Ahh CES. It’s like spring every year, when flowers bloom and the sun shines, and Chicago gets colder than the South Pole. Seriously. But it warms my heart every year to see a flood of devices spring from Las Vegas like a Jack in the Box of technology. One device that has thus far rung my bell just a bit, is the Lenovo ThinkPad 8. You’ve got a serious Windows 8 tablet here and for a great price. But Lenovo is taking a curious route with this one.

Lenovo’s stance for this tablet is it’s a powerful business tablet. This is probably true. But the truth is, this is just a powerful tablet in general. Our full news coverage is available here, but the Lenovo ThinkPad 8 outclasses both Dell’s and Toshiba’s offerings in the same space for right around the same ballpark of a price. There is more resolution, more storage, 4G connectivity, but it does swing and miss on the digitizer/stylus offering, which is to say it’s not there. The table below, built using Phonearena and Photoshop (to make it smaller), shows you the highlights.

thinkpad table

But by marketing the tablet toward business customers, Lenovo is potentially leaving out large numbers of consumers who might otherwise be interested in this tablet. After all, most business applications don’t require a whole ton of hardware. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are generally considered the “big three” of business applications. These are not resource intensive applications. Sure a PowerPoint could go hog wild on animations and graphics and music, but those…what’s the word I’m looking for? oh yeah…suck. There aren’t a whole lot of PowerPoint that show up on review videos to show how great the tablet responds. No, those demos are reserved for gaming and other activities that push the limits of an SoC or GPU. And speaking of GPU…

Play with me, baby.
Play with me, baby.

The resolution on the Lenovo ThinkPad 8 is higher than other 8” offerings. It’s full 1080p. Again, this really sounds like a gamer’s or media consumer’s tablet more than a “business” tablet. I’m just not sure where Lenovo is coming from with this strategy.

Now, let me take a moment to recognize that this seems to be great tablet. It is on paper at least. The dimensions, specifications, and all that really point to some top notch hardware. Being Windows 8.1 is also a major plus bringing all the x86 compatibility you could want. That, above all, is most important for me. It would also be important for a business user. But that’s nothing more than the other Windows 8.1 offerings out there. This tablet is no more “business” than any of them.

It’s just one of those confounding moves that an OEM makes that makes you just scratch your head and do a double take. I guess I’m not a brilliant marketing guru or anything, but in my world, this is just a “High-end” tablet, not a “Business” tablet. Is the world we live in one in which “Business” is synonymous with “better”? I didn’t think so. On the contrary, I worked for 8 years in a “business” that had me on  computer running Windows XP. For those of you not keeping up on your reading, Windows XP is three generations old and will no longer be supported as of April 2014. So in my world, “business” means “cheap” and “cost effective” and not better. Not by any means.

Yeah, so if we could go ahead and get a bunch of those ThinkPads that'd be great.
Yeah, so if we could go ahead and get a bunch of those ThinkPads that’d be great.

If I were Lenovo, I would quietly drop the “business” quote from my product descriptions and substitute “powerful”, “premium” and maybe “high-quality”. Any one of those would be a clearer message than “business”. This is a great tablet, and starting at $399 it’s a pretty good deal as well. I would also love to see a Dell Venue 8 Pro type of stylus/digitizer but I guess “business users” don’t need those to change slides.

But at the end of the day, I don’t argue that the Lenovo tablet is a great tablet for business users, but I wouldn’t exclusively target that type of user because doing so excludes consumers. Unless of course this tablet will only be offered toward enterprise customers, or perhaps more heavily to that sector, in which case this won’t necessarily be competitive against Dell and Toshiba, but merely trying for a market that Dell and Toshiba haven’t specifically targeted. I guess maybe possibly that’s the direction Lenovo is looking?

Bottom line, if you’re in the market for an 8” Windows 8 tablet not limited by RT, then this is a very solid offering with what should be a premium look and feel. And that’s good for everyone, whether you chat at a water cooler or not.

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