Lenovo Ideatab Lynx Keyboard Dock First Impressions (Updated)

Posted on 22 January 2013 by



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My son would like to introduce you to the Lenovo Ideatab Lynx keyboard Dock which completes the Ideatab Lynx order I placed last week. I’ve already put an early review out for the tablet but the review won’t be complete until I’ve spent some time with the keyboard.

The unit cost 150 Euro and includes keyboard, mouse, 2xUSB 2.0 and a micro-USB charging port.

This article has been updated after an extended testing session. See [update] sections below.

Build quality isn’t exactly top-of-the range and for a Lenovo device, somewhat dissapointing. It’s a plastic unit, fairly thin and has a bit of annoying  flex in the middle. Fortunately that doesn’t affect the keyboard experience which, I’m happy to say is a whole lot better than the experience on the Acer W510, a similar style dockable with a 10” screen size. It’s not up to what I’ve experienced on Ideapad Ultrabooks (and nothing like a Thinkpad!) but it’s not too bad. Keys are well spaced and have a solid feel although I’m having to press slightly more than I would normally on a laptop keyboard. If this doesn’t correct itself through my typing style of ‘bedding-in’ then I’m not going to be happy.

[update] After 6hrs work-testing today I’m not happy at all with the keyboard. The feel and layout of the keyboard is good but the amount of dropped key presses is terrible. I’ve tried different typing angles and strengths but it’s not working out at all. This is, to be honest, one of the worst Lenovo keyboards I’ve ever tested, and that includes Lenovo netbooks too. It looks and feels like the old Ideapad S205 but doesn’t act like it. I wonder if it’s actually a  USB issue though because I can’t identify any specific keys or  typing action that makes it worse or better. The dropped key presses, sometimes 2 or 3 in a row, seem to be random.  Connecting a full size USB keyboard results in perfect action though so maybe Lenovo have done something silly with the USB hardware. I will, of course, pursue this with Lenovo and my retailer. Maybe, just maybe, I have a bad (can you say early beta-test?) product.

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As for the mouse…lets talk about the two USB2.0 ports on the side of the device which at least allow a decent mouse to be plugged in. The built-in mousepad feels too plastic, too small, is single-touch and has a very difficult right click. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was made by the same people that made the one on the Acer W510 but at least it’s not jumping about all over the place. There’s no excuse here, even if the tablet has touch control. You can not get away with such trash on a keyboard dock that costs 150 Euro.  As this is a USB keyboard and mouse I don’t see how the experience could be improved through software.

The docking mechanism isn’t as easy or smooth as on the Acer W510 and there’s a perspex guide that also feels a bit cheap but the result is a good viewing angle, a raised keyboard and reasonable balance – you can use the touchscreen without it falling backwards and it even works, if you’re careful, on a lap. Total weight of the tablet and keyboard is 1.3Kg which isn’t bad for an 11.6” ‘laptop’ with about 50Wh of battery. The charger and cable adds just 110gm to that.

[update] In a demo to some co-workers today, it wasn’t a smooth process to get the tablet out from the dock.

lynx batteryOn the battery there’s one thing to note – the keyboard battery charges the tablet battery when it’s docked which means you’re charging one battery from another. This is not an efficient way to use a battery and you can expect to lose something in the order of 30% of your charge through the recharging process but at least you can be sure that the primary part of the unit has the best possible battery life. The battery in the dock appears as a ‘short-term’ battery which is a strange label but I think the correct label for the type of device that – an HID UPS battery (uninterrupted power supply.) Think of the keyboard battery as an external power pack with USB-based capacity reporting.

Given that the screen on the Lynx is 11.6” and the battery charging has an inefficient set-up I’m not expecting the Lenovo Ideatab Lynx to have the best battery life of the Clovertrail tablets on a per watt-hour capacity basis. We’ll see after some tests.

[update] After a 6hr test with battery life measurements today I can say that either the keyboard battery is smaller than the tablet battery OR that the charging arrangement is resulting in poor efficiency (as mentioned above.) In a working environment (WiFi-on Web working) I got 4hrs from the keyboard dock until it switched to internal battery on the Lynx tablet. After that my measurements indicated that the tablet battery would last about 50% longer than the dock battery. In total I was seeing 10hrs of web working capacity so a 40:60 dock:tablet split can be expected. Not surprising considering the charging arrangement. I prefer what Acer have done with their battery and dock setup on the competing Iconia W510. [Full Review here]

Does it charge from a standard Micro USB charger? I tested a power pack that is able to deliver 1000 mA an couldn’t see any proof that the unit was charging when it was on and docked. I was able to get the dock charging light to come on when the tablet was not in the unit. Rate of charge could be an issue but I’ll try and test that over the next week.

