Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700: Surface Pro 3 copycat has the keys to our heart

Core M-powered Miix 700 is looking to shake up the competition

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For

  • Slim and light
  • Fanless
  • Kickstand

Against

  • Storage
  • Stylus holder
  • Potentially moderate power

It feels like Lenovo's IdeaPad Miix 700 hybrid has come along at just the right time. It's likely that Microsoft will unveil the Surface Pro 4 at its event on October 6, Apple has lifted the lid on its table-sized iPad Pro tablet, and Windows 10 is breathing new life into 2-in-1s. If tablets with detachable keyboards weren't fashionable before, they're strutting down the catwalk with confidence now.

Lenovo isn't usually one for following the crowd - the company practically invented the hybrid laptop with its Yoga line of devices, all of which makes the Miix 700 the exception to the norm. If you were to wrap a blindfold around your head and hold a Miix 700 in one hand and a Surface Pro 3 in the other, it would be difficult to tell the two apart - they're that similar.

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But then, is that such a bad thing? Few hybrids have matched the Surface Pro 3 for build quality and design since it launched in the summer of 2014. The Miix 700 is just as impressive, and it $699 (around £453 - UK price is to be confirmed) including the keyboard cover and stylus, it still costs less than Microsoft's entry-level Surface Pro 3 (£639).

Design

Where hybrids such as the Asus T300 Chi and the Toshiba Satellite Click Mini riff on the Surface's design, the Miix 700 copies it almost to a tee - from its multi-position kickstand to its thin keyboard cover. The biggest hint that the Miix 700 is a Lenovo device is the keyboard cover's watchband hinge, the same type that was used on the Yoga 3 Pro.

At 8.95mm, the Miix 700 is a whisker thinner than the Surface Pro 3. Its 12-inch display is surrounded by a thick black border that makes it easy to grip the tablet at the edges. A stylus holder grips onto the right-hand edge of the tablet, which is distracting but serves a purpose.

Features

As with Microsoft's Surface tablets, the Miix 700 is designed to be used with its keyboard cover and stylus accessories. Its faux leather detachable keyboard feels solid and sturdy when connected and folds up to protect the Miix 700's screen when the device is being transported.

Around the back is a multi-position kickstand that, like the one on the Surface Pro 3, lets you adjust the height of the display to a more comfortable angle to aid reading, drawing or tapping on it. The IPS display's impressive viewing angles also help in this area. For connectivity, the Miix 700 features one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, micro HDMI-out, a slot for a Micro SIM (LTE/3G), Micro SD and an audio combo jack.

Usability

A bright and sharp touchscreen display makes the Miix 700 a joy to interact with. Its Full HD+ display has a pixel-resolution of 2,160 x 1,440 which makes text sharp and images "pop". The Miix 700 weighs 1.7 pounds - 0.06 pounds lighter than the Surface Pro 3, which itself is a light tablet. It's not as portable as your average e-Reader, but you could hold it in a single hand for reading websites or apps for a decent length of time.

But if there's one area where the Miix 700 really shines, it's the keyboard cover. Unlike the Surface Pro 3's Type Cover keyboard, which suffers keys that offer a minimal amount of travel, the MIix 700's chiclet-spaced keys provide deeper presses and feel much closer to a regular laptop's keyboard than Microsoft's flimsy accessory.

Performance

Lenovo has achieved the Miix 700's thinness by opting for Intel's Core M7 processor, rather than the full Core-series chip that's used in the Surface Pro 3. That positions it somewhere between the Surface 3 and the Surface Pro 3 in the performance department. On the plus side, Core M7 is a passively-cooled fanless processor so you won't hear any whirring sounds come from it when under use.

On the flip side, Core M7 doesn't pack as much power as full Core-series processors, such as the Core-i5 and Core-i7 chips that power the Surface Pro 3. As a result it's less likely to be suitable for carrying out CPU-intensive tasks - such as editing and exporting large images, transcoding video and 3D rendering.

Even so, it's no slouch on the desktop - far from it. With 8GB of RAM under the hood, opening apps and clicking around menus feels responsive and nippy. It's just unfortunate that the Miix 700's flash storage tops out at 256GB, half of the Surface Pro 3's maximum 512GB capacity.

Early verdict

The Miix 700 would have Microsoft running scared if the Surface Pro 4 wasn't on the way. Its comfortable keyboard, slender design and sensible price tag makes it an attractive alternative to the Surface Pro 3 today, and if the Surface Pro 4 fails to come up with the goods then the Miix 700 could go on to be one of the most desirable hybrid tablets around.

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