Review: Lenovo ThinkPad Helix flips Ultrabook expectations

Fast, functional Windows 8 laptop-tablet lets you detach for tablet use or dock with the display facing in or out

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Both the dock and the tablet are well-outfitted with connectors and ports. The power connector -- Lenovo's USB-connector-like plug -- fits in either the dock or the unit, and the dock delivers two USB ports to augment the unit's one USB port. Note that the USB connectors are on the bottom of the tablet, so you can use only the dock's USB ports when the unit is attached.

The oddest omission is the lack of an SD card slot, MicroSD or conventional, in either the unit itself or the dock. It's not fatal, but anyone who depends on an SD card -- photographers, for instance -- will be irked. What looks like SD card slots on the underside of the unit are actually a pair of "label trays," slide-out drawers that contain regulatory information. Apparently Lenovo incorporated these trays to avoid putting said labels on the unit itself.

The preloaded software in the system is the usual mix of consumer-oriented apps such as Symantec's Norton AntiVirus and the Lenovo Solution Center, which lives in the System Tray and nags you about updates or the lack of virus protection. There's also the QuickLaunch app, which attempts to re-create the legacy Start button and Start menu. (I wonder how QuickLaunch will fare when Windows 8.1 comes out.)

Lenovo's ThinkPad Helix is the latest attempt to create a convertible Ultrabook that can be used in multiple display modes. It's on the pricey side -- twice the cost of Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga -- but it's no slouch, and the Helix surpasses the Yoga in the way it implements multiple display orientations. And like the Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro 700T, which lags the Helix in both usability and build quality, it's the rare Ultrabook that can leave its physical keyboard behind.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix at a glance

PriceStarts at $1,499 MSRP
ProcessorIntel Core i5-3337U 1.7GHz (ast tested), Core i5-3427U 1.8 GHz, or Core i7-3667U 2.0 GHz
Memory8GB PC3-20600 1333MHz DDR3L SDRAM
Storage128GB or 180GB (as tested) or 256GB SSD SATA3
Weight3.75 lbs. docked; 1.84 lbs. undocked
Dimensions11.65 x 7.34 x 0.45 inches (11.7 x 7.4 x 0.8 inches with dock)
Display11.6 inches @ 1,920 x 1,080 LED IPS display
Netflix battery rundown6 hours
Ports1 USB 2.0, 1 SIM card, MicroHDMI, 1 Mini DisplayPort; dock adds 2 USB 3.0 and 1 Mini DisplayPort
Radios802.11a/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0; wireless WAN options available
Management featuresTPM 1.2, security loop (in dock only)
Sandra 2013 score4.09kPt

This article, "Review: Lenovo ThinkPad Helix flips Ultrabook expectations," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in computer hardware and mobile technology at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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