ThinkPad Helix looks promising

Discussion in 'Lenovo (IBM)' started by JoeS, Oct 21, 2012.

  1. JoeS

    JoeS I'm all ears Senior Member

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    I hadn't heard about this one: the ThinkPad Helix, see pictures here (use Google Chrome if you want an automatic translation)
    Detachable, looks thin, has silo, can go up to i7. The keyboard looks crazy thin, I wonder how well that will feel. This is rumored to be the future of the ThinkPad X tablet line.
     
  2. dceggert

    dceggert Moving 'up' from iPAQ Senior Member

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    Is it a laptop or does it flip all the way around 180 degrees like the "Yoga?"
     
  3. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    Searching around, its a little unclear, but it looks like its detachable with a dock. Has a silo in the base (edit-- although perhaps that's actually in the slate, now that I look at it more-- check the pics in the links below), so it has pen input. What I can't tell is if some of these pictures indicate you can take off the screen, turn it around, re-attach it, and "close" the lid with the screen facing up. Seems so, because there are two hinges-so its clearly not swiveling like the Twist.

    This link here talks about it, but the picture is not the correct model.

    This link is to a Chinese site, but you can see the silo, the dock, some ports, etc.

    It looks interesting, but my biggest concern is the very thin keyboard. Still, an intriguing design answer- doesn't have the issues of the Yoga resting on the upsidedown keyboard, but allows you full ports and a silo because the screen is attached the base if you want it to be.

    edit-
    Hmmm... maybe not? This looks dual sided like that other Lenovo laptop.

    But on the second link up above it clearly shows a "back" while used as a laptop, without a screen on the back. So my guess is that I might be right about its ability to "flip" the screen and re-attach it backwards to the base. I think its abilities are just being misreported right now because we've only got so many pics, and they're a bit confusing.

    edit #2-
    In this pic specifically, you can see how all the ports are at the back of the base.
    You can see it has its own ports on the tablet too, though, which is cool. It feels like they're duplicating the ports through the dock itself so you can have access to them when its a laptop or a slate. It also looks like you're getting the silo in the slate, from the pics above.

    This quote below is translated from the Chinese blog linked to in the first post. It gives you a sense of what it's set up to do. Seems exciting, if you can get onboard with the changed keyboard and touchpad/ button setup-

    ThinkPad Helix in laptop mode can be used as high-performance super-pole of the use, the screen can also be removed from the base into a 11 mm thick tablet PCs. Maximum configuration of the third generation i7 processor, has a 11.6-inch IPS 1080p display, and manipulate the stylus and touch screen (touch) and touchpad (5:00 in touch) a variety of ways. The battery life of 10 hours, the NFC near field communication technology, wireless network support built-in 3G module.

    edit #3-
    Was reading the Chinese forum- it's stated that the dock has a battery in it as well. Perhaps they're getting that from the text in the pics that aren't translated by google. If it's true it would help with 1) balance (as the guts are in the slate/screen, and 2) would explain the reported 10 hour battery life even while having an i7.

    Also, issues with balance would explain the "supportive" hinge behind the screen when used as a laptop.

    As before, if you separate it from you concept of what a convertible tablet should be like in the x line, and instead just think of it as a new solution to dockable slates, it answers many issues-
    Pros-
    1) having guts in the slate makes the dock flimsy/unbalanced--> battery in dock, supportive hinge
    2) battery life issues with iCore--> extra battery in dock
    3) silo in slate versus no silo, or only silo in dock
    4) ports in slate --> seems to be duplicating ports through the docking system, so that's good news
    5) ports in slate --> ?? perhaps provides fullsized ports when used as a slate if you re-dock the slate "backwards" into the base vs. "smaller" ports (??) available when used as a slate?

    Cons-
    1) new style, thin keyboard
    2) lack of buttons for trackpoint??? This is actually an issue for me, and one of the selling points of a Lenovo Thinkpad to me, as I use the a lot for specific programs I use a lot for work. But who knows? The rest seems very appealing.

    Basically, to me, it looks like a full iCore slate, with a silo and ports (??though which types really, we can't see??), with a keyboard dock that has a very thin extra battery on it and replicates and/or improves port capability while simultaneously improving balance issues by having the ports all in the back of the laptop format.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012
  4. Erik Latranyi

    Erik Latranyi Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I believe the silo is in the tablet portion, not the dock. It is shown on the back corner with the rear camera visible.

    Nevertheless, this is the ultimate tablet.
     
  5. 2disbetter

    2disbetter Function over Form

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    Uhhh, yeah this looks very promising. I wonder how long it will take for this to be officially released?

