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Lenovo Miix 2 8: A fast tablet that's short on features

Michelle Mastin | March 7, 2014
Intel's Bay Trail-class Atom processors make it easy for PC manufacturers to build powerful tablets with a key feature that competitors like Google's Nexus 7 and Apple's iPad mini can't deliver: The ability to run Windows 8.1 and all the apps available for that OS. Lenovo's Miix 2 8 has that to its advantage. But while it delivers impressive performance, it falls short in features.

Intel's Bay Trail-class Atom processors make it easy for PC manufacturers to build powerful tablets with a key feature that competitors like Google's Nexus 7 and Apple's iPad mini can't deliver: The ability to run Windows 8.1 and all the apps available for that OS. Lenovo's Miix 2 8 has that to its advantage. But while it delivers impressive performance, it falls short in features.

Lenovo picked Intel's quad-core Atom Z3740, pairing it with 2GB of low-power DDR3/1066 memory and 32GB of storage to power its Miix 2 8. Surprisingly, the Miix 2 8 delivered a WorldBench 8.1 score of 164, outperforming Dell's Venue 8 Pro by a margin of 12 percent, even though Dell's tablet is equipped with a very similar Atom processor and faster memory (it uses an Atom Z3740D and low-power DDR3/1333 RAM).

The processors in both tablets have the same base clock speed — 1.33GHz — but the Atom Z3740 in the Miix 2 8 has a slightly higher burst frequency of 1.86GHz, compared to 1.83GHz for the Atom Z3740D that Dell chose. That's a very small difference, which leads me to conclude that the bigger factor is the dual memory channels in the processor Lenovo picked, versus the single memory channel in the processor that Dell chose.

The Miix 2 outperformed the Venue Pro 8 in terms of battery life, too, lasting more than 10 hours, compared to 7 hours and 44 minutes for the Dell. Here again, much of the credit goes to the processor: The Atom Z3740 in the Miix 2 8 has a "scenario design power" of 2 watts, while the Atom Z3740D in the Venue Pro 8 has an SDP of 2.2 watts. You can read all the specs for the two CPUs on Intel's website.

Scenario design power, SDP for short, is a formula that Intel devised to measure the heat generated by CPUs in "thin, thermally constrained designs." As with the TDP — thermal design power — numbers expressed for desktop and laptop CPUs, a mobile CPU with a higher SDP will generally consume more power than one with a lower SDP.

The Miix 2 8 has all the horsepower it needs to run Windows 8.1, and its battery delivers enough juice to provide more than a full day's productivity away from an AC outlet. But you should think long and hard about spending the extra $50 to move up to the model with 64GB of storage, because the 32GB model reviewed here leaves very little room — about 7GB — for your own apps and data. You can slip a memory card into the MicroSD slot in either model to expand its capacity.

 

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