After the trend-setting success of the Surface, almost every laptop maker has added a sleek detachable to its portfolio. The $750, 12-inch Miix 700 is Lenovo's entry into this category, featuring the brand's signature watchband hinge, active pen support and a leather-backed folding keyboard. Unfortunately, a number of drawbacks, including short battery life and a wonky keyboard, make the Miix 700 tough to recommend
Detachable 2-in-1s have mostly settled on using a tablet body with a kickstand and a folding keyboard that doubles as a cover, but Lenovo's riff adds some pizzazz to the formula. The watchband hinge in the back comes from Lenovo's superb Yoga 900 hybrid, which adds a little sparkle and a lot of stability to the superadjustable kickstand.
Sporting a luxurious leather back, the folio keyboard is stylish and a pleasure to hold. It connects using magnets, and features a row of pogo pins for transferring data. Like the Surface Pro 4's Type Cover, you can use the folio laid flat, or prop it up a bit to give the keyboard a slightly raised angle.
Our review unit came in a pale champagne gold, which some Laptop Mag staffers said looked pretty cool, but I'm pretty thankful it's also available in black.
Measuring 11.5 x 8.27 x 0.35-inches and weighing 1.7 pounds (or 0.5 inches thick and 2.4 pounds with the folio keyboard attached), the Miix 700 is ever so slightly thicker and heavier than the Surface Pro 4 with its Type Cover (11.5 x 7.93 x 0.43 inches and 2.37 pounds). However, when compared to HP's Spectre x2 with its keyboard (11.81 x 8.23 x 0.52 inches and 2.68 pounds), the Miix is a bit thinner and lighter.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Miix 700's nonbacklit folding keyboard is where Lenovo's detachable begins to falter. While it connects to the bottom of the tablet body with a satisfying magnetic grip and features two positions for the keyboard, the actual typing experience is often hit or miss. That's because the keyboard will hiccup and miss an entire string of key presses, which I found left entire words out of a sentence.
With the keyboard's shallow 1.14mm of key travel (we prefer numbers closer to 1.5), I ended up hitting just 57 words per minute on 10fastfingers.com's typing test. I often had to pause and look to see which letters didn't get registered and which ones did, slowing my typing down considerably from my typical 75-80 wpm pace.
Customers have also reported keyboard issues. We've reached out to Lenovo for more information, so stay tuned for updates.
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The 4 x 1.8 inch touchpad was much more accurate, and didn't suffer from any of the input issues that I ran into with the keyboard. Left- and right-clicks as well as multitouch gestures like pinch-to-zoom and two-finger scrolling worked well.
Active Stylus Support
Thanks to its active stylus support, the Miix 700 doubles as a great note-taking or sketching tool when used in tablet mode. Although it's a $40 option, Lenovo's Active Pen provides 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity, making it a cinch to draw precise shapes and lines. You can also use Lenovo's WRITEit app to draw memos or annotations right on a Web page or app and then save the whole screen for use later.
The stylus itself features two buttons that can be configured, but lacks a third on top like that found on Microsoft's Surface Pen. The pen's black metal barrel is smooth and comfortable to hold, although I wish there were other pen-tip options for the stylus. The hard plastic tip on the Active Pen didn't quite deliver the kind of tactile resistance I was looking for.
The strangest thing about the Lenovo's Active Pen is the holder that comes with it. You attach this holder to your system by inserting into a USB port, but since it's just a simple piece of plastic, you end up blocking one of the few ports on the Miix, getting little utility in return.
The Miix 700's 12-inch, 2160 x 1440 display draws your attention with bright, colorful images, though colors look on the cool side. It's an effect that made the normally blood-red capes in the Ben-Hur trailer look closer to burgundy, but overall, the effect was pretty subtle.
Rated at 330 nits of brightness, the Miix 700's screen kept pace with the display on HP's Spectre x2, although the panels on the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (382 nits) and Dell XPS 12 (413 nits) are more luminous.
The Miix 700's color range is pretty solid, too, as the display covered 113 percent of the sRGB spectrum. That beats the Spectre x2 and Surface Pro 4, but it's on a par with the XPS 12.
For color accuracy, the Miix 700 earned a Delta-E rating of 3.7 (closer to zero is better). That was a bit better than the XPS 12, but not quite as precise at the Surface Pro 4 or the Spectre x2 (both under 1).
I was hoping to jam out to DNCE's "Cake by the Ocean," an addictive dance-pop masterpiece, on this 2-in-1, but the Miix 700's side-mounted speakers didn't hit the spot. The speakers don't sound bad, aside from the typical lack of bass you get on mobile systems, and I was still able to enjoy a bit of Joe Jonas' effervescent vocals. But the low volume left me wanting a more powerful audio experience, which struggled to fill up even a small, 10 x 10-foot room.
