A business tablet that needs a bit more work.
Screen and Camera
This beings me to one of my biggest problems with this tablet. I can live with the slightly bulky size. I can hide away the clutter of apps. But I cannot in any way forgive the appalling response time of the touchscreen. This has to be one of the slowest and worst performing screens I have ever seen. From hitting the power button to wake the device to actually swiping to unlock it, it takes at least three seconds for the tablet to realize that I’ve been furiously swiping across in an attempt to unlock it. Even when exiting an app and returning to the home screen, the tablet takes a good few seconds to quit the app and then redraw my icons. All of this happens even from a complete reboot of the device, so it wasn’t that I had a plethora of apps running in the background to slow me down. Moving from landscape to portrait view also took at least two seconds to pull off each time, which was frustrating the more time I spent with the tablet. Even swiping screens at times can be a chore, with the tablet either refusing to recognize my swipes or just finally (and casually) moving from one screen to the next. While you thankfully have a good range of viewing angles of the screen, it becomes next to impossible to read the screen when outdoors, even when there’s no directly sunlight and the brightness set to maximum.
Like most other tablets, the camera on the Lenovo ThinkPad tablet is quite average. The rear 5 megapixel camera wasn’t able to focus on most objects properly, and I love how every time I tapped the button to snap the photo, the app crashed completely, so no sample images I’m afraid. The front-facing camera is also average, and just barely passable for video calls.
Continuing on with the mediocre elements of the tablet, I was really surprised by how poor the lone speaker on this device was. Situated at the lower right of the device next to the USB 2.0 port, this tiny speaker is only good if you’re sitting in a near-quiet place or have locked yourself in a cupboard. So if you’re looking to prop up your tablet and watch an episode of The Big Bang Theory while you reinstall your servers, think again. The only way you’ll get proper audio out of this device is by using external speakers or headphones. I understand that this tablet isn’t being touted as a media consumption device, but is it too hard to at least include a decent speaker?
The battery on the ThinkPad Tablet is supposed to last a little over eight and a half hours of use, and I was able to get about seven hours non-stop usage from it before whittling down the battery to about 5%. This was with Wi-fi always on, watching a few movies, copying music from a USB drive and listening on the device, and with brightness at about 80%. Thankfully, the tablet can be charged via micro-USB or when plugged into the optional dock. Speaking of which, you can purchase a very nifty folio case for he ThinkPad Tablet which includes a nice keyboard and track pointer, effectively turning your Tablet into a kind of ThinkPad laptop. You can also purchase a desktop docking station that props up your tablet for use in portrait mode so that your tablet is always juiced and ready to go.
In the grand scheme of things, it would be harsh to completely dismiss the ThinkPad Tablet. While it does have the signature ThinkPad styling that many of us love, there’s sadly no excuse for the poor response time when trying to get any actual work done on the device. Even if Lenovo pushed out ICS to this tablet, I doubt that it would make much of a difference, thanks in part to the unresponsive screen. But on the flip side, it does pack a decent battery life and has a good selection of ports unlike its rivals, not to mention plenty of apps that can cater to the needs of IT Managers and the like. Though the use of the stylus outside of the writing apps is relegated only to navigation, it’s still a worthy contender if paired with a dock or the keyboard folio. But if you’re looking for a tablet purely for its multimedia use, then you might want to give this one a miss.