By Alexandra Burlacu email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Jan 13, 2013 02:10 PM EST
Lenovo's ThinkPad Helix hybrid can twist like the IdeaPad Yoga and ThinkPad Twist, but it can also be a standalone tablet, ditching the keyboard altogether.
The ThinkPad Helix can completely detach from the keyboard due to the "rip and flip" design, as Lenovo calls it. According to the company, this Windows 8 Ultrabook/ tablet hybrid is a multimode mini Ultrabook.
Windows 8's touch functionality has inspired numerous hybrid designs and products, but the ThinkPad Helix sports one of the most convenient solutions. Detachable hybrids are basically tablets with well-integrated keyboard docks that can be easily removed. Such devices include HP's Envy x2 and Samsung's ATIV Smart PC, but the ThinkPad Helix aims to offer better performance along with that convenience.
With detachable hybrids, the processor electronics go behind the screen, which typically forces PC makers to employ a lower-performance chip such as Intel's Clover Trail Atom, which focuses more on power efficiency. The ThinkPad Helix, however, comes as an exception, as it actually packs a mainstream Intel Ivy Bridge chip into a tablet.
The ThinkPad has plenty of traction simply by bearing the "ThinkPad" pedigree, but it holds its own nonetheless. The device's "rip and flip" design is a clear improvement over the IdeaPad Yoga, allowing the 11.6-inch display to detach and serve as a standalone tablet with a 1920 x 1080 resolution. Moreover, the dock interface allows the hybrid to enter "stand Mode," collapsing all the way down on top of the keyboard to cover it.
When it comes to specs, the ThinkPad Helix shoots to impress. It ships with third-generation Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processors, up to a 256GB Solid State Drive (SSD), and sports a mini DisplayPort, mini-HDMI out, two USB 3.0 ports, and an RJ45 connector.
The Gorilla Glass touchscreen supports 10-point multi-touch, and comes with a digitizer pen that supports Windows 8 gestures and converts handwritten notes into digital text. Other features include dual high-definition 1080p webcams, NFC and 4G LTE support, and a new glass ClickPad and spill-resistant keyboard.
According to Lenovo, the ThinkPad Helix hybrid should provide a 10-hour battery life with the base attached, and five hours in tablet mode, without the keyboard dock.
The ThinkPad Helix is expected to become available sometimes in late February, with an entry MSRP of $1,499.