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Review loan unit from Lenovo Singapore
The Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable is a 2-in-1 device released in 2021 that can work as a laptop and a tablet with its detachable keyboard.
This device seems to be targeted at business users or office workers judging by the many optional add-on warranty services available. Main reason why I’m reviewing this on an art blog is because I wanted to find out how good this tablet is for drawing since it’s compatible with a Lenovo pen. So this review is from the artist perspective.
The specs of the unit I’m reviewing are as follows:
- Processor: 11th gen Intel Core i7-1180G7 (quad 2.2Ghz to 4.6Ghz)
- RAM: 16GM
- Storage: 512GB
- OS: Windows 10 Pro
- Pen: Lenovo Digital Pen
These are official retail prices I retrieved from Lenovo’s website at time of the review:
- i3-1110G4 (2 cores @ 2.5Ghz) + 8GB + 256GB SSD: S$2,379 (discounted: $1,668)
- i5-1130G7 (4 cores @1.8Ghz) + 8GB + 256GB SSD: S$2,609 (discounted: $1,829)
- i5-1140G7 (4 cores @ 1.8Ghz) + 8GB + 256GB SSD: S$2,645 (discounted: $1,963)
- i7-1160G7 (4 cores @ 2.1Ghz) + 16GB + 256GB SSD: S$2,865 (discounted: $2,089)
- i7-1180G7 (4 cores @ 2.2Ghz) + 16GB + 256GB SSD: S$3,205 (discounted: $2,327)
Important thing to note is very often Lenovo can have promotion with discounts up to S$700. The listed discounted prices above are what you’ll actually pay. Prices may vary, of course, depending on the promotion.
Prices are inclusive of 3 years premier onsite warranty.
Upgrade from 8 to 16GB RAM is S$40.
Upgrade from 256GB to 512GB is S$70, and to 1TB is S$200.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Good looking design even if it’s a bit dated
+ Compact and portable (1.2kg with keyboard)
+ Solid build quality
+ Display has good colours, viewing angles and brightness (322 nits measured)
+ Laminated display
+ Touchscreen is responsive and works well
+ Built in stand with many positions
+ Overall smooth and fast performance with Intel 11th gen processors
+ Fingerprint and face unlock are fast
+ Excellent keyboard cover included
+ Typing experience is excellent
+ Handwriting performance is excellent
+ Palm rejection works well
+ Reasonable battery life (i7 model can last 7.5hrs)
+ 3 years premier onsite warranty
+ Plenty of warranty options
+ Optional sim card slot with some models
+ Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port
– No microSD card slot
– Pricey but upgrades are reasonably priced
– Pen is not included
– Front facing speakers sound hollow
– Two USB-C ports may not be enough
The only things included are the power adapter and detachable keyboard.
The pen is sold separately. Lenovo Precision Pen is S$120 and the Lenovo Digital Pen (the one I’m using) is S$30. These bundled prices are lower than official retail prices.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X12 is a 12.3-inch tablet with kickstand and comes with a detachable keyboard. The form factor is similar to competing Microsoft Surface Pro tablets which at the time of this review still use the 10th gen Intel processors.
The design is clean and simple even if it’s dated. Bezels are small. The front facing 5MP camera has a physical shutter for extra privacy. Weight is 840g and with the keyboard it’s 1.2kg. It’s a compact and portable device.
The body is made with Magnesium alloy and has a nice matte texture throughout. Build quality is excellent.
The big ThinkPad logo on the back has a red dot/light that would pulsate while charging or sleeping.
The power button’s light pulsates at the same frequency as the red light. The tablet’s 1.5cm thick with the keyboard cover. The finishing, edges and corners of this tablet have a nice streamline design.
The keyboard cover has a sleeve for holding the pen.
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Near the sleeve are holes for air intake. This tablet has fans which are thankfully not too noisy. The fans don’t rev up unless you’re doing processor intensive tasks, e.g. exporting videos.
The kickstand is stiff and can be adjusted to any angle.
The keyboard can be propped up at an angle or can lay flat.
There’s a latch to deploy the kickstand easily. And the kickstand will snap shut with magnets.