Overall I think there’s room for improvement in the Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx keyboard dock. It’s working and providing a reasonable level of productivity, one that I think I could cope with for short trips away from the office with email and blog coverage but not for writing a 2000-3000 word article. The mouse is cheap and the plastic feels a bit cheap. Is it worth $/Euro 150? I can’t tell you just yet but if it gets allows me to be a bit more productive when mobile then I guess over a few years it will easily pay itself back.

[update] please read the updates marked above.

 

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13 Comments For This Post

  1. eman says:

    When did Lenovo announced this? They seems to offer all kind of products that it’s rather confusing. Thinkpad Tablet 2, Lynx, Hylix, etc. What’s their flagship tablet?

  2. teadrop says:

    Thanks for the great review, especially listing the weight of the charger which I can’t find anywhere else.

    Just a question: When the tablet/dock is 95% charged, and you connect it to AC supply, does it start charging again? Some laptop will block charging of the device unless the battery is less than 90%. This is to preserve the life of the battery. I think it’s an important feature. Does Lenovo Lynx has this feature? Does Acer W510?

    Chippy Reply:

    I know this feature. I don’t see it as a config option. Power always appears to charge battery.

  3. Chippy says:

    Please see the updates in the article. I did a 6hr productivity test today.

  4. animatio says:

    thanks for a great review. sad to see that this industry is repeating its failures time and again (one is tempted to say they really do no miss a single opportunity to do so)each time they introduce a new class of devices. indeed unbelievable. they did it with laptops, then with netbooks, followed by some of the ultrabooks and now the tablet devices. what a shame.

  5. Mike says:

    I’d really like to know if it is possible to connect the keyboard to the tablet via a micro USB extension cable. It seems like it should be possible. Is there any way you can test that please? It does, of course, require having a a micro USB extension cable to test it with. Thanks.

    Chippy Reply:

    I don’t have the required cable here unfortunately. I would imagine it works, yes. You’d like to elevate the screen? In that case, do you need the built-in battery. Would a BT keyboard be better?

    Mike Reply:

    Yes, I’d like to elevate the screen for extended travel stays. I have thought about a bluetooth keyboard, and am still considering the Asus Vivo Tab Smart for that reason. The issue is I’d also like to be able to charge the tablet and connect other devices via USB while the screen is elevated. The keyboard dock seems to provide that option, assuming I can connect with a micro USB extension cable.

    Can you tell me, is there a way to charge the tablet and connect to other USB devices simultaneously via the single micro USB port, perhaps with some sort of powered USB hub, without using a keyboard dock such as this?

    Thanks so much for your time and helpful reviews.

    Chippy Reply:

    I can see what you’re trying to achieve. Charging AND USB host at the same time.
    I doubt a powered hub is going to do it in fact, come to think of it, how do they archive this? It must be a USB OTG port or something similar.

    …i tested the powered hub. Connect the tab a to a USB host port on a (powered) hub and it charges the tab. Connect the tab to the slave port (on the hub) it acts as a hub.
    Quite a unique port!

    Chippy

    James Reply:

    Here’s a topic link from someone trying to figure out the USB cable connector pinout and how to mod it…

    http://www.transformerforums.com/forum/asus-vivo-general-discussion/33211-asus-vivotab-rt-usb-cable-connector-pinout.html

    Mike Reply:

    Thanks so much Chippy! I thought I’d give you an update in case you’re interested. The lynx (tablet only) was actually on sale on Lenovo’s website in the US last week, so I went ahead and ordered. Before I did, I asked them this USB cable question. They said that I should be able to use a micro USB extension cable in the way that I want to, but it has not been tested. They also agreed to allow me to return it without a restocking fee in case it doesn’t work.
    However, they don’t yet have the keyboard dock available for sale on their website, and it will take 4 weeks for the tablet to arrive.
    That business of trying to figure out the pins on a proprietary port seems more trouble than it’s worth.
    Thanks again!

    Mike Reply:

    So I got my Lynx and keyboard dock. They work when docked. It’s actually a very nice system. However, my attempts to connect the two with a cable have not been successful. The plugs fit, but the tablet does not recognize the keyboard. I called Lenovo tech support and they said they tried it on their unit and it does work. Has anyone else tried this? Please share how you did it and how you got it to work, as in exactly which cable you used (make and model, perhaps a vendor). If it doesn’t work, please share that too.
    Thanks so much.

    Chippy Reply:

    Any feedback on the keyboard quality?

  6. Danielle says:

    So if it was between the Lenovo Lynx and the Acer Iconia w510? which would you choose?

