Lenovo ThinkPad Helix unboxing and first impressions

Jun 19, 2013
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Lenovo ThinkPad Helix unboxing and first impressions

This week we're taking a look at the latest and greatest from Lenovo in the Ultrabook and convertible space for Windows 8 computing. Their new and fancy ThinkPad Helix was shown off plenty at CES, but today we're giving it another peek in its final shipping form. Keyboard dock and all. The Helix is a full Windows 8 machine classified as an Ultrabook, that doubles as a powerful Win 8 tablet so read on for our thoughts.

A laptop that features a neat little "rip and flip" option to go from regular laptop mode in tablet overdrive. Now that's something we enjoy. It passed the FCC in December and we got our hands-on it at CES but now we're giving this expensive device a second look. Hopefully you've been saving up, because it's priced higher than similar devices like the Dell XPS 12 Convertible, and even the similar Lenovo Yoga 11S. Why? Read on and watch the video below to find out.

The ThinkPad Helix comes with some pretty top-tier specs given the size and options it offers. With an 11.6-inch 1920 x 1080p full HD IPS display, Intel's Core i5 (3427U) processor, 4-8GB of DDR3 RAM and 256GB of SSD storage it is stacked. Add in a full copy of Windows 8 (no RT junk here) stylus support, dual 1080p front and rear cameras, NFC, and the option to make this Ultrabook into a full-out tablet, and you'll now see why they're asking over $1,679 for the base model. Oh and to get that i7 processor and 8GB of RAM you'll be spending a big $2,000 USD here. So now you know the specs, lets take a look.

The tablet itself offers 6 hours of average battery life, as quoted by Lenovo, and once added to the keyboard dock you'll get an additional 4 for 10 hours of continuous usage. Which is plenty. Then being able to "rip and flip" the 11.6-inch HD display around the device can continue to be used as a tablet (albeit a heavy one) for the same period if docked into the keyboard.

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We already know plenty about Window 8 at this point, and you can get Win 8 Pro on the more expensive Helix. So instead we'll talk about the hardware. It's gorgeous, well built, and feels rock solid. The tablet being 1.8 lbs and the dock about the same the entire package comes in under 4 lbs. Sadly the keyboard dock is as bare as they come. Aside from having the usual red Lenovo trackpoint nub, more battery, and two tiny fans for additional ventilation there's nothing special about it. In fact, it seems rather cheap and plastic feeling, and doesn't have a lot of weight to it and can be overpowered slightly by the tablet.

If the keys were backlit and there was an SD slot, then we'd be in luck, but sadly neither of those are features. However, the keyboard dock does have two full-size USB ports, as well as Display Port for second screen usage all on the rear. The trackpad feels rather steady though, which is extremely important, and the chicklet style keyboard is familiar and comfortable. Oh and did we mention it runs Ivy Bridge, and not the new Haswell? That's a bummer.

It's more of a tablet than a laptop or Ultrabook, but it can essentially do both quite well. So does it stack up, and is it worth the high sticker price? That's up to you but stay tuned for our full review to help you decide.


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