If the rumors are true and Microsoft is readying a Surface Pro 4 for October, then Lenovo just beat it to the punch with its own nifty convertible laptop. The Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700 (starting at $699, £453, AU$979) is a gorgeous 2-in-1 designed for the on-the-go consumer who demands hardware that excels at work and play.
Similar to the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, the Miix 700 features a slim, detachable keyboard cover that can prop itself up via magnets in the tablet's bottom bezel. Although it doesn't come with an Intel Core i processor, the Miix features new sixth-generation Intel Core M (Skylake) processors that pack a lot of battery life into a fully loaded hybrid.
While I wasn't able to run the Miix 700 through our battery of benchmarks, I had a bit of time to touch and feel the new laptop. I'll use this space to run you through the hybrid's exquisite look, feel and specs.
At just 0.35 inches (8.95mm) thick and 11.49 inches (292mm) wide, the Miix 700 is exactly 0.01 inches thinner and slimmer than the Surface Pro 3. Lenovo was also able to best Microsoft's weight, too – the 1.7-pound (780g) laptop is about 0.06 pounds lighter than the Surface Pro 3.
The Miix 700's faux leather detachable keyboard features a silver-colored dual watchband hinge. The hinge is a little creaky to maneuver, though I was viewing a concept model and not a live sample. But it's sturdy enough to give you peace of mind should you grab the device by its open screen rather than as a closed unit.
The keyboard cover is strong enough to protect against minor drops and bumps, but it's light enough that it shouldn't cause you any trouble when attempting to transport it while attached to the tablet. At the device's rear you'll find the kickstand, which tucks away nicely into the device's body. The kickstand spans almost the length of the case and adjusts to allow you to set the height of the display at any angle from 95-135 degrees.
Like the Surface Pro 3, the Miix 700's keyboard cover is super thin and a pleasure to use. It features chiclet style keys, faux leather palm rests and a flat plastic trackpad that are a delight to touch and operate.
The screen is somewhat hampered by a thick border, but it features a full HD+ (FHD+) resolution of 2,160 x 1,440 pixels, the same as the Surface Pro 3. Both laptops feature bright screens that display complex images wonderfully. In a heavily lit room, the Miix 700's screen was able to absorb external light without compromising its own image.
Unlike the Surface Pro 3, the Miix 700, which can be outfitted at 8GB of RAM, won't utilize Intel Core i processors. Instead, Lenovo opted for the new sixth-generation Intel Core M series of processors. The fanless Core M processors, which come in three types (3, 5 and 7, each stronger than the last) allow the unit to operate without a cooling fan, but don't pack as much power as the Core i series.
For example, the Core M3 runs at a max speed of 2.2GHz with Turbo Boost, while the new Core i3 Skylake processor is expected to have a base frequency of 2.3GHz. Unfortunately, we don't know what the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 will have as a CPU, but the entry-level Surface Pro 3 comes with a fifth-generation Broadwell Core i3 processor that clocks in at 1.5GHz. So, at least when it comes to clock speed, the Miix 700 could be a good deal faster than Microsoft's current flagship hybrid.
Along the edges of the Miix 700 you'll find a nice selection of ports and inputs. Lenovo included a USB 3.0, USB 2.0, Micro HDMI-out, Micro Sim and microSD slot. For those of you keeping score: that's one more USB slot than the Surface Pro 3.
You won't need much additional storage with this tablet-meets-laptop, either. The Miix 700 can be outfitted with 256GB of SSD storage. The Surface Pro 3 can hold 512GB at maximum capacity.
Lenovo bested Microsoft by including an optional 4G LTE modem. The Surface Pro 3 doesn't include a mobile broadband modem, so if you crave portable internet, the Miix 700 is a better investment.
Both Lenovo and Microsoft claim their slates can run on one charge for up to 9 hours, so consider this a wash until we're able to run benchmarks. For reference, we were able to run the Surface Pro 3 for 3 hours and 55 minutes with 10 Google Chrome tabs, Spotify streaming high bitrate audio, TweetDeck and HipChat running.
The Surface Pro 3 features a nice little loop alongside the detachable keyboard where you can slide in and store your Stylus. Unfortunately, Lenovo went a bit more high-tech with its Stylus holder, instead opting for a plastic attachment that tucks into one of its ports.
Although this is definitely safer and more permanent than the Surface Pro 3's Stylus holder, it compromises the Miix 700's aesthetics. When you're not using the pen, it juts out from the side of the screen, which ruins the cinematic appeal of the gorgeous FHD+ display.
This is a minor point, and one that should not influence your purchase decision, but it's worth mentioning for those of you who plan to rotate between pen, mouse and touch navigation.
At its $699 starting price, the Miix 700, which is scheduled for a November release, will be a more affordable, capable alternative to the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which starts at $799 (£639, AU$1,189).
It competes head-to-head with the Surface in almost every spec, and even bests it in some areas, including an additional USB port, included keyboard cover and optional 4G LTE.
Although the aesthetic design of the stylus holder is questionable, there's no doubt that the Miix 700 is a venerable contender for best hybrid laptop.