Lenovo has used the Consumer Electronics Show to showcase its latest Windows 8-inspired designs previously, and this year is no different. The top PC maker is refining its Yoga range, but it’s also taking a slightly different approach to detachable laptops. Lenovo is launching its new Miix 2 range with lots of magnets and modes designed to compliment the mixed PC and tablet experience of Windows 8.1. There’s a choice between 10.1-inch and 11.6-inch models, and both work as a tablet that attaches to a keyboard dock. It might sound like the usual type of Windows 8 hybrid, but Lenovo is using magnets to attach the tablet to the dock instead of complex hinges or other mechanisms.
Both models slot into place with the use of a magnet, allowing you to use it in the traditional laptop or a stand modes. The magnet connectors look similar to the kind that Microsoft is using on its Surface products, and they feel sturdy enough to keep the tablet in place. The weird part of this design is when you attempt to pack it away. With a traditional laptop you simply push the display towards the keyboard and it all snaps away thanks to the hinge. With the Miix 2 you can take the same approach, but it’s slips out of one magnet and attaches to another in an odd changing of the guard. Although it supports two modes in the dock, a flat tablet-style mode doesn’t work. It tries to attach, but it’s clearly not designed to slot into that particular orientation. That might be confusing or disappointing for some, but you can always separate it from the dock and use it as a regular tablet.
The 10.1-inch feels like Microsoft’s Surface 2 tablet, with an angular complexion and sharp corners, but it’s using plastic in place of aluminum in a 1.3 pound package. It’s not heavy, but it’s not surprisingly light either, it feels about right for this type of size. The real differences between the 10.1-inch and 11.6-inch versions aren’t just the displays, which both support 1920 x 1200 resolution. The smaller model uses an Intel Bay Trail processor and the bigger version is making use of an Intel i5 processor. Whereas the 10.1-inch model comes with 2GB of RAM, the 11.6-inch model can be configured to support up to 8GB of RAM. With larger options for SSD storage on the 11.6-inch model, there’s clearly some tradeoffs in performance if you opt the smaller and lighter version. Both also support optional 3G / LTE.
A Windows laptop that charges via USB
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the 11.6-inch version is that it charges using a USB 3.0 port. While smaller Windows tablets take advantage of micro USB, it’s unusual to find full-size USB port that also supports charging on a Windows laptop. Both models also include a mini HDMI port, and the 10.1-inch version includes a micro USB port with an integrated USB connector on the keyboard dock. Lenovo says it’s shipping the 10.1-inch model with the keyboard dock for $499, but the 11.6-inch model will be sold without it for a base price of $799. Given you’re more likely to use the power and size of the 11.6-inch model as a laptop replacement, it’s an odd decision not to include it by default. The 10-inch Miix 2 will be available in March, with the 11-inch model shipping in April.
Alongside the new Mixx 2 line, Lenovo is also introducing the second versions of its Yoga convertible laptops. An 11.6-inch Yoga 2 model includes Intel’s quad-core Pentium processor with a 1366 x 768 display resolution, whereas the 13.3-inch version takes advantage of the latest Core i5 processor and includes 1920 x 1080 resolution. They’re not as powerful as the Yoga 2 Pro, but at $549 for the 11.6-inch and $999 for the 13.3-inch version they’re a lot more affordable. The 11.6-inch Yoga 2 will launch later this month, with the 13.3-inch model to follow in February.