The machine:Fabulous.(Note:I am specifically not going to review Windoze 8, except to say I find it takes too many clicks or gestures to do anything and the interface is obtuse -- but it is mostly useable, with patience.)
I am a working travel photographer and also dabble in web site management.(Doesn't everybody nowadays?)I was looking for a machine that could combine functions so I would have to carry less when traveling.After several weeks of use, I conclude: The Lenovo Helix is totally cool.It is attractive, small, light, flexible, has good battery life, and runs everything I've thrown at it.
In short:It works.I no longer carry a separate laptop (for work) and iPad (casual use, entertainment, and light work in transit); this one Lenovo Helix does it all.One thin machine and one small power supply, vice two of each: Weighs less, fits better, does everything I need.As a bonus, this machine is faster/more powerful and has more working memory (RAM) than my old laptop -- no compromises to use the latest versions of my software.
After purchase, I immediately tried this machine as my primary (only) computing device on a week-long trip.Since then I have taken two more working trips. This is the right machine for my intended purpose.Detach the tablet portion and you have an iPad equivalent (though granted, iOS is a cleaner experience than is the current version of this unpleasant compromise of an operating system).With keyboard on backwards, it is a great viewer / movie machine.With the keyboard attached "front-wards," it is a full-fledged and powerful enough laptop.I no longer carry my iPad; this machine does it all -- and does so handily.
Form and build:The system is solid.It is a bit weightier than would be a similar-sized small ultrabook or laptop, but I would not call it heavy.The whole thing put together (that is, assembled with keyboard and folded like a laptop) feels lighter in one hand than my previous kit (a 12-inch Acer laptop plus an iPad), and it certainly takes up less space.Power supply is external but small; it fits easily in an outside pocket of my backpack or camera bag (so, also takes less space than previous kit, which needed two small power supplies).There is no physical latch to keep the system folded; for that it depends on stiffness of the hinges.The hinge system works well and will hold any position it can reach -- even balanced on my knees during a violent plane ride, landing in a thunder storm.I do notice some apparent "flex" or "wobble" where the tablet joins the keyboard hinges; that seems cosmetic since the tablet does latch firmly and cannot be separated and as noted, the hinges hold any position well.The design of the hinges does stop the system from opening flat; that can be a minor inconvenience but in my opinion is offset by the flexibility of being able to detach or reverse the screen.I have quickly gotten used to it.
Performance:As a photographer, I need enough power, memory, and drive space and a good enough display to actually use photo processing software on the road.As a (poor) web developer, I need to run a local server emulator and browser software.Probably the most demanding application I run is Adobe Photoshop; that tests the processor, disk drive, and memory.Running the web host emulator WAMP with a web browser (I use Firefox and Chrome for development work) stresses the system in a different way, exercising multiprocessing, memory, and hardware integration and drivers.I also regularly watch recorded videos (movies or TV), read books (Kindle), and play games (Civilization and a few others).
Every program I want to run works exactly as expected.The screen is beautiful and responsive (movie watching) and can be tuned for color reproduction (photographer).The system is plenty powerful enough to run games and all programs mentioned without any lag or performance hits (at least, none significant enough that I've noticed them).Obviously, programs like Photoshop that are not designed for touch work best if one uses the keyboard and trackpad attached.The keyboard is Lenovo quality (that is, excellent) and the multi-touch trackpad works great.The system is also delivered with a Wacom pen-pointer, so it can be used for really fine art or graphics work by hand.(Which could be a selling point all by itself -- I'm not aware of any other laptop or tablet on the market that offers Wacom technology built-in.So if you know what that is and why you want it, this is probably the small/light machine for you.)
Battery life is fine for travel.I haven't taken any really long-haul trips yet, but so far I have never run out of power.So far, I've used it up to five or six hours (intermittently) while traveling without an issue.
Storage capacity.At 256GB, the largest available built-in solid-state drive (SSD) for storage is large for a tablet but small~ish for a photographer.The good news:There is room to load all the needed software -- and some of those programs are relatively massive.There's plenty of room left over for some downloaded videos, pictures, and etc.The down side:With all my software and etc. loaded, there is only room on the drive for a day or so of shooting.Since my images are my income, I backup to external hard drive daily anyway, so I've been able to adapt -- just don't try to keep all images on the machine.There are two USB-3 ports, so both camera (or external card reader) and an external hard drive can be connected at the same time.(The two USB-3 ports are on the keyboard half; the tablet half has one USB-2 port that is covered up when attached to the keyboard.)
It is worth noting that the SSD is a standard commercial mSATA device, so theoretically could be upgraded after-market in future.The socket is totally internal, but according to the Lenovo service manual it is a standard mSATA form factor and not soldered.(The service manual for this machine is available as a PDF on-line at Lenovo:http://download.lenovo.com/ibmdl/pub/pc/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/helix_hmm_en_0c10337.pdf.)A hard drive (SSD) upgrade seems possible -- though I have not had the guts to disassemble my baby yet, and I'm sure it would jeopardize the warranty.I think I'll probably live with it for a while yet.
Conclusion:I am really happy with this machine.Highly recommended if you have the money and are looking to replace another, older laptop or to lighten / consolidate your load.As a small/light machine, I do not think it could replace my "big," primary work desktop, but it is totally the right tool for the small, light, traveling job.Get one and enjoy!
Note:There are several versions / models of the Lenovo Helix "out there."Typically, Lenovo and online advertisers do not do a good job of saying what is the difference between the various models.The particular model I bought happens to be the most powerful / largest memory version that does not have a built-in cell-service connection -- as it happens, exactly what I wanted, so perfect for me.If you are unsure, there is a Lenovo marketing spec sheet "out there" on the web as a PDF, which contains every machine Lenovo makes, including all the variants of the Helix:http://www.lenovo.com/psref/pdf/tabook.pdf.)