I had my first real opportunity to put the Lenovo ThinkPad X60t to work as a conference machine this week at the O'Reilly Emerging Technologies conference in San Diego and I'm more impressed than ever with how useful this machine is for someone who needs a perfect balance of portability and power. While there were power strip and outlets available throughout the facility during the event (and a big hat tip to the facilities people for making that happen), I never had the "oh gosh, I need to make sure I'm sitting near an outlet" panic that plagues notebook users at these all-day-into-the-evening events. On two occasions, I was able to wring 5+ hours of usable juice from the extended battery the X60t came equipped with.
I did a lot of typing and inking and can now confirm my early impressions that the keyboard is every bit as good as I've come to expect from the ThinkPad line and that the inking experience is just excellent. The surface of the X60t's display provides a very nice "glide" feeling as you're writing and the ink "flow" is akin to the experience of using a really nice fountain pen.
With Tablet Enhancements for Outlook 3.0 installed to make Outlook 2007 the Tablet PC-friendly application it should be and OneNote 2007, I was able to create notes pages related to each of the sessions I had added to my Outlook Calendar with a single tap of the stylus and I've now got a perfectly synchronized record of everything I saw and heard at ETech stored on the X60t. I captured images with the Nokia N93 which were instantly synced to the X60t via Bluetooth so I could drop them into my OneNote notes pages on the fly. It was a highly productive way to cover an event.
I did have a few issues with the WiFi drivers - I think was a Vista thing since a Windows Update during the week which included a new version of the driver for the Intel WiFi chip seemed to make that intermittent problem go away. The issue I was having was that the radio had a hard time refreshing its IP address when waking from Sleep or Hibernation and often required a quick trip to the command line to force a refresh.
That was about the only glitch I encountered. I was asked to demo the X60t by a number of people who saw me flipping it from one orientation to another with automatic rotation following my gyrations smoothly and quickly and logging into a variety of web services and encrypted files using the biometric scanner. The onscreen Tablet menu was also a big hit – it provides access to virtually every function I needed when working in slate mode.
As an added bonus, I also had my first real opportunity to try out Ultimate Ears super.fi 5 Pro earbuds I've been evaluating on a reasonably long flight and was delighted to find that not only do they deliver the most astonishing bass response and stereo image of anything I've ever inserted into my ears, they also do an outstanding job of noise cancellation. The steady white noise thrum we subject ourselves to when we get onto a plane vanished and all I heard was the music, movie, or podcast I was listening to.
I will not leave home without these amazing earbuds ever again! I'll do a full post about these ear buds soon. They're not inexpensive but they are well worth the investment if you fancy yourself to be any sort of an audiophile and they're nearly as effective at eliminating ambient noise as the dedicated (and much bulkier) noise-canceling headphones I've tried.
Note: a reader questioned my statement and to be clear, the super.fi 5 Pro earbuds are not noise-canceling. It's more accurate, as the reader pointed out, to call them noise-isolating.
The Monster Power Outlets to Go travel strip was also a big hit. There were a number of occasions where I was able to turn a single available outlet into four and share the grid with folks sitting near me. And, in the hotel room, it provided a very elegant solution to the problems faced by someone who carries two phones, a Tablet PC, and a Bluetooth headset. Four devices, four outlets, no problem.
Having the right kit makes all the difference in the world.