So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Lenovo ThinkPad X200 Tablet notebook (7449-4MM)
A light, tablet-convertible Lenovo notebook with built-in 3G
- Integrated 3G, excellent keyboard, responsive and accurate touchscreen, comprehensive battery management
- Location of fingerprint reader can be inconvenient, expensive, hard drive slower than expected
If you want a tablet-convertible notebook, Lenovo's ThinkPad X200 Tablet is one of the best. More than a tablet though, it's a complete solution for anyone who requires on-the-go connectivity in a small and sturdy laptop.
Price$ 2,840.00 (AUD)
The Lenovo ThinkPad X200 Tablet (7449-4MM) is a strongly built, 12.1in tablet-convertible notebook with a lot of highlights: long battery life, integrated 3G connectivity, and a great keyboard to name a few. You can use the X200 Tablet as a regular notebook, or switch it to tablet mode if you want to look fancy. It has a multitouch touchscreen, which you can navigate either with your fingers or with the supplied pen.
Lenovo ThinkPad X200 Tablet: configuration and performance
The ThinkPad X200 Tablet (7449-4MM) has a thin profile (thanks to the omission of an optical drive) yet it still has plenty of connectivity around its edges. You get three USB 2.0 ports, VGA, Gigabit Ethernet, headphone and microphone ports, a 56Kbps modem port, an SD card slot and an ExpressCard/54 slot. On the inside it has an Intel Core 2 Duo L9400 CPU, 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM, integrated Intel GMA X4500 graphics and a 320GB, 7200rpm hard drive. Despite the fast spin speed, the drive recorded a transfer rate of 25.82 megabytes per second (MBps) in our tests. This is slower than the HP ProBook 6540b, for example, which also has a 7200rpm drive and recorded 31.7MBps.
The notebook recorded times of 1min 39sec and 1min 26sec in the Blender 3D rendering and iTunes MP3 encoding tests respectively. These are expected times for a notebook with a dual-core, 1.86GHz CPU; basically, this notebook will be swift when multitasking and will easily run typical office and graphics applications. However, if you require more speed, you can always select a Core i5 or Core i7 CPU. The configuration of our ThinkPad X200 Tablet costs $2840, while a similarly configured X200 Tablet with a Core i7 CPU costs $3158. The graphics performance isn't strong — it recorded only 852 in 3DMark06 — but the ThinkPad X200 Tablet isn't designed to be used for extensive photo and video tasks.
Lenovo ThinkPad X200 Tablet: build quality and tablet features
The ThinkPad X200 Tablet's base feels very solid and the screen does not puddle even if you forcefully flex the lid. The base is only 25mm thick, and the notebook only weighs 1.5kg. The keyboard is solid; the keys themselves are 18.5mm wide, soft to press and very responsive. The function and control keys would be better off swapped though. We're fans of the TrackPoint pointing device, which is accurate and has very soft left- and right-click buttons. The screen has a metal hinge that swivels left and right, and there is a locking mechanism for the screen when it's in tablet mode. We don't like the location of the fingerprint reader, which is on the bottom-right of the screen — we'd prefer it to be located somewhere on the palm rest.
In tablet mode, the X200 can be sublime. Once you get the hang of the gestures, you can easily surf the Web or view long documents in portrait mode. You can use one finger scroll smoothly up and down, two fingers to scroll left and right, and pinch the screen to make it smaller. Sometimes, a two-finger gesture can be misconstrued by the system as a pinch, which can be annoying. You can use flicks to navigate back and forward in your browser, but it can take a while to learn how to perform these flicks accurately; they work best with the supplied pen.
You have to press the screen orientation button on the screen's bezel to change the screen from landscape to portrait mode, as the accelerometer in the system only serves to protect the hard drive when it detects excessive movement and vibration in the chassis; we don't mind this because it means the screen won't change if the notebook is inadvertently turned. The antennas for the wireless 3G module reside at the top-right corner of the screen so you can't use the screen in upside-down (secondary landscape) mode when the 3G module is enabled. The module will work with any carrier, but you can also get the notebook bundled with a Vodafone account.
As is the case with almost all LCD screens, the viewing angles of the touchscreen aren't perfect, so text can look muddy and the screen does look darker when viewed upside down or in portrait mode (the backlights will really stand out, too, when viewing the screen in those orientations). Furthermore, the screen looks a little dull overall and can be hard to view in bright conditions.
Lenovo ships the X200 Tablet with a pen, but you can easily use your finger to navigate the Windows 7 desktop and all your applications. We found touch inputs to be accurate from edge to edge, and the system reacted reasonably quickly to our inputs. Windows 7's tablet features work perfectly: the on-screen keyboard appears anytime you tap on an input field in a Web browser, and the on-screen keyboard itself is relatively big and very accurate. Even writing with the supplied pen is a smooth experience. You can rest your palm on the screen as you write, and even if you use a lot of cursive, Windows 7 will know what you're trying to write nine times out of 10. It's on par with the Fujitsu LifeBook T5010 in this respect.
Lenovo ThinkPad X200 Tablet: management tools and battery life
The hardware is only half the story: the Lenovo ThinkPad X200 Tablet ships with a lot of management features, including a comprehensive power management applications, a GPS application (it works in conjunction with the 3G module and your mobile provider), a password manager, a diagnostic utility, a backup and restore program and hard drive shock protection software. These are all part of Lenovo's ThinkVantage Tools suite. Furthermore, you get SimpleTap, which gives you access to some system shortcuts when you're in tablet mode. The only thing it's missing is hard drive encryption software.
The battery on the spine of the X200 Tablet is an 8-cell, 66.2 Watt-hour model that's large and it can double as a hand-grip when you're in tablet mode. It's actually been sculpted to fit around the hinge and SIM card reader, so it's not just a basic rectangle. For our battery test, we disabled power management, enabled Wi-Fi, turned up the brightness and looped an Xvid-encoded video until the notebook conked out. It lasted 4hr 25min, which is a good result. If you employ a strict power management scheme and you only use the notebook for basic Web browsing and word processing it can run for almost a day.
The ThinkPad X20 Tablet's small size, light weight, good battery life and integrated 3G model make it a great choice for anyone who needs to work and stay connected while travelling. The tablet functions work very well for general system navigation and Web browsing and handwriting recognition is excellent. At $2840, it's an expensive piece of kit, so it's only for those of you who require excellent portability and tablet functionality.
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