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Hands-on: Lenovo's Miix 700 looks and feels like a Surface, but better

Hands-on: Lenovo's Miix 700 looks and feels like a Surface, but better

If you like Lenovo keyboards, though, you should take a look at this.

The Lenovo Ideapad Miix 700 is simply a Lenovo Surface – just a bit better.

That might not be the most intriguing way of introducing Lenovo’s Surface clone, but it’s the most accurate. Place them side by side, eliminate some of the external markings, and you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two.

But which Surface? It depends on which one you’re comparing Lenovo's tablet against. The Miix 700 is a 12-inch tablet, the same form factor as the Surface Pro 3. But with processors reportedly ranging up to the new Skylake Core m7 (Lenovo demonstrated it with a Core m5 at its stand at IFA) it might be more on par with the Surface 3. The Miix 700 can be configured with up to 8GB of memory, and will run Windows 10.

As for the price, well, it’s somewhere in the middle: $499 for the Surface 3, $799 for the Surface Pro 3, and a starting price of $699 for the Miix 700. We’ve heard that it should be out in the United States this fall, most likely November.

lenovo miix 700 1

Why this matters: We’ve yet to see the Surface Pro 4 or Surface 4 from Microsoft (reportedly, that’s all happening in November). But for now, Lenovo is offering a cheaper Surface Pro 3 that steps down a bit in performance. Yes, it’s a Surface clone – but don’t mock Lenovo for that. I suspect that this was done with Microsoft’s blessing, as Microsoft has indicated that it plans to blaze a trail with new products to empower the industry, and not just itself.

Surface, reMiixed

If you’ve ever used a Surface, you’ll be right at home with the Miix 700. Yes, there’s a kickstand, with the full range of motion as found in the Surface Pro 3. The Miix also adds the styling of the Yoga hinge, although that doesn’t seem to make any functional difference.

The screen resolution is 2160x1400, the same as the Surface Pro 3. Even the way that the keyboard folds back and connects via a long rectangular hinge is similar to the way that Microsoft does things. If I had to guess, Lenovo likely packed that space behind the tablet screen with a battery. With a 4.5-watt Core M chip hiding behind a larger, SP3-style screen, I’d estimate the Miix 700's battery life to be pretty darn good – at least 8 hours.

And that keyboard is decidedly Lenovo. Instead of the closely spaced keys of the Surface and Surface Pro Type Covers, the Miix 700's keys are smaller, spaced out a bit, and offer much more resistance. I can’t say which you’ll prefer; my fingers have become used to gliding over the smooth expanse of the Surface keyboards, but Lenovo fans will undoubtedly find much to like here.

Reportedly, Microsoft plans to launch a Surface Pro 4 and possibly a Surface 4 at an event in October. It’s a safe bet that the next Surface Pro 4 will add an Intel Skylake chip, and thus more performance. That’s going to help it pull away from the Surface Pro 3 and the Miix.

If you own a Surface 3 or a Surface Pro 3, keep them – they’re solid products. But if you’re interested in a new Surface-style PC, definitely add Lenovo’s tablet to the, um, mix.

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