Cameras and Battery Life
Before I dive into the Helix’s battery life, I want to touch briefly on the cameras on the tablet. On the front you get a 2-megapixel (1080p) 16:9 sensor, and on the back there’s a 5-megapixel 4:3 sensor. Both are very mediocre in terms of quality, with a lot of washing out and generally poor color reproduction. The rear camera will be handy for the occasional document photograph in good lighting, but otherwise you probably won’t want to use it.
As for battery life, I was actually very impressed with what the combination of a 35 Wh internal battery and Intel’s Core M CPU delivered. The ThinkPad Helix lasted noticeably longer than the Yoga 3 Pro during my standard use of the device, which is a good result considering the Helix’s battery and display are 22% and 24% smaller respectively.
When writing Word documents, editing Excel spreadsheets and browsing the web in Chrome, I achieved around seven to eight hours of battery life with the display set to a moderate brightness level. This is a good result; it’s around what I would expect for this sort of device, and matches Lenovo’s battery life estimates. The original model was rated for six hours of life, and had a 20% larger (42 Wh) battery, which is a great result for the efficiency of Intel’s Core M chip.
As you can see from the battery results above, Core M fares a lot better in the ThinkPad Helix than the Yoga 3 Pro. In video playback, the Helix lasted as long as a super low power Bay Trail 8-inch tablet, while in Wi-Fi it lasted an admirable six hours.
I also recorded a quite decent result in an intense use benchmark: playing Crysis 3 at 100% screen brightness. Here, the Helix lasted two and a half hours, which was more than double the length of the Alienware 13. Granted the Alienware is a gaming machine with more powerful hardware, but I thought the Helix would fare worse than it did.
If you opt for the Ultrabook Pro Keyboard, you’ll get an extra 26 Wh battery (7% smaller than the original Helix’s keyboard dock). This battery will allegedly extend the total system battery life by four hours to a total of 12, though as I didn’t have time with it, I can’t verify those claims.