aesthetically similar to Apple's tablet, save for the speaker strip and lack of rear camera (and removable stickers - seriously, tech companies, give this up), but it looks smart enough.
Along the edges of the device, you have a sleep/wake key, volume controls, a headphone jack, a microSD card slot, a charging plug and a micro HDMI port. There's also a micro USB port, but it's positioned on the bottom edge as part of where the Lenovo Miix connects to its keyboard case, meaning that it's useless when the tablet is in its provided case.
In terms of build quality, this tablet-laptop hybrid feels distinctly average. It doesn't creak or shift under your fingers, but there were a couple of poorly finished edges that felt sharp under our fingers. Still, we wouldn't worry about treating it delicately - it seems hardy enough. That goes double when you use its keyboard case.
The case for the Lenovo Miix is very plastic and corporate, which is fine, because it feels solid and durable along with it. It houses the Miix's keyboard, which is standard Lenovo fare in looks, if a little shallower.
The Lenovo Miix slots in a dock on the keyboard and is held in place with clips - to use it, you open it up and the tablet is held in place by a magnet. This means that the tablet draws power from the Lenovo Miix, rather than containing extra batteries to power the tablet, like the Acer Iconia W510 does.
The case is a fine utilitarian design, and we'll look closer at the keyboard in the Performance section of this review, but we have a couple of gripes. First, we're annoyed that there's no power port in the keyboard, because it'd be great to use it as a kind of docking station, rather than always having the charging cable plugged directly into the tablet.
Our second gripe is that it doesn't hold itself closed in any way - there's no magnet or even a physical latch to stop it flapping open. It's a folio design, so it would be better if it closed properly.
Perhaps more importantly (or less, depending on your intended use), there's no trackpad. This means that you'll be doing all of your interaction through the keyboard or touchscreen (though there is Bluetooth, if you wanted to connect a wireless mouse).
With a full price of £449.99 / US$479 (around AU$765) the Lenovo Miix 10 is well into iPad or Nexus 10 price territory, undercutting the likes of the Samsung Ativ Smart PC considerably. That said, the Surface RT price drop has made it available for under £300 online, so it's got some competition.