Ever since Microsoft unveiled its vision of a touch-friendly future with Windows 8, manufacturers have by and large built two kinds of computers designed for the operating system: hybrid laptops and do-it-all tablets. Lenovo is hoping to perfect the latter of those two options with its ThinkPad 10. First and foremost, this is a 10-inch tablet that fits in with the tried-and-true ThinkPad aesthetic — it has a black aluminum finish and red accents, and it'll probably make you look like you're getting work done even if you're just watching a movie. But this is far from the first tablet to carry the ThinkPad name: two prior generations of this tablet have come and gone, and the ThinkPad 10 joins the recently-released, iPad mini-sized ThinkPad 8.
We were impressed with last year's Thinkpad Tablet 2, and it looks like Lenovo's mending some of our key sticking points with the prior model. Most importantly, the ThinkPad 10 now has a 1,920 x 1,200 IPS display instead of the lackluster unit on the prior generation, and Lenovo's upgraded the processor inside to a quad-core Atom ("Bay Trail") chip from Intel that should better deliver on the promise of using the tablet as a real computer. It's also available with up to 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a digitizer pen. (Digitizer users take note: the tablet no longer has an internal slot for the pen, but Lenovo says it's made the move to increase the diameter of the pen. Some of the accessories do include a pen slot, however.)
Of course, the focus here is once again on transforming the tablet for different use cases. Lenovo's offering a vast array of accessories, of which the most essential is the $129 "Ultrabook Keyboard." The tablet — which is flat on one end to facilitate a connection — snaps into the keyboard dock and is sturdy enough when closed like a clamshell to be carried around. Fortunately, Lenovo's using a hardwired connection between the keyboard and tablet this time around instead of Bluetooth. And the keys themselves are reminiscent of legendary ThinkPad chiclet keyboards, but it doesn't have quite the same feel and at 10-inches across it's a bit cramped.
There's also a "Touch Case" with a Surface-like touch keyboard ($119) as well as a traditional desktop dock for attaching external displays and drives ($119) and an absolutely massive ruggedized rubber case made for construction sites ($69). We're glad to see Lenovo's also offering a version of its bright red "Quickshot" cover, which includes a little tab that uncovers the camera lens and opens the appropriate app ($59).
The tablet itself should be available in June starting at $599, an $80 drop from the prior model. You'll probably want to pick up that keyboard dock, though, so that brings the total to a hefty $728. Still, if you're certain that you need a tablet that can also act as a computer rather than a laptop that can act like a tablet, you don't have many choices.