Evaluations

Summer & Fall 2017 / Spring 2018

How we evaluate tablets

When we perform a tablet evaluation, we first make certain the tablet meets the minimum specifications for the Speed school. Then we install and run required student software. We run a “Solidworks Benchmark” as well. Solidworks is a Computer Aided Design program that offers automatic benchmarking of computer systems. Based on the benchmark scores we can tell a little about how fast the computer calculates and draws objects on the screen.

We look at tablet durability and usability. In particular, we examine how the screen is attached to the keyboard because this can be a week spot for tablets. We try to find information about other factors, such as ordering and servicing issues if any.

Generally speaking, the evaluation units sent to us are business models rather than the consumer models sometimes sold in stores. Vendor links on the main tablet page will be available in mid-April and will point to the preferred business models where available.

We do not compare price when evaluating tablets so a unit that receives kudos from us for one feature or another might be more or less expensive than another unit. We also do not check expected delivery times. When you order your tablet be sure it will be delivered before the beginning of the Fall semester.

Evaluation Model: Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 370

Specifications: Intel i5 2.71 GHz processor, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB Solid State Drive, Wacom active pen

This latest model of the ThinkPad Yoga line builds upon the impressive ingenuity, performance and innovative design of its predecessor. New this spring, the ThinkPad Yoga 370 includes the latest 7th generation of the Intel Core i5 processors. It touts better performance and battery life over the previous models and its price is very competitive.

This series of 2-in-1 devices is solidly built with two strong hinges connecting the screen to the backlit keyboard. The 12.5 inch screen is bright and adjusts for any desired viewing angle. In an interesting design, the keyboard rotates 360 degrees under the screen to form the bottom of the tablet. The keys themselves retract into the body of the unit. The tablet can also can be set up so the keyboard serves as a stand for easy viewing of movies or for showing presentations. This means the keyboard is always attached to the unit, which makes it a little heavier when used solely in tablet mode.

The ThinkPad Yoga 370 scored very well on our SolidWorks benchmark testing.

Note: The Yoga comes in several versions. The “ThinkPad” designation indicates a business class model rather than a consumer mode. Some versions of the unit do not have pens, which are required for Speed. Buyers should take care to purchase ThinkPad versions of the Yoga with Pen.

Evaluation Model: Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 260

Specifications: Intel i5 2.4 GHz processor, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB Solid State Drive, Wacom active pen

Although this is last years ThinkPad Yoga model, it still continues to impress the Speed IT Group. Our staff still prefer the ThinkPad Yoga over other tablets, mostly because of the sturdiness of the construction and innovative physical design despite it being slightly bulky and heavier. This model utilizes the 6th generation of Intel's Core i5 chipset.

The ThinkPad Yoga 260 does well on our SolidWorks benchmark testing.

Note: The Yoga comes in several versions. The “ThinkPad” designation indicates a business class model rather than a consumer mode. Some versions of the unit do not have pens, which are required for Speed. Buyers should take care to purchase ThinkPad versions of the Yoga with Pen.

Evaluation Model: Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga P40

Specifications: Intel i7 2.81 GHz processor, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB Solid State Drive, Wacom active pen

This tablet is often referred to as an engineering class machine with a dedicated GPU unlike the rest of the tablets we evaluated. It touts a fast i7 processor with plenty of RAM and scored very well on the SolidWorks benchmark test.

The P40 feels much like the ThinkPad Yoga 260 but with a larger display. It has the same unique hinge, retracting backlit keyboard and active pen. It throws in an additional USB port and Display Port as well as weighing in a pound heavier than the 260.

Of course these high end specifications mean that this device scored the best in our benchmark testing. Having a dedicated Nvidia GPU means applications like Solidworks will perform significantly better by offloading much of the graphics processing.

The price and specifications of the P40 compete with Microsoft’s Surface Book.

Evaluation Model: Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Specifications: Intel i5 2.5 GHz processor, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB Solid State Drive, N-Trig pen, Windows 10

The Surface Pro 4 is small and light. It works well as a tablet to take quick notes, or to set up on a desk for small projects. It is difficult to type in laptop mode unless a hard flat surface is available because of the cantilevered stand that holds the screen up. We’ve found that the keyboard has improved since the previous model and our students are pleased with the feel and key spacing. The unit scored well on our performance benchmarks.

The size and weight of the Surface Pro 4 makes it very portable and convenient to transport. At its native resolution, the text can be very small and difficult to read at times. Using the magnification and accessibility tools helps but not all programs were designed to properly utilize their functionality.

There is no internal pen slot on the Surface, but the magnetic pen helps prevent pen loss and is very comfortable to hold. The pen also features a button that will launch OneNote with one press.

Ready to purchased your tablet?

Purchase links may be found on the Purchase Recommended Tablet Page.

For more information please contact:

Speed IT Helpdesk
Vogt Building Room 203
E-mail: spdhelp@louisville.edu
Phone: 502-852-7620