The Lenovo Miix-720 was released earlier this year after being announced at CES 2017 in Las Vegas.
This device, which I am using to prepare this article, is one of the many so called Surface Killers that have come out from OEMs. As you look at the product image gallery you will notice it shares a lot of similarities with Microsoft's popular product line and the Redmond company is just fine with that being the case. In fact they will tell you that they enjoy seeing the innovations coming from their OEM hardware partners. That is a thin line to be treading but Microsoft does it very well without stepping on their partners toes.
I used to work at Best Buy a few years ago and I remember the unending plastic cases on the shelves that housed laptops and it is refreshing to see the quality devices that are coming to market these days including the different form factors such as 2-in-1's.
As for the Miix-720 the retail packaging is solid and packs the tablet, detachable keyboard, active pen, and USB Type C power supply in a sturdy box for shipping from the warehouse.
When you begin to break the device out of its box the similarities with a Microsoft Surface Pro 3/4 really jump out at you such as the kick stand and detachable keyboard with a very familiar looking data and power connector.
The kickstand uses the same type of hinge that you have seen on other Lenovo convertibles sometimes referred to as a watch hinge, and also has the same silver color.
This kickstand and its hinges also allow you to lay the tablet almost flat - even with the keyboard attached - and provides a studio mode such as that seen with the Surface Studio and new Surface Pro.
I tried this mode out with the Windows 10 Screen Sketch app and with the built in palm rejection it worked great for me.
Inking with the included Active Pen works with the Miix-720 without any further action beyond putting a battery in the pen. Ths is basically a point and shoot pen so no options for pressure sensitivity to influence how heavy your work is on the screen for subtle shading, etc.
The Miix-720 comes with a pen caddy that actually plugs into one of the USB ports and while it slides into that carrier easily, you need both hands to remove it and also hold down the device at the same time. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter which side of the device you use this on because it will either interfere with the power and volume controls on the right side or the actual power plug on the left side.
The detachable, backlit full size keyboard is a great typing surface and beyond getting used to the layout and a feel for the very nice trackpad it has everything you expect from your keyboard. The front of the keyboard has a magnetic connector embedded in it just like the Surface keyboards and allows you to attach it to the tablet for an angled typing area. My personal preference though is to have it flat on the table otherwise I experience some extra vibrations and bounce when typing.
As for lapability the Miix-720 sits on my legs just fine but the kickstand edge will cut into your legs after a long period of usage. This might me tolerable in jeans however, in shorts it got irritating pretty fast while I was using the device while sitting on the couch.
Using this on a desktop is a pleasure because I get to adjust the screens angle to almost anything I want with that hinge plus the keyboard can lay flat on my work space for vibration free typing.
Next up is my battery experience which was unfortunately not good. I unplugged the Miix-720 from its power source at 5:30 AM and at 9:15 AM, just 3 hours and 45 minutes later, it hit 5% and shut itself down. Over that period of time I did my normal routine of reviewing social media, RSS feeds, and browsing the web. I did install some apps, which under most mornings is not something I do but this is a new device so I had some of my normal apps to get installed.
The specs for the Miix-720 states the 41 Watt Hour battery should provide 8 hours of battery life and as you know those are estimates and will vary based on your usage. This is something I will be watching over the next couple of weeks as I use the device daily to see how the battery life averages out.
Charging is done through the USB Type C port and a full charge from 5% to 100% took about 2 hours and 20 minutes. Speaking of charging and USB ports - the Miix-720 has USB Always-On Charging so you can charge your smartphone from the 720's battery while the device is turned off.
The IR cameras that are built into the top of the screen bezel are very fast and work well with Windows Hello. I am glad to see an OEM include this functionality by default on a device like this and hope others follow suit. The front facing 1 MB camera will be functional for most video conferencing needs without issue.
After initial setup I have had a few issues and the most serious one, a BSOD for a network driver, seems to have been sorted out by downloading a new driver from the Lenovo support site. The other problems were some unresolved tiles on the Start Screen that never downloaded the apps behind them for some reason and a repeating camera driver that keeps popping up on Windows Update.
Stay tuned as I continue to put the Miix-720 through its paces with my daily work and personal routine to see how it measures out over the next couple of weeks.
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