Fall 2020 / Spring & Summer 2021
How we evaluate tablets
When we perform a tablet evaluation, we first make certain the tablet meets the minimum specifications for the Speed school. Then we install and run required student software. We run a “Solidworks Benchmark” as well. Solidworks is a Computer Aided Design program that offers automatic benchmarking of computer systems. Based on the benchmark scores we can tell a little about how fast the computer calculates and draws objects on the screen.
We look at tablet durability and usability. In particular, we examine how the screen is attached to the keyboard because this can be a week spot for tablets. We try to find information about other factors, such as ordering and servicing issues if any.
Generally speaking, the evaluation units sent to us are business models rather than the consumer models sometimes sold in stores. Vendor links on the main tablet page will be available in mid-April and will point to the preferred business models with recommended accessories and warranty where available.
We do not compare price when evaluating tablets so a unit that receives kudos from us for one feature or another might be more or less expensive than another unit. We also do not check expected delivery times. When you order your tablet be sure it will be delivered before the beginning of the Fall semester.
Evaluation Model: Lenovo ThinkPad X390 Yoga
Specifications: Intel i5 1.6 GHz processor, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, ThinkPad Pen Pro
The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga has always impressed the Speed IT Group. Our staff still prefer the ThinkPad Yoga over other tablets, mostly because of the sturdiness of the construction and innovative physical design despite it being slightly bulky and heavier.
This series of 2-in-1 devices is solidly built with two strong hinges connecting the screen to the backlit keyboard. The 13.3 inch screen is bright and adjusts for any desired viewing angle. In an interesting design, the keyboard rotates 360 degrees under the screen to form the bottom of the tablet. The tablet can also can be set up so the keyboard serves as a stand for easy viewing of movies or for showing presentations. Of course, this means the keyboard is always attached to the unit, which makes it a little heavier when used solely in tablet mode.
The ThinkPad Yoga X390 does well on our SolidWorks benchmark testing.
Note: The Yoga comes in several versions. The “ThinkPad” designation indicates a business class model rather than a consumer mode. Some versions of the unit do not have pens, which are required for Speed. Buyers should take care to purchase ThinkPad versions of the Yoga with Pen.
Evaluation Model: Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Yoga
Specifications: Intel i7 2.3 GHz processor, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, ThinkPad Pen Pro
Lenovo’s ThinkPad L series is a lower cost option that uses less expensive components and removes some of the features found on the X series. The tablet is thicker than the X series and tends to weigh a bit more. As with the X series Yoga, it does use the 2 hinge system to fold in to tablet mode.
The L series evaluation unit performed well with our Solidworks Benchmark Test. It’s results were comparable to the other tablets we evaluated.
The unit has a back lit keyboard and a front and rear facing camera which was new this year. The new model also uses a USB C power connector. One of our favorite features is the ThinkPad Pen Garage that conveniently stores and charges your pen when not in use. You’ll find the garage on the X series as well.
Evaluation Model: Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Specifications: Intel i5 1.3 GHz processor, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB Solid State Drive, Surface Pen, Windows 10 Pro
Avoid the Surface Pro X. The processor will not run our engineering software.
The Surface Pro 7 remains small and light. It works well as a tablet to take quick notes, or to set up on a desk for small projects. It is difficult to type in laptop mode unless a hard flat surface is available because of the cantilevered stand that holds the screen up. The unit scored well on our performance benchmarks.
The size and weight of the Surface Pro make it very portable and convenient to transport. At its native resolution, the text can be very small and difficult to read at times. Using the magnification and accessibility tools helps but not all programs were designed to properly utilize their functionality.
There is no internal pen slot on the Surface.
Ready to purchased your tablet?
Purchase links may be found on the Purchase Recommended Tablet Page.