Technology

Lenovo's Talented Tablet


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Editor's Rating: star rating

The ThinkPad X60 will cost you, but it offers dandy features and handily takes care of business

After spending two weeks with the Lenovo ThinkPad X60 Tablet, I am strangely reminded of Goldilocks' assessment of the baby bear's porridge as "just right."

That's my appraisal of the device after testing several tablet personal computers as part of a series on tablet and ultra-portable PCs (see BusinessWeek.com, 2/22/07, "Pepper Pad 3: A Taste of the Future"). Of the units I reviewed, the ThinkPad X60 best combines performance, price, and portability—a sign that IBM's (IBM) former PC division is in good new hands.

While it may not boast some of the flashy features of its competitors, the X60 Tablet turned out solid performances both as a traditional laptop and a tablet. I would have given it an even higher rating if not for the $2,500 price tag my review unit carried.

Let's Hook Up

At 3.77 lbs. and 10.8 in. x 9.5 in. x 1.1 in., the X60 is the optimal size and weight for a portable unit that also works as a laptop. It is slightly smaller than the Toshiba (TOSBF) Portege and comparable to Lenovo's earlier foray into the tablet PC world, the ThinkPad X41 Tablet.

The X60 boasts three USB 2.0 inputs, so you won't have any trouble attaching a mouse, printer, or other device. It includes headphone and microphone jacks, mini-FireWire for even faster connections to multimedia gadgets, and VGA for hooking up your monitor or other display. Underneath the hood, the X60 has a 1.83GHz Intel (INTC) Core Duo L2500 as well as a 100GB hard drive, ample storage for a portable unit.

To test the portability of the X60 Tablet, I carried it around for a week and a half in New York City—from daily meetings to lunch on the go—with no complaints. Had I not known it was in my backpack I'd guess I was carrying some pads of paper and a book or two.

Fab Features

The X60 has a number of impressive features. As with the X41, the X60 has a 12-in. XGA screen. But unlike the earlier version, it also boasts touch-screen capabilities, letting users manipulate the screen using either a stylus or a finger.

Another handy feature: the Active Rotate System. When in tablet mode, the X60 automatically detects any changes in rotation or angle and adjusts the picture from landscape to portrait and back. Turn the screen on its side, and the picture changes accordingly. Other tablet PCs require manual adjustments. This was extremely useful as I took notes during meetings.

Writing on the screen when in tablet mode went off without a hitch. The stylus was comfortable, and the Microsoft (MSFT) Windows Vista Tablet software easily deciphered my chicken-scratch handwriting.

Another pleasant surprise came in the form of long battery life. I put the X60 through what I like to call the Airplane! test. Once the unit was fully charged, I turned on the movie, and when its 87 minutes ended the X60 was still going strong.

In fact, it didn't need to be charged for another hour. On average, the battery life of the X60 was just above three hours. Much of the praise for this long battery life must go to the X60's extended eight-cell battery, which will cost you $50 and adds heft but is well worth the extra price and burden.

The Down Side

I did have a few qualms about the X60. I would have liked an internal CD drive, but I was willing to part with it in return for portability.

My biggest gripe is its price. At $2,500, the version I tested lands right between two of its closest competitors—the $3,499 Toshiba Portege R400-S4931, one of the more expensive tablet PCs, and the $1,299 HP Pavilion tx1000.

So is the X60 worth the money? Unlike other tablet PCs that may cost you an arm and a leg, the X60 will give you a long period of productivity at a very high standard. While it may not be pretty, it sure gets the job done.

Sager writes about technology in New York.

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