Over the past two months we’ve seen several Intel Atom-based tablets, each giving us serious netbook flashbacks with their 10-inch displays. The Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx has almost identical specs with a big exception: This tablet has an 11.6-inch display. Is bigger better?
Keeping it light… and flexible?
The IdeaTab Lynx looks alright from a distance, but up close it isn’t very comfortable to hold and use. The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up the Lynx is how light it is for an 11.6-inch tablet. Credit goes to a plastic chassis, which doesn’t feel particularly sturdy. A metal body isn’t necessary for good build quality, but the Lynx flexes a bit too much with little pressure, and just doesn’t feel like it will last.
The textured back is satisfying to run fingers over and grip while using, but hard right corners on the edges aren’t that comfortable in the palm. Plus, the buttons are a little too flush with the flat edge, making them harder to push than they should be. What saves the Lynx from being completely uncomfortable is the light weight and the tablet’s thin profile: 0.37 inches thick.
Just as with the VivoTab Smart, skinniness means a lack of ports. Other than a microSD card slot up top, the only other ports are the micro HDMI and micro USB. The USB serves as a standard charging port plus a docking connector for the optional keyboard dock. Plus, it has USB OTG (on the go) capabilities, so it is possible to connect flash drives and peripherals via a dongle, which Lenovo includes (and the VivoTab didn’t). We’d still prefer more separate ports, though this is a decent alternative.
Do 11.6-inch, 16:9 displays make for good tablets? Wide and short works well for laptops in some cases, but with a tablet – especially a Windows 8 tablet – it’s less successful. It’s awkward to hold it in portrait mode due to how the tablet balances, and in landscape the pixel count makes keeping a good amount of content on the screen when reading or Web surfing difficult. Need the keyboard? Be prepared to sacrifice half of your screen to it (even more annoying with 1366 x 768 resolution). These issues aren’t unique to the IdeaTab Lynx, they just seem more noticeable because it’s a bit wider than some others we’ve tested at 11.8 inches.
The display itself is as bright as it is glossy, and makes a good canvas for the bright and colorful Windows interface. Viewing angles aren’t very wide, despite having an IPS LCD display. While watching videos in the Netflix app and on YouTube, we had to hold the Lynx in a sweet spot for the richness of colors and dark scenes to stay balanced. Another multimedia drawback: The tablet’s speakers sit on the left and right edges. While they won’t get muffled when you place the tablet on a table, they also don’t direct sound at the user. At max volume the sound is almost overpowered by low background noise.
The lack of a good fingerprint-resistant coating occludes the screen faster than it should, meaning you have to keep the Lynx is just the right spot and have a cleaning cloth handy. On the positive side, fingerprints don’t impact touchscreen functionality much. We found the touch sensitivity accurate in the touch-friendly interface, though trying to tap tiny elements over on the Desktop side proved frustrating sometimes. Again, this isn’t unique to the IdeaTab Lynx; it’s a major consideration for any Windows 8 tablet.
There is only one camera on the Lynx, a 2-megapixel one on the front that’s capable of recording 1080p video at 30fps. The camera is decent for video chats over Skype and G+, though the quality isn’t great. The pictures we snapped came out grainy and noisy and colors weren’t rich or completely accurate.
Windows 8, apps, and productivity
The IdeaTab Lynx doesn’t come with a keyboard in its base configuration, though a dock is available for $130. Do you need the keyboard to use Windows 8? Not technically. However, we’re still not sold on Windows 8 as a tablet operating system.
If you intend to use the Lynx as a productivity machine and not just for games and videos, we suggest you invest in a keyboard.
Lenovo doesn’t overload the Lynx with too many preloaded apps. We do wish the company would break up with Norton, especially since Norton Internet Security threw a bunch of annoying and hard-to-kill pop-ups at us almost as soon as we turned on the device. A few of the other apps we were glad to see, such as Kindle, Evernote, SugarSync, and Skype. Intel’s AppUp store didn’t impress us. Despite not being a business tablet, the available apps point to a device that could work for both productivity and entertainment.
If you intend to use the Lynx as a productivity machine and not just for games and videos, we suggest you invest in a keyboard. The dock Lenovo makes for it features a sturdy hinge and docking arm, so when together the Lynx will open and close like a laptop. We’ve only had short hands-on time with the dock, but we like that it adds extra battery life as well as two USB 2.0 ports in addition to physical keys and a touchpad.
Performance deja vu
The Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx runs on a 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760 CPU, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of flash storage (eMMC not SSD), just like the ThinkPad Tablet 2, Asus VivoTab Smart, and the Dell Latitude 10. As with those other netbook-esque tablets, the performance here isn’t super fast. It scored 1,437 in PCMark 07, 8.2 GOPS in the SiSoft Sandra Processor Arithmetic test, and 2,717 in the 7-Zip test. These scores are right in line with other Atom tablets. The low 456 score in 3DMark 06 points to a system that can run some casual games, but even at that you might experience lagging or sluggish graphics.
Our hands-on experience matched up with these benchmarks. The Lynx booted quickly and overall didn’t lag while we did basic tasks and worked with low-load programs. After opening around half a dozen, including Netflix and a couple of games, we got a low-memory warning. And when trying to install programs to the desktop the File Manager hung for several seconds. One odd thing worth mentioning: Our review unit only came with one power profile: balanced. There’s not even one specially tweaked by Lenovo. That didn’t have a huge impact on the benchmarks, but means that users are limited in one of the few built-in settings affecting performance.
Cool (and long) running
Intel’s Atom processor is efficient, if not very fast, and kept the Lynx cool during usage and benchmarking. The upper portion of the tablet got warm when we pushed the tablet; even then, the heat wasn’t uncomfortable.
The Lynx lasted for 6 hours and 15 minutes on the Peacekeeper benchmark. With normal usage it will probably last 45 minutes to an hour longer. We were able to get a full day out of it in off-and-on use. Plus, the tablet is good at conserving energy when in sleep mode.
The Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx is a decidedly middle of the road tablet: slow performance, decent battery life, so-so screen. The design won’t win any awards, but we do like that a keyboard dock with extra ports is available. It’s not the best Atom-based tablet we’ve tested — that honor goes to the ThinkPad Tablet 2 over on the business side – and it’s more expensive than the runners up by $50. The bigger display offers more drawbacks than benefits, in the end.
- Lightweight and thin
- Includes USB dongle
- Good battery life
- Build doesn’t feel sturdy
- Widescreen aspect throws off balance
- Few ports
- Narrow viewing angles
- Windows 8 not a good tablet OS