The Lenovo ThinkPad 8 is a small Windows tablet that kind of breaks the mold. While Acer, Dell, Toshiba, and even Lenovo have launched low-cost Windows 8 tablets with 8 inch screens and Intel Bay Trail processors in the past few months, the ThinkPad 8 has a better screen, optional support for more storage, and better support for external displays or docking stations than the competition. It also has a slightly larger screen.
But the ThinkPad 8 is also a bit pricier. Lenovo is now offering the ThinkPad 8 with 64GB of storage for $429.
Lenovo’s expected to offer a $399 model with 32GB of storage eventually, as well as a higher-priced model with 128GB. You can also use a microSD card for extra storage.
All models have the same 8.3 inch, 1920 x 1200 pixel display (with a very thin screen bezel), 2GB of RAM, 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and 20.5Whr batteries for up to 8 hours of run time. The tablets have microSD, micro USB, and micro HDMI ports, and they’re designed to work with Lenovo accessories including a magnetic cover that turns off the display as soon as it’s closed, and which fires up the camera app when you lift the corner covering the rear camera.
Lenovo will also offer a docking station that lets you connect a keyboard, mouse, display and other peripherals if you want to use the tablet as a desktop. What Lenovo doesn’t plan to offer is an official ThinkPad 8 keyboard.
The company figures an 8 inch tablet is really designed for handheld use — if you want a laptop replacement, you’ll probably want a model with a larger display. I can’t say I disagree. I tried using the 8 inch Dell Venue 8 Pro with an external keyboard and mouse for a few days, and found the experience kind of painful thanks to the small screen and sharp text. Small, sharp displays work better when you hold them closer to your eyes than you normally would with a laptop.