Lenovo Shows You Don’t Need an iPad Pro
If you want a great productivity tablet, you might want to try Android.
Opening the box, the first thing you notice is the size. Lenovo calls this tablet the “Tab Extreme” for a reason, and there’s something profoundly different about a 14.5-inch screen on a laptop and a thin, 14.5 inch, 16:10 ratio, 120hz refresh rate, bright OLED screen that you can carry around under your arm and swipe on the couch.
For most buyers, there’s only one large tablet on the market: Apple’s iPad Pro. It’s the default, with a great screen, solid keyboard options, incredible speakers, and a larger selection of well-optimized tablet apps that may be better than anything else on the market.
Yet — contrary to the breathless praise of Apple’s most avid fans — it’s not the only option on the market. And it’s hardly a perfect device.
For some reason, the iPad Pro’s front-facing camera is only at the top if you use it in portrait mode. This is handy for a tablet selfie — which nobody does — but utterly pointless for video calling — which most iPad Pro users will do.
Similarly, though there are more iPad-tailored apps, most of these are professional applications; most video editors, music producers, and composers would prefer to use a desktop rather than what is essentially a large phone. Similarly, many iPad apps are just partitioned websites, so you’re better off viewing them in your browser once you’ve set it to display sites in “Desktop” mode.
Finally, iPads come with the usual inconveniences of the Apple ecosystem: expensive first-party accessories and strong limitations over how you use the hardware.
This allows a brand like Lenovo to do something different: copying the Apple features that work, fixing the elements that don’t, adding some of their own special thoughtful touches, and compensating for the reduced software options by undercutting the price.
Compared to the iPad Pro, the Tab Extreme also has awesome speakers, can be used with a premium metal stylus, and just as good a screen — but bigger. The face unlock is quick and reliable, as is the fingerprint scanner in the power button, and the screen bezels are even and thin.
However, the surprisingly good front-facing camera is on the portrait side. It also has a second USB port, allowing you to connect storage devices or external displays whilst charging. And not only is the battery life as good as the iPad’s, but it has 68W fast charging, courtesy of a cable and charging brick that Lenovo includes with the device.
Compared to Apple’s mighty M2 silicon, its MediaTek Dimensity 9000 chip is unquestionably slower, but you would only notice this in stress tests and high-load situations that the vast majority of tablet owners will never get near. In everyday life — scrolling through the internet, using multiple windows, and generally swiping through the interface — this is just as fast.
One of the nicest design touches of the Tab Extreme is that the cameras sit in a single flush strip on the right side of the device, just above the surface. This means the tablet doesn’t rock if you draw on it against a surface, and when reading in portrait mode, it gives a nice spot to hold in the right hand, like a folded edge of a page. And reading the morning news on a 14.5-inch portrait touchscreen is utterly delightful.
One of the best features of the new iPad Pro is its Magic Keyboard — which doesn’t just clip to the bottom of the screen but lifts the device above it for better ergonomics. Lenovo takes that form factor for their own keyboard accessory but adds their signature longer keystrokes and a satisfying click.
Though this is necessarily heavier than a conventional tablet keyboard, the Tab Extreme easily clicks off from the keyboard stand, and it’s designed to be left at your desk when you’re away with the tablet. You type away at your desk but then lift the tablet off to read an article as you make some coffee or watch YouTube on the couch. Premium tablets have always struggled to have an easily defined purpose, but this set-up makes it the perfect ‘browsing everywhere’ machine.
The only problem with this keyboard is the trackpad, which constantly activated as I typed. If you use the ergonomically superior “floating hands” posture, this isn’t an issue, but most typists don’t, and I wish Lenovo included a shortcut to quickly turn off the touchpad.
At $949.99, the Tab Extreme slightly undercuts the largest iPad Pro, but it’s only a true steal if you can get the included keyboard and stylus bundle for that price, as currently available on Lenovo’s website. Even directly head-to-head though, it’s a tough choice between this and an iPad Pro, and it really comes down to the individual.
If you own an iPhone and want a high-end tablet, it probably doesn’t make much sense to jump over to Android. Similarly, if you use an iPad for work purposes, and your software of choice is only available on iOS, then you don’t have much choice.
Yet if you video call a lot, want a great keyboard to type on, can use the extra features that Lenovo offers, and love the bigger screen size, then you’ll love the Tab Extreme.
The author received a complimentary review sample model of the Tab Extreme from the manufacturer.