For a brief, fleeting moment, I almost thought Lenovo had accidentally announced the Surface Pro 4 when I first saw the IdeaPad Miix 700. With its sleek metal chassis and height-adjustable kickstand, it’s so close to Microsoft’s excellent two-in-one Surface Pro 3 that you could easily mistake one for the other at first glance. Look a little closer, though, and you’ll soon see where Lenovo’s had a hand in the tablet’s design, as it shares exactly the same keyboard design as other IdeaPad laptops, and its watchband hinge has been ripped straight off the Yoga Pro 3 to give it an extra touch of class.
Still, it’s hard not to wonder how Lenovo has managed to get away with such a device, as even its detachable keyboard has a nigh-on identical magnetic strip across the top of it which you can snap to the bottom of the tablet to give you a raised typing angle. However, Microsoft needn’t worry about Lenovo’s keyboard outdoing its Touch Cover keyboards, as it not only bounced up and down quite a lot while I was typing, but the keys themselves had a lot of flex in them, too. This made typing feel a tad clumsy, and there was even some noticeable flex in the keyboard when I set it flat against the table.
However, Lenovo’s touchpad was by far the most disappointing part of the Miix 700’s keyboard, as I found it often became rather skittish if I had other fingers on the wrist rest at the same time. As I tried moving the cursor up and down the page, it would suddenly dart off to a different corner, making it very fussy to navigate.
Luckily, the Miix 700 has a single full-sized USB3 port on its side for adding a mouse, but this won’t be of much consolation if you need to access a memory drive or connect another device at the same time. There is a USB port on the other side, but this also doubles up as the Miix 700’s power cable or stylus holder, so it may well be in constant use if you’re running low on battery. There’s also a mini HDMI output for connecting the tablet to an external display as well as a microSD card slot to expand the tablet’s storage. The latter is tucked away underneath the kickstand, along with a SIM card slot if you happen to opt for the 4G version.
That said, there’s no denying that the Miix 700’s 12in 2,160×1,440 screen looked fantastic. Blacks were deep and inky while colours had plenty of punch. However, it wasn’t particularly bright when I tried playing around with the settings, as even its brightest setting seemed rather dull compared to other laptop screens I’ve seen. Admittedly, the bright overhead lights on the show floor might be partly to blame, but we’ll have to see how it fares in our Expert Reviews calibration tests once we get one in the office before we can deliver a final verdict.
One thing that did disappoint was that it didn’t switch to Windows 10’s tablet mode when we detached the keyboard. Instead, it stayed in the normal desktop mode, which made it rather more tricky to use than smaller two-in-ones like the Toshiba Satellite Click 10. However, for all Windows 10’s flexibility and chameleon-like adaptability when it comes to hybrid devices, it’s possible that the sheer size of the screen may have pushed it over the edge into proper desktop territory, thereby disabling the automatic tablet mode when it’s separated from the keyboard.
Of course, it’s hard to imagine that Microsoft would let a similar thing slide when it eventually releases the Surface Pro 4, but it was interesting to note that the Miix 700 on show was still running the Windows 10 Pro Insider Preview rather than the full official OS, so this may well change once it actually launches later this year.
Still, with one of Intel’s brand new Skylake-based Core M processors on board as well as up to 8GB of RAM, the Miix 700 should have plenty of speed. Again, we’ll have to see how it copes with our Expert Reviews benchmark suite before we start comparing its performance, but it should at least be able to keep up with the newMacbook and Asus’s Zenbook UX305.
The Miix 700 can also be configured with Intel’s depth-sensing RealSense 3D camera, but this will no doubt add a hefty premium to the overall cost. While UK prices have yet to be finalised, the basic Miix 700 model is due to start at $699 and will be available from this September.
In a direct conversion, that works out to around £460, which is much cheaper than the entry-level model of the Surface Pro 3 (which starts at £639), but it’s currently unknown what specification that price refers to, or indeed how much storage will be available. At the moment, Lenovo’s currently saying it will be available with up to a 256GB SSD, but it’s keeping tight-lipped on what will be available at the other end of the range. Hopefully, though, we won’t have to wait too long to find out. We’ll bring you a full review as soon as samples are available.