A Comparison of ThinkPad Tablets

In January 2013, I bought a Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 for myself. Since I’m firmly in the Windows ecosystem camp, I didn’t want to get either an iPad or an Android tablet, and the TPT2 was the first Windows tablet that started to tick all the boxes I had in my list. Being a tablet with a second generation Intel Atom processor at its heart, it was no powerhouse, but it suited me very well.

Fast forward to now, and there are tablets available with the next generation of Intel’s Atom, and new low-power versions of the Atom’s big brothers, the Core processor range, are also starting to appear in devices. For the past few months I’ve been comparing my trusty TPT2 to Lenovo’s new ThinkPad 10 tablet, and to Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, wondering whether to make a move to a newer device. I finally came to the decision, after much vacillation, to sit this round out, hang on to my TPT2,  and wait for up to a year before purchasing a replacement device.

However, yesterday a small box was delivered, courtesy of Lenovo, which contained a ThinkPad 10. I’ve been fairly active in a couple of online forums trying to help people with TPT2s, and Lenovo have sent me a TP10 on long-term loan so that I can move into helping with TP10 issues. Very nice of them, I must say, but I’m not going to let that sway my judgement.

I thought that one way to get started would be to compare the TP10 with its predecessor, the TPT2. It should be an improvement over the earlier product, but is that true in every respect? Let’s take a look…

First of all, here’s the comparison of the basic specifications of the particular models of the tablets I currently have:

ThinkPad Tablet 2 ThinkPad 10
Processor Intel Atom Z2760 (2 cores, 1.80GHz, 1MB cache) Intel Atom Z3795 (4 cores, burst 2.40GHz, 2MB cache)
Display 1366 x 768 (16:9) 1920 x 1200 (16:10)
Memory 2GB / 800MHz LPDDR2 4GB / 1067MHz LPDDR3
Storage 64GB eMMC
+ MicroSD up to 32GB
128 GB eMMC
+ MicroSD up to 64GB
O.S. Windows 8.1 Pro* 32bit Windows 8.1 Pro 64bit
Digitizer Pen Yes Yes
WLAN 11a/b/g/n 11a/b/g/n
WWAN GPRS / WCDMA / HSPA / HSPA+ No
Bluetooth 4.0 4.0
GNSS Yes Yes
NFC Yes No

*The TPT2 originally came with Windows 8 installed. I upgraded it to Windows 8.1 when that became available.

You’ll notice that the TP10 that I have on loan does not have WWAN or NFC fitted. These are available as options for some models of the TP10 line. Other than that, it is clear from the table that most of the important elements have performance improvements over the TPT2 equivalents.  This is also borne out in benchmarks. Here, for example are the Windows Experience Index scores:

TPT2:

TPT Comparison 02

TP10:

TPT Comparison 01

Whilst the gaming graphics and hard disk subscores are only slightly improved for the TP10 over the TPT2, the other measures show substantial improvement. That translates in practice into a snappier feel for the TP10 over my TPT2. Office programs start up much faster, for example.

Physically, the two tablets are close in size, the TP10 (on the left) being slightly taller and narrower than the TPT2:

20140930-1247-21

Also shown in this photo is the Lenovo Quickshot cover fitted to the TP10, with an Armour Dog cover from Lente Designs fitted to my TPT2 on the right. The Armour Dog cover wraps around the TPT2, and is very stable when used as a stand, but it does add thickness to the tablet when closed. The Quickshot cover is thinner, and only covers the screen (it can be completely folded back under the TP10 in use). It can also act as a stand, but it is less stable, and with less angles to choose from.

20140930-1252-35

You’ll notice that it also has a loop to hold the TP10’s pen. Since the TP10 is slightly thinner than the TPT2, it is not possible to store even a small stylus in the tablet itself, as was done for the TPT2, so Lenovo has delivered a normal sized pen.

The TP10 has a larger display and a higher resolution than the TPT2, and I like the 16:10 aspect ratio of the TP10 over the 16:9 ratio of the TPT2. When I’m reading books, for example, I prefer the TP10 experience (on the right) over the slightly longer and narrower page rendered on the TPT2:

20140930-1314-11

The difference in aspect ratio also means that I get five rows of Tiles on the Start screen with the TP10 versus four on the TPT2:

TPT Comparison 04

TPT Comparison 03

The TP10 is certainly sleeker than the TPT2, but there are aspects about the case that I find less ergonomic than the TPT2. For example, the TP10’s buttons are flush with the case, rather than being slightly raised as with the TPT2. Finding and using buttons (e.g. the volume controls) on the TP10 is an exercise in frustration for me.

