Lenovo ThinkPad Twist review: A classic convertible with a few new tricks

Connections, performance, and battery life
For a 12.5-inch laptop that also has to fit in a touch screen, the Twist is pretty well-appointed when it comes to connections. You'll need adapters for video output, but the next time someone says you can't build a full-size Ethernet jack into a thin convertible laptop, show them this.

A couple of things you'll need easy access to when in tablet mode -- physical volume buttons and the power button -- have been moved to the lid itself, but the actual ports are all on the base of the laptop.

This $899 configuration includes a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U processor, which is the same CPU found in a majority of the Windows 8 laptops we've reviewed so far. It's paired with 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB HDD, with a small 24GB SSD for faster booting and app launching. It's not the most high-end configuration, and you can find several laptops with full 128GB SSDs for less, but the build quality adds a lot of value.

In our benchmark tests, the ThinkPad Twist not surprisingly performed on par with other Core i5-3317U Windows 8 laptops and convertibles, including the Dell XPS 12 and the Toshiba U925t . Any of these systems is more than powerful enough for office tasks, HD video playback, and Web surfing. Video games are a different story. With only Intel's default HD 4000 for graphics, you'll be restricted to older or casual games, or more forgiving current games at lower detail settings. But, if gaming is a priority for you, you're probably not thinking ThinkPad anyway.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Battery life, however, is a priority for nearly everyone. In a slim, 12.5-inch system such as this, you would rightly expect all-day battery life, or close to it. Unfortunately, the battery life in the Twist is shorter than that of many of the other Windows 8 touch screen laptops we've tested, running for 4 hours and 12 minutes on our video playback battery life test. That's almost 90 minutes less than Lenovo's Yoga convertible. That said, our battery test uses very strict power settings, and Lenovo includes an easy-to-use battery settings app that can tweak settings for extended life by dimming the screen, disabling unnecessary services, etc.

Lenovo offers a one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the ThinkPad Twist, which includes mail-in service. If purchased directly from Lenovo, in-home service can be added for $79 for one year and $159 for three years. Lenovo is typically at the top of the pack when it comes to ease of use of support tools, both online and through the support and settings apps built into the system.

Conclusion
The Lenovo ThinkPad Twist is a bit of a throwback to the pre-iPad, pre-Windows 8 days of convertible touch-screen laptops. The center-hinge design isn't as eye-catching as some of the flipping, folding, or sliding competition, but it makes for a slim, usable tablet experience. Even better, the Twist gives you a magnesium alloy thin ultraportable, with one of the best keyboards you can find, for a very reasonable price.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Dell XPS 12
517 
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist
601 

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist
189 
Dell XPS 12
199 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist
126 
Dell XPS 12
148 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Dell XPS 12
283 
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist
252 

Load test (average watts)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist
26.44 
Dell XPS 12
27.2 

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations
Lenovo ThinkPad Twist
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Hitachi 7,200rpm

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 128GB Samsung SSD

Dell XPS 12
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 32MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000; 256GB LITEONIT SSD

Sony Vaio Duo 11
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 128GB Toshiba SSD

Toshiba Satellite U925t
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 128GB Samsung SSD

What you'll pay

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    Where to Buy

    Lenovo ThinkPad Twist

    Part Number: 33474HU
    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Regional specs shown for US. UK specs are unavailable.

    • Resolution 1366 x 768 ( HD )
    • Operating System Windows 8 64-bit Edition - English / MUI
    • Installed Size 4 GB
    • Weight 3.5 lbs
    • Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000
    • CPU Intel Core i5 (3rd Gen) 3317U / 1.7 GHz
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