Product Review -The Lenovo Miix 2 Mini Tablet.

Miix 2 tablet

If you are in the market for an affordable and straightforward Windows 8.1 tablet that you can fit in your bag or pocket, the new Lenovo Miix 2 may be just what you are looking for.

Up until the release of the Lenovo Miix 2, you could expect to pay a lot more for a tablet PC running on Windows 8. And if you were looking for a portable tablet that you could tuck into your pocket, chances are you would need to choose one of the smaller Android tablets.  The Lenovo Miix 2 has changed the landscape for smaller portable tablet PCs that run on Windows 8.

What is the Lenovo Miix 2?

The Lenovo Miix 2 is an ultra-portable 8-inch tablet that runs on Windows 8.1 and offers speedy performance at a reasonable price point. At first glance, its light and thin design is deceptive until you hold the Miix 2 in your hands and discover the high quality and durable construction.

The glossy 8-inch screen occupies most of the device body and sports a thinner bezel giving the Miix 2 a more updated look.  The bezel is encased in silver trim which continues around the back to the device casing.  The sleek silver colored back panel is texturised to provide a firm grip when holding the device and gives the Miix 2 an attractive design and premium feel.

When it comes to speedy performance, the Lenovo Miix 2 is outfitted with a powerful quad core processor typically not included in the smaller tablet PCs on the market. This makes multitasking a breeze and enjoying multimedia on the vibrant screen with wide viewing angles a pleasant experience. The display is also designed with multi-touch technology capable of supporting touch gestures for five fingers.  This makes using apps in Windows 8.1 much easier with touch gestures that register quickly and provide an overall great response when navigating through Windows 8.1.

Miix2 side on

What are the Specifications?

The primary specifications which make the Lenovo Miix 2 stand out are the smaller size, sleek design, high definition touchscreen display, Windows 8.1 operating system, and faster processing performance.  Let’s talk about the specifications in more detail:

  • Display:  The Miix 2 sports an 8-inch IPS (In-Plane Switching) high definition touchscreen WXGA display with a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution.  This provides for a relatively decent display for watching movies, reading, and performing computer tasks.  Although the screen resolution is average, it is high enough to comfortably manipulate the apps, menus, and icons.  If you still find accessing the screen features awkward, there is an optional stylus pen designed to handle the smaller screen that can be purchased at an additional cost.
  • Processing Performance:  The performance of the Miix 2 is exceptional for a device of this size with the inclusion of an Intel Atom Z3740 quad-core processor running at 1.33GHz with 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM (Random Access Memory). The RAM is rather small for running Windows 8.1 but still capable of handling basic tasks such as email, word processing, and browsing the web. Graphics acceleration is also pretty decent and functions via the circuit configuration integrated with the Intel Atom chip.

You can also opt to purchase the 32GB or 64GB version for additional eMMC storage.  If you plan on utilising a fair amount of storage, you may want to consider the 64GB version of the Miix 2 as Windows 8.1 will occupy a sizable portion of the 32GB leaving you with approximately 8GB of free space.  Additionally, there is a microSD card slot located on the side of the device to help expand the storage capacity.

  • Cameras:  The Lenovo Miix 2 is equipped with both a front facing and back facing camera.  The front facing camera is 2 megapixels which is average for videoconferencing on Skype.  The back facing camera is 5 megapixels and is capable of capturing images and video up to a 2560 x 1440 resolution without sacrificing quality.
  • Port Connectivity:  The Miix 2 is equipped with one microUSB port, microSD card slot, and combination audio jack.  If you live outside the US or Canada, the device can be equipped with a SIM card slot for 3G connectivity.  There is no HDMI-out port included in the Miix 2. The power, lock, and sleep button, as well as the volume rocker are located on the left side of the unit when you are holding it in portrait mode. There is also a Windows button located on the bottom of the screen in the middle of the bezel.
  • Wireless:  The Miix 2 supports Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity and three standards of WiFi including 802.11 b/g/n.  The WiFi signal is pretty strong for a smaller device with no port for Ethernet connectivity.
  • Audio:  The speakers are positioned on the back panel of the Miix 2 and are basically average for a device of this size.  As with most tablets of this caliber, the sound is lacking in bass and there is limited stereo sound due to the speakers being located very close together.  Overall, the sound is not bad considering it is a portable device.
  • Keyboard:  Unlike the Lenovo Miix 2 10-inch tablet, the 8-inch version does not include a physical keyboard which limits you to the onscreen keyboard.  However, with Bluetooth and USB capability, you can probably find a compatible keyboard to attach to the device if you do a lot of typing.
  • Battery: The Miix 2 is equipped with a 1 Cell 17.5 Watt Hour Li-Polymer battery designed to carry you through your day.  In several battery tests by Computer Shopper and others, the battery lasted more than 8 hours on a single charge when using the device for light multitasking.  Although the Lenovo product page lists a battery life of up to 7 hours, the tests showed that this is on the conservative side and you can actually squeeze more life out the battery than mentioned in the claims.
  • Dimensions:  The Lenovo Miix 2 displays a slim profile with dimensions of 5.2 x 8.5 x 0.3 inches or 8.4 x 215 x 132mm.  The device is very lightweight at just 331 g or 0.77 pounds.

