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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet is a Modular Mobile Powerhouse

When you’re going shopping for tech, it’s tempting to go all out, but there’s always a bit of annoyance over having to pay for features you don’t really need. That’s a problem Lenovo is looking to address with their ThinkPad X1 Tablet — they’re taking all those features out and turning the tablet into a modular platform, so you can only get the features you need.

The tablet itself is 12″ and has a 2160 x 1440 IPS display, up to a 6th generation Intel Core m7 processor with vPro (a processor suited for 2-in-1s), up to 16 GB of DDR3 RAM, and up to a 1 TB PCIe NVMe SSD for storage. It also comes standard with WiGig wireless docking, a USB Type-C port, a USB 3.0 port, a mini DisplayPort, a Micro SD card slot, a Nano SIM slot, and 3.5 mm audio port. The tablet can be attached and detached from a ThinkPad keyboard, which includes the TrackPoint and trackpad that longtime ThinkPad owners are familiar with. By itself, the tablet is 8.4 mm thick and weighs 1.75 pounds, and should get about 10 hours of battery life.

Thing is, it probably won’t be by itself. There are loads of options you can add on to the ThinkPad X1 Tablet, including entire modules. Granted, everything here costs extra, but the good news is you can pick and choose the features you want, so you don’t need to pay for what you don’t need. For connectivity, you can put that Nano SIM slot to work by adding LTE-A WWAN, so you don’t have to rely only on Wi-Fi when you’re on the go. An infrared camera can also be added to the tablet.

Everything else extra comes in the form of three clip-on modules that add some functionality that Lenovo has a history of adding to tablets. The productivity module is pretty rote, and includes an HDMI port, a onelink+ port, and an extra battery that provides five more hours of life to the tablet. The presenter module contains a projector that can display up to a 60″ image and an in/out HDMI port. Later in the year, the 3D imaging module will add a 3D camera that can scan objects for use with CAD programs and 3D printers. Those modules attach flush to the bottom of the tablet and can be swapped out easily depending on your needs at the moment. It’s a pretty clever way of making a lot of premium features available without cramming them all into one product and making the price prohibitively high.

Then again, the price is still pretty high. The ThinkPad X1 Tablet itself, which does include the keyboard, will start at $900 when it ships in February. Granted, it’s a powerful tablet with premium business features like vPro technology, but that’s a big ask for a tablet. The modules are a little pricey, too — $150 for the productivity module, $280 for the presenter module, and $150 for the 3D imaging module, which is scheduled to ship in May.

CES 2016 coverage is brought to you by Lenovo, all thoughts and opinions are 100% our own

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