Lenovo ThinkPad Twist review
12.5 in 1,366x768 display, 1.6kg, 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U, 4.00GB RAM, 500GB disk, Windows 8 Pro
Ever since Windows 8 was released, home consumers have had their pick of fancy laptop-cum-tablet hybrids. Now there's the Lenovo ThinkPad Twist, which actually harks back to the kind of convertible laptops of yesteryear - released with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. Like those devices, this is a convertible Ultrabook that’s aimed at the business professional.
A centrally located hinge underneath its 12.5in touchscreen rotates clockwise when you pull it from behind, and its 180-degree swivel lets you transform it into one of four modes. You can use it as a traditional laptop or fold the lid flat against the keyboard so you can use it as a tablet. You can also form an A shape (tent mode) so that you can use it as a propped-up tablet on your desk or bedside table, or even have the screen facing away from the keyboard so you can show its contents to your friends and colleagues.
The display’s hinge is fairly sturdy, and the screen clicks back in place when it reaches the end of its rotation, preventing you from pushing it too far. It only supports five-point touch, not the ten-point we’ve seen on the Asus Taichi and the Dell XPS 12, but multitouch gestures such as pinch-zooming were both accurate and responsive. It also has a tablet-style Home button and volume control embedded in the bezel, which makes it very easy to use Windows 8 when using it as a tablet.
Sadly, it exhibits the same problem as the Taichi and XPS 12 when used as a tablet: its size. It’s still portable, but it measures 313x236mm and weighs 1.6kg, making it just a little too big and heavy to hold comfortably in your hands. It also lacks the Full HD display of its rivals, having a resolution of just 1,366x768. Still, its brightness levels are a marked improvement on the Taichi, and its four different modes make it much more versatile than the XPS 12.
Tent mode, for instance, lets you prop up the screen if you find yourself in a tightly packed train or plane and means you don’t have to lean it against a wall or seat back. Annoyingly, the screen responded to our screen presses of the onscreen keyboard by moving away from us.
Unfortunately, Tent mode is completely ruined by the accuracy of the screen’s accelerometers, which continually rotated the display upside-down whenever we used Tent mode. We often had problems in Tablet and laptop modes, too, with the display not moving from portrait to landscape orientation and vice versa unless we shook it a bit. Lenovo says it’s working on a driver to fix this problem, but at the time of writing it wasn’t available.
Unlike the Asus Taichi, the Lenovo Twist doesn’t have a second screen, which makes it less useful when you have it facing away from you as a presentation display because you can’t see what’s on it. The display also wobbles far too much when you’re using the touchscreen in the normal laptop configuration, and this has a detrimental impact on its use. It does, however, make a great impromptu presentation display, as you can just rotate the screen to your audience to show everyone what’s on screen.