Feeds
Lenovo ThinkPad Helix convertible Ultrabook

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix Ultrabook: Your new summer convertible?

Core i7 and a 10-hour battery life - but is it enough...

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Seeing double

I tried it with another monitor so that both displays were running at full HD and selected the extended desktop option. This choice gives you the traditional desktop on the external screen and the tiled view on the ThinkPad display.

Moving the mouse cursor between screens works fine in the normal notebook docking setup, but in presentation mode, the keyboard, Trackpoint and Trackpad are completely disabled and there's no way of navigating to the extended screen area - unless of course, you hook up a mouse and keyboard (yes, I tried it) which rather defeats the object. The lesson to be learned here is to stick to display mirroring if you're planning on some big screen action in presentation mode.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix convertible Ultrabook

Whip it out, turn it round, slot it in again and, hey presto, Presentation mode

Regarding presentations, I wondered if the pen – that's neatly squirrelled away in a corner on the tablet – would be an improvement. Acting on this idea was the moment when I found out the digitiser didn't work. For some reason all the Touch-related control panels didn't include access to any pen options.

After a good nose around Lenovo’s drivers and support pages, I mentioned this issue to Lenovo’s PR in the hope of a solution. I was sent another Helix and all was well with the pen. It aligns fairly accurately – better than the Sony Vaio Duo – making it easier to navigate control panel checkboxes and suchlike on the full HD display.

Before the replacement ThinkPad Helix appeared, I’d started on testing its 3G SIM connectivity. There’s a full-size SIM card in the box enabling access to Lenovo’s mobile broadband service. Annoyingly, registering for this didn’t work. Instead, a message reporting that the “Provided device ID does not match” appeared.

Click to the next page on the Mobile Access app and you get a list of phone numbers for each territory. I gave it a try and a few option presses later had someone "escalating" my issue with the promise of an email resolution, eventually.

Various emails have thus far appeared one asking me to verify I exist and the other promising the problem is being worked on. Apparently I’m activated now, but on this blighted Helix, it doesn’t want to play.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix convertible Ultrabook docking connector and fans

The docking connector base has two additional fans to cool the Helix when used as a notebook

So, what next? See if it boots in Linux or discuss the tablet experience? You decide... OK, Linux it is then.

I have to say that for all the faffing about with the Helix in other areas, getting it to run on Linux is hands down the easiest experience I’ve had on a Windows 8 machine. As usual, go to the Settings > General > Advanced Start and following I reboot I chose the Boot Menu option.

Here, the LaCie USB stick loaded with Pen Drive Linux was showing and I could select it from the touchscreen too. Reboot again and we’re away... just make sure you’re using the docking keyboard as you’ll need to press enter to get Ubuntu up and running.

Bear in mind, there’s no touch option at the Ubuntu instal level and, as a tablet, there’s just one USB 2.0 port which you’ll need for the installer drive.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix convertible Ultrabook Boot Menu

Touchscreen savvy Boot Menu choices

In the dock, Ubuntu 13.0.4 performed admirably, with touchscreen control and access to all the various networking options – Lenovo thoughtfully provides a USB 2.0 10/100 Ethernet adapter and a DisplayPort to VGA adapter too.

Incidentally, hooking up an external DisplayPort monitor worked on Ubuntu without a hitch; that is until you start poking around on the touchscreen in extended desktop mode. Then, oddly enough, the cursor flies off from the touch display in front of you and ends up in the extended area, working as though the touchscreen has become a massive track pad for the external monitor.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix convertible Ultrabook running Ubuntu 13.0.4

Easy peasy: getting Ubuntu 13.0.4 configured was trouble-free

Regardless of whether you’re running Ubuntu or Windows, there’s one aspect of this convertible combo that you can’t ignore, and that’s the screen tilt angle.

Considering this machine comes from the same folk that created the Yoga, the restricted, almost upright screen/tablet positioning seems a remarkable gaffe. While writing on Word 2013 was aided by the spaciousness of the 1920 x 1080-pixels resolution, in close proximity I was inclined to push the Helix away from me slightly to get a better view, which was less than ideal.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Next page: Packing heat

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Apple winks at parents: C'mon, get your kid a tweaked Macbook Pro
Cheapest models given new processors, more RAM
4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles
Have your say with Ofcom now, before Freeview becomes Feeview
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
YES, iPhones ARE getting slower with each new release of iOS
Old hardware doesn't get any faster with new software
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.