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Lenovo ThinkPad 8: Fancier CPU and display take a toll on battery life

Michelle Mastin | April 21, 2014
Sure, you can now use Microsoft Office on an iPad, but you can run Office and just about every other productivity app on a Windows 8 tablet. And while many of those devices have all the same specs, Lenovo is banking on its ThinkPad 8's faster CPU, higher-resolution display, and business-like styling to earn a coveted spot on your desk.

The ThinkPad 8 also fell behind in battery life, likely due to its higher-resolution screen and faster processor. The Thinkpad lasted 6 hours and 48 minutes in our battery-rundown test, well behind the nearly 9 hours of Dell's Venue 8 Pro or the whopping 10 hours of Lenovo's other 8 incher, the Miix 2. A day of reading left me with low battery, needing to plug in by late afternoon.

A well-built tablet 

The ThinkPad 8's build quality is on par for the brand, meaning it's solid and feels like business-class hardware. The top side is fabricated from aluminum, with a rubber edge to soften its feel, but I wish Lenovo had carried that material around to the back of the tablet. The ThinkPad 8 is comparable in thickness and weight to the Dell Venue 8 Pro (0.35 inches and 0.95 pounds respectively), though its longer screen makes it chassis just a little larger (8.83 inches, compared to 8.5 inches for the Venue 8 Pro). But the ThinkPad 8 has none of the chunk factor of the 64GB Toshiba Encore (which weighs 0.98 pounds); it's comfortable to hold in one hand.

There's a capacitive Start button beneath the display, and a front-facing two-megapixel/1080p camera above it. The 8MP/1080p camera on the back is a nice bump from the more typical 5MP rear camera. But the physical volume and lock buttons on the right side (with the tablet in portrait orientation) are recessed a little too deeply into the frame and are difficult to locate by touch.

I/O ports, meanwhile, are scattered haphazardly around three sides: The mini USB 3.0 data and charging port is on the right, the micro-HDMI and micro-SD card slots are on the left, and the headphone jack is on the bottom. If you want to plug in a monitor and external speakers or headphones while you charge the ThinkPad 8, you'll be stuck in upside-down portrait mode.

Cover up

Lenovo's optional Quickshot cover ($35) is terrific. It's similar to Apple's Smart Cover for the iPad, in that it connects to the left side of the tablet via magnets, and it functions as a stand that puts the ThinkPad 8 into "tent" mode for hands-free viewing. Fold down the back corner to expose the rear camera lens, and the tablet automatically goes into camera mode. Unfortunately, the micro HDMI and micro SD card slots are also on the left side, so the cover blocks them. Fortunately, the cover is easy to remove when you do need them. Aside from these small annoyances, I highly recommend that anyone buying a ThinkPad 8 toss a Quickshot cover in their shopping basket, too.

 

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