Lenovo ThinkPad X200 Tablet
The ThinkPad X200T is Lenovo’s first wide-screen Tablet PC and is a development of the regular X200 ultraportable that we reviewed back in August. If you choose the right model, Lenovo claims you can get over ten hours of battery life from the system, although our review sample did not manage this. This system will set you back more than £1,300 (ex. VAT), and for that kind of outlay you should expect a well-specified and solidly built notebook.Design
The X200 Tablet weighs 1.6kg, so it's by no means the lightest 12.1in. notebook we've seen. Having said that, it's pretty compact and portable for a convertible Tablet PC, measuring 3.33cm thick with a footprint of 29.5cm by 22.8cm.
The styling is typical ThinkPad: the casing is made of tough black plastic on a magnesium alloy chassis, with red accents on the mouse buttons and pointing stick, plus the blue ThinVantage and Enter keys. There's a little give in the lid section, so a protective case would be a good idea when transporting the system.
We're pleased to see a solid clip holding the screen and system unit together: this works when the notebook is in conventional clamshell mode and when the screen faces outwards in tablet mode. The release catch sits on the front edge and should be safe from accidental activation.
Lenovo's ThinkPad X200 Tablet is a 1.6kg Centrino 2 convertible Tablet PC.
The screen swivels to both left and right, locking when it has turned through 180 degrees. You can operate the touch-screen with either a fingertip or the provided stylus: the latter lives in a housing on the right edge (when viewed in landscape/clamshell mode) and has a useful eraser function at the opposite end to the writing tip.
The X200's 12.1in. touch-screen can be driven by a fingertip or the provided stylus.
The screen measures 12.1in. across the diagonal and has a native resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels. Although we prefer 900 or more pixels of depth, you should still be able to display two document windows side by side without too much trouble. The system's integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics module supports up to 2,048 by 1,536 pixels on an external monitor. The internal display's LED backlight makes for a clear and sharp display, increases visibility in brighter conditions and minimises power consumption.
The keyboard is a typical ThinkPad unit — in other words, excellent. The keys are large and feel solid under the fingers, making it perfectly possible to touch-type at high speed. A row of full-height number keys is topped by a half-height function key row. The oversized (blue) Enter key is comfortable to use. The inverted-T cursor controls have second functions for media playback control, and where you normally find spacers there are handy back and forward buttons for use when web browsing.
Above the keyboard are three volume control buttons (up, down and mute), the main on/off switch and the ThinkVantage button which when pressed opens an interface into a range of utilities for device configuration, communications and management.
One notable absence is a touchpad. The X200 Tablet has Lenovo's customary TrackPoint nestling between the G, H and B keys, plus three mouse buttons (the centre one being a vertical scroller). We find this a little awkward and really miss a touchpad with embedded vertical and horizontal scrolling.
The screen surround houses a set of buttons that allow you to use the system in tablet mode — with the screen rotated, folded down and facing outwards. There's a second on/off switch and a quartet of control buttons for switching screen orientation, accessing settings, sending a Crtl-Alt-Del and locking the tablet-mode buttons. The integrated fingerprint sensor is also here, along with a fixed-position webcam.
The ThinkPad X200 Tablet uses Intel's 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo SL9400 processor, backed up by the GS45 Express chipset and 2GB of RAM (expandable to 4GB). It's a Centrino 2 system, with support for Intel's vPro remote management technology. The operating system is Windows Vista Business.
Our review sample came with a 250GB hard drive, although (more expensive) solid-state storage is also available. Intel's chipset-integrated 4500MHD module handles the graphics.
Wireless connectivity is excellent, as befits an ultraportable system: as well as Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g, Draft-N) and optional Bluetooth, there's an integrated HSPA modem (Ericson F3507g Mobile Broadband MiniCard network Adapter) — the SIM slot is located in the battery compartment. Gigabit Ethernet and a 56Kbps modem cater for wired connections. Sadly, Lenovo has not found the space for an integrated optical drive, even though we've seen similar-sized notebooks with this component.
On the front of the notebook is a flash card slot which accepts SD-compatible media. The left side houses an ExpessCard slot, one USB port, the Ethernet (RJ-45) connector and a VGA-out port as well as a mechanical switch for the wireless module and the power connector.
On the right side are two further USB ports, one at the back and one at the front, plus a pair of audio jacks and the modem (RJ-11) port.
Performance & battery life
The X200 Tablet returned an overall Windows Experience Index (WEI) of 3.7 (out of 5.9), putting it on a par with both the Fujitsu Siemens Esprimo Mobile U9210 and the Toshiba Tecra M10.
As with many notebooks, the overall rating (which corresponds to the lowest component score) was determined by the score for Gaming Graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance). The other graphics score — Graphics (desktop performance for Windows Aero) — was 3.9, but the remaining component scores were considerably higher: Processor (calculations per second), 4.9; Primary hard disk (Disk data transfer rate), 5.3; and RAM (Memory operations per second), 5.7.
Overall, the Thinkpad X200 Tablet is decent performer, unless you want to do anything graphically demanding, in which case the absence of a dedicated GPU is likely to make itself felt.
Lenovo is proud of the X200 Tablet's power efficiency, to which end it bundles a set of battery management utilities. One of these is a feature called Battery Stretch: when enabled, this will minimise display brightness, turn off the display after 30 seconds of idle time, decrease video colour quality, hide the Windows Sidebar, disable selected wireless radios and more. This could prove useful when you need to eke out every last drop of battery juice.
Lenovo claims a maximum battery life of more than 10 hours, but this requires an 8-cell battery, solid-state storage and an LED backlit screen. Our review sample came with a 4-cell battery and a mechanical hard drive, and so we expected considerably less from it.
We chose the Balanced power plan and were able to work for just over two hours with music playing in the background and Wi-Fi active before the notebook gave a low battery warning and went into hibernation. You can stretch this using more frugal power management, but are still unlikely to get through a day's work away from mains power with the smaller battery.
The absence of an optical drive and a touchpad may make the ThinkPad X200 Tablet a non-starter for many, and battery life may disappoint unless you go for the 8-cell battery. But overall, this is a typically well-built ThinkPad and if you're a Tablet PC fan, it's a very good (if somewhat pricey) choice.