Detachable 2-in-1 laptops try to do the job of both a tablet and a notebook. The Lenovo Miix 510 doesn't quite deliver the best of both worlds. While this slick-looking hybrid offers fast performance and a colorful display, the machine's battery life and keyboard leave much to be desired. Starting at $599 ($723 as tested), the Miix 510 is a solid choice, but there are better options at this price.
The Miix 510 offers a premium look and feel, with its magnesium-aluminum chassis and its stylish mechanical watchband hinges. The underside of the 2-in-1's keyboard folio is made of a synthetic-leather-like-material that won't fool anyone, but it won't offend sensibilities either.
Like any good detachable, the Mix 510 can be used comfortably in your lap. With the keyboard attached, the Miix 510 weighs 2.7 pounds and measures 0.6 inches thick, making this device heavier and thicker than the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 with Type Cover (1.8 pounds; 0.4 inches) and similar to the docked Acer Switch Alpha 12 (2.8 pounds; 0.6 inches) and HP Spectre x2 (2.7 pounds; 0.5 inches).
The Miix 510's USB Type-C, USB 3.0 and power ports sit on the machine's left side, and you'll find the headphone jack, along with buttons for power and volume, on the right. The 2-in-1's attachable keyboard docks via a Pogo Pin connector on the bottom of the tablet and stays firmly in place thanks to strong magnets.
MORE: Best Lenovo Laptops
The Miix 510's screen offers excellent color and picture. As I watched a trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," I noticed that the green of Gamora's skin popped, the red "death button" glowed vibrantly and a beast's yellow guts were well-illuminated. The 1920 x 1200-pixel screen is also sharp, showing the details in Baby Groot's brown irises, the tattered leather on Rocket Raccoon's armor and the intricate tribal marks on Drax's body.
According to our colorimeter, the Miix 510 produces 114 percent of the sRGB spectrum, which beats the scores of the Surface Pro 4 (100 percent), Switch Alpha 12 (101 percent) and HP Spectre x2 (72 percent), as well as the average for ultraportables (97 percent).
The 2-in-1's detachable tablet emits an average 307 nits (a measure of brightness), a mark that edges out the 303-nit ultraportable average. However, the Surface Pro 4 (382 nits), Switch Alpha 12 (432 nits) and Spectre x2 (322 nits) all outshine that showing. Unfortunately, the panel isn't bright enough for several people to sit around and watch, as the display's colors darken when viewed from 45 degrees to the left or right.
The Miix 510's touch-screen display speedily and accurately recognized input from fingers as I navigated the desktop. It even kept up with me when I pinched and zoomed web pages to make them more legible and doodled as fast as I could in Paint.
The Miix 510's attachable keyboard is adequate. When I used the 10fastfingers test, I clicked my way to 74 words per minute, which is a short of my 80-wpm average. I couldn't help but notice the flex in the keyboard as I typed, which was particularly bothersome when I used the hybrid in my lap. My lackluster experience is probably due to the keys' rather-shallow 1.34 millimeters of travel and light, 55-gram actuation force.
Lenovo also opts to give full-size directional keys instead of a full-size right-Shift key. This led me to click the up arrow every time I meant to click that Shift key, something of a problem every time I wanted to write an email address, use a hashtag or insert an asterisk.
The 3.3 x 1.8-inch buttonless touchpad accurately tracked my fingers and offered a solid feel to each click. Both two-finger vertical scrolling and three-finger horizontal scrolling registered correctly and worked without hiccups.
The Miix 510 is no mix master, producing enough ho-hum volume to fill a medium-size conference room. When I listened to At the Drive-In's "Governed by Contagions," I could hear the high-pitched guitars clearly, but vocals came through with some fuzziness, and bass sounded flat. The included Dolby Audio software lets you choose from among music, movies, games and voice profiles, but none of these dramatically improved the sound.
Armed with a 2.3-GHz Core i5-6200U CPU and 8GB of RAM, the Miix 510 offers solid speed that productivity-minded users will appreciate. I saw no lag or slowdown after splitting my screen among a YouTube video streaming in 1080p and a dozen tabs (including Slack, Gmail, TweetDeck and Todoist). Scrolling and switching tabs stayed buttery smooth, even when I ran a full-system scan in Windows Defender in the background.
