At CES 2013, we witnessed the birth of the premium convertible laptop. Meet Lenovo's Thinkpad Helix. A convertible ultrabook with multitouch support, its versatile base stand provides more than just a Laptop Keyboard and a few spare USB ports.
The name may recall the double helix, but this Thinkpad pulls triple duty in laptop, tablet, and presentation mode.
To start with, the Helix looks like your average Lenovo ultrabook. It's a slight 11.6-inches, which is as small as a laptop can get while still housing a full keyboard like the Lenovo 3000-G230 3000-G430 series laptop keyboard .
That form factor is impressive considering you can get one with up to a third generation Intel i7 processor inside.
Of course, this is a convertible, and for its first trick the Thinkpad Helix turns into a tablet. In tablet mode, the Helix is well served by that slight form factor. At just under 12-inches, it's easy to handle.
It's none too heavy either. The tablet and its base are both under two pounds. Put them together and what do you get? A laptop that's just under four pounds, of course.
For its final transformation, the Thinkpad Helix enters presentation mode. This is done by turning the base around and clicking the tablet back on its hinges.
With the keyboard hidden behind like the IBM Thinkpad T420 X220 Series Laptop Keyboard , this may seem to be an obtuse setup, but remember, this is a touch-based Windows 8 machine.
It's ideal for giving a presentation to colleagues or classmates, or lying in bed watching Netflix, with the Helix on your belly.
It's not just touch, there's a built in Wacom stylus, too. It's a pressure sensitive pen, letting your artistic endeavors rise above the average digital doodle. That's if you've got the talent, of course.
Lenovo representatives on hand at CES called the Helix their "flip and rip" machine. Cute, but we wondered how well this convertible would hold up to all the flipping and ripping.
They assured us that Helix's hinges are built to the same high standards as Lenovo's other durable Thinkpad machines or Lenovo Thinkpad Keyboard . Given the brand's reputation for toughness, we're inclined to believe them, but it's something we'll look at when we get one in to review.
The Helix is also built for the mobile lifestlye, with the option 3G and 4G support, as well as NFC.
Lenovo plans to release the Thinkpad Helix in February, with models starting at $1,499.