Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2 End User Review

Discussion in 'Mobile Devices & Gadgets' started by ettescott, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. ettescott

    ettescott Member

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    I've had it for a couple weeks and here are my thoughts:

    BUILD QUALITY
    I love the build quality. The plastic feels very nice and everything about the tab feels like its going to last. Its light and doesn't feel bulky.


    SPACE
    Although it came with a 64GB HDD, only about 40GB was available. About 15 was taken up by the OS. Another 8 or so was taken up by a recovery partition. I could not remove the recovery partition in disk manager. I was also unable to boot from my win8 install on a usb stick even though I was able to change the boot order in bios. I'm looking into that a bit further.

    Update: I was able to remove the recovery partition by going to Recovery in the Control Panel and creating recovery media using a USB drive. When finished, it gave me the option to delete the recovery partition, thereby freeing up about 8 GB. I also discovered that my usb drive was loaded up with a 64bit OS and that's probably why it didn't load. I don't have access to a 32bit windows installation so I was unable to test that. I'm satisfied with being able to remove the recovery partition, though. Extra Lenovo apps were easy enough to remove as well, so I basically have a clean install.

    SCREEN
    The screen looks nice, has great viewing angles, and gets plenty bright for outdoor viewing. The screen is 720p, which means its great for video viewing and other everyday tasks, but much crisper, higher resolution displays are available on the market. The 16:9 ratio makes the tablet awakward in portrait mode. Additionally, if you look closely, its noticeable that the lcd is recessed. There is likely an additional digitizer layer between the lcd and glass (for the pen input). When booting (and the screen is primarily black), there's a great deal of backlight bleeding, but thats the only time that ive noticed it. Overall, i like the screen, and think its a great option for everything except extended reading. This tablet is definitely not a kindle replacement.

    PEN
    This is the feature that drew me to this tablet the most. Other tablets with the pen option were bigger and heavier. The pen had fantastic response in OneNote 2010. Just as smooth as my old laptop with an i5 processor. Response in OneNote 2013 (preview)wasnt as great. Inking was a little laggy. But Office 2013 is still in Preview so it's too early to judge. The pen itself is small. Its about the size of one of those skinny skinny pens that you stick in your pocket. There is a trigger button on it. However, there didnt seem to be an eraser button. Im curious to see if a larger wacom pen with an eraser would work out of the box.
    The pen is indispensible for desktop apps. Little things like roll-over interfaces on web pages, which are impossible to navigate using touch, are no problem with the pen. Desktop apps are also a bit small on a 10 inch screen so even a button as large as the close window button (the 'x' in the top right corner) is hard to hit with your finger.

    Update: Inking lag seems to be fixed in the final release of OneNote 2013.

    SPEAKERS
    I was pleasantly surprised by the speakers. I was expecting a single speaker only suitable for voice (as ive seen in buisiness ultrabooks), but this tablet has stereo speakers that perform well for a mobile device. Poor bass, of course, but the volume seemed good and even playing music at the highest level, i didnt notice any anoying crackling or distortion.

    BATTERY LIFE
    Great! Kudos to Intel (and Lenovo) for pulling off a device with such great battery life. Ive used both an Ipad and the Vivo Tab RT and i havent noticed any difference in mobility battery-wise. I havent tested it, but Id imagine it gets the 10 hrs advertized. I havent noticed any battery loss in standby mode either.

    GAMING
    As of yet, there doesnt seem to be anything graphic intensive in the app store, but Angry Birds and Cut the Rope play well :) For desktop games, google 'games that run on a netbook'. Those are your potential options, with one hitch: I couldnt get games that run in a resolution smaller than 1366x766 to scale (fill) the screen. Diablo 2 and Starcraft played in a tiny window. Torchlight (1) plays well. Balsurs Gate 2 works with widescreen and large fonts hacks, but things are a bit small at that high resolution(but the pen helps with that). Baldur's Gate Enhanced did not run. Modern games like Skyrim and SC2 were unplayable. Scaling (for low resolution games) might be fixed in a futer driver update, but thats far from gauranteed.

    PERFORMANCE
    This is where its hard to decide what to say. Basically, you get the performance of a netbook (atom processor), which is plenty for mobile-optimized apps(ie angry birds), but inadequate for any extensive desktop applications(ie photoshop, engineering applications). The tablet zipped through the Modern interface, and quickly loaded internet explorer and other modern apps. Office applications loaded before i could count to 3. The tablet came preloaded with some Lenovo software. Nothing seemed bloated, but i removed it all and disabled any lenovo services without a hitch. Continue reading for more on performance.

