Lenovo's Miix line of Windows 10 tablets are unmistakably modeled after Microsoft's Surface Pro. So much so that seeing them side by side from the front, you'd be hard-pressed to tell them apart at first glance. But, just because they're look-alikes, doesn't mean the Miix models aren't excellent in their own right.
The top-of-the-line Miix 720 is stiff competition for the latest Surface Pro on specs and price, but it flat-out wins on total cost of ownership. Microsoft charges $129 or $169 for one of its Surface Pro Type Cover keyboards and $99 for its Surface Pan. Lenovo includes both its keyboard cover and first-gen Active Pen with its current base model priced at $1,250. The same package is available in Australia for AU$1,700 and although it's currently unavailable from Lenovo's UK site, you can find a higher-end configuration for £1,730.
If having the pen and keyboard in the box at no additional cost doesn't sway you, maybe the 720's Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port will. Microsoft continues to use its proprietary Surface Connector to power the Surface Pro as well as offer port expansion with its Surface Dock. With Thunderbolt 3, you're free to use a large and growing number of USB-C adapters for peripherals, storage, Ethernet or driving up to two external displays.
Lenovo Miix 720
|Price as reviewed||$1,250|
|Display size/resolution||12-inch, 2,880x1,920 pixels (IPS, multitouch)|
|PC CPU||2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U|
|PC Memory||8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz|
|Graphics||128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620|
|Storage||256GB M.2 PCIe SSD|
|Networking||802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.1|
|Connections||USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB-C 3.1 (Thunderbolt 3), microSD slot, headphone/mic jack|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home (64-bit)|
Scratching the surface
These things -- the Thunderbolt 3 USB-C and included accessories -- are important to the package, but they're definitely not the only good things about the Miix 720. From its fold-out kickstand that adjusts the viewing angle up to 150 degrees to its IR cameras for instantly logging into Windows with facial recognition to its bright 12-inch 2,880x1,920-pixel multitouch IPS display, there is a lot to like here. Even its stereo speakers sound good considering how thin the tablet is.
With 1.5 millimeters of key travel, typing on the Miix 720's backlit keyboard feels more like a regular laptop than you might expect, too. I still prefer Microsoft's for its larger clickpad and full-size right-hand Shift key, but the Miix's is otherwise excellent. The Active Pen uses Wacom technology, and its performance is similar to that of the Wacom Intuos styluses I've used, with a pen tip that glides smoothly on the glass. I personally found it better for writing than for drawing. One minor irritation, though: the pen holder blocks up one of its two USB ports.
When Lenovo announced the 720 earlier this year, it said configurations would start at $999, but the current base is at $1,250. Lenovo did say a second wave of the tablet is planned that will ship with the updated Active Pen 2 with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity (twice that of the first-gen Active Pen). For the moment, though, the only other configuration option in the US is to double the memory to 16GB and storage to 512GB.
Our tablet's hardware combination is fine for business use or school work and it has no trouble with photo editing or basic HD video editing. The 720 also has enough oomph for casual games, if nothing more demanding. Getting work done while a video or music streams in the background won't slow it down either. Just be prepared for the fans to kick in under load, which might be distracting in quiet environments but generally aren't loud.
If you're expecting the long battery times of an iPad, you likely be disappointed by what the Miix has to offer. In its defense, Windows 10 ($139.95 at Amazon.com) tablet PCs with similar components don't generally have "all-day" batteries. Still, the Miix 720 was noticeably short in mixed use and ran for just 6 hours and 40 minutes on our streaming video test -- that's an hour and 45 minutes less than the latest Surface Pro.
The clone to own
Lenovo's Miix 720 gets you more for your money compared to the Microsoft's 2017 Surface Pro. It's also a clear step up in features from the midrange Miix 510. While there are a couple niggling things that keep it from being better than Microsoft's tablet, there are none that I would consider deal breakers. Well, with the exception of its shorter battery life anyway.
|Lenovo Miix 720||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD|
|Dell Latitude 12 5000 Series 2-in-1||Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7600U; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD|
|Lenovo Miix 510||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 520; 256GB SSD|
|Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 520; 256GB SSD|
|Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)||Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-7660U; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 640; 256GB SSD|