At CES 2013, Lenovo announced its premium Windows 8 tablet-laptop hybrid: The ThinkPad Helix. It's got a full HD IPS 11.6-inch display (which can be removed from the keyboard for tablet mode), 10 hours of battery life, an Ultrabook form factor, the classic (and excellent) ThinkPad keyboard, and a Wacom digitizer to support digital inking. This is my next laptop...except perhaps for the premium price.
This year, with Windows laptops, it's all about convertibles and touchscreens. The ThinkPad Helix is one of the few convertibles designed for business users. That means a business-class build and more security features. (Even if you're using a laptop for home use, I often recommend getting a business-class PC for the added durability and reliability, especially if you travel a lot or plan to keep the laptop for more than a couple of years.) It also means a higher price tag.
The ThinkPad Helix starts at $1,499--more than most consumer convertibles (Lenovo's Yoga, for example, starts at $800 and the Surface Pro will start at $899.)
For that price, though, you get a killer feature set:
- The laptop starts with an Ivy Bridge (3rd generation) Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM, but you can upgrade it to even more powerful Core i7 and up to 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD.
- The bright 400nit IPS display is made with Gorilla Glass, and you can remove the tablet and "rip and flip" it about to face backwards for presentation or movie viewing.
- The glass clickpad, with five buttons built in, is fairly large for a laptop of this size.
- NFC for transferring information with other devices (by tapping or proximity) is also built-in.
- My favorite part is the stylus support (the stylus is making a comeback!)
- There are two USB 3.0 ports, an RJ45 connector, mini-DisplayPort, and mini-HDMI. Unfortunately, that means you might need some adapters to use those mini ports, and there's no SD card slot (bummer).
The ThinkPad Helix is now at the top of my wishlist for Windows 8 tablet PCs. I can't wait to get my hands on one--when they start shipping in February. What about you?