Head-To-Head: Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 10 Vs. Microsoft Surface 3

Head-To-Head Faceoff

Lenovo's latest ThinkPad Tablet 10 delivers better speeds and feeds, and focuses on being business-friendly. Meanwhile, Microsoft just began selling its latest Surface 3 tablet, a fully featured slate that can run any Windows app, unlike its predecessor, Surface RT.

A ThinkPad tablet is an attractive offering to anyone who knows the quality that Lenovo puts into its long-established manufacturing business. Despite Microsoft's being on only its third generation of the Surface tablet, this Surface 3 slate represents the most compelling and affordable Microsoft tablet yet.

Here's a look at how the two stack up in a spec showdown.

Thin & Light, Priced Right

Base configuration for the Microsoft Surface 3 tablet is $500. The Surface tablet weighs in at 1.37 pounds, is 10.8 inches in diameter, and has a screen resolution of 1920 x 1280 pixels. The tablet sports a 3.5-megapixel front-facing camera and an 8.0-megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus.

The Wi-Fi-only model of the Surface 3 is available now.

Lenovo’s entry-level ThinkPad Tablet 10 (pictured) starts at $550. The 10.1-inch tablet has a screen resolution of 1900 x 1200 and weighs 1.3 pounds. The ThinkPad Tablet 10 has a 5-megapixel auto-focus rear camera with an LED flash and a 1.2-megapixel fixed-focus front camera.

Lenovo said its second-generation ThinkPad Tablet 10 will be available in August.

Under The Hood

Lenovo’s ThinkPad Tablet 10 sports an entry-level 64-bit Intel x5-Z8500 processor (2-MB cache, 1.4GHz with Intel Burst technology up to 2.24GHz), 2 GB of RAM (LPDDR3-1600) and 64 GB of eMMC storage.

Surface 3 (pictured) base configuration ships with 64 GB of storage, 2 GB of RAM. The actual amount of available storage for the 64-GB drive is 37 GB because the actual OS takes up a significant amount of space on the tablet. Surface 3 base configuration ships with a 64-bit Quad-core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor (2-MB cache, 1.6GHz with Intel Burst technology up to 2.4GHz).

Both ship with 802.11, but neither offers pricing or availability for 3G and 4G LTE models.

Pen-To-Pen Combat

The big new feature with ThinkPad Tablet 10 is the ThinkPad Pen Pro, coupled with WriteIt software, that can perform handwriting-to-text conversion in "nearly any" text field. The ThinkPad Pen Pro will cost $40.

The Surface Pen ($50) (pictured) also allows you to perform handwriting-to-text conversions. Microsoft says its stylus has 256 levels of pressure sensitivity, allowing you to easily take notes and draw. Microsoft also said it includes Palm Block technology to help with taking notes without having to worry about your palm resting on the tablet screen.

Keyboards: They're Extra

The ThinkPad Tablet comes with the most keyboard options, including a ThinkPad Folio Keyboard ($110) and the ThinkPad 10 Ultrabook Keyboard ($120). The latter is a mechanical keyboard with a built-in track pad; the tablet rests inside a custom hinge. The ThinkPad Folio Keyboard doubles as a case, and if you don’t mind carrying around a little extra bulk, delivers top-notch performance.

The Surface 3 Type Cover ($130) (pictured) also doubles as a keyboard. While some have remarked that the keyboard feels flimsy, others say they love the magnetic flap, built-in track pad and built-in stylus storage.

While the ThinkPad tablet keyboards gets better marks for comfort, they add bulk and weight. The Surface 3 Type Cover does the best job at keeping things thin and light.

Battery Battle

Lenovo isn’t saying much about its battery life for the yet-to-be-released ThinkPad Tablet 10 (pictured). It will state only that the battery lasts "up to 10 hours."

Microsoft makes similar battery performance claims for the Surface 3, stating that its battery will last up to 9 hours when playing videos. Microsoft says the battery will last 10 hours with all settings on default and with Auto-Brightness disabled and Wi-Fi connected with a network.

Docking Stations

The Surface 3 Docking Station ($200) allows you to connect your Surface 3 to corporate networks or use it more like a desktop workstation. The docking station has 2 USB 3.0 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port and a Mini DisplayPort video output.

The ThinkPad Tablet 10 docking station ($130) is noticeably smaller than the Surface 3's docking station. The Tablet Dock (pictured), as it's called, ships with 3 USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet port and one HDMI port as well as an AC Power adapter.

Business Readiness

Surface 3 (pictured) comes with a year of Office 365 Personal. Lenovo offers a year of Office 365 Personal for its first-generation ThinkPad Tablet 10, so it's a safe bet it will be available for the second-gen tablet.

Beyond Office, Lenovo adds security measures: optional dTPM encryption, a fingerprint reader or smart card reader. Although Lenovo doesn't state it explicitly, we are assuming those security extras will cost you extra.

Surface integrates with your IT infrastructure and corporate intranet, with support for VPN, Domain Join and third-party security clients.

The Surface 3 ships with a three-position kickstand; the ThinkPad Tablet 10 doesn't offer any kickstand. Microsoft's use of its kickstand gives it an edge over ThinkPad Tablet 10 for viewing presentations.

Port-To-Port Play

Surface 3 offers a full-sized USB 3.0 port along with a Mini DisplayPort, microSD card reader, Micro USB charging port and a headset jack.

ThinkPad Tablet 10 (pictured) has a Micro HDMI port, a USB 2.0 port and a Micro SD slot and a headset jack.