At the bottom right are the Kensington lock and nano sim card slot (not included in some models).
On the left are USB-C 3.2 gen 2 (and for charging), volume controls, USB-C Thunderbolt 4 and 3.5mm audio jack
The 12.3-inch display supports 1920 x 1280 resolution with a 3:2 aspect ratio. There’s slight pixelation but overall visuals still look sharp enough since it’s not a huge display.
The touchscreen is responsive and works great.
The display is an IPS LCD panel with colours that look good out of the box. Viewing angles are good. There’s minimal colour shift when viewed from side angles.
I measured colour support for 99% sRGB, 71% NTSC, 76% AdobeRGB, 76% P3 and a maximum brightness of 322 nits. This display has reasonably good colours and brightness.
The display is glossy but there’s anti-reflection coating applied to reduce reflections. The anti-reflection coating does a good job reducing the bright white reflections which makes the display easier on the eyes when using the tablets outdoors.
The included keyboard cover has solid build quality and provides excellent typing experience. The texture is of the keyboard body is matte textured too.
The keyboard is full size and comes with a trackpad with three physical mouse buttons. The trackpad can be clicked too and has just the right amount of resistance and click. There’s also the classic red TrackPoint for another way to control the cursor.
Layout of the keys is good but at the bottom left, the Fn and Control buttons are switched. Most Windows keyboards have the Control at the extreme corner. There’s no option to swap the keys in the Bios (I’ve checked) so you may have to use some key mapping software, or just get use to the placement. Not a big deal.
On the right side there are the dedicated Printscreen button, right Control, half height arrow keys, PgUp and PgDn.
The fingerprint scanner beside the trackpad works effectively and is fast. You can also use face unlock if the keyboard is not around.
The trackpad is real nice but it’s on the smaller side. Anyway, there’s a touchscreen so I find myself using that more often unless I need the precision of the trackpad, mostly for text editing, e.g. placing the cursor.
This is easily one of the best keyboard covers out there, noticeably better than the ones for Microsoft Surface Pro. There’s good key travel and nice feedback. You can speed type on this with no issues.
This is the Lenovo Digital Pen that’s compatible with the ThinkPad X12. The other compatible pen is the Lenovo Precision Pen which unfortunately I do not have.
This pen has a full metal body and is comfortable to hold with its matte textured surface. There are two side buttons which are configurable to different pre-set shortcuts and keyboard shortcuts.
The pen is powered by one AAAA battery and battery life is several months long.
General performance of the tablet is smooth and fast when it comes to start up, app launches, downloads, surfing the web, multi-tasking. I’m using the Intel i7 model and there’s no lag at all. I don’t expect lag with the Intel i5 models too because the 11th gen Intel processors are pretty good upgrades (thanks to competition with Apple’s M1 chips) over the 10th gen Intel processors.
If you can, definitely spend the extra S$40 to upgrade the RAM from 8GB to 16GB. And maybe spend S$70 more to increase the storage from 256GB to 512GB, or S$200 to increase from 256GB to 1TB. There’s no microSD card slot so you may want to add more storage at the time of purchase.
While the ThinkPad X12 is pricey, the upgrades are reasonably priced. If you want to use this as your main computing device, the upgrades are worth money.
Handwriting and note taking
Handwriting performance depends on the app you use.
Handwriting performance with Microsoft OneNote is fantastic. Latency is minimal and the app was able to capture my handwriting quite accurate. There’s also perfect palm rejection because you can set the app to accept only pen input.
There’s also no jittering with the letters before they settle on the page. This letter jittering issue is a common problem with tablets but thankfully is not an issue here.
Latency is more noticeable with Wacom Bamboo Paper but it did not affect my handwriting. Wacom Bamboo Paper does not have strict palm rejection mode so you’ll have to rely on the active pen for palm rejection and it doesn’t always work perfectly like in Microsoft OneNote.
Handwriting performance depends on the app you use.
Drawing performance is not great but it’s not surprising. Drawing performance on Windows tablets just can’t match iPads or Samsung tablets yet.
The Lenovo Digital Pen I’m using supports 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity.
