Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx review: An Atom hybrid that blends into the background

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MSRP: $649.00

The Good The IdeaTab Lynx is well-balanced when plugged into its keyboard base, and offers good battery life, and a bigger-screen alternative to Lenovo's other Atom tablet.

The Bad The keyboard has too much flex, and the docking hinge sticks. For only a little more, better products are available.

The Bottom Line The IdeaTab Lynx is a perfectly functional Windows 8 hybrid but lacks the lower price of some competitors, or better design and features of others.

Visit for details.

6.9 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Battery 7
  • Support 7

Comparing the roughly half-dozen Intel Atom Windows 8 tablets that we've seen to date is relatively easy. Nearly all of them, from the HP Envy X2 to the Dell Latitude 10, are built around essentially identical hardware platforms, starting with an Intel Atom CPU, 2GB of RAM, and a 64GB SSD, along with either a 10- or 11-inch 1,366x768-pixel screen.

The real differentiators are price, available accessories, and the design and construction of the tablet (plastic versus metal, for example). For Lenovo, in particular, this is a tale of two tablets, the 10-inch ThinkPad Tablet 2 and the 11-inch IdeaTab Lynx, also known as the IdeaTab K3011.

On paper, at least, these two products are remarkably similar. Both stick to the guidelines outlined above, and have a 1.8GHz Intel 2760 processor, 2GB of RAM, 64GB of solid-state storage, and both cost about the same, with the ThinkPad Tablet 2 starting at $679 and the Lynx at $649.

But there are differences beyond the $30 price break, and they don't always favor the allegedly more consumer-friendly Lynx. The ThinkPad version has a full USB 2.0 built in, offers wireless broadband and NFC options, and has dual Webcams. The IdeaTab version has a bigger screen, 11 inches versus 10 inches, and its keyboard dock includes a second battery for longer overall battery life.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Like the HP Envy X2 or Acer W510, the Lynx feels more like an ultraportable laptop when plugged into its clamshell-like keyboard base, but it doesn't stack up to even inexpensive ultrabooks in terms of hands-on utility and usability. Annoyingly, Lenovo's Web site doesn't seem to have the $129 keyboard dock for sale as of this writing, but I've seen it from Amazon, Staples, and others, for as much as $20 above the list price.

As a standalone tablet, the Lynx benefits from its bigger screen, but also feels less substantial, with a plastic back instead of the metal back panel of the ThinkPad Tablet 2. Side by side, unless you really need an 11-inch screen over a 10-inch one, or just can't spare the $30, it's hard to see this as the better of Lenovo's two Windows 8 tablet choices.

Price as reviewed / starting price $779 / $649
Processor 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760
Memory 2GB, 800MHz DDR2
Hard drive 64GB SSD
Graphics Intel GMA
Operating System
Dimensions (WD) 11.8 x 7.4 inches
Height 0.37 inch (tablet only)
Screen size (diagonal) 11.6 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 1.4/2.9 pounds (tablet only); 1.6/3.1 pounds (w/keyboard)
Category Ultraportable hybrid

Design and features
With lower prices than Core i5 tablets, most of the Atom-powered Windows 8 tablets we've seen tend toward plastic construction and generally looser designs. There are rare exceptions, as in the case of this tablet's sister product, the ThinkPad Tablet 2.

As a standalone tablet, the Lynx has a footprint on the larger end of the spectrum. It's thin and light, but the plastic back panel does not inspire confidence (nor do other plastic-backed tablets, to be fair). It's when connected to its optional $129 keyboard/battery dock that the Lynx really finds its own personality.

The two pieces together look and feel more like a clamshell laptop than a tablet with a keyboard accessory -- it's a style also found in the HP Envy X2 and Acer W510. The balance between the screen and base is better in the Lynx than those other two examples, and less prone to tipping over. The connection is made via a bulky central hinge, and the release mechanism is a big physical button in the middle, similar to those found on similar systems from HP, Samsung, and others. It's an inelegant look, especially compared with the way more tablet-oriented hybrids, such as the Surface Pro or ThinkPad Tablet 2, connect with their keyboards, but I don't think anyone has really nailed the perfect clamshell hybrid hinge design yet.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The keyboard dock adds some additional ports, but more importantly contains an extra battery for extended use. The keyboard is of the usual Lenovo design, with flat-topped keys that bow out slightly at the bottom. The keyboard layout is great for typing on a small system, but the entire keyboard dock has a lot of flex, especially towards the middle. It's frankly unusual for a Lenovo, and a bit cheap-feeling.

