Here we have it. Lenovo’s consumer offering of an affordable Windows 8.1 tablet. Now that Windows 8 has been out in the market for some time, we’re starting to see a number of tablets being released. However, we haven’t seen a huge amount of 8-inch tablets on the market. This is where the Miix 2 8 comes into play. Despite the slightly odd name, the Miix 2 packs quite a punch. Featuring an Intel Atom Processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, you’ve got reasonable power in a small package. The Miix 2 comes with Windows 8.1 pre-installed including Microsoft Office Home & Students 2013. Read on to find out how well the Miix 2 performs and our final verdict.
The Miix 2 8 comes in only one colour, silver which a black bezel around the display. The body of the tablet has been constructed with a mostly metal case (probably aluminium) which a small piece of plastic along the bottom of the device to allow the wireless radios inside to work correctly. There is a pattern on the back of the tablet made of tiny diamonds which gives the tablet a nice feel and an extra level of grip. The tablet feels sturdy and strong when holding it in the hand and weighing in at just 350 grams, it’s rather light.
One negative point is that Lenovo have decided to apply a stickers on the back of the tablet which really ruins the look and feel. You’ll find a Lenovo sticker, an Intel sticker and a Windows 8 sticker located on the bottom left of the tablet. Of course, they can be removed with a little of work but they shouldn’t be there in the first place.
On the right hand side, you’ll find the majority of the ports to use with the tablet. The Micro-USB port is used for charging the tablet with the included charger, you’ll find a Micro-SD slot underneath the plastic door and both the power and volume control buttons. Additionally, there is a 3.5mm jack on the top of the tablet for headphones. On the back you’ll find a single speaker on the top right hand corner. The speaker was certainly quite loud but in terms of quality, it could have been better.
The tablet has been designed for portrait use. The Windows key being at the bottom of the tablet with the buttons being on the right hand side. While using the tablet, I was more comfortable using it in landscape instead of portrait. This is most likely due to the 16:10 aspect ratio that just seems too big when using it in portrait. Of course, Windows will automatically change the screen orientation when you physically position the tablet.
The Miix 2 8 features an 8-inch IPS LCD screen with a 1280 x 800 WXVGA resolution. While the resolution for the screen is on the low side (other tablets have much better pixel density) the tablet can handle 720p without any major issues. The tablet will fall behind when trying to view higher resolution content like 1080p content or high-resolution images. Of course, this critique only applies if you will be watching 1080p content on the tablet. General web browsing, using applications and the odd video watching is fine. The brightness on the screen was impressive. You could still see the screen well when in direct sunlight and the tablet will automatically (albeit, slowly) adjust brightness while the environment around you is changing.
The viewing angles of the tablet are quite good as well. You could still easily read the screen while the tablet was laying down flat on a table.
As mentioned previously, the Miix 2 8 has an Intel Atom Z3740 processor with a 1.86Ghz turbo boost speed, 2GB of LPDDR3 memory and an integrated Intel HD graphics card clocking in at 667 MHz of turbo speed. Of course, just judging by those specifications, you can tell that this won’t be the fastest tablet there is. While navigating the Windows 8.1 Modern (or Metro) interface, the tablet responds smoothly and there are very little instances of stutter. Launching applications is quick and fully usable within a few seconds.
As the Miix 2 8 has an Atom processor, you are able to run your usual x86 compatible applications with the Windows 8.1 desktop. The performance of running these applications is fine and the Atom processor is capable of running light applications like Microsoft Office, web browsers etc. However, the tablet will start to struggle when you try to use more of the resource heavy applications which is to be expected. I’d wouldn’t expect an Intel Atom processor to be able to run Adobe Photoshop or After Effects without issues.
The same goes for desktop games. While you can install your favourite games from Origin or Steam, you’ll experience a horrible frame rate because the processor and graphics card won’t be able to keep up. However, if you stick to the Windows Store titles which have been optimised for running on tablets, then these will play quite well. While I did experience some stutter while playing games from the Store, it usually fixed itself up after a couple of seconds.
The internal storage is limited to 32GB. While Windows 8 and the recovery partition will take up approximately 20GB of this space, you are left with just 10GB of usable space. Thankfully, Lenovo did decide to put a Micro-SD reader into the tablet allowing you to increase media storage. Thanks to SanDisk, I was able to test the speed of this by using a SanDisk Extreme microSDXC UHS-I card and was able to maintain a write speed of around 25.8 MB/s.
Unfortunately, the tablet did have some major touchscreen issues. At times, the screen became completely unusable as the touchscreen wouldn’t recognise any touch. I found that when switching on the tablet, almost 8 times out of 10, I wouldn’t be able to pass the lockscreen. I would need to either switch the tablet on and off a few times or wait a few minutes before finally being able to use it again. This is definitely a major flaw with the tablet and very frustrating when you need to use the tablet quickly.
This also created a regular issue when typing on the keyboard. I found that typing quickly on the keyboard saw the tablet missing keys being pushed or needing to take time to catch up. It was definitely a struggle to maintain a consistent typing pace. This certainly isn’t an isolated case either. After a few Google searches you can see that many users on Lenovo forums are having the same issue. At the time of writing this review, it appears Lenovo have not yet released a software update to resolve this which might point to it being a hardware issue rather than a software issue.
The battery was rather impressive. In the few weeks that I had the tablet, I rarely had to charge the device. During regular usage of internet browsing, YouTube watching and Microsoft Office using, with the brightness at around 70%, the tablet would last for approximately 8 hours. So you could easily use this tablet all day with some left over charge for home usage. Of course, high performance tasks like watching 1080p video or playing games on the tablet did significantly drop the battery life to around 4 hours. However, if the tablet was charged to 100% and then left on standby overnight, it would loose 30% of it’s charge which is disappointing. So it’s best to leave the charger in overnight, so it’s 100% ready in the morning.
To be honest, being a tablet, I’m didn’t expect amazing results from the camera. As long as the photos are usable, I’m a happy man. Saying that, the Miix 2 8 has a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front facing camera. As you can see in the sample photos, the tablet can take reasonable quality photos and that’s in-line with most tablets. While some photos looked washed out at times or a little darker than it should be, the tablet does a fine job. Both cameras on the device are capable of 1080p video recording which becomes useful when video conferencing. I did a quick test with Skype and the output of the video was relatively clear and bright – probably one of the better front facing 1080p cameras I’ve tried.
The software included to take pictures or video seemed to be just the standard Windows 8.1 offering with a small change. When you took a picture, it will burst shoot around 5 photos allowing you to flick forward or back to pick the best photo, just incase you didn’t get the focus right or someone wasn’t smiling. This was a nice feature to include but no other notable features are there.
Lenovo Miix 2 8
- Strong, sturdy build
- Good battery life
- Major touchscreen issues
- Issues with 1080p content
In conclusion, Lenovo have tried to make a low-cost, decent tablet with an 8-inch screen and an x86 processor to run full Windows 8.1. I am impressed with the strong and sturdy build of the device itself and the overall size and weight is comfortable to use in the hand. The Windows operating system runs well and without much lag. Applications open quickly and are fully usable within a few seconds.
However, the major touchscreen issues are a huge let down. Not being able to accurately type on the screen and having to wait periods of time just to be able to pass the lockscreen are frustrating. For this reason, I cannot recommend the Lenovo Miix 2 8. If there were no issues with the touchscreen, then I’d happily give it a 7 or 8. I’m hopeful Lenovo will try to resolve the issues with the touchscreen by issuing a software update and I will update the review once this happens. However, at this time, this is probably a tablet you should avoid for the moment. Which is a shame because everything else is a delight to use.