In terms of pricing, this varies according to whether you choose the 32GB or 64GB version, in addition to the retailer where you purchase the device.  However, you can expect the price to be in the range of about £180 for the 32GB model and approximately £215 for the 64GB model.

Miix 2 back

What about Software?

Windows 8.1 is a major change from previous Windows operating systems. Lenovo has stepped up to the plate by offering a free license for Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 which otherwise requires an investment of just under £101. Windows 8.1 also provides a Snap View mode which allows you to work with multiple apps simultaneously.  Snap View allows you to split the screen to view two apps at different ratios with plenty of screen leftover to add another activity.

The Miix 2 also provides you with access to the Windows Store and Lenovo App Shop plus, the Lenovo Companion which allows you to sync files with Lenovo’s cloud storage services.  The cloud storage service known as My Lenovo Cloud provides up to 5GB of free storage space.

The Lenovo App Shop provides you with access to a small selection of offerings including Evernote, a library of eBooks, and gaming applications.  The Windows Store offers social media apps, Adobe Photoshop, and Netflix,

to name a few apps among the 100,000+ app offerings. Lenovo also omitted a lot of the junkware you typically receive with a new device and swapped it out for useful offerings such as the free Microsoft Office license.

In terms of security, the Lenovo Miix 2 offers face recognition software known as Veriface that allows you to use your face as your password.  The software is designed to be used by multiple users to allow each Miix 2 user to establish their own account.  You also have access to a 30-day free trial for McAfee Internet Security and the Lenovo Companion App which allows you to easily perform updates to the operating system and apps.

What are the Pros and Cons?

The nicest feature of the Lenovo Miix 2 is you have access to Windows 8.1 in a smaller size tablet at an affordable price.  Prior to the introduction of the Miix 2, you had to settle for the more expensive and larger Surface Pro tablet/hybrid device or purchase an Android device if the smaller size was your priority.  Although there is a lot to like about the Miix 2, to balance out the review, here are a few pros and cons:

Pros

  • Fast processing performance with an Intel Atom quad-core processor.
  • Compact and lightweight size fits in your purse or pocket.
  • Free access to a license for Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013.
  • Snap View allows you to view multiple apps simultaneously.
  • Relatively decent battery life carries you through your day.
  • Durable build prevents device damage while you are on the go.
  • High definition IPS display makes reading and watching movies a pleasant experience.
  • First Windows 8.1 smaller size tablet at an affordable price.

Cons

  • Average quality front and rear facing cameras.
  • 2GB of RAM is rather small for the 32GB model.
  • No physical keyboard included.
  • No DisplayPort or HDMI output included.
  • Apps tend to freeze up on occasion.
  • Stylus pen and protective storage cover cost extra.

Conclusion

It would not be fair to compare the performance of the Lenovo Miix 2 to the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 tablet since the two devices are not meant for the same purpose.  The Miix 2 will provide you with access to the functions you need to get through your day however, you will not get some of the features of the Surface Pro 2.  The Miix 2 is designed more for browsing the web, doing light word processing tasks, and enjoying multimedia than it is for handling heavy duty workloads and multitasking.  It is also less than half of the price of an iPad mini with comparable performance minus the iPad’s Retina display.

The first lightweight and portable Windows 8.1 tablet is a definite plus along with access to Microsoft Office at no extra cost.  If you choose the 32GB model, you may not get the performance you are looking for however, the device boots up quickly and runs most of the apps reliably and seamlessly.

Overall, the Lenovo Miix 2 is a decent tablet that will allow Windows 8.1 fans to carry around a tablet, access their favorite apps and accomplish light multitasking.

final-techie-score-8

Product review by Our IT Department Ltd. Delivering  productive, affordable IT solutions to London business. All images used in this article are the property of their respective owners.

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