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View Full Version : got my Thinkpad Helix, may stick with Surface Pro




pesos
Apr 22, 2013, 09:26 PM
So I have been on a quest for some time to find the perfect ultraportable machine to complement my MacMini/27" TB home setup.

When I travelled for 2 mo in Vietnam I was relatively pleased with my 2011 13" MBA. Main disappointments were the size/weight and low screen res (controlling multiple servers with 768 vert. pixels sucks).

Finally the Surface Pro came along and I snatched one up on opening day and, much to my surprise, it was actually fantastic. I was in LA for a week so it was my only computer, and it did quite well. It is extremely light and portable, and plenty powerful for my needs (including Hyper-V). Downsides are 4 GB of ram (8 would be nice to run a few Hyper-V guests simultaneously) and it's less than ideal when using in bed (if the keyboard flexes the wrong way, the Surface sometimes drops connectivity with it).

So I was hoping for a device that could provide a stiff base, more ram, and if the screen happened to be a bit bigger that wouldn't hurt either - without trading off too much portability. I thought the Helix would be it.

Unfortunately, now that I have it in my hand, I am not quite sure what the point of the Helix is! The Tablet portion is impressive - very high quality, very high performance, and lightweight at 1.8 lbs. Barely weighs more than a far-less-functional iPad. It's the base that is the killer - bringing the weight too close to 4 lbs, almost doubling that of the Surface Pro. Also what I assumed would be natural wins for the Helix (use on lap/in bed etc) are not due to the weight distribution and its tendency to be top heavy (they should have shifted the battery weight all to the front of the keyboard area to compensate). The weight and bulk added by the extra section of the dock where the tablet connects are significant, to the point that I'd rather use my girlfriend's 1600x900 Samsung Series 9 despite the slightly lower resolution and lack of touch screen. The utility of Microsoft's oft-maligned kickstand came into clear relief when I considered travelling just with the Helix tablet piece and using an external keyboard.

Finally, there is price. At a base price of $1,499 (mine cost $2,150 with 8 GB ram and 256 GB SSD) it is significantly more than the Surface Pro with the only benefit you get for the money and weight tradeoffs being the extra battery life when docked. It's not enough for my purpose (portability) but for someone using it in an office scenario it may be worthwhile.

It would appear the Surface Pro is what I'll be sticking with, at least for the time being. I am very much looking forward to the accessories Microsoft has been hinting at, including a stiffer battery-carrying keyboard attachment/cover. Here's hoping they take a different approach than Lenovo and don't trade away too much portability.



Liquorpuki
Apr 24, 2013, 12:59 PM
I'm a big fan of the Surface Pro and I'm waiting for that MS dock too.

The cool thing about it is with Intel's roadmap, the device will only get better. Haswell will improve portability and graphics and lengthen battery life. ARM tablets are gonna end up being a budget space by the time Skylake rolls around.

pesos
May 5, 2013, 11:22 AM
Well I took the Helix with me for a week on the road to really put it through its paces, and I think I have changed my mind. It is a lot easier to use in the hotel, plus the extra battery life from the base does come in handy.

The extra weight is definitely noticeable, however once it's in my backpack with my other gear it's really not that big a deal.

I think I will be selling the Surface Pro and sticking with the Helix for business trips and Surface RT for run trips to have a lightweight but functional emergency machine. We'll see what MS does with the Surface 2.0 - assuming the rumors about a smaller RT are true I may shift to that. Then we'll see what they do accessory-wise for the next-gen haswell Pro...