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Review: 5 Great Features On Lenovo’s ThinkPad X12 Detachable

The CRN Test Center tryout found Lenovo’s latest ThinkPad 2-in-1 tablet to be well designed and highly portable, with an excellent keyboard and webcam.

For the first time in several years, there’s a new Lenovo ThinkPad tablet— and in my tryout I’ve been mostly impressed with the results of Lenovo’s renewed efforts.

The last time Lenovo released a ThinkPad tablet was in 2018, with the third-gen ThinkPad X1 Tablet. The company then took a few years off, but wisely got back into the game with the demand for tablets climbing amid the pandemic.

The result is the ThinkPad X12 Detachable, a 2-in-1 tablet that fixes some of the issues with the previous model, includes some collaboration capabilities primed for work-from-home, and brings the display size in line with the big player in the market, Microsoft’s Surface Pro.

That gives the ThinkPad X12 Detachable a 12.3-inch display, down from the 13-inch screen on the third-gen X1 Tablet. The smaller display helps with portability, which is of course one of the main selling points of the 2-in-1 tablet concept. (If you’re going to get a computing device that’s nearly 3 pounds, you might as well get a regular laptop.)

[Related: Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Nano Sets The Standard On Portable Business Laptops: Review]

In our tryout, I found the X12 to offer strong performance with its 11th-gen Intel Core i7 processor as well as improved battery life over its predecessor model, with six hours of battery life versus five hours on the previous X1 Tablet.

There are also a few other key features that make Lenovo’s ThinkPad X12 Detachable stand out.

Design

One element that the ThinkPad X12 Detachable shares with its predecessor is the device’s sturdy, durable design. Everything from the metal kickstand on the back of the tablet, to the stiff and solid keyboard, to the tablet itself shows that Lenovo has made this into a device worthy of the ThinkPad reputation.

Like other ThinkPads, the ThinkPad X12 Detachable meets a number of military-standard measurements for durability—with protection against drops, spills, extreme cold and heat, dust and more—while it also includes Gorilla Glass 5 for protecting the display.

Apart from offering durability, the sturdy design also just makes the 2-in-1 a better device to use, with an experience not all that different from using a standard laptop. For instance, it’s actually possible to use the device on your lap, unlike some other 2-in-1 tablets I’ve tried in the past.

Portability

One of my chief complaints with the predecessor model, the third-gen X1 Tablet, was the weight. In that instance, the tablet and keyboard combined weighed 2.8 pounds, making it a noticeable amount heavier than the Surface Pro 7 (2.37 pounds) and Lenovo’s own ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2.5 pounds).

Lenovo has addressed the issue with the ThinkPad X12 Detachable, in part through the smaller display size. The 2-in-1 device now has a weight of 2.4 pounds, making it on par with the Surface Pro 7.

The device is also compact in size all-around, making it an ideal companion for flights and working out of coffee shops. Without a doubt, the overall portability is one of the biggest differentiators with the X12 Detachable, and one of the things that on-the-go professionals will appreciate most. (At 0.57 of an inch thick, it’s also slightly thinner than the latest X1 Carbon.)

Ultimately, thanks to the minimal weight and size of the device, the ThinkPad X12 Detachable is among the most portable-yet-powerful options out there right now for mobile business computing.

Keyboard

For the design of the X12’s detachable keyboard, Lenovo has done a nice job as well. The keyboard is backlit and can attach/detach easily from the tablet using magnetic pogo pin connectors.

In terms of typing experience, the X12 keyboard largely lives up to the excellent reputation of ThinkPad keyboards, with comfortable keys offering 1.35 mm of key travel and a “nearly” full-sized layout. The design is very sturdy and overall it’s not a huge step down from a regular laptop keyboard.

Is it as good as a keyboard on a top-tier laptop, such as the X1 Carbon or HP Elite Dragonfly Max? It’s not, partly just because it’s not a full sized keyboard, so the keyboard layout is a bit more compact than you’d get with a 13-inch or 14-inch laptop. Some of the keys (such as the arrow keys and right-hand control key) are smaller.

Still, the keyboard is great for what it is, and if you want the portability and flexibility of a 2-in-1 tablet then this is certainly a keyboard you can do a lot of typing on.

Webcam

It’s no secret that device makers have been slow to adopt high-quality webcams, even with the shift to remote and hybrid work. Many laptops and tablets have been sticking with cameras offering a grainy, unflattering picture—forcing users to buy an external webcam in order to look their best on Teams or Zoom.

So I was pleased to see that the ThinkPad X12 Detachable is an exception here, with a better-than-average webcam. The tablet’s front-facing camera offers a 5-megapixel camera—matching the Surface Pro 7 webcam on megapixels—which provides a crisp and accurate picture.

Elsewhere on collaboration features, the tablet includes a dual-mic array with noise cancellation to further assist you in your online meeting efforts. Unfortunately, the speaker system (a pair of 1W speakers) is not one of the high points, with the sound noticeably less full and bassy than other devices we’ve tried out recently. (The Surface Pro 7, by contrast, offers 1.6W speakers.)

Security

For business users, the ThinkPad-caliber security capabilities of the X12 Detachable are another element worth calling out.

Along with now-typical security features such as Windows Hello facial recognition and a built-in webcam switch, the ThinkPad X12 Detachable also offers a fingerprint reader with some added security measures. The reader includes “match-on-sensor” technology that is more secure because it isolates the fingerprint matching within the reader itself, while also including anti-spoofing technology (Synaptics PurePrint).

Other key security features include a discrete TPM 2.0 chip for user data encryption—so yes, this device will be compatible with Windows 11—as well as self-healing BIOS that enables recovery after corruption or a cyber attack and prevents bricking if an update fails.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable currently has a starting price of $1,099.

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