Aside from a couple of barely elevated heat readings, the Miix 700 kept its temperature in check. After streaming HD video for 15 minutes, the hottest spot on the system was on the back, near the Lenovo logo. At 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, this spot wasn't much above our typical 95-degree comfort threshold.
Ports and Webcam
It's not much, but the Miix 700 boasts two USB ports to the Surface Pro 4's one, which can be pretty useful if you're a big fan of accessories. However, since one of the USB ports also doubles a charging port, you have only a single free USB slot when you're plugged into the wall. There's also a micro HDMI-out port for sending video to an external display, a combo headphone/mic jack and a microSD card slot hidden behind the kickstand on the right side.
The Miix 700 also features 5-megapixel cameras on both the front and back. Despite resolutions that are higher than what you normally get on other 2-in-1s, photo quality was just OK. Using the front camera, a selfie I shot in our office had decent detail in my hair and shirt, but there was a lot of noise and graininess that detracted from overall clarity.
It was a similar story with the rear camera; even when there was an ample amount of light, the pics didn't look as sharp or colorful as I'd like.
Performance and Graphics
Our Miix 700 review unit featured an 1.1-GHz Intel Core m5-6Y54 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. While that's not nearly as powerful as a full Intel Core i-powered system like the Surface Pro 4, it's more than fast enough for general productivity like crunching some numbers in a spreadsheet with 10 or more Web browser tabs open.
On the Geekbench 3 test, which evaluates overall system performance, the Miix 700 scored 5,068. That's behind the Core i5-powered Surface Pro 4 (6,811) and the Core m7-powered Hp Spectre x2 (5,814), but slightly ahead of Dell's XPS 12 (4,875), which features the same m5-6Y54 processor.
Results were similar on our productivity test, which saw the Mixx 700 take 5 minutes and 59 seconds to match 20,000 names and addresses using OpenOffice. The Surface Pro 4 and Spectre x2 were faster, at 4:11 and 5:34, respectively, as was the XPS 12 (5:14).
The Miix 700's storage speeds were pretty lackluster, as it took 52 seconds for the Lenovo to duplicate a DVD's worth of mixed-media files, a transfer rate of just 96.69 MBps. The Surface Pro 4 (318.1 MBPs) and Spectre x2 (149 MBps) were noticeably faster, although the XPS 12 was slower than the Lenovo.
With its integrated Intel Graphics HD 515 GPU, the Miix isn't very proficient at playing games, but it will suffice if you stick to more casual titles such as Hearthstone: Legends of Warcraft or 2D games like Hotline Miami. On 3DMark's Fire Strike graphics test, the Miix 700 scored 554, which, again, was a decent ways behind Surface Pro 4 (843) and Spectre x2 (668), but pretty similar to the XPS 12 (598).
The weak battery life of detachable 2-in-1s has become a worrying trend, and the Miix 700 only adds to our concern. Its run time of 5 hours 54 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (continuous surfing over Wi-Fi) is even shorter than the times for the Surface Pro 4 (6:05) and HP Spectre x2 (6:31). Only the Dell XPS 12 (5:17) was worse.
The Mixx 700 starts at $750 for an Intel Core m3-6Y30 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB SSD, while a fully loaded model costs $1,100 for a Core m7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. All Miix 700s feature a 12-inch, 2160 x 1440 touch screen and come with the folding, detachable keyboard. Lenovo's Active Pen is a $40 option.
Software and Warranty
Lenovo ships the Miix 700 with Windows 10 Home and includes a standard one-year warranty. Lenovo also bundles in its typical assortment of apps and utilities, such as Lenovo ID and Solution Center for keeping your system secure and up to date. Lenovo also includes SHAREit and WRITEit, which make it super simple to transfer files wirelessly or take advantage of the Miix's active stylus support.
I have mixed feelings about the Miix 700. Lenovo has done a good job of innovating on detachable design with this device's attractive metal body and leather-backed keyboard that includes a sleek watchband hinge. We also like the vibrant, 12-inch touch screen with active stylus support. Unfortunately, the unreliable keyboard and short battery life prevent us from recommending this hybrid. And even though the $750 Miix 700 is cheaper than the Surface Pro 4, its audio quality and overall system performance don't quite pass muster.
If you're looking for a solid detachable 2-in-1, both HP's $800 Spectre x2 and Microsoft's $1,000 Surface Pro 4 offer better total packages. The premium is worth it. I'm hoping Lenovo can fix the serious keyboard issues and improve on what it's started with the Miix 700, but as it stands, this 2-in-1 fails to stir things up.