Specifications

  • MTM: 3698-6EU
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-3337U (1.8GHz – Turbo up to 2.7GHz)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics HD4000
  • RAM: 4GB 1333MHz DDR3L (2x2GB soldered, dual channel)
  • Storage: 128GB SSD (Toshiba)
  • Display: 1920×1080 IPS multi-touch with digitizer
  • Digitizer pen: Yes, with 1 button
  • Camera:
    • Front: 2MP
    • Rear: 5MP
  • Operating System: Windows 8 Pro 64-bit
  • Dimensions:
    • Tablet: 296.1mm x 187.3mm x 11.6mm (11.65″ x 7.34″ x 0.45″)
    • Clamshell: 296.1mm x 187.3mm x 20.4mm (11.7″ x 7.4″ x 0.8″)
  • Weight:
    • Tablet: 0.835kg or 1.84lbs
    • Clamshell: 1.67kg or 3.68lbs

Connectivity

  • Tablet: 1x USB 2.0, minidisplay port
  • Clamshell: 2x USB3.0, minidisplay port
  • WLAN Card: Intel Centrino 6205S Advanced-N 802.11abgn (dual band 2.4 & 5GHz) (max 300Mb/s) + Bluetooth 4.0
  • NFC

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Clamshell (rear right), from left to right: USB3.0 port, power connector port

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Clamshell (rear left), from left to right: minidisplay port, USB3.0

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Tablet (rear): location of NFC chip is indicated by the symbol just above the text “NFC”.

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On the right side of the ThinkPad Helix we find an audio jack, a volume button, and a rotation-lock button. The rotation-lock button will lock the current or active display rotation and prevent it from rotating further until you press this button again.

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This is the bottom-left of the tablet. Here you find the power jack.

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This is the bottom-right of the tablet. Here you find the minidisplay port and an USB2.0 port. At the very very left, you see a part of the SIM card slot. Which I won’t cover in this review as it’s not a part of my model.

Keyboard

I am mostly impressed by the keyboard, which is a “ThinkPad Precision Keyboard”. When you see a 10-11 inch convertible or netbook. The first thing that comes to your mind is: “How will I be able to type on that thing?”. You are probably scared the keyboard would be too small, and typing would simply feel uncomfortable. And most manufacturers don’t spend time on the keyboard and just squeeze all keys together until everything fits. So I really love how Lenovo solved this in this smaller form factor and managed to bring the high-quality ThinkPad keyboards to the ThinkPad Helix.

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ClickPad & TrackPoint

As you can see in the picture above, there are no physical buttons anymore for the touchpad. But in the screenshot below you will get a very good idea how it works now. It took some time for me to get used to it as well. You can still change how large the middle click and right click button are.

And if you like you can disable the TouchPad or TrackPoint as well.

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Clamshell

The clamshell or the keyboard dock also feels very strong and light. It doesn’t bend or flex if you put pressure on it.

When the tablet is mounted, the hinges also don’t bend past 110 degrees. Which makes the ThinkPad Helix hard to use as a laptop on your lap. This is probably done, because the tablet weighs slightly more than the clamshell, if they allowed it to bend further it would simply fall on its back. So no complaints here.

Digitizer Pen

Below is a screenshot of something I wrote in OneNote. I was able to write without much issues. It is a little slower than using paper for example, but I think that will improve over time as I get used to it. I could rest my hand on the display while I was writing, as long as the pen was pointed at the screen or in close proximity. I am really surprised how easy my first writing experience was with a digitizer pen.

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Digitizer pen is nicely hidden inside the ThinkPad Helix at the top left of the tablet when you don’t need it.

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Taking the pen out is just as easy.

Thermals

When we put a extreme synthetic load on the CPU, I was able to get 65-70C at most which is extremely good for the lifespan of the CPU and its surrounding components. However the tablet feels very very hot at the back at this moment. But I was able to work my way around this by putting the ThinkPad Helix in ‘tablet plus mode’, so the keyboard dock is sitting in between your leg and the hot back of the tablet. Problem solved!

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Two small 40mm fans at the back of the clamshell to improve airflow when the tablet is mounted. But they can be a little bit noisy at full speed. Usually these fans are not visible and are protected by an extra little lid.

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Idle temperatures look ok.

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Maximum temperatures stay in the 60ies.

Conclusion

The good:

  • Excellent front and rear camera quality
  • Good microphone quality
  • Excellent build quality
  • Excellent keyboard
  • NFC, WWAN, WLAN, USB Ethernet adapter (optional) everything you could possibly need.
  • Excellent performance
  • You get what you paid for

The bad:

  • The back of tablet may feel hot under high load
  • Keyboard fans sometimes noisy