by Peter Pachal
If you thought the Microsoft Surface was only Windows tablet worth talking about, think again. Lenovo just unveiled the first Windows 8 tablet to pack an Intel mobile chip, making it a full-on Windows PC in a very light form factor.
The product is called the ThinkPad Tablet 2 (Lenovo has never been good at naming things), and it’s an impressive piece of hardware. It has a 10.1-inch screen, is 0.39 of an inch thick and weighs just 1.3 pounds.
The star of this show is Intel’s Clover Trail processor, though. Before the Tablet 2, Windows 8 tablets had to be either Windows RT machines, which can’t run older Windows apps and look to deliver less than the full Windows experience, or devices with power-hungry Intel Core processors, necessitating more bulk and cooling fans.
Clover Trail, in theory, gets you the best of both worlds. It’s an Intel Atom system-on-a-chip (SoC) processor, meaning it’s designed for power efficiency and portability, negating the need for extra bulk and cooling fans. But it has none of the weaknesses of Windows RT, meaning this is fully featured Windows PC, able to run Windows 8 Pro, the “proper” version of Office, and all your Windows 7 apps as well.
Besides its mighty chip, the Tablet 2 has mini HDMI and USB 2.0 ports, a microSD card slot and stereo speakers. Options include 3G/4G connectivity, an NFC (near-field communication) chip, a fingerprint reader and a keyboard dock.
Handling the Tablet 2 for a few minutes, we found it to be shockingly light. It’s hard to believe you’re handling a real PC. Tapping and scrolling through a few apps, the machine was very responsive to the touch with not stuttering. The bright 1,366 x 768 anti-glare display looked great.
Sadly, Lenovo hasn’t revealed the one spec that really matters: the price. It’s still a big question mark what a full-featured Windows 8 tablet is going to cost. Microsoft has said the Surface Pro — which is based on an Intel Core processor, not Clover Trail — will be “on par” with Ultrabooks, but we’re hoping the lack of keyboard might shave off a decent amount. We probably won’t know until late October, when both Windows 8 and the Tablet 2 will be on store shelves.
How much would you pay for a Windows tablet that you could actually call your PC? Let us know in the comments.