The 2-in-1 tablet hybrid is certainly no longer a novelty. The market is now flooded with devices with detachable keyboards that offer up Windows 10's capabilities as a tablet and desktop OS. And, of course, there’s the small matter that Microsoft makes a couple itself.
The Miix 510 follows up on the Miix 700 (yes, we know, confusing) with a new latest-gen Kaby Lake version of the Core i5 and a strong central pairing of 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. As we’ll explain, there are cheaper variants available, but this is the one to go for in our book.
The Miix design language centres around two watchband-style hinges that enable you to have more control and flexibility than Surface when it comes to the angle to the kickstand and therefore the screen. Another plus is that the keyboard cover is included with the device – unless you nab a deal you don’t get that with Surface Pro.
Like previous iterations, the latest Miix hybrid comes with an active pen. Pens have a lot more functionality these days thanks to the new Windows Ink feature in Windows 10, and they’re an essential add-on for any tablet that takes itself seriously. However, Lenovo’s stylus doesn’t attach to the device via a magnet, although there is a pen loop on the included slipcase.
Price and availability
There’s an Intel Core i3 variant of this device for $599, £750, AU$600 which has half the amount of memory and storage as well.
The Core i3 version will be more than fine for most basic tasks, but if you’re looking at any kind of photo or video editing we’d recommend the Core i5. At the time of writing, you were looking at $669, £849, AU$750 for this device.
The Surface Pro 4 had just come down in price (presumably because of the advent of the Surface Pro) but the equivalent model still clocks in at $729/£899, so a significant premium when you take into account that the Surface doesn’t come with the Type Cover keyboard.
Depending on where you look, the Acer Switch Alpha 12 is around the same price, with Acer recently announcing a new version.
The Miix 510 is a well-designed tablet hybrid. That’s not to say it’s a stunner, but it does look distinctive and those watchband-style hinges give it a certain something. The detachable keyboard with optional backlight also doubles up as a protective faux leather folio case, which works quite well and is good to grip hold of. It's a more premium-feeling and mature affair than Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 Type Cover, which isn't included for free, unlike Lenovo's version.
The side controls – especially the power button – are a little plasticky, but irt’s a minor complaint.
Without the keyboard cover, the Miix 510 weighs just shy of 900g. That’s OK to hold in one hand, leaving the other free to draw or write on the display. This means you’re going to want to brace it against something or put it on a flat surface before too long.
The Lenovo keyboard cover sports Lenovo's AccuType-style keys, which are slightly curved along the bottom edge. They're sufficient in size but don't possess quite as much travel as the Surface Pro 4 cover, and this doesn’t make for a great experience when you have a lot of words to type.
The biggest problem is that we found the keyboard flexes a bit. And if you're a hard typist in any way (which device makers seem to be catering less and less for) then the keyboard bounces rather angrily. Light typing is always preferable, but we think you almost need to be a little too delicate here.
Elsewhere, the bezels around the display seem quite wide, but they’re not too much and they don’t make the device look chunky in any way. Quite the opposite, the tablet looks sleek and professional. Naturally, you’d expect this for a device with a price in this ballpark, but there’s no disappointment.
There’s a lot to like about the display here – blacks are black and colors are vibrant.
Viewing angles are also really rather excellent and this is a big benefit for anybody looking to use this 2-in-1 for collaborative work. What is a bit more of a problem is the resolution, which sticks with Full HD.
Mind you, when we say it’s a problem we actually mean it’s an issue comparing like-for-like with other tablets.
Both the Surface Pro 4 and Acer Switch 12 feature 2,160 x 1,440 resolutions. In use, it’s not a problem using Full HD on the Miix 510. It depends on how determined you are to have best-in-class specs in every department.
Because we’re looking at the Intel Core i5 variant of the Miix 510 here, performance isn’t really an issue. There’s plenty of ‘everyday’ power on offer.
Naturally, you’re not talking about gaming performance, but between the fast PCIe SSD and the processor, there was no issue with any kind of everyday tasks we tried.
Plus there’s plenty to like in terms of entertainment performance and we found the Miix 510 genuinely likeable for watching movies on with the kickstand.
Talking of the kickstand, it’s an effective bit of industrial design from Lenovo. The ability to be able to poise the device at almost any angle is a real boon. Elsewhere, the edges of the device are covered by the usual fan and speaker grilles plus ports, but everything is integrated nicely, with power, USB-C and USB 3.0 on one side and power, volume and 3.5mm headphone jack on the other.
It’s incredible that the USB 3.0 port now looks weirdly large in comparison to every other cable connector.
Writing detection is responsive enough to jot down notes swiftly, and the pen itself is slim enough to remain comfortable for long periods.
In our benchmark tests, the Miix 510 was, well, mixed. Performance was good, the multi-core Geekbench test and 3D Mark scores are understandably comparable to other similarly powered competitors.
However, battery life was quite substandard compared to others on the market, not least the Surface Pro 4 and Acer Aspire Switch Alpha 12 that we’ve talked about previously here – the Surface Pro 4 lasted 35 minutes longer on our looped TechRadar video playback test. Meanwhile, the Pro 4 lasted for 18 minutes longer on the harsh PC Mark 8 battery test.
It’s great to see USB-C included in some way – Lenovo sensibly has provided options here with legacy USB support as well – but we’d have preferred to see a USB-C charger rather than the round-ended standard charger we get here. Next time. It is a nice light, compact power brick though. Since Microsoft is still bizarrely ignoring USB-C, this is a definite plus for the Miix over Surface. Microsoft still seems to think people aren’t ready for USB-C, but Apple don’t seem to be having too many problems convincing people.
Lenovo hasn’t included a microSD port here though; surprising in our book but not a deal-breaker. As you’d expect, you get a 2 megapixel front camera for video calling, as well as a decent if uninspiring 5 megapixel unit on the back. Dual-microphones cancel out background noise and we had no problem with being understood on calls.
In terms of audio playback, it’s fine for everyday YouTube viewing, but you’ll want to hook it up to a Bluetooth audio system (there is a headphone jack, too) for any movies or music.
There’s plenty to like about the Lenovo Miix 510. Firstly, there’s the fact this is a powerful device. It has no problem coping with the everyday and is very pleasant to live with, hook up to a secondary display or use on the move – the usual tablet/keyboard caveats apply such as it really needing to be used on a flat surface, but the kickstand does work well within that.
We also appreciate Lenovo’s nod to USB-C, while the appearance of the thing is generally likeable.
The display isn’t as high resolution as some, even if it is great quality – whether that will bug you is a matter of personal preference.
However, it’s the battery life that really grates, especially when competitors have similarly specified innards and better displays. We really would have expected more here.
So despite a compelling spec sheet and generally likeable appearance, the Miix 510 remains a little hard to unequivocally recommend.
That’s because of the competitors that loom above and beside it, not least Surface Pro 4. It’s the battery life that really lets it down.
But if it’s price that’s your main motivator, you’ll find the Miix 510 a fantastic alternative choice.