1. Initial activation force is high, which means it’s not easy to draw thin lines with minimal pressure applied.
2. Lines cannot taper smoothly due to the higher initial activation force.
3. Thin to thick transition looks alright but there’s wobble with the diagonal lines.
4. Dots can be drawn easily be tapping the pen tip.
5. It’s easy to maintain consistent pressure to draw lines with consistent widths.
The pen is also quite slippery on the glass display. Slippery is good for writing but not good for drawing where you need more control. The slipperiness together with the tendency for the lines to wobble means it’s difficult to draw precisely with the pen.
Lines are too wobbly for my liking in Autodesk Sketchbook.
Sketchable actually performs quite well.
Here are some more wobbly lines from Medibang Paint Pro. The high initial activation force also makes it challenging to draw details.
There’s a glitch with Concepts that prevents lines from showing when you draw. It’s not a glitch that’s specific to this tablet because I had the same problem with the Dell Inspiron 14 (5410) I reviewed recently.
Clip Studio Paint performs quite well but again, the slipperiness of the pen will affect precision.
People don’t buy Lenovo tablets to draw so whether it performs well at drawing probably is not a big issue. Most people buying a tablet like this would probably want to write instead and the writing performance is excellent.
If you do graphic design which doesn’t involve drawing, you’ll still get a performer out of this. Coincidentally, the desktop computers in my office used for graphic design work are Lenovo desktops.
Battery capacity is 42Wh. This tablet I’m testing has the 11th gen Intel Core i7-1180G7 processor and I was only able to get 7 and half hours with 50-60% brightness. I have another laptop with an 80Wh battery with double the battery life so the tablet’s battery life is in line with what I expect.
If you want more battery life, go for the i5 processors and they are cheaper too compared to i7 but more expensive compared to i3. For most office type work you’re not going to see or feel the difference between i5 and i7. Avoid the dual core i3 processors.
For some reason, Lenovo website says the included charger is 65W. But mine’s actually 45W.
Anyway, since this tablet charges via the USB-C port, you can use other chargers.
The default warranty service provided is the 3 years premier onsite warranty. Repairs are done by the next business day.
When you choose to the standard 1 year warranty to save S$307, they will remove the bundled discounts and you actually pay more to have less warranty.
The ThinkPad X12 is a powerful tablet and the processing power is definitely more than sufficient to last for at least 5 years. If I want to keep the tablet for 5 years, I may actually top up S$291 to make it a 5-year premier onsite warranty. The only thing that will wear down is the battery capacity and for that Lenovo has a Sealed Battery Replacement warranty too for $79 for a one time battery replacement.
In short, the 3 year premier onsite warranty has got you well covered.
Here’s the bottomline. The Lenovo ThinkPad X12 is a portable performer that can function as a tablet and laptop and does a good job in both form.
Boot up and app launches are quick. Overall performance is smooth and fast. The display has good colours and viewing angles. Handwriting performance is fantastic. Drawing performance is alright, not that great, but nobody is buying this to create professional art anyway. Keyboard is excellent. Build quality is solid and premium. 7 hours+ of battery life is reasonable with the Intel i7 processor and the 42Wh battery capacity.
Downsides for me would be the battery life. 7 hours is actually decent because I’ve used other Windows tablets with less. CNET reviewed a model with Intel i3 and TechRadar reviewed one with Intel i5 and both got 9hrs+ battery life. Notebookcheck reviewed an Intel i7 model and got 6 to 8 hours. If you want the perfect balance of battery life and power, go with the Intel i5 models, cheaper too.
The other downside is pricing. Lenovo products are pricey but important thing to note is the prices are inclusive of 3-year premier onsite warranty that promised next-business-day repairs so that may be worth something for people who cannot afford downtime. The target market for this product is clearly office workers or business users seeing the large variety of warranty options available.
Business users value uptime and productivity are probably willing to pay more. In terms of performance, the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 performs really well. So if you have the budget, I think you’ll be satisfied. You can decide whether the ThinkPad X12 is worth the money based on what you value.
4.5 out of 5 stars.
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