The quest for a single device continues as we approach 2015. Working professionals are the primary target of manufacturers such as Apple and Lenovo. Professionals, such as myself, are in need of one device for applications including Microsoft Office. There are several options to choose from, which puts us working professionals in a challenging position. How do we find one device that can handle complex spreadsheets, allow us to produce presentations, manage work documents, and have the power to churn through multiple gigabyte-sized Outlook .PST files? The Lenovo Miix 2 10 is another attempt for a similar level of productivity, yet with the flexibility of a pure tablet. After several weeks with this device, having ran it through the ringer at work, I believe the Miix 2 10 is not a laptop replacement, but an excellent addition to a professional’s arsenal of productivity tools.
The Miix 2 10 is yet another creative attempt by Lenovo to provide new options to consumers. It’s powered by Windows 8.1 Pro, not RT, and comes with a dock-able keyboard that is designed specifically for it. The dock draws its power from the tablet, meaning battery life diminishes more quickly when the keyboard is in use. Even without the keyboard, the tablet is sleek. As a tablet the Miix is larger than others out there and is sharply designed with tight angles. Other tablets, such as the iPad, are smooth and rounded. It’s also one of the thicker tablets you’ll find, but still manages to stow perfectly into my bag, designed with 10″ laptops in mind. The tablet weighs in at 620g and the keyboard adds 440g. The tablet attaches using a slick magnetic clip on the keyboard dock. The dock features 2 full-sized USB 2.0 ports and a subwoofer that faces backwards. Fortunately you can flip the tablet around, making it more comfortable for multimedia. The tablet itself features a Micro HDMI port for output to an external monitor. Storage can be expanded with a MicroSD card slot and according to Lenovo only cards up to 32 GB are supported.
Windows is still the predominate operating system in business. And with that comes familiarity for the end user, lower cost of support for the IT department, and software compatibility and security. Could a company survive on Android or Apple’s OS X? Certainly. But few are willing to take that chance. Unless you work for a smaller company (roughly 100 employees) you won’t have much influence over your equipment. Most likely, you will be issued a leased laptop with middle-of-the-road specifications. Compound work-required security software and other services, and suddenly your laptop is running at slug speed, not the rabbit that Intel i5 Pro sticker will lead you to believe. If you decide to use your own device for productivity, keep in mind you will need to synchronize your files with your work environment. If you use Office for iOS or Android, you’ll maintain file integrity, but likely will need to setup a sync solution to move data unless you’re comfortable with Dropbox or emailing files to yourself. Particularly with iOS, there is a challenge in managing files: there is no native file manager. This is why Microsoft have invested in the Surface line of hybrids. If one device can rule them all, it should be Windows-powered.
What Professionals Need
On a plane to Seattle, I became overwhelmed with all of my devices: a 13″ laptop, 7″ Fire tablet, and a 6″ smartphone. There is serious overlap between these devices, yet they all run different operating systems. I decided I needed 1 device. My requirements were a 10″ display that was vibrant, and a sleek and comfortable keyboard. It had to be light and thin so it could fit into my cross-body bag. Too often I find myself traveling with a 5lb laptop with a massive power cord, a briefcase or a backpack; all of this for a day trip. The popular alternative is an iPad or standalone tablet with a keyboard as an accessory. I knew that wouldn’t work for me. I need a Windows machine that fully supports Microsoft Office, OneNote and other software, such as LaCie’s S Drive. There aren’t many devices that fit this mold. The world of 10″ Windows hybrids is a desolate place. Presently, Lenovo, ASUS and Microsoft are the only vendors with such a device. I’ve already tested the ASUS Transformer Book. It matches my criteria but I couldn’t get over the plastic feel of the chassis.
|DESCRIPTION||LENOVO MIIX 2 (10 INCH)|
Intel® Atom™ Z3740 Processor Quad Core (1.33GHz, 2MB)
Windows 8.1 32
Office Home & Student 2013
2GB LPDDR3 1066 MHz (on board)
720p HD 2.0M front and 5M rear cameras
Integrated JBL®-designed stereo speakers (on tablet) and subwoofer (on keyboard-dock)
Up to 8 hours (WiFi browsing)
10.1″ Full HD display (1920 x 1200) with 10-point touch and 178o wide-viewing angle
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||
Up to 0.3″ thick with a soft-touch rear cover
Integrated Bluetooth® 4.0, 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi
Look and Feel
Although made of plastic, both components feel slightly more premium than the competing ASUS Transformer Book. The Microsoft Surface 2, however, has unmatched quality in this space. The differentiation for Lenovo is the keyboard. It offers more than the others: stereo speakers and USB ports. Unfortunately, it forces the tablet into a fixed display angle of 115 degrees. This is ideal when sitting at your desk, but if you like to stand and work, as I do, you won’t appreciate the viewing angle. I can live with the viewing angle limitations, but this isn’t the only challenge with the keyboard. The keys feel great and are of good size - something Lenovo consistently does well. The problem, however, is the placement of the “~” key. On most QWERTY keyboards, the “tab” key is larger than a standard key, and spans across the “~” and “1” keys. This means the “Q” key is below and slightly to the right of the “1” key. On the Miix 2 10’s keyboard, the “Q” key is below and to the left of the “1” key. I have to be very careful about typing with numbers as there is no dedicated or function-triggered number pad. It may seem like not a big deal, but trust me, it’s a challenge.
The Miix 2 10 is eye catching. In the brief time I’ve had with it, I’ve taken it on flights, car rides and used it in several internal and external meetings. I love that I can carry it around in casual settings as well.
The display measures 10.1″ and has a resolution of 1920 x 1200 in a 16:10 aspect ratio. Due to a thick black bezel that surrounds the screen, it looks small and low-tech. Once you get passed that and focus on the images, it’s a nice screen. I do wish it were brighter, particularly when standing and working in docked mode, due to the fixed viewing angle.
The hybrid is powered by an Intel Atom Z3740, quad-core processor. It was designed to consume minimal power, not to impress on benchmarks. From a business-use perspective, I’m impressed! I’m constantly using the following applications: Mail, Calendar, Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Transitioning between applications is not very fast, but once I’m in the application it performs well. And I don’t mean, “for a tablet.”
At minimum screen brightness and WiFi disabled, I managed to squeeze 7 hours and 40 minutes with the tablet docked. Without the dock, I got another 50 minutes of life. These tests were conducted with no activity on the device. Without a controlled environment, this is a challenging task. In my day-to-day activities, which include docked and undocked time, constant WiFi and maximum brightness, I got roughly 4 hours of use from the Miix 2 10 having tested it several times.
Of all the devices I researched, nothing stood out more than the Microsoft Surface 2. But I didn’t want to spend $700-$900 knowing I wouldn’t be able to walk away from my work-supplied laptop and fully dedicate myself to the hybrid. The pricing variance between the Miix 2 10 and the Surface 2 was so great that I could justify a companion device, instead of a true laptop replacement. Overall, I’m happy with the performance and feel of the Miix, but do wish the viewing angle were not fixed. At $350, with the keyboard, this is an excellent value.