    2d
     
  6. 2disbetter

    2disbetter Function over Form

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    It looks from the pictures I've seen (and I could be confused) that it does both. You can undock it, or dock it. If you dock it reverse then you can fold it back over the keyboard.

    Seems like a pretty good design. And if the stats that are mentioned are true, I could see this going quite a few places.

    2d
     
  7. e-schreiber

    e-schreiber ƒ(x) / fashion Senior Member

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    Great find and detective work, you two!

    The device looks kick-ass. In this picture it looks like there are 2 silos! :confused: Maybe they heard me b!tching about lack of silos and decided to put silos everywhere....one on the slate itself, another on the keyboard-dock, one more on the power adapter, an extra one on the battery, and, for good measure, one on the Pen as well! ;)
     
  8. JoeS

    JoeS I'm all ears Senior Member

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    Just got back after a day away from the internet (it does happen) to find all of this. Nice detective work indeed! I wonder how much it weighs with the dock attached.
     
  9. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    Ok, boys and girls, here's a pic of it just as a slate. I see usb and hdmi and sd maybe? I don't have any experience with HDMI so I can't tell. Also, that pen sure looks Wacom-ish to me....
    5helix.jpg

    And here's one with the dock locked in. Once again, I see 2 usb and hdmi-- I wonder if its routing them from the slate to the base through the docking mechanism? According to the specs I list below in this post, this should be 1" thick??
    9helix.jpg

    This is it as a laptop-
    2helix.jpg

    Here's the site with all of a great series of pics. Holy mole, does it look sweet! The pen looks very much like Wacom. Opinions? There's what looks to be a fantastic array of ports on the slate itself, plus more on the dock.

    E-schreiber, I think the pic you linked to is a comparison pic between the Thinkpad Tablet and the Helix, noting how they both have silos. Notice the matte exterior (Thinkpad Tab) versus "shiny" exterior on the new tablet (presumably the Helix)? That's my guess anyways.

    BTW, specs look something like this, according to this site--
    -11.6" screen
    -16:9 full HD screen
    -10 hours battery life with dock
    -pen with silo on slate
    -mirco USB and micro HDMI on slate? or so it says on this website
    -I see two full USB and HDMI (?) on the dock in the above pic (I see one "under" each hinge), but can't tell for sure
    -looks very thin- I'm seeing 11mm for the dock and 14.5mm for the screen according to the specs sheet, but who knows??... I can't tell if those are comparison specs between it and something else, or if that's with and then without the keyboard, etc 11 mm is thin- .47"! 14.5 mm= .57 inches. If its a measurement per part (screen and dock) then its 1.00" in the money. When you see the slate docked, it's clear the dock as a "L" shape, because it's thicker at the back to accommodate the ports, and the slate rests on the keyboard. Thus, I wonder if the dock is 11 mm thick on the keyboard, but "full" thickeness at the back, right? Is 11mm (.47") thick enough for a good keyboard? Either way, very thin, IMO.
    -Nothing on weight yet that I can find.

    My major concerns are still-
    -How well does a 1/2" thin keyboard work? Are other keyboards already this thin, and if so how do they work?
    -trackpoint buttons and how things might work without them, but still with the trackpoint itself.
    -balance
    -hinge design- does this open and close like a clamshell? It seems to, to me, but I can't tell. Looks like a hinge in front to me though.
    -this is all still sort of hearsay for now. I'd take it all with a grain of salt.... still..... phew! it's nice lookin'!
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012
  10. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    Lets see, additional info says 10 point touch-- that seems like bad news to me re: Wacom? But I don't really know.

    But here's a pic with the pen going into the silo on the slate. I see an eraser, which should mean Wacom, right?
    dsc00472.jpg

    Engadet put up a great series of pics. Here's the link for all 15 of them.

    The hinge mechanism sticks up from the body of the dock itself, btw. There are lots of pics about the hinge mechanism a the Engadget link-- what this means is that although the screen is a 11.6" 16:9 , the body of the dock seems longer than normal for that ratio. I was looking at the pics of the keyboard, and the hand rest area looks substantially larger than I'm used to on my x200t, for example. That's a nice roomy palm rest.

    Ok, I got to go do some real work! Hahaha!
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012
  11. nheel

    nheel Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I wonder where engadget got those pics from? Looks like a trade show? Let's hope some video and more concrete details follow this up. This looks like a killer tablet.
     
  12. dceggert

    dceggert Moving 'up' from iPAQ Senior Member

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    Some observations and a guess at the end... First, the observations:

    - this is the toughest hinge system I have ever seen on a tablet system and it may suggest high end business use as its intent. Why go through all the trouble of providing a separate cover?
    - the i7 suggests the same intended use.
    - one of the pictures at the engadget site shows a product ID and S/N suggesting it isn't just a prototype of a potential future product.
    - it has the Windows 8 key on a US keyboard.

