Lenovo ThinkPad X60 Tablet
At a Glance
Moving seamlessly between laptop and note-taking modes, the Lenovo ThinkPad X60 Tablet is a superb convertible notebook with a first-rate keyboard--and it's a great tablet, thanks to a responsive screen that accepts input from both a digitizer pen and fingers. With solid speed, excellent battery life, reasonable weight, and easy expandability, this impressive package is sure to please dabblers in tablet technology as well as industry folk who are willing to ante up $2500 (as of April 11, 2007) for a best-of-breed convertible loaded with Windows Vista Business.
A Vista-refreshed successor to the Lenovo ThinkPad X41, the X60 adds some irresistible new features. An auto-rotation capability senses when you turn the tablet and automatically rotates the picture accordingly. The screen is now easier to view outdoors, and it accepts finger input. With practice your finger can replace the digitizer for most input, including menu selections, though finger input tends to smudge the screen quickly.
The bundled Ultrabase docking slice adds a modular dual-layer DVD writer, and it provides serial and parallel ports and four more USB ports (raising the system's USB port total to seven). Finally, you can swap out the DVD writer and beef up battery life or storage instead with an optional second battery or second hard drive. The side pull tab makes swapping devices as easy as pie.
Unfortunately, at 2 pounds, the Ultrabase may add more weight to the 4.6-pound X60 than you are willing to lug around all day, though most users won't find the weight of the ensemble unduly burdensome.
The keyboard has a great layout, with lots of extras (including dedicated Internet forward and back keys) beyond the distinctive volume, mute, and help buttons, and super-comfortable mouse buttons.
The X60's tablet design is meticulously thought out, from the spring-loaded digitizer pen (for one-handed removal) to the rubber grip strips on the battery. The outlets for the stereo speakers are positioned at the top to avoid muffling. A shallow indentation above the fingerprint indicates where to start swiping. Plenty of tablet buttons help you navigate applications; the four-way rocker and its reprogrammable 11-item shortcut menu are especially handy.
It was easy to set up the optional screen-rotation feature via a calibration exercise of (carefully) flipping the unit end over end. The X60 gives you a full range of wireless communications and expansion options. Wi-Fi comes standard, while Bluetooth and WWAN cellular broadband are options. The included master on/off switch is a much-needed feature that Lenovo tablets previously lacked.
The X60's 5.3-hour battery life placed it in the top one-third of all notebooks tested for this story. Preconfigured with a 1.83-GHz Core Duo L2500 processor and 2GB of RAM, it earned a WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 63--about 17 percent below the mark of 76 posted by the 2-GHz Core Duo T7200-equipped Dell XPS M1210 (the fastest ultraportable in our June 2007 issue's laptop roundup), but good enough to handle any kind of work with reasonable alacrity. DVD movies should play smoothly on the small screen, too. But like most small laptops with integrated video memory, the X60 can't handle fast-moving 3D shoot-'em-ups like Doom 3, which simply freeze on its small screen.
Only a couple of shortcomings jumped out at me. One is that the screen latch has to be manually pushed into the case to secure the lid; otherwise it sticks up in the way. Another is the absence of a next-generation ExpressCard slot--a strange omission from such an otherwise top-flight notebook.
But those are minor quibbles at most. The X60's versatility as a tablet and its long list of excellent features make it a great choice for mobile professionals.
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