GadgetsLab: Lenovo Twist

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Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 12.3” x 9.3” x 0.8”
  • Weight: 3.48 lbs
  • Screen: 12.5” HD IPS Touch Screen
  • Ports: 2 USB 3.0
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 and a/b/g/n WLAN
  • Processor: Intel Core i3, 1.7GHz
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 320 GB HDD/128GB SSD Hybrid

What’s Hot:

  • Solid Lenovo build quality
  • Useful twist function
  •  Great battery life

What’s Not:

  • Wobbly screen

Bottomline:

  • I thoroughly enjoyed using it. The twist gimmick is more than just that; it’s actually pretty useful.

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The increasing trend towards tablets is great. There is no better tool in the human being’s arsenal than the hand, and few things are as natural as using your digits to make things work. Still, there is much to be desired in the tablet space when it comes to content-creation; the sheer number of after-market peripherals is a clear testament to that. Leave it to Lenovo, one of the leading brands in personal computing, to give us the best of both worlds: a tablet for media consumption and general poking about the Internet, and a full notebook for all the spreadsheets, documents, emails and posts that even the most dedicated desk jockey could ever dream of.

The Lenovo Twist is a curious little device that retains the signature Lenovo corporate look, with a little something extra for when you clock out of the office. The device itself has a footprint of 12.3×9.3×0.8-inches, and tips the scales at 3.48lbs. It might not be the thinnest or lightest ultrabook out there, but it is still well within ultrabook territory, and is more than handy enough to lug around in your regular laptop bag or pack with no real problem. The HD IPS screen is a sufficient 12.5-inches on the diagonal and has above-average viewing angles, so if you intend to share your work/film/YouTube video, you can easily cater to a small crowd of viewers. The model we tested had an Intel Core i5 processor running at 2.6GHz, with 4GB of RAM. These specs might not be of gaming pedigree, but it’s not meant to be. The most many users will ask of the Twist is to play back HD video, and it is more than capable for that purpose. The keyboard is very comfortable, with spacing and travel just right for fast, eyes-free typing. I have always liked the feel of Lenovo keyboards, and this is no exception. The extra girth gives the keys a little more room to move, which is great for inputting large volumes of text.

The Twist also has a 320GB + 128GB HDD/SSD combo for fast boot times and data access. From a cold sleep the device was usable in under half a minute. This is partly because of the SSD, and the boot optimization of  Windows 8—the pre-installed OS on the Twist. Windows 8 is not a bad OS, but it really shines with a touchscreen. The Twist was more than happy to oblige, responding quickly and accurately to swipes, taps and pinches on the entire screen. It is a little awkward to lift your hand up off the wrist rest to manipulate screen elements while in notebook mode though, so it is great that Lenovo kept the iconic eraser-head style mouse pointer and the standard trackpad. There are a whole lot of ways to control the device, and more options are always better, in my opinion.

The unique selling point of the Twist is the screen. Just like you may imagine, the screen swivels around a single point on the spine of the device, allowing it to look behind it, if you will, and then have the screen lie flat on the keyboard, turning it into a tablet for media consumption or sharing. While it’s not the lightest device for carrying about, it is certainly useful. During the test, I hosted a small event that required some quick edits on the fly. I was able to use the device in tablet form to hold the script, and quickly switch back to notebook mode for painless text input. My only gripe is that since the hinge isn’t exactly massive and is placed centrally on the laptop’s spine, it doesn’t offer much resistance to screen presses in notebook mode. It was a little on the floppy side, but still usable. It also has the endurance of a tablet, allowing me to use it for close to the advertised 6 hours.

The Twist can also be used in “Tent Mode” where in the screen is twisted around, then the device half-closed and rested on the edges of the wrist rest and screen, forming an up-side-down “V.” This was useful when I wanted to view videos or browse the Internet with limited space upon which to do so. I used it surprisingly frequently, and found it quite handy. The internal speakers, combined with the Dolby Home Theatre v4 technology made it a pleasant notebook on which to watch shows. Headphones or external speakers were not needed to enjoy the audio.

The Twist has a large number of ports and connectivity options, particularly for an ultrabook. It has two USB 3.0 ports, an RJ45 port, integrated card reader, Bluetooth 4.0, and a Mini-HDMI port, as well as a front-facing camera capable of recording 720p video.

Lenovo has always made devices that take care of its users. The Twist is no different. It comes with Lenovo Solutions for Small Business that allows the device to look after itself without the need for a full IT department to back it up. The software reminds you once your warranty is about to expire, allows you to lock USB ports so data cannot be copied from your laptop without authorization, makes sure your anti-virus software is up to date, and a slew of other features that make sure your computer experience is as painless as possible.

The Lenovo Twist is primarily a business notebook, but it is one that knows how to kick back once business hours are over. Is has the robustness of other members of the Thinkpad line, with extra features that let it stand out from the plain black boxes that dot the corporate officescape. I would recommend it to users who need a solid work laptop that can double-duty for the home. Windows 8was made for a touch device such as the Twist, and the ability to use it you would a tablet is definitely a huge bonus.

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First Published in Gadgets Magazine, May 2013

Words by Ren Alcantara