ThinkPad 10 Tablet

ThinkPad 10 Tablet is the newest addition to my gadget harem. This Windows 8.1 (full, not RT) device has a 10.1” 1920 x 1280 IPS touch screen, but weighs a scant 1.3 lbs and is a svelte .35” thin. The TP10 has an advanced Bay Trail processor (Z3795) + long (> 7 hours) battery life. The piece de resistance, an active digitizer for note-taking. Here are my initial thoughts.

Configuration purchased

SKU:  20C1002RUS

OS: Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit (Standard and 32 bit available )

Storage: 128 GB (64 GB also available)

RAM: 4 GB (2 GB also available)

Mobile Laptop

I’m using the TP10 as a mobile laptop. Yes, it’s a tablet only, but there is a keyboard accessory (more on that below). With the keyboard, the TP10 replaces my Surface Pro 2, which I sold to a co-worker.

Comparing the TP10 with the SP2, the TP10 is thinner (.35” vs. .53”) and lighter (1.3 lbs vs. 2 lbs). Admittedly, the TP10 also has a smaller display (10.1” vs. 10.6”), but I don’t find the .5” difference in screen size meaningful.

The TP10’s Bay Trail processor is less powerful than the SP2’s Core i7, but has greater battery life, about 7 hours in my usage. This is the usual power vs. battery life trade-off between the two processors. These two graphs from TabletPCReview illustrate:

Processor using PCMark 7 test (higher score = better performance)PCM 7

Battery using PowerMark test (higher score = longer lifeperformance)

powermark

I’m not using Photoshop or CAD or other applications where Bay Trail may falter where Core i7 won’t. I do find myself often in places where plugging in to power is inconvenient if not available. So for my usage, the greater battery life is more meaningful. Of course, YMMV.

Digital Inking

But the TP10 is not just another mobile laptop. It has an active digitizer. That means the ability to use it as a tablet to take digital ink notes, such as in OneNote. The TP10’s Wacom pen is very smooth on the screen.

When digital inking, I have two use cases:

  1. Standing, and holding the device in one hand, and inking with the other.
  2. Sitting, with the device flat on the table.

In the first use case, the TP10’s thinness and lightness shines. The TP10 is easier to hold in one hand while standing than the SP2.

The 10.1” screen size is on the small side for inking. Ideally, I prefer a screen size that resembles an 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper. However, that translates to a 14” screen size, unwieldy to be held in one hand while standing. Again, a trade-off, here between inking area and the device being easy to hold. I think 10.1” is in the optimum range, though a case could be made for other screen sizes as high as 12” (Surface Pro 3), particular with a different aspect ratio (3:2 vs. the TPT’s 16:10). Still, for inking in portrait mode, 16:10 is preferable to the usual 16:9 as the virtual paper is wider. Again, YMMV.

One negative is the TP10 has no silo for pen. However, two of the accessories do. More on that below.

Quickshot Cover

The Quickshot cover ($45) functions very similarly to the iPad smart cover. I use it for similar purposes: (1) a lightweight screen cover for transport; (2) the Quickshot cover puts the TP10 to sleep when it covers the screen; (3) the Quickshot cover can be opened and folded in back of the TP10 during use, actually enhancing the grip on the TP10. The Quickshot cover, like the smart cover, attaches magnetically, both on the spine and (I believe) the closure end.

As the image shows, the corner of the Quickshot cover can be peeled back to uncover the rear lens and activate the camera app. However, I don’t really use it for that purpose.

The cover can also be folded over to double as a stand. However, it’s not very secure, often collapsing after only slight movement or pressure.

The Quickshot cover has a loop where you can store the pen. The loop works, but it’s rather cheap. I’m concerned that the pen is not protected, and in a case could catch something and bend or break.

The Quickshot cover, like the iPad smart cover, is useful for protection, though I think it’s over-priced.

Ultrabook Keyboard Dock

 

The Ultrabook Keyboard Dock ($120) is, first and foremost, a keyboard. Despite its relatively small size (to match the TP10), it’s a pretty good keyboard, at least comparable, if not better, than the TypeCover keyboard that is used with the SP2.

The keyboard props the TP10 up at only one angle. The TP10 is held securely, and the angle that the TP10 screen is tilted is OK. However, there are no options for the tilting angle, unlike the two on the SP2 and the unlimited on the SP3.

Microsoft has touted the Surface Pro 3 as “lapable.” The TP10 with the keyboard isn’t very “lapable.” You really need to use it on a solid, flat surface such as a table top.

The keyboard has two other functions. First, it acts as a cover when transporting the TP10. The TP10, horizontal, slots in by the keyboard channel via magnets. However, the magnets are not very strong. I probably won’t use the keyboard as a cover during transport. Instead, I’ll use the Quickshot cover, and just put the keyboard separately in my gadget bag. By contrast, the TypeCover keyboard does a great job as a cover when transporting the SP2.

Second, the keyboard has a silo for the pen. This is useful, particularly because the device doesn’t have a silo, and the Quickshot cover just has a cheap loop.

The keyboard, like the TypeCover, has a mechanical connection with the device. No batteries, no Bluetooth, no cables.

You have to remove the Quickshot cover to use the keyboard as they both attach to the same side of the TP10.

I believe that the keyboard is a good purchase.

Desktop Dock

I returned the desktop dock ($120). It adds three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, and Ethernet input. However, the TP10 did not seem stable in it. Other negatives: (1) You can’t use the Ultrabook Keyboard Dock with the desktop dock (they both connect to the same side as the TP10), so you need another external keyboard, and (2) the tip of the power adapter that goes with (and supplied with) the desktop dock is the standard Lenovo power tip, larger than the power adapter tip that goes with the TP10, meaning yet another power adapter to keep track of.

Final Thoughts

The TP10 isn’t cheap. If you just want a small tablet/laptop, keep moving, nothing for you here. The TP10’s niche is a thin, light tablet with an active digitizer and excellent battery life. If that’s what you’re looking for, the TP10 is an interesting alternative to the Surface Pro 3. I’ve also ordered the SP3, and it’s supposed to ship by August 1, so when I receive it, I will post my comparison.

1 Responses to “ThinkPad 10 Tablet”


  • Robert D. Schwartz

    Very insightful article Jeff! This background information will go a long way in helping me pick my new tablet. I am often in need of a mobile computer as I often move between my home and the office, and the “scant” weight and “svelte” nature of this tablet really appeal to me. However, I do enjoy photoshopping the ocassional snowman or two so the weak processor definitely worries me. Just a quick question, do you find that the ThinkPad is as child friendly as the Microsoft Surface Pro 2? My daughters seem to love playing with it and while I would use it mostly for work, being able to entertain my children on the fly is a definite bonus. Thanks for you help,
    Rob

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