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
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.