The Lenovo Miix 2 8 is a tablet running a full copy of Windows 8.1, as opposed to the limited Windows RT seen on Microsoft’s Surface 2. This gives the device the flexibility to run both traditional desktop apps and Windows Store apps, including touch-friendly features such as app snapping and gesture-based multitasking.
While the Miix 2 8 does allow you to run desktop applications, it’s not very convenient or user friendly on its 8-inch display. Most desktop applications are designed for larger displays and suited to mouse and keyboard input, so the lack of a dock for this tablet makes using the desktop an awkward proposition. That said it is possible to use Microsoft Office on the Miix 2 8, but it’s certainly not as nice to use as if it were running on a 10-inch tablet.
Many Windows applications have improved their portrait mode, which is critical for 8-inch tablets like the Miix 2 8. Generally speaking the portrait modes of most first-party applications are just as good as landscape, and a lot of third-party applications appear to be well optimized both for portrait and the smaller display size of 8-inch tablets.
There isn’t much else to talk about in regards to the software on the Miix 2 8. Microsoft Office 2013 is bundled on the device, and Lenovo has included a McAfee security app, but that’s about it. To extend on the Windows experience you’ll need to download apps from the Store, and currently the selection isn’t nearly as good as on Android or iOS. However, the app situation is improving with time, and the capabilities of Windows 8.1 are enough to sell this tablet to the power user type.
The camera included on a tablet doesn’t really have to be too amazing, so long as it produces images that are usable. The Lenovo Miix 2 8 features a 5-megapixel 1/4" OmniVision OV5693 sensor, featuring 1.4 µm pixels, with an f/2.4 lens on the back, plus a 2-megapixel 1/6” OmniVision OV2722 sensor on the front, again with 1.4 µm pixels. Both cameras are capable of 1080p30 video recording.
Interestingly, the rear sensor model used on the Miix 2 8 is identical to the one used on the 2013 Google Nexus 7, however it seems Lenovo’s camera software doesn’t apply as much post-processing. Images can be reasonably sharp in the right conditions, although there appears to be artefacts in nearly all shots, including in low light where you naturally get significantly more grain. Bokeh is also atrocious, ruining any chances of getting good macro shots from this tablet.
Color quality is average from the rear camera, and most images appear reasonably washed out even at the best of times. Dynamic range isn’t great either, so detail can be lost in the shadows in high-contrast areas, which could be an issue if you’re attempting to photograph lecture slides in a dimly lit theatre. Nevertheless, images are usable, even in lower light where blur doesn’t really seem to be present.
By default the camera app shoots 16:9 images, although this can be switched to 4:3 so you get to use the full sensor size. There’s manual exposure control, a panorama mode, a timer delay and spot adjust feature. The coolest aspect of the camera app is how each shot is actually taken as a burst, allowing you to go forwards or backwards in time to select the best shot, which can be useful if you didn’t get the focus right with the initial shot.