Lenovo Miix 630 – An Always On PC

Thanks to Lenovo for providing GWW with this review unit.

  • 4G connectivity
  • Literally always on
  • Sub-par stylus experience

Lenovo’s first always-on PC is a Surface-like device that is powered by a mobile CPU you’d normally find in 2017 flagship smartphones. This was done to give users a phone-like experience with a 12.5″ PC that leverages the full power of Microsoft Windows. But it’s not a smartphone, and when you spend time with it you’ll find it’s value is primarily it’s battery.

Specifications

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • Display: 12.5″ FHD+ (1920 x 1280) IPS Multi-Touch | 400 nits
  • Graphics: Adreno 540
  • Webcam: Front: 5 MP | Rear: 13 MP
  • RAM: 4GB LPDDR4 1866 MHz
  • Storage: 128 GB UFS 2.1
  • I/O:
    • (1) USB Type-C (Charging, DP)
    • (1) Micro SD card slot
    • (1) Nano SIM card slot
    • (1) Microphone / Headphone Combo Jack
  • Dimensions: 8.23″ x 11.54″ x 0.29″
  • Weight: 1.7 lbs | 3.1 lbs with keyboard

The Good

Battery life on the Miix 630 is fantastic. It’s rated at 20 hours, which is more than a real work day. It’s also always on, which means you don’t have to fiddle with the sleep and hibernate settings to maximize battery life. This is made possible by the low-power consuming Qualcomm CPU and Adreno GPU. For the past couple of weeks I have been using a Surface Go. To manage battery and accomplish just 6-8 hours, Microsoft configured the tablet to go into hibernation mode after just a few minutes of being in sleep mode. Suffice it to say, the always on plus excellent battery life of the Miix 630 is a welcome addition to my daily routine. The most important feature of the Miix is it’s 4G capability. This enables the user to have constant Internet access, anywhere their carrier of choice has coverage. Surprisingly, despite being powered by the same chipset as a smartphone, Windows 10 feels good! Really good, in fact. For basic computing, as one would do on a Surface Go, for example, the Miix is a solid performer. I spend a good deal of my computing time in Microsoft Office and Chrome, and the only struggle I had was with the keyboard – more on that later. Otherwise, web pages opened up rather quickly, even while using just 4G. I was able to write this review, which includes editing and uploading the images you’ll see below. I wouldn’t do that with my Surface Go unless I were in a pinch. But the extra screen-real estate of the Miix helps make that process less painful.

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One of the real highlights of the Miix is the computer itself. When removed from the keyboard case, you’ll be surprised at how beautiful it is. In fact, it sort of looks like a smartphone. Obviously, it’s much bigger and has thumb-sized bezels, but the craftsmanship is remarkable. It’s all black with a glossy finish around the edges, where you’ll find the buttons (power and volume) and it’s only I/O: a USB-C port (not Thunderbolt). It’s almost a shame Lenovo didn’t go with the typical Surface-like keyboard attachment so you can show off how beautiful this looks. That is their approach with the ThinkPad X1 Tablet, which I love.

…the always on plus excellent battery life of the Miix 630 is a welcome addition to my daily routine.

The Bad

The Miix is clearly a competitor to the Microsoft Surface Pro line. Unfortunately, unlike past efforts by Lenovo, the year’s Miix 630 is less inspired by the Surface Pro and more original. The result of which is a keyboard that adds tremendous bulk to the tablet, which, on it’s own, is stunning. The plus side of this effort is more protection for your device, because the keyboard is also a case. This is an effort I completely understand. And while the Miix is not a ThinkPad (Lenovo’s business line), it would appear the ideal consumer of the Miix is a professional. In that regard, the Miix looks great and performs well.

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Even if purchased through a corporate account, the Miix feels too expensive at $899. On the one hand, the tablet is gorgeous and the keyboard and pen are included in the box. But it’s not as comfortable or powerful as a Surface Pro, which can be had for $899 with a superior keyboard and Surface Pen. But on the other hand, the battery life is fantastic and the device is always on…like a smartphone. But it’s not a smartphone. When you receive a new email, your phone will alert you and you’ll open it. If it requires a long read or response, then it makes sense to use the Miix. But the Miix is not your first responder, in that regard.

The keyboard isn’t perfect. For comparison, I am a huge fan of the Surface Pro keyboard. Lenovo makes the best laptop keyboards in the industry, so I’m surprised why this one isn’t as good. It feels a little more mushy than the ThinkPad keyboards, but otherwise hits the right notes: key travel, palm comfort, backlighting and trackpad. However, there were times when the keyboard couldn’t keep up with my typing, but I’m hopeful that is unique to my demo unit. I’ve reached out to Lenovo for comment and will update this review if I receive a response.

Who is this For?

This is a tough one. When you hear of a laptop having a SIM card, like me you probably start to think in smartphone terms. But you have to change that perspective. The Miix isn’t going to replace your phone. What it does well is excellent battery life and saves you from the pain and risk of turning on a hotspot. Thus, business professionals and folks who travel with a laptop often would love a device like this. The all-day battery life and always-on feature makes the Miix 630 a super-portable laptop.

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