Thursday, May 19, 2022

Lenovo Ideapad Miix 520 review: A superb Windows tablet with subpar battery life

The Lenovo Ideapad Miix 520 aspires to compete with Microsoft’s Surface Pro, and it checks nearly all of the boxes: excellent performance; a bright, high-resolution display; and a comfortable typing experience. Only in battery life does it fall well short. Nevertheless, the Miix 520 is a great alternative to the pricier Surface lineup.

As Windows tablets coalesce toward the 12.2-inch panel size used by the Miix 520, comparing them is all about tradeoffs. The Miix 520, which is currently available in only one configuration (currently about $990 on Amazon), upgrades the typical tablet display from 1080p to a 1920×1200 panel. But that higher resolution affects battery life, as you’ll see later in our tests. The other major features are detailed below., 

Lenovo Miix 520: Basic specs and features

  • Display: 12.2-inch (1920×1200) IPS
  • Processor: Intel 1.6GHz Core i5-8250U  (Kaby Lake-R)
  • Graphics: Intel 620 (integrated)
  • Memory: 8GB DDR4 (2,133MHz)
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Ports: 1 USB 3.0 (Type C), 1 USB 3.0 (Type A), microSD, headphone jack
  • Wireless: 802.11ac (2×2), Bluetooth 4.1
  • Cameras: Front (5MP, fixed-focus) Rear (8MP, autofocus)
  • Battery: 39Wh
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home
  • Dimensions and weight: 11.8 in. x 8.1 in. x 0.4 in., 0.6 in. with keyboard; 1.9 lb (tablet), 2.72 lb (with keyboard), 3.06 lb (tablet, keyboard plus charger)
  • Price as reviewed: $999

Unlike Microsoft, Lenovo bundles the detachable keyboard as well as a stylus, known as the Active Pen 2. 

Lenovo Miix 520 Mark Hachman / IDG

The Lenovo Miix 520 offers outstanding value. although it’s all packaged in a rather unassuming exterior.

Lenovo Miix 520: Build quality and display

Save for Lenovo’s silvery “watchband” hinge, the Miix 520’s platinum silver exterior is discreet, as is the case with most tablets. Unlike the crisp, minimalist lines of the Microsoft Surface Pro (2017), however, there’s much more of a sense of “busy:” a fan grille runs along the top of the tablet, ports cluster to the left-hand-side, and speaker grilles pop out here and there.

The watchband hinge isn’t just for show. It supports the weight of the tablet (which, at 2.72 pounds with the keyboard, is a bit heavier than the competition), and it reclines to 150 degrees (the same range as the Surface Pro) with hardly a wobble. Lenovo uses the thin “sheath” kickstand that most tablet makers (except HP) employ, though, which can jab your thighs after prolonged use.

Lenovo Miix 520 Mark Hachman / IDG

The Miix 520’s watchband hinge not only captures the eye, it helps support the tablet as it reclines.

When powering on the Miix 520, you may notice one of the design touches that please habitual Lenovo users: the on-screen battery gauge. You also have the option (via the Lenovo Vantage software, discussed later) of placing a battery icon widget on your taskbar. 

Lenovo Miix 520 Mark Hachman / IDG

A fan grille runs the length of the Miix 520 tablet. The tablet’s fan turns on frequently, but the low hiss never becomes annoying.

While the Miix 520’s 12.2-inch, 1920 x 1200 IPS panel taxes battery life and lacks the visual pop of, say, the OLED screen used by the Samsung Galaxy Book, the experience is worth it. There’s a perceptible improvement in display quality compared to 1920×1080. The luminosity maxes out at just 298 nits, which is somewhat less than the competition, but we consider something between 250 and 270 nits to be comfortable for average use.

Unfortunately, one aspect where the Miix 520 skimps too much is Windows Hello. The tablet lacks a fingerprint reader, and the 5MP front-facing camera is not Windows Hello-capable. The rear-facing 8MP camera is suitable for Mixed Reality Viewer, a fun new feature in Windows 10 where you can snap a photo with your tablet and then drop in one of thousands of 3D objects to spice it up.


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