On both the TP10 and the TPT2, the USB socket has a cover. It may be just me, but the cover on the TP10 seems much more fiddly to pop off and to put back in place than the one on the TPT2. Here’s a photo of the cover on the TP10, and next to it, the power charging socket:

20140930-1939-53

The power charging socket on the TP10 is proprietary to Lenovo; on the TPT2 it was a micro-USB. This means that you can’t use a micro-USB phone charger with the TP10 in an emergency. Some people might view that as a drawback. I’ve noticed one other concern about the design and position of this socket. Here’s a photo of the TP10 being charged while being used flat on a desk:

20140930-1942-46

Notice how I have folded the Quickshot cover back under the tablet, as I think most people would tend to do. For one thing, it now protects the smooth metal back of the tablet from getting scratched. However, if the pen is stowed in its loop, then it pushes up on the charging plug and raises the tablet slightly on that side. I just wonder what the long term effects and stresses will be as a result.

The TP10 comes with a lot of software applications and apps pre-installed. This is stuff such as:

  • Lenovo Companion
  • Lenovo Support
  • Lenovo Tap to Share (QuickCast)
  • AccuWeather
  • Evernote
  • Norton Studio
  • Skype
  • Zinio
  • 1-Year Office 365 Personal subscription (Trial only on Win8.1 Pro)
  • Norton Internet Security 2014 with 30 days of virus protection
  • Nitro Pro 8
  • Lenovo Solution Center
  • ThinkVantage System Update
  • Lenovo Reach
  • Hightail –metro (cloud storage)
  • Maxthon Browser
  • Lenovo Photo Editor (by CyberLink)
  • Lenovo Video Editor (by CyberLink)

Frankly, most of this I view as Bloatware. The first thing I did was remove all but a couple of packages from the TP10. I then left the TP10 to update itself with Windows and Lenovo driver updates. A few hours, and 60+ updates later, it was ready to use.

I uninstalled Office 2013 Home & Student from my TPT2 and installed it on to the TP10. I needed to activate it via the telephone, rather than the painless internet route, but after punching in reams of numbers into my phone and into the TP10, Microsoft was happy and activated Office. After another round of software updates, this time for Office 2013, I think the TP10 is now finally ready to be put to work.

I’ll report back over the coming months on how I’m getting on.

Addendum: I do rather wish that manufacturers would strive for consistency with accessories across generations. For example:

  • The TPT2 has a mini-HDMI port; the TP10 has a micro-HDMI port. So I have to buy yet another HDMI cable for the TP10…
  • The Docking connectors are different, so I have to buy a new TP10 Dock, I can’t re-use the TPT2 Dock.
  • The TPT2 has a VGA Adaptor that fits into the Docking connector on the tablet. I use that to connect my TPT2 to a VGA projector in meetings. There is no equivalent adaptor available for the TP10. In fact, apparently the only way to connect a TP10 to a VGA projector is to use the Lenovo USB 3.0 to DVI/VGA Adaptor. Note that is a USB 3.0 connector. The TP10 only has USB 2.0 on the tablet; do I have to get the TP10 Dock to provide a USB 3.0 connection for the adaptor?…

Sigh.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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7 Responses to A Comparison of ThinkPad Tablets

  1. Matt Healy says:

    I notice you mention HSPA+ WWAN; what sort of typical real-world speeds do you get with HSPA+ WWAN? Here in the US I sometimes get a around 3 megabit/second download and around 1 megabit/second upload with Sprint LTE and fairly commonly get around 1 megabit/second download speeds (as measured with several speed testing websites). Better than 3G, but of course slower and more variable than my home and office Internet connections.

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Ah, well, the hardware is capable of HSPA+, but round here, the mobile operators don’t break into more than a slow walk. Just looked at my network connection, and if I get 48 Kbps, I’m lucky…

  2. Jimmie says:

    For the money is it worth buying the TPT 2 for 309.00 US or spend the extra for the TPT 10 for 589.00

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      That’s really down to you, and what you want to use the tablets for. Personally, the faster speed, and the higher display resolution with the 16:10 screen ratio make the TP10 the better tablet for my requirements. If you’re in the US, then I would keep an eye on Lenovo’s eBay and Outlet online stores. They sometimes have very good deals for the TP10.

      • Jimmie says:

        Thank you, I am a student in College and just need to find a great tablet for the money. Instead of carrying around my laptop all the time. I am open to some suggestions. I have spent days searching for reviews on this matter for a widow OS based tablet that could run MS office, and be worth investing in.

  3. Pingback: Lenovo ThinkPad 10 vs Yoga 3 Pro | Geoff Coupe's Blog

  4. Pingback: Game On: Microsoft’s Surface 3 | Geoff Coupe's Blog

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