Hands On With New Thinkpad Honeycomb Tablet [Video]

by: Darcy LaCouveeJuly 24, 2011
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The Thinkpad brand is one of the strongest brands in the world of business related technology. Recently, we got a chance to check out this new business oriented tablet, and we have to say we’re impressed. Designed from the ground up for road warriors and boardroom suit-clad types alike, at first glance, it’s pretty easy to see that the design of the original Thinkpad notebooks will carry over. Clearly, this is one serious looking tablet. Does it have what it takes? Read on to find out more.

Lenovo Thinkpad Specs

Sporting specs similar to virtually every other Android Honeycomb tablet on the market, the Lenovo Thinkpad tablet features the following:

  • 1280 x 800 pixels IPS screen
  • 1Ghz dual core Tegra 2 CPU
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 16/32/64 GB storage options
  • 2MP front facing camera
  • 5MP back capable of 720p recording

Key Differentiators 

Although the specs above will have you thinking that this is just like every other Android tablet on the market, there are some key differentiators that are likely to make this tablet well received by those looking for a serious mobile computing companion. These features include:

  • Gorilla Glass protective layer
  • a built in N-trig screen digitizer (the optional stylus is pressure sensitive)
  • a full size USB port together with microUSB
  • mini HDMI and micro SD slot
  • optional SIM card slot for 3G/HPSA+ connectivity

Additionally, the Thinkpad tablet will include 4 dedicated hardware buttons for Android Honeycomb 3.1, which come preinstalled, naturally. The 3250 mAh battery will offer nearly 9 hours under moderate to heavy usage, even with WiFi turned on. In terms of connectivity, this business oriented tablet will feature WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS. as well as a model with 3G connectivity via a SIM card slot.

While certainly not the thinnest tablet to hit the market at 14 mm thick and weighing in at 715 grams, it’s likely that this will not sway the millions of business professionals looking for a serious productivity powerhouse. With the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet, productivity is the name of the game. Additionally, it will weigh an additional 15 grams if the 3G modem is built in.

Hands on video

One of the reasons why the Asus Eee Pad Transformer is selling so well is because it features additional productivity functionality (as well as increased battery life) via its keyboard dock accessory, as well as being one of the best priced tablets on the market currently. Things are looking to be similar for the Thinkpad tab, as a dock connector on the bottom of the tablet will be used to dock the tablet into a charging station that adds an additional USB port. Plus, for $99 you’ll be able to pickup the Keyboard portfolio case with a full size keyboard (pictured above), that is of  the chiclet variety, similar to the one on the Lenovo Ideapad laptops, as well as an optical trackpoint. The tablet will dock into the keyboard via the USB port and the angle of the screen will be adjustable.

Lenovo’s business oriented custom app store

With so many Honeycomb tablets hitting the streets each month, every manufacturer attempts to differentiate their offering by overlaying a custom UI, or having unique features that are theirs alone. The ThinkPad tablet is no different, and comes with quite a few excellent apps on board to start with. Here’s a few of the good ones:

  • Documents to Go (suite for editing Word, Powerpoint, Excel file and viewing PDF files, $30 value offered for free)
  • MyScript Notes Mobile (notes taking and handwriting conversion to text)
  • USB Data Transfer Utility (copy files to/from USB flash drives connected to the Thinkpad Tablet)
  • Lenovo Launch Zone (customizable shortcuts widget)
  • Lenovo Social Touch (suite of widgets for PopMail, Google Maps, Google Calendar and a few others)
  • Favorite Apps (displays some kind of carousel of most used apps)
  • User Data and SD card encryption (self-explanatory)
  • WiFi Import and Export (transfer utility for Windows 7 systems)

Further to this list of apps above, Lenovo has created the Lenovo App Shop, which is essentially an Android app store that features titles that have been tested specifically for compatibility and security. Similar to the approach of Amazon, Lenovo has moved forward with this idea, and will likely add its own business oriented offerings there sooner rather than later.

Pricing and availability

Preorders for the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet will begin on August 2nd, and shipping will occur within the same month. There will be three versions, including 16, 32 and 64 GB variants, all with WiFi, and starting at $499. If you want to grab the active digitizer stylus, you can look forward to spending another $30. Unfortunately, as is normal these days, if you want the 3G version, than you will have to wait for what is still an undefined period of time.

Any thoughts? Sounds like Lenovo is getting serious about the Android tablet space. Will you be picking one of these up come August?


  • RexGene

    This kind of is like the best of the transformer and the toshiba tablet, with the full usb port :)

  • skinflint

    Looks good to me but I think I will wait for a price drop and 3g

  • Mark Thistlewaite

    I realize that the title says “hands on”, but the statements indicate a literature review. “Things are looking to be similar for the Thinkpad tab, as a dock connector on the bottom of the tablet”.
    The keyboard charging station is a key differentiator for me, I am a road warrior and want equipment that will last on a TransCon flight, and have reserve for the Europe/Asia hops.

  • So compared to the Transformer this adds a digitizer and USB on the device, but loses the added battery of the dock (which has two USB ports).
    The digitizer isn’t valuable enough for me to make this win over the Transformer.

    • Anonymous

      My take is that the battery is “good enough” for a day’s work, and if more is needed, there are aftermarket USB battery packs. Transformer’s battery life can thus be retrofitted to the Thinkpad, but you can’t do it the other way: no grafting ports and an active digitizer onto the Transformer.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been looking around for a business tablet, and this looks to be it, thanks to the active digitizer pen, which is the only viable pen input method (apart from a LiveScribe pen).

    The other active digitizer tablets all have severe drawbacks: Windows 7 “ergonomy” (I use the terme loosely), pokey Atom or short battery life for the Core ones (Asus EP121 = 3hrs !), and price all around, even for the lone ARM entrant, the 7″ HTC Flyer (which is probably too small anyway).

    For professionals who can make do without Windows, this looks like a winner. Pending pricing, availability, and hands-on “hidden defect” check, I’ll be getting one.

    • shonangreg

      Have you seen any good demonstrations of the stylus and digitizer? The video here didn’t show it at all. The one I saw on lenovo’s site just gave a small taste. We need to be able to see and listen to some fast handwriting and some quick drawings being made. If the tap-tap-tap of the stylus on the glass is not too loud or the handwriting tracing not too unresponsive, then yeah, this is the best tablet available for a while.

      Apps for the digitizer do seem to remain a problem, though. The included MyNotes looks to only work with its own proprietary file format, not a portable html5. And I can’t see that it can import images and do OCR on those. We may have to wait for adobe to come out with Adobe Journal and whatever else they’re working on. If it takes them till next Spring to do that, though, then by then we’ll be able to get a Tegra 3 system with Ice Cream. The 1Q 2012 tablet is going to be a great gaming platform as well.

  • Roberthooper

    As usual, those of us who simply want a tablet tethered only to a reliable mobile phone system, we will have to go.to the back of the queue.
    Mobile phone companies such as.T-mobile are only interested in shoving their huge surfeit of internet cell phones, yet it is they who control the necessary 3G broadband network.
    If there’s any chance of tmobile pulling.. their finger out and supplying us with the new technology before it’s obsolete I’d like to hear about it.
    Would-be customers have been let down badly so that anything bigger than a cell phone is beyond their Marketing boys to understand…. Or be bothered with.
    Robert in Stamford.

    • shonangreg

      How can a tablet make any difference on this — short of having a virtual SIM card that can be easily shifted between devices? Are you implying this tablet cannot tether to a phone? It seems getting the phone and a data plan are the challenge there — unrelated to what is in that regard, an open, unlocked tablet.