    Note: I haven't actually tested photoshop or any engineering applications.

    OVERALL EXPERIENCE

    Tablet
    Apps ran well for the better part. Understandably, the experience wasnt as seemless as Windows 8 on my i7 desktop: the music app, for example, had a bit of lag in between transitions. I also used a Vivo Tab RT for about three weeks, and i dont remember noticing lag like i have on the think tab 2. That, as well, makes sense, because although full windows 8 does incorporate great memory management and other optimization features, it isnt designed specifically for a mobile processor, where windows RT is designed for such. I also observed that desktop applications easily interfered with the rest of the experience. It was easy for a desktop app installer or other desktop application to use up most of the cpu, and interfer with other 'mobile' apps, causing stuttering in music playing, for example.

    Desktop
    Office applications ran seemlessly. They started up before i could count to 3, and were very responsive. File explorer and the rest of the desktop experience was good, but the performance is relatable to a netbook. Thumbnails take a moment to show up, for example.
    Unfortunately, I've seen the blue screen of death just less than a handful of times. It came up a couple of times when the machine became unresponsive while in the music app. It also happened once while installing an application on the desktop and multitasking in some random apps. All in all, ive had to hard boot the machine at least five times in the last couple of weeks. A number of times, the modern UI has become unresponsive for up to 20 seconds, as well. I would relate it to the old 'explorer.exe' crash (and restarting itself). Swiping in from the right brings up the charms menu, but none of the buttons respond. With a little bit of patience, the interface became responsive again. Windows 8, as well as the think tab 2's drivers, are all somewhat infantile, so it wouldn't be surprising if stability problems are shortly remedied by software updates.

    Conclusion:
    I really enjoy this tablet and will keep it. Its light, feels great in the hands, and will go everywhere i go. It has a pen and is a fantastic OneNote taker. It runs full windows and gives a tinkerer like me something to do :) Im a bit underwhelmed by the performance of the Atom processor, but for me the sacrifice of battery life, form factor, and weight just isnt worth the power of a core series processor. On the other hand, none of the WindowsRT devices include pen support (in addition, Office RT doesnt support simultaneous recording and notetaking in OneNote). So here it is: the very well-built thinkpad tablet 2. Not cutting edge technology, but a well-built maching that will fit the needs of certain people quite well.


    Feedback: have you seen the BSOD or experienced freezing on your clover trail or windows 8 tablet?


    Follow up (June 2013): This tablet is still great! I can't remember the last time that I had to cold boot the device due to an error or freezing. From time to time, I am reminded that its only running an Atom processor, but overall the performance has been enjoyable. I finally took another look at Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition and --with a tweak or two-- was able to get it playable, which has been lots of fun.

    Looking ahead, this device is great and well worth its cost. Its unfortunate that Lenovo never released a keyboard-battery-dock for the TPT2, and neither did they offer digitizer (pen) options for any of their other Windows 8 slate devices (helix, lynx). Considering that Intel flashed a reference model Haswell-based(ultrabook processor), fanless tablet design at a recent conference, it won't be too long before a windows 8 tablet with a good form factor and some reliable versatile performance is released (I would guess, 2014--if were lucky someone will announce a device for q4 2013). I believe the next gen Atom devices with a substantial performance increase from these current gen Clover trail tablets are to be released soon, as well (delivering most notable higher screen resolutions--Intel demoed 2560x1440 on their reference silvermont tablet).

    Update, aug 2013: I got baldurs Gate enhanced edition to be playable. It was some kind of ini tweak. I don't recall which ini setting it was , though. BG:EE is super enjoyable on a tablet.
     
    #1 ettescott, Jan 12, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
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  3. podspi

    podspi Golden Member

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    When I first purchased my Samsung ATIV 500t it was crashing ~ 3 times a day. I almost returned it, but it was getting a ton of updates (still is), and now it doesn't crash at all.


    From what I've heard, there was some showstopping issues w/ Clover Trail, and that Samsung and Lenovo were going to be first out of the gate. Unfortunately that also means we get to be their beta testers...

    I know Samsung has an update suite that you need to get the latest updates (they don't post the latest ones on their website), Lenovo might have something similar. You might want to install it.
     