  7. curaga says:

    Any issues waking from standby? I noticed that it’s commonly brought up in forums about Clover Trail tablets. I think one of your articles on the W510 mentioned it for that device.

    Alan Reply:

    It seems standby and hibernate issues are ongoing problems with computers on any OS for years now. Kind of why I wasn’t that excited over Connected Standby or improved standby battery life since I doubt I’ll use them.

    Chippy Reply:

    OK desktop is in standby but Win 8 is still running. The main thing to remember is that CS requires the system to idle like a smartphone (selectively turning off parts of system when not used) so even when you are using the PC there’s a dramatic increase in battery life. You’ll see this happen with Haswell on Ultrabooks too.

    Chippy Reply:

    There’s a general increase in instability with Clovertail at the moment but I can’t say that I’ve seen anything.more with the CS process.

    Marauderz Reply:

    If you’re referring to the W510 becoming unresponsive after waking up. That issue has not occurred with my W510 after the December driver update.

    Chippy Reply:

    Have you tried 2.04 (Jan 8th) Marauderz? Seems to have fixed my mouse although I need to give it a longer test . It also mentions an Audio fix.
    Chippy

  8. mit says:

    I have question about Connected Standby. If you’re downloading a file using the Modern or desktop version of IE and you press the power button, will the download stop? The same question for downloading a torrent in the desktop. Also, does desktop downloads/torrents stop when going to the Start screen or any Modern app since it supposedly gets suspended like any other app?

    Chippy Reply:

    If the Windows 8 app (Modern) is correctly registered for backgrounding and user permission has been given the download can continue when the device is in CS. The desktop apps all stop (similar to standby.)
    Its a good question. I’ll try and test it now.

    Chippy Reply:

    Confirmed – Tested with IE (Modern) and the download continued in CS.

    mit Reply:

    Thanks. I’ll have to make sure to use the Modern IE when downloading files during standby. I guess I’ll have to wait for Modern bittorrent apps. Of course, I won’t expect super long battery life when a torrent is downloading.

    Chippy Reply:

    It shouldn’t be bad at all. Ive measured screen-off streaming at well umder 1W. I estimate torrent would run at about 1.5W average. So 15+ hours on the Clovertrail tablets. 30hrs with battery dock.

  9. ben says:

    Please let me know what the outcome is with the keyboard. I just ordered this and the keyboard was one of the main reasons. Now I’m starting to get worried.

    Thanks
    Ben

    Mike Reply:

    Ben, if you’re referring to the Micro USB sable idea to connect the keyboard to the tablet, I just got of the phone with a company that specializes in USB cables. He educated me about some of the differences between cheap and well made cables. The cable I have is definitely cheap. I am going to order a higher quality cable and hopefully this works.

    ben Reply:

    No I’m referring to the keyboard dock itself. I want it but concerned with the comments around it not registering all key strokes. I can’t believe that. Especially from Lenovo!

  10. meengla yip says:

    I applied Acer Drive Patch 2.04 and that, apparently, updated the Intel Atom processor for W510. Some people say the fix 2.04 fixes more than just the processor but in my case only the processor was updated. Anyway, now the tablet never crashes! The keyboard doesn’t get stuck either. I still don’t like the mouse pad–is not very good–but I can live with that.

    With the Patch 2.04 I think W510 truly shines! I am thinking of buying one for my wife…

  11. guy says:

    The battery icon doesn’t show the battery life left? Just percentage?

    Ben Reply:

    I think thats an option you need to enable within the OS. Definitely not a Lenovo setting/design.

    curaga Reply:

    I’ve never seen this option in Windows. My laptops either showed it or not. Where do you toggle this?

  12. ej_424 says:

    Chippy thanks for the review. I got my keyboard dock today however no tablet yet so can’t test the key recognition issue that you spoke about. Overall I like the look of it and its seems sturdy, but just as you mentioned I’ve noticed a lot of keyboard flex. Specially right in the middle by the space bar. Its annoying now that I know its there but hopefully it works well. Pretty disappointed that they would push this to the public with such obvious flex. By the way I’m in the US so this appears to be a widespread issue. Interesting enough I can’t find any other reviews out there on this product yet other than yours.

  13. ej_424 says:

    Look at my review at the bottom. I too appear to have similar quality concerns that you spoke about. Can’t comment on the key recognition but should shortly if Lenovo ever fixes this.

    I’m really wondering if I should have went with the Asus TF810c, however that is pretty pricey for a clover trail tablet so will take my chances with this and hope that Lenovo will make it right if I have issues and exchange, even if they do a redesign in a couple months down the road.