Lenovo has decided to diversify its ThinkPad X1 series into many products and at this years CES we saw around three variants of the same. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is your high end business laptop, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is similar to the Carbon except for the fact that you can now use it in the multi-mode configuration and it comes in an OLED display variant and finally the third and the most interesting variant is the ThinkPad X1 Tablet.
We call it the most interesting because for the first time we are seeing a tablet built with a modular approach in mind. The ThinkPad X1 Tablet comes with three modules namely the Productivity module, the 3D Imaging module and the Projector module. This is in addition to the ThinkPad keyboard and the ThinkPad Stylus Pen.
The ThinkPad stamp is seen all over the X1 Tablet when it comes to the build quality. The tablet sports a 12-inch 2560x1440 pixel display which looks really good. Just like the Surface Pro 4, it comes in the 3:2 aspect ratio. Behind the tablet display, you have a kick stand which although seems inspired by the Surface Pro 4, has a different sort of hinge mechanism. It allows you to orient the tablet the way you want. The tablet measures around 13mm thick and weighs around 1.1kg with the keyboard attached. The X1 tablet seems to have taken the good points from the Microsoft Surface Pro series and the Lenovo Yoga series laptops.
Under the hood you have a fanless design thanks to the Intel Core m series processor - the X1 tablet can house up to Intel Core m7 vPro processor, around 16GB of RAM and you can also add in up to 1TB of PCIe non-volatile memory which is expected to give blazing speeds as it bypasses the SATA port. It runs Windows 10 Pro operating system.
The keyboard cover can be magnetically snapped onto the tablet and does not require much thought. However, attaching the individual modules takes some time as you need to insert the two projections coming out from the edges of these modules and later on lock the clamps behind them to ensure that the module is firmly attached to the tablet.
The Projector module houses a pico-projector with around 50 Lumens of brightness and Lenovo claims that it can throw up to 60-inches of display from a distance of two meters. Of course, the sharpness at such a large distance is questionable, but we found that for a distance of around 3-4 feet, the display was bright and quite sharp, despite ambient lighting at the demo zone.
The 3D imaging module houses an Intel RealSense 3D camera and when attached to the X1 Tablet, the camera portion points to the region behind the tablet display. Lenovo’s idea is that it can be used for 3D scanning objects by placing them behind the tablet.
The Productivity module claims to increase the rated 10-hour battery life of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet by an additional 5 hours. Of course, we can only confirm this claim after testing the device. But in addition to housing a battery, the Productivity module also comes with a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI out port on one side, a OneLink port which can be connected to a professional dock.
In terms of the keyboard build quality, if felt like we were using an actual ThinkPad laptop, complete with the TrackPoint experience. The Keyboard comes in multiple back colours as well. In terms of ports on the X1 Tablet, you have a USB 3.0 port, a USB Type C port for charging, an audio jack, a mini DisplayPort, a microSD card slot and an LTE-Advanced slot as well.
Touch and Stylus response was quite smooth and the Stylus makes the X1 tablet appealing to artists and design professionals as well.
The ThinkPad X1 Tablet will start selling from February from $899 onwards (approx Rs 60,000). The Productivity Module will be available starting February from $149 (approx Rs 10,000). The Projector Module will be available starting May from $279 (approx Rs 18,500). The 3D Imaging Module will be available starting May from $149 (approx Rs 10,000).
In terms of a hybrid device, Lenovo has really added a lot of value to the ThinkPad X1 Tablet, specially with the multiple modules. The various modules add the tablet's appeal to various kinds of professionals. According to Lenovo, the tablet was designed keeping in mind the need of professionals and to give more choice to professionals who have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy at their places of work. Lenovo has said that it will ensure that the modules are compatible with its future X1 tablets.
The tablet certainly ticks all the right boxes when it comes to a professional grade 2-in-1. The use of the processor to Intel Core m series may seem limiting to some, but it certainly helps the tablet have a fanless design which would eventually help in keeping a slim profile and give longer battery life. How the experience translates into the real world use scenarios, we can only tell after we test the device.
Pricing of the tablet starting from Rs 60,000 (US converted) without the modules will certainly be a challenge, in the sense that then it will be competing with its own ThinkPad series laptops (as the price along with all modules goes close to a lakh). The pricing of the Microsoft Surface Pro will either prove to be a challenge or an opportunity.
But as a stand alone product, the ThinkPad X1 Tablet certainly brings some innovation to the table in the tablet category. How it will play out, we will only know once the tablet starts selling next month onwards.
Disclaimer: The correspondent is at CES 2016, Las Vegas. All travel and accommodation expenses are borne by Lenovo.