  4. ettescott

    ettescott Member

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    Podspi, thanks. I'll try reinstalling Lenovo's extra update software and see if it has anything for me. I'm just leery of extra software when the tablet already has so little resources. I haven't had any crashing issues in the last number of days. The only problem I've had is with the music app streaming my music from Xbox music pass. Its been quite buggy. The newest app update improved performance though :)

    update: Lenovo didn't have any updates for my system. I haven't had a BSOD for quite some time. I think it was usually the music app that caused it. The touchscreen was unresponsive the other day but worked after a reset. All in all the problems are infrequent and they seem to be software/driver issues more than anything. I'll be checking windows and Lenovo updates regularly though :)
     
    #3 ettescott, Jan 12, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
  5. podspi

    podspi Golden Member

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    You could also check their website for updates (especially BIOS, at least in my case).

    Chances are Lenovo has a better webpage than Samsung's.
     
  6. ettescott

    ettescott Member

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    My latest endeavor is to boot from a usb drive. I've disabled secure boot, but no luck. The drive boots fine on my desktop. I've tried booting a windows 8 usb installer as well as an androidx86 live usb. Neither one has worked. Disabling all boot devices other than usb just leaves the system waiting for boot media. I'm wondering if its a BIOS flaw and secure boot isn't actually disabled.
     
  7. tabletjunkie

    tabletjunkie Junior Member

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    I have the TPT2 as well and love it other than the regular freezes. It seems to happen most consistently when I am in the Modern UI IE app. It becomes totally unresponsive and will recognize no gestures or button input, I have to hard reboot each time. It happens every couple of days. I am crossing fingers that this is something that will be remedied on a not to distant update because I love everything else about this.
     
  8. ettescott

    ettescott Member

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    My recent freezes have been in the modern ui Internet Explorer as well. As a follow up, I gave up on booting from usb, and inking in OneNote 2013 final release is great, if you can get ahold of it.
     
  9. tabletjunkie

    tabletjunkie Junior Member

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    OneNote is such a fantastic program, I live it. You are correct, the digital inking is superb.

    Regarding the freezing. I am going to go a week in the desktop IE and will report back if I experience freezing there. I am wondering if it is modern ui application issue. It would suck because I so love the modern IE.
     
  10. ettescott

    ettescott Member

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    Edit: use the Lenovo charging adapter. It provides more juice than a traditional USB power adapter.
     
    #9 ettescott, Feb 2, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013
  11. WelshBloke

    WelshBloke Lifer

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    Is that using the charger that came with it or are you using a generic usb charger?
     
  12. ettescott

    ettescott Member

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    Good question. I have a few and I've just used what was convenient. I'll do some testing with the factory charger and post my results.

    Update: Battery Gained 4% in 15 min while streaming 720p with screen on full brightness. Trying to drain the battery now for a full charge test, but it just lasts too long!!! ��

    Update: can't keep my hands off it long enough to test charging while not in use. But it charges just fine when using the Lenovo adapter, even while in use, it still charges.
     
    #11 ettescott, Feb 11, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013
  13. aceO07

    aceO07 Diamond Member

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    How's it handle VLC running a 1080p video? Or youtube/netflix HD?
     
  14. ettescott

    ettescott Member

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    I noticed mild stuttering with 1080p h.264 on VLC, but for me it wasn't so bad that it bothered me (btw watching a movie on a mobile 10" screen I hold to a completely different standard than watching on my home theater system). I've watched Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, and YouTube HD on it, and they did well with 720p. Its a 720p screen so no need in my opinion to watch 1080p on it anyways.
     
  15. ChronoReverse

    ChronoReverse Platinum Member

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    I'd imagine if you used a video player with GPU decoding support (i.e., MPC HC), then 1080p video will work fine. VLC only has a software decoder IIRC so it's pretty impressive that 1080p nearly works considering it's an Atom.
     
  16. ArJuN

    ArJuN Platinum Member

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    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I'm currently debating over this and the Surface RT. Are you using a hard keyboard with the Tablet 2?
     
  17. ettescott

    ettescott Member

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    Watched 7 min of Skyfall in 1080p in the native win8 video app and it was smooth and looked great. After just 2 minutes in VLC, though, I surmised that although playback was still good, it didn't seem as fluid and I may have seen slight stuttering once or twice.

    @ArJuN I use the Microsoft wedge keyboard from time to time. Right now I'm just working a seasonal job between school so the TPT2 is just a play device and I don't do a lot of typing. I was impressed by engadget's thoughts on Lenovo's keyboard with stand, though.

    The reason I went with the TPT2 was primarily for the stylus so that I could do my wonderful OneNote inking while back in school.

    What are you looking to use your tablet for?