Adding to my frustration, the latch connecting the screen and keyboard felt sticky. Even with the release button firmly pressed, the two parts didn't come apart cleanly and required some awkward tugging almost every time.

The touch pad below the keyboard omits both left and right mouse buttons and a trackpoint in favor of clickpad-style buttons, which gives you the maximum finger surface on the small pad.

The big 11.6-inch display is a highlight. The 1,366x768-pixel resolution is standard for an Atom-powered Windows 8 tablet, but the screen is clear and bright, with excellent off-axis viewing angles, and a very responsive touch surface.

Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx Average for category [ultraportable]
Video Micro-HDMI HDMI or DisplayPort
Audio Stereo speakers, combo headphone/microphone jack Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 1 Micro-USB 2.0, microSD card reader (tablet); 2 USB 2.0 (keyboard dock) 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader
Networking 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Ethernet (via dongle), 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive None None

Connections, performance, and battery life
The Lynx falls victim to the same problems as many other Atom tablets. It eschews full-size ports and connections in favor of micro versions, which are frankly not terribly useful for everyday consumers, who rarely have a Micro-USB-to-USB dongle with them, or a microSD card. You'll end up carrying around a pocket full of adapters and cables, which runs counter to the portable nature of a lightweight tablet. The keyboard dock adds a couple of full-size USB ports, but they are of the older 2.0 variety, not the faster USB 3.0 you'll find in an Intel Core i-series device.

The performance of all the Atom-powered Windows 8 tablets and hybrids we've tested has been similar, and surprisingly good for everyday use (at least for anyone who remembers how slow Atom-powered netbooks were). That's because so much of what we do on laptops and tablets these days is cloud-based, such as online video streaming, e-mail, and social media -- and also because Microsoft has done an excellent job making sure the Windows 8 UI and native apps run smoothly even with an Atom CPU. IE10 and Netflix are two examples of apps that look and work better than one might expect.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The big advantage these Atom tablets have over their more expensive Core i5/i7 cousins is in battery life. The low-power CPU is very efficient, and the Lynx ran for 7 hours and 32 minutes on our video playback battery drain test. That's using the internal tablet screen battery -- we're currently testing the system with the additional keyboard dock battery and will update this review when we have those results.

The Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx is a perfectly workable Atom-powered Windows 8 tablet, and has a better-than-average optional keyboard dock to form a quasi-clamshell package that works well as a laptop. But, starting at $649 for a plastic case and micro-style ports, it's hard not to either comparison shop down to Dell's Atom-powered Latitude 10, which starts at only $499, or slightly up to to Lenovo's own ThinkPad Tablet 2, which offers a great relative value starting at $30 more, and includes a full-size USB port, better construction and design, and dual front-and-back Webcams.

Unless I absolutely needed an 11-inch screen over a 10-inch one (and I can't imagine why I would), that extra $30 for the ThinkPad version represents a smart investment.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Load test (average watts)

System configurations
Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx
Windows 8 (32-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 737MB (Total) Intel GMA; 64GB MMC SSD

Asus VivoTab Smart
Windows 8 (32-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 725MB (Total) Intel GMA; 64GB SSD

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2
Windows 8 (32-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 737MB (Total) Intel GMA; 64GB MMC SSD

Dell Latitude 10
Windows 8 (32-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 747MB (Total) Intel GMA; 64GB MMC SSD

Acer Iconia W510P-1406
Windows 8 Pro (32-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760; 2GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 747MB (Total) Intel GMA; 64GB SEM64G SSD

Microsoft Surface Pro
Windows 8 Pro (64-bit); 1.7GHz IntelCore i5; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Sharedl) Intel HD 4000; 128GB Micron SSD

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