Review Specs Lenovo ThinkPad Twist (S230U)

Review Specs Lenovo ThinkPad Twist (S230U) 12,5" - The Lenovo ThinkPad Twist joins the small number of convertible Windows 8 tablets to hit the market after the launch of that new operating system at the end of October 2012. The Twist looks like a standard ThinkPad or ThinkPad Edge compact system until you open it up and try out the center swivel hinge that allows you to use the Ultrabook like a laptop, as a tablet or in presentation mode. The 12.5", 350 nit brightness IPS display is sharp and colorful. Better yet, it has 5 points of capacitive multi-touch, though there's no digital pen option as with the ThinkPad X230t.

Keyboard and Trackpad: ThinkPad Goodness
As you'd expect from a ThinkPad, the Twist is a sturdy and understated laptop with a superb keyboard and very good Synaptics trackpad plus Trackpoint. Alas, the keyboard isn't backlit, but that's our only qualm. The keyboard, as you'd expect from a ThinkPad, is exceptional with good key travel and tactile feedback. The keys are roomy and the "smile" curve makes them comfortable and distinct from each other.

Design and Ergonomics
The build is solid and the unidirectional traditional center swivel hinge that's been used on Windows Tablet PCs for a decade is strong. There is a little bit of wobble when you poke at the screen with a finger, and so far slider designs do the best job of fighting wobble.

Below the soft touch black finish a metal casing keeps the laptop safe from occasional bumps and thumps. As with all ThinkPads, we expect this one to tolerate more abuse than the average plastic notebook. There's no chassis flex and it feels like and is a well made computer. The exterior and keyboard deck are matte but the display surround is a gloss black plastic that cheapens the look a bit. But this is an Edge system, and that means occasional gloss and chrome bits that are flashy and distracting from the overall stately design.

Unlike the 1600 x 900 Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, the Twist's display is the more common 1366 x 768 resolution. It looks sharp enough, though it's obviously not as razor sharp as full HD displays like that of the Sony Vaio Duo 11 and Dell XPS 12 convertible Windows 8 Ultrabook-tablets. Still, this is a high quality IPS display with wide viewing angles and good colors, and it's protected with Gorilla Glass. The display is glossy and it does have the usual glare you'd expect from a Gorilla Glass gloss display. The 350 nit display has good brightness and it supports 5 points of capacitive multi-touch but there is no digital pen option (you can use a capacitive stylus, which is less accurate).

The ThinkPad Twist has two USB 3.0 ports (one on each side), a mini HDMI port (we'd actually prefer micro HDMI or full size since those are both more commonly used), a mini DisplayPort (perfect for driving higher than 1080p monitors), a 3.5mm combo audio jack, an SD card slot and an Ethernet jack. It has the traditional barrel charging connector rather than Lenovo's new compact rectangular port used on some of their skinnier systems. There is currently no fingerprint scanner with TPM option, though the tablet does have a 3G SIM card slot (in the US we currently can't order it with a 3G module however).

Performance and Horsepower
Our review unit shipped with the usual 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U ULV Ivy Bridge CPU with Turbo Boost to 2.6GHz, 4 gigs of RAM and a 128 gig SSD. The configuration sold at Staples stores for $899 has the same internals except the drive, which is a 500 gig HDD SATA drive with a 24 gig mSATA SSD caching drive to speed up boot and launch times. If you're a self-upgrader, you can upgrade the drive yourself at a later date by purchasing a SATA 2.5" SSD drive.

The ThinkPad Twist vs. the Lenovo ThinkPad X230t
What's the difference between the ThinkPad Twist and the Lenovo ThinkPad x230t? The Twist is approximately $300 less, and it runs on slower ULV CPUs rather than the full mobile CPUs used in the X230t. The X230t is available with either touch or a digital pen (but not both) and has a matte display vs. the glossy Gorilla Glass-clad Twist.

Battery Life
As is the norm for Ultrabooks, the ThinkPad Twist's Lithium Ion Polymer battery is sealed inside. The 42.4Whr battery is ample enough, but as with other Windows 8 touchscreen convertibles and Ultrabooks, runtimes aren't terribly impressive. Our machine gets a boost from the power-frugal 128 gig SSD drive, and we've averaged 4.5 hours on a charge with brightness set to 50%, WiFi on and Bluetooth off. Our test includes a mix of productivity work with MS Office, email set to check at 15 minute intervals, web browsing, social networking and 30 minutes of streaming HD video playback. Users with the standard issue 500 gig HDD have reported 3.5-4 hour runtimes.


Price: Starting at $829


  • Display: 12.5", 1366 x 768 LED backlit IPS 350 nit display with 5 points of capacitive multi-touch. Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. Mini HDMI and mini display Ports.
  • Battery: 42.4 Whr Lithium Ion rechargeable, sealed inside.
  • Performance: 1.7GHz Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5-3317U ULV CPU, 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U optional (both with Turbo Boost). 4 gigs of DDR3 RAM on Core i5 and 8 gigs on Core i7 (soldered to motherboard). Available with 500 gig 5400 RPM hard drive and 24 gig SSD caching drive or SSD drive only.
  • Size: 12.3 x 9.3 x 0.80 inches. Weight: 3.48 pounds.
  • Camera: 720p webcam and mic.
  • Audio: Built in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack. Realtek HD audio with Dolby Home Theatre 4.0 audio.
  • Networking: Integrated dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n (Broadcom and Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 options) and Bluetooth 4.0 + HS. Realtek Gigabit with Ethernet RJ45 jack.
  • Software: Windows 8 64 bit, Windows 8 Pro also available.
  • Expansion and Ports: 1 SD card slot, mini HDMI, mini DisplayPort, two USB 3.0 ports, 3.5mm combo audio jack and Ethernet RJ45.

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