The Miix 510 turned in a fairly solid score of 6,313 on the Geekbench 3 general performance test, beating the showing by the 1.2-GHz Core m7-6Y75-based Spectre x2 (5,814) and the average for ultraportables (5,520). The 2.4-GHz Core i5-6300U-based Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (6,811) and 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U-based Switch Alpha 12 (6,398) hit higher marks.
The 256GB PCIe SSD in the Lenovo Miix 510 performed adequately on the Laptop Mag File Transfer test, duplicating 4.97GB of multimedia files in 28 seconds, for a rate of 181.76 MBps. That bests the 256GB SSDs in the Switch Alpha 12 (152.37 MBps) and the Spectre x2 (149 MBps) and is only slightly better than the ultraportable average (173.41 MBps). The 256GB SSD in the Surface Pro 4 (318.1 MBps) is much faster, however.
Productivity power-users will be happy to hear that the Miix 510 finished our OpenOffice Macro Test (matching 20,000 names to addresses) in a short time of 4 minutes and 31 seconds. That's less than the time posted by the average ultraportable (6:34) and the Spectre x2 (5:34), and a hair less than the Switch Alpha 12 (4:32). The Surface Pro 4 (4:11) needed even less time.
The Miix 510's Intel HD 520 Graphics give the machine enough kick to turn in a decent score of 62,498 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test. That score ranks higher than those posted by the Intel 520 HD graphics-based Surface Pro 4 (60,424), Intel 515 Graphics-based Spectre x2 (52,450) and average ultraportable (51,695). The Switch Alpha 12 (64,550) did slightly better.
The Miix 510 may be an ultraportable computer, but its short life on a single charge means you'll be carrying the machine's power cable everywhere you go. When we tested the 2-in-1 on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, the Miix lasted only 5 hours and 25 minutes. That time falls short of the showings by the Surface Pro 4 (6:05) and the HP Spectre x2 (6:31), and the category average (8:00), but it still beats the Switch Alpha 12's time (4:49).
Webcam & Camera
The tablet display's dual cameras are good enough for photography, but not for video. Its 2-megapixel webcam renders color-accurate, though grainy images that make this camera good enough for Skype calls and of better quality than most cameras.
The Miix's 5-MP rear-shooter is better, and when I took it out on our office's rooftop, it captured the strong blue of the Manhattan sky as well as sharp details, including faraway architectural patterns.
Video recorded on the camera includes too much stutter, though, for any usage besides documenting a short instance, as you could get motion sick from watching too long.
Similar to other detachables, the Miix 510 gets warm only in its tablet display, while its keyboard stays cool. After we streamed 15 minutes of HD video on the detachable notebook, our heat gun registered acceptable temperatures on the Miix's touchpad (75.5 degrees Fahrenheit) and G and H keys (77 degrees). The back of the 2-in-1's screen measured 91.5 degrees, but that's still below our comfort threshold (95 degrees).
The Miix 510 comes with just a little preloaded software. Lenovo's given the 2-in-1 the company's proprietary apps, including Account Portal (for access to Lenovo forums and services), Companion (for getting updates and support from Lenovo) and App Explorer (which is obviated by the Windows app store).
A Wacom pen settings utility is included to provide input sensitivity settings and button customization for those who use a stylus with the tablet display. Standard fare such as the Twitter client (free) and the city-building Paradise Bay game (free) are apps you'll find on most new Windows 10 machines.
The entry-level Miix 510 sports a 2.3-GHz Core i3-6100U CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB PCIe SSD. Lenovo sells the machine directly for $599.
Our review configuration features a 2.3-GHz Core i5 6200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB PCIe SSD. It's available for $723 from CompSource.
The Miix 510 supports Lenovo's Active Pen ($40), a stylus that has 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity.
I tested the device out with the 2-in-1, and the pen provided accuracy and pressure sensitivity, and offered a great feel when I was writing on the panel. The stylus includes and requires a AAAA battery, which can be tough to find in brick-and-mortar retailers.
If you want a notebook with fast performance and a display that detaches, providing a great tablet to stream on, the Miix 510 is calling your name. Unfortunately, this machine's keyboard and battery life may test your patience.
The $699 Core M Spectre x2 offers a little over an hour extra battery life, but it's not as fast. The Core i5 Surface Pro 4 may be faster than the Miix 510, but at $1,017 on Amazon, it charges you more for that speed. If you can adapt to a different keyboard and aren't bothered by carrying a power cord, the Lenovo Miix 510 is a solid solution for your laptop and tablet needs.