The first laptop I owned was a ThinkPad T20 ( Lenovo Thinkpad Keyboard ), and the next one may very likely be the ThinkPad Helix which Lenovo unveiled at CES 2013. In a sea of touch-inspired Windows 8 hardware, it’s the first ultrabook convertible with a form factor that gets everything right.
The Lenovo Thinkpad Helix
The first batch of Windows 8 ultrabooks get high marks for their inspired designs, but aren’t quite flexible enough to truly be BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) solutions. Lenovo’s own IdeaPad Yoga came close, but the sensation of feeling the Lenovo Keyboard underneath your fingers when transformed into tablet mode was slightly jarring. Dell‘s XPS 12 solved that problem with its clever rotating hinge design, but I wanted the ability to remove the tablet display entirely from both of those products.
Enter the ThinkPad Helix with its “rip and flip” design. Aside from its pedigree of simply being a ThinkPad (I will forever prefer that red TrackPoint to any other pointing device, and their Laptop Keyboard are exceptional), it improves on the Yoga by boasting a detachable keyboard dock. The 11.6″ display can then be removed and used as a standalone tablet with 1920 x 1080 resolution. The dock interface also allows the Helix to enter “Stand Mode” and collapse all the way down on top of the keyboard — covering it, which was my sole complaint with the IdeaPad Yoga.
Aside from its versatility, the Helix has plenty going for it in the specs department. It has mini DisplayPort and mini-HDMI out to satisfy both business users and home consumers. It will ship with 3rd generation Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processors and up to a 256GB SSD (Solid State Drive and other Compatible Parts ).
Connectivity seems guaranteed with 3G, 4G, or 4G LTE SIM card slots.
The Helix even includes NFC and a digitizer pen that supports Windows 8 gestures and converts your handwritten notes into digital text.
Combined battery usage is rated at 10 hours — 5 hours from the tablet battery, and an additional 5 with the keyboard dock like the Asus Keyboard dock .
Aside from the tech specs, the ThinkPad Helix packs in all of the security and manageability features one expects from Lenovo, and even though the company seems to be marketing this toward business users, the Helix hits every checkbox on my wishlist for a reliable productivity and writing machine.
The ThinkPad Helix should launch sometime in February at an entry MSRP of $1499.