Monday, September 8, 2014

Thinkpad 10 Mini Review

This new Thinkpad branded tablet is kind of a big deal for me. It comes closest to the mark (so far) for what I envision tablet computing should be like. It almost does all the things.

I'm running:
  • Chrome web browser (Runs)
  • iTunes (Runs as well as iTunes ever does) 
  • Unity (runs decent, but does not take touch or pen input well)
  • Skype, Desktop Version (Runs surprisingly well)
  • Sketchbook Pro 7 2015 (Doesn't run as well as I would like. *Sad Trombone*)
  • Photoshop and Bridge CS6 (64 Bit) (Runs great, very surprised) 
  • Dreamweaver CS6 (Runs great)
  • Office 2013 (Runs great)
You can see all the specifics here at Lenovo's Site.

The tablet weighs 1.3 lb. and is extremely capable. I could see certain users setting themselves up with Lenovo's Bluetooth 3.0 Dock and a pair of Dell monitors and the Thinkpad 10 being their only device.

I'm going to skip the stuff covered by Lisa Gade and a host of other capable reviewers, and talk a little bit about some things I worried about that weren't covered.


My 8" Windows Tablets really struggled with this so I was pretty concerned about it. The Thinkpad 10 does what Samuel L. Jackson has famously asked children to do. It goes the fuck to sleep. When you close the quick shot cover letting the device know it's time for lights out, it does exactly that. If I set it to sleep and don't touch it for eight hours, it'll have virtually the same battery life remaining.

I have owned no other device that does this. Everything else seems to bleed power while it rests. When I open the cover, the device springs instantly to life, ready to go. When you're using something to take quick notes and carrying it everywhere with you, this is huge.

Haptic Home Button

These are pretty much the bane of artists who work on tablets like the Surface Pro. Basically, your wrist brushes up against it, there's a barely discernible buzz, and you're whisked away from whatever you were doing to the Start Menu.

The Lenovo Thinkpad 10 has such a button, but it is kind of broken, probably on purpose, and it is a good thing. You really have to press it, purposefully, to get it to trigger. I have not once, in a week of using it to render visuals or generate handwritten text, set off the button and had my user experience interrupted.

Why not just put in a physical home button? Because it would require drilling a hole in the glass that makes up the screen, weakening it, making it susceptible to moisture, pressure breaks, and other calamity. The barely reactive haptic home button is the way to go. Trust me.

Pen + Palm Rejection

It's really shallow. Generally, when your pen comes near the screen the touch interface turns off so that you aren't messing things up with your palm while you write. This is good, unless the distance the screen detects the pen is really shallow. I've been trying to retrain myself so that I don't lift the pen tip in between sentences and brush strokes but...

Everything I render has a spattering of little dots in the lower right hand corner of the canvas because my palm gets to the screen before the pen while I'm drawing or working in Photoshop, OneNote, or Sketchbook Pro. I haven't found a fix for this but if I do happen across one, I'll update this post. I make it sound worse than it is, but I can't think of a reason for it to be this way. I didn't have this issue on my Asus Vivotab 8" Tablet (similarly Wacom-equipped), Surface Pro 1, or Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga.

I'm almost tempted to load the latest Wacom Feel Drivers, but the pen input is so perfectly accurate that I'm afraid I'll mess it up. I'd rather suffer through palm dots than trying to re-calibrate the stylus. Hopefully, Lenovo fixes this with an update of their own.  

Windows 64 with Bing

If you don't absolutely need Windows 8 Pro, go with Windows 64 with Bing. For my use case (non-corporate/academic) it functions perfectly well and has all the features I need. It runs all my writing, rendering, and development software Best of all, it knocks about $130 off the price. For that big of a price dip, I was expecting to be paying for a Pro license the first day I turned it on and grumbling about my own foolishness. So far, that had not come to pass.

Seriously, unless you need to hook up to a domain or need one of the other Windows Pro features, save yourself the money.


For $599 there is no better 128GB 10" tablet on the market for getting work done. The 4GB of RAM makes multitasking not only possible, but elegant, and the high 1920 x 1200 resolution screen lets me crowd a lot of documents, visuals, and browser windows side by side. If I can figure out how to get the palm rejection to work a little better, it would be perfect for what I need a tablet to do.


  1. Id be interested to hear what you think about the new iPad they are going to announce in the next month. I wonder how these compare. it seems on some levels the thinkpad would be better. they will certainly have more ram (i think the rumors are the new iPad air2 will have 2gm ram), but i won't pretend to know what I am talking about, since I don't.

    nice read. I'd be interested in looking in to this more. thanks!

    1. For guys like us, the iPad and Thinkpad 10 aren't even competing products. One is a casual computing device, the other could be likened to a $599 10.1" Wacom Cintiq running full Windows. I love my iPad Mini for browsing, email, games, keeping my calendar, and reading. When I need to work and create content, in a small form factor, nothing beats my Thinkpad Yoga or 10.

      This could change somewhat with Wacom's new capacitive stylus (up for preorder now) and iCloud's more transparent file system. For creating visual assets, those two things could make the iPad more capable, but still not as good (or as cheap) as a comparably equipped Thinkpad 10. Thanks for reading!

  2. this is a fast google search for something that I have only heard about in passing. this glove thingy. could me fine, maybe. I don't imagine it would be too cumbersome, but I haven't really tried it.

    I was wondering about the capacitive stylus, and how it worked with pressure. Wacom has a pen that is pressure sensitive for around $100 that would be worth it to me.

    Id really like to play around with a thinkpad tablet. I've had lots of exposure to the iPad.

    1. That smudgeguard is interesting. A friend of mine discovered there is a built in feature for Sketchbook Pro for iOS that constitutes a "palm rest". It is basically an area of the screen you designate as an unresponsive area to rest your palm while you draw or sketch. That's the best experience I've found on the iPad, and while using my unpowered capacitive Cosmonaut Stylus.

      That same friend got one of those Wacom Fineline Pens on Saturday and we spent the day trying it out. It'd be okay for handwriting but it'll take more applications adopting it as a thing before it'd be useful for digital artwork. You have to sync it per application and we didn't have any of the paid brushes that would have allowed us to try out the pressure sensitivity. Currently, It works with Bamboo Paper and some PDF markup app. It takes a lot of training to use it properly, keeping your palm lower than the pen relative to screen orientation, making sure it synced properly, getting used to how the speed of the brush stroke influences the outcome (brush and eraser).

      They don't sell the Thinkpad brand in any stores that I'm aware of. Unless you know someone that has one, it might be hard to find one to play with. All mine were custom made in China and I had to wait weeks to get them. Next time I'm in Boise, we'll have to get together so you can try one out. All of the illustration work I've posted to my blog in the last twelve months was done on a Thinkpad device, including the covers for my books.

  3. I've also been keeping my eye on this. They are getting really close to having a stylus that has a small tip. for $80 it is totally worth it, as long as it works smoothly. I'll have to watch/read some more reviews. I haven't found if it can be used on anything other than an iPad, but I can't imagine why it wouldn't.