In spite of its traditionally ultra-conservative appearance, Lenovo's ThinkPad line has always held a special place in the discerning consumer's heart and wishlist. That hallowed pedigree is being invested into a new category of device with the introduction of Lenovo's ThinkPad Tablet range, which will soon be expanded with the arrival of the ThinkPad Tablet 2. Running the full x86 version of Windows 8 and offering full compatibility with desktop apps within a decidedly portable form factor, the Tablet 2 aims to occupy the (small) gap between Microsoft's two Surface tablets: it's less than 10mm thick and offers 10-hour battery life, much like the ARM-based Surface for Windows RT, but maintains desktop app compatibility and all the other business-centric features of the full-fat Intel-based Surface tablet.
Just because you'll be able to run Photoshop on this tablet doesn't mean that you'll want to
How does Lenovo achieve this balance? By compromising on the processor. The Tablet 2 is powered by an Intel Atom processor, which may be the latest 32nm Clover Trail generation, but will still struggle to deliver the same sort of oomph that you'd get from the Ivy Bridge slates that others are producing. In short, just because you'll be able to run Photoshop on this tablet, it's not yet certain that you will want to. Unfortunately, my time with the Tablet 2 couldn't help clear up that question mark due to an early software build. The usual flawless fluidity of the Windows 8 interface was not present on the device I had in hand, so the eventual performance of the Tablet 2 remains somewhat of a mystery.
Less mysterious is the tablet's industrial design, which maintains the classic ThinkPad principles of simplicity and durability. Magnesium, a favored material in Lenovo's high-end laptop range, is used here to provide extra rigidity and stability, while the only physical button gracing the front is Microsoft's Start key. A selection of accessories will also be made available at launch, including a dockable Bluetooth keyboard that doubles as a stand and comes with the fabled TrackPoint nub. That'll be joined by a full-featured dock to expand on the already impressive array of ports scattered around the sides of the Tablet 2. Look for this slate to launch in sync with the Windows 8 launch, which Microsoft has scheduled for October 26th.