The Lenovo Miix 510 is an excellent Surface clone — and excellent

Lost in the mix between the announcement of the Lenovo Yoga 910 convertible and the conceptually awesome Lenovo Yoga Book was the Lenovo Miix 510. It was barely a footnote in the presentation and in subsequent hands-on presentations, overshadowed by the showy Yoga 910 sharing the same tables and by an entire 2000-square-foot section deservedly dedicated to the Yoga Book. But just because the expensive and ground-breaking touch devices are impressive doesn't mean Miix 510 isn't deserving of attention, because it is.

Let's get this out of the way right now: yes, this is a Surface clone, and no, that doesn't matter. Surface helped to define a category, but it doesn't get to own the "2-in-1 category." There are some differences between the Miix 510 and Microsoft's Surface line, like the fact that their keyboard cover has a leather-like underside or that they took a truncated version of the signature watchband hinge and used that for the kickstand or that Lenovo will offer an LTE version while Microsoft currently does not (though previous Surface editions did).

But by-and-large, it's a Lenovo-styled 2-in-1 made in the mold of the Surface. And that's not even a new thing for Lenovo — most recent entries in the Miix line have been more direct apings of the Surface instead of the different and less effective 2-in-1 designs Lenovo experimented with before.

And, as you'd expect given the quality of Lenovo's recent hardware, it's a great piece of engineering. It's thin, it's light, it feels like it's machined out of a single piece of aluminum when it's actually made from several parts. In fact, I'd say that the smoothly bending watchband hinges feel better than the hinge on the Surface Pro 4, and that's a fine hinge to begin with. The two hinges are made from 280 individual stainless steel bits and can kick all the way back to 150 degrees. The only really hardware point that disappointed was the pen — it felt a little cheaply made and not like a fully-formed thought, though it's still serviceable.

Inside the Miix 510, you'll find a 6th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and a battery that's good for up to 7.5 hours of work, along with a PCIe SSD up to 1TB. That screen is a 12.2-inch Full HD number with a 16:10 aspect ratio, which frankly is just an ungainly size and shape to use as a handheld tablet in any orientation.

Lenovo Miix 510 Specifications

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ProcessorUp to 6th Generation Intel Core i7
OSWindows 10 Home
GraphicsIntel HD Integrated Graphics 520
Camera & MicrophoneMP Fixed-Focus Front, 5MP Auto-Focus Rear, Dual-Array Microphone
MemoryUp to 8GB LPDDR4
StorageUp to 1 TB PCIe SSD
AudioIntegrated Dolby Enabled Stereo Speakers
Battery29 Whr, up to 7.5 hours
Connectivity4G LTE Category 4, WiFi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Connectors1 x USB 3.0 Type-C, 1x USB 3.0 (Always-On Charging), microSD, Audio Combo Jack
Display12.2 inch FHD+ (1920x1200), 320 nits with Gorilla Glass
Dimensions(W x D x H with keyboard) 11.81 inches x 8.07 inches x 0.62 inches
WeightStarting at 2.76 lbs with keyboard, 1.94 lbs without
In the boxKeyboard and Lenovo Active Pen included

Despite those relatively minor nitpicks, the Lenovo Miix 510 looks to be a great 2-in-1 tablet. It's coming in October 2016 with a starting price of $599.99, well under the $900 of the Core m3-powered Surface Pro 4 (which doesn't include a keyboard like Lenovo).

That's where the next Surface comparison comes in: Lenovo unveiled the Miix 510 roughly 10 months after the launch of the Surface Pro 4 and it's a perfectly competent competitor to Microsoft's 2-in-1. But the Miix will be hitting store shelves right about the same time as we expect the next generation of Surface tablets to be announced, and those will more than likely come with a chipsets a whole generation newer. In the meantime, though, it's looks to be a great option for those looking for a competent and affordable 2-in-1 Windows tablet.

Derek Kessler

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.