Lenovo's IdeaTab Lynx falls into roughly the same category as the Acer Iconia W700 and the HP Envy X2: an Atom-powered Windows 8 tablet with a keyboard dock that sports a second battery. With a starting price of $549, the IdeaTab is good for basic use, but its middling construction is worrisome.
At first glance the Lynx seems decent enough. It has a large display (11.6 inches, 1,366 by 768), it's lightweight (1.41 pounds without the dock), and it gets good battery life (7 hours, 20 minutes with the dock in my Netflix rundown test). Look closer, though, and you can see some cut corners.
The body and back are plastic rather than, say, magnesium cladding, which gives the unit a cheaper, flimsier feel compared to the Envy. The MicroSD card slot at the top is protected by a pop-port cover -- just like you see on smartphones -- that is flimsy enough that I worry I'll tear it completely loose if I pull too hard.
Since the only major external connectors on the unit itself are the MicroHDMI and audio jacks, you'll have to either dock the unit with its keyboard to plug in full-sized USB devices or use the included MicroUSB-to-USB dongle. Both the dock and the tablet support charging through a MicroUSB connector cable, which docks with a wall wart. The cable provided for charging is disappointingly short, so you can't stray too far from an outlet when charging.
The keyboard dock is the least impressive part of the package. Its plastic construction not only feels flimsy, but at one point the top edge of the keyboard came away from the base and had to be snapped back in. The touchpad is much smaller than those of other machines in the same class. Worse, it uses click zones at the bottom of the pad instead of actual buttons (which causes the cursor to jump around), and it doesn't appear to support gestures either.
Key action isn't bad, but the tray containing the keys tends to flex a bit when typing -- another sign of poor design. While the dock itself is sturdy, the front lip of the dock makes it difficult to swipe on the screen from the bottom when the unit is docked. (I noticed it's easier to park the unit in the dock by inserting it at a slight angle, rather than straight down.)
The preloaded software in the Lynx is in line with its consumer orientation. You'll find Norton Internet Security, Nitro PDF 7, and a trial copy of Microsoft Office 2010, along with Intel's AppUp store and Lenovo-branded SugarSync cloud storage software. A business user could in theory make this machine part of his or her workflow -- TPM is included -- but there are better offerings from both Lenovo and other vendors for that market, as well as the consumer market.
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