Tablets

Testing out Lenovo's Tablet PC


Having long been a fan of IBM's ThinkPak line,  I was a bit

concerned when IBM sold the line to Lenovo.  Whenever changes

happen like that you become concerned about product quality,

consistency and things like that.  Attending TechEd 2005 in

Orlando this year, I caught a glimpse of Lenovo's first major product

introduction during the keynote - the new Lenovo ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC.  That was the first indication that the ThinkPads were still going to be good.


I finally got one from Lenovo the other day for a 90 day trial and

review. Over the course of the next few months, you'll find more

articles and downloads in TechProGuild about Tablet PCs in general and

the Lenovo Tablet in particular. Having kicked it around over the

weekend, I thought this blog would be a great place to start.


The first thing I noticed was that the letters IBM are still stamped on

the cover. As part of the terms of the sale, Lenovo has the rights to

use IBM on the machine, but they don't have any further association

with Lenovo. It's a ThinkPad through and through.


The Lenovo is light - lighter than the ViewSonic, HP, or Toshiba Tablet

PCs that I've worked with before. The twist and layback screen isn't

anything new, but the picture is bright and clear. The keyboard has the

solid feel that exemplifies the Tablet PC line.  My unit came with

two batteries, the standard battery that came with the unit, along with

Lenovo's extended 8.5 hour battery. Although I haven't timed it with a

stop watch, the standard battery seems to hold for a good 3 hours under

moderate use - easily beating my work-a-day HP notebook. I wasn't able

to run the bigger battery down, so chances are the 8.5 hour rating is

close to reality. (Your mileage may vary, of course.)


The pen hides nicely within the unit, popping into place in such a

manner as you won't easily lose it. It tracks very nicely, with little

delay in writing or drawing. The Lenovo has some built-in buttons along

the face of the screen for paging up and down, pressing [Esc] and

[Enter] along with a few others. They're all positioned well and feel

solid.


For security, there's a built-in fingerprint reader and embedded

security chip. I haven't played with those yet, but when I do, I'll put

some articles up that describe how they work.


So is it perfect? No. For one thing, it takes a long time to boot. Even

with a 1.5Ghz Centrino processor and 512 MB of RAM, I'm disappointed at

the amount of time it takes before you can actually use it from the

time you turn it on. Maybe I'm just too eager because it's such a cool

machine to play with, but still.  Part of the problem, I believe,

stems from the numerous utilities that load during boot time, and I

haven't taken the time to see what's necessary and what's not, so I'm

not ready to hold that against the unit yet. Once I get it fine tuned,

I'll pass judgement on the actual and perceived speeds.


So far, the Lenovo Tablet looks like a great machine. Once I get used

to some of its quirks, I'm going to have a hard time putting it down.

If you were concerned about the ThinkPad brand after IBM sold it, don't

be. If this machine is any indication, Lenovo's going to make the

ThinkPad line even better. We'll see over the next few months if it the

cool factor wears off or not.



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