    So, my guess is that this is a new version of the "X" series or an intended replacement..
     
  13. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    Nheel- What I read on a translated forum was that there was exactly that- a trade show or a special event held in Shangai last week, where Lenovo outed the device.

    Assuming it is what I think it is, ha!, yes... the thing looks killer. I wish the screen wasn't so glossy though. That's quite clear from the engadget pics. Can't anyone make a nice, gorgeous, outdoor/bright light viewable, matte screen? sigh.

    edit-
    Dceggert- Indeed, I first read that this was the replacement/death knell/ evolution of the X-series tablets. If so, then no more swivel screen, but, frankly, if this is the alternative, I'd be a very happy boy indeed. Being the x-Series replacement bodes well to me, as it would imply its a premium product- Wacom, iCore, double battery, good service, sturdy build, etc. There are things I would miss- trackpoint buttons, swivel screen, etc.-- but I could give them up for some of these benefits, if it were to work out right....
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012
  14. JoeS

    JoeS I'm all ears Senior Member

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    Maybe the most exciting development: an X-series tablet with a vertical resolution larger than 768 pixels. Finally! Next: where's that desktop dock? I'm sure Steve can dig something up..
     
  15. e-schreiber

    e-schreiber ƒ(x) / fashion Senior Member

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    This might be the true successor to the TC-1100. Looks great!

    An interesting thing I noticed is that all the ports are located on the bottom of the slate (when held in landscape mode). I didn't see ports anywhere else. And on the keyboard-dock, all the ports are in the back. No ports anywhere else. I wonder if Lenovo plans to release it before Xmas. Why hasn't Engadget US mentioned this device yet?
     
  16. nheel

    nheel Scribbler - Standard Member

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  17. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    Nheel-
    Great find! The connection looks rock solid to me. Curious to see it eventually in a longer review.

    JoeS-
    Well, I looked around, but I couldn't find any info yet about a base dock- that would be a nice thing though! ... and much in the tradition of the X-series. I'd love something like a clip on dock with an extra HDD bay and/or dvd drive option, extra battery, etc. That would be dreamy.

    e-schreiber-
    Re: the ports- I agree, an interesting design decision to have all the ports at the back of the laptop and the bottom of the slate. Not sure how that'd be to use (instead of the sides), but I've not liked the idea of having ports on the side of my screen either, frankly (like how the S7H might be?). As a laptop, ports should be positioned perpendicular to and located close to the desk-- this design seems to provide this.

    Seems like the design was pushed by the need to make an excellent docking system. I think the L-shaped idea of pushing all of that to back, and having the slate dock in front of that, provides a great opportunity to have the thickness required to easily provide the ports in the dock, without having the base be too thick in general.

    If this does really top out at 1" thick as a laptop, that'd be really pretty nice. I actually think it looks even thinner in of the pics where people are holding it, but the specs seem to suggest 1" total, so who knows? BTW- has anyone tried typing on something 1/2" thick? What kind of travel can we expect? Would it feel normal still?

    As for weight- I'd be quite happy with 3- 3.5 lbs if we can get all of this functionality and battery life out of this. 3.5 lbs in truth would be great with the extra battery and 10 hour of battery life, but this seems so thin and impressive, frankly, I thought they might be able to get it down to 3. 3 lbs would be like my le1600-- a bit heavy to carry around a lot, but acceptable. It's really the ergonomics of thinness and gripping with the hand that matters, IMO.

    Besides, you could just use the slate on its own, right? Wonder what the battery life for it is, on its own-- probably like the S7H....??? 4-6 hours for the slate?
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012
  18. Mhotep

    Mhotep Scribbler - Standard Member

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    This looks real nice and definitely a contender. Anyone know how much this could possibly weigh?
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012
  19. Rommie2k6

    Rommie2k6 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Agreed. This is probably the most impressive tablet PC device running Core i CPUs I've seen to date. The ASUS Transformer Book was a let down with no stylus, and the Fujitsu series decided to go with N-trig for some reason. Finally, it seems that somebody got it right.
     
  20. dceggert

    dceggert Moving 'up' from iPAQ Senior Member

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    Yes, but brace yourself. If this is targeted for enterprise as a replacement for the X-series then it is going to cost $1,500 + by the time we option it out. It isn't a Samsung Atliv X500 competitor!

    Also, keep in mind that as a TC1100 replacement the cost of that machine was $3,200 in 2004 which, adjusted for inflation to today, is about $3,900..almost what I paid for my son's car. It will not be that much but it is something to think about when people want devices like this.
     
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