Lenovo Thinkpad X61 Tablet – Review

Despite some complications in receiving my new laptop, I’ve been fairly impressed by it so far and I can’t believe I’m actually loving the tablet aspect of it.

First some pictures:
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Then the specs:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo L7500 LV (1.6GHz, 4MB L2, 800MHz FSB)
  • 12.1″ SuperView WVA SXGA+ TFT
  • 1GB PC2-5300 667MHZ 1DIMM
  • Windows Vista Business
  • 160GB Hard Disk Drive, 5400rpm
  • Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG
  • Integrated Bluetooth PAN
  • Integrated Fingerprint Sensor
  • ThinkPad X60 Tablet 8 Cell Li-Ion Battery

Screen:
As you may have known, the 2 major reasons I purchased this laptop was because it was light/portable and the fact it had a really nice screen. The X61 Tablet comes with 2 types of screens:

  • 12.1″ SuperView WVA SXGA+ TFT, 2×3 UltraConnect II antenna
  • 12.1″ MultiView + MultiTouch WVA XGA TFT

I’ve actually been waiting for over 2 years for the X series to have a better screen than XGA (1024×768 resolution) and when the X series Tablet got the new SuperView SXGA+ (1400×1050 resolution) awhile back, I thought the X series would get get the updated screen in no time. I was wrong and it’s been almost a year and the X series still only has the XGA option. However I figured out why the Tablets were given a better screen. The Tablet screen is noticeably thicker, probably to handle the tablet features and was able to increase the resolution due to that fact.

The screen however is just amazing. The image is super crisp and resolution is drool-worthy. I’ll talk about the Tablet part later in the review.

Battery:
I also opted for the 8 cell battery (over the 4 cell), which made it protrude in the back, but gives me about 4 hours of usage with WiFi enabled at the brightest LCD monitor setting.

The protrusion also made it not fit in my existing 12″ laptop neoprene case. I’m not sure if they actually sell neoprene cases that has an extra inch or 2 depth wise, but if you know of any, please do let me know.

Memory:
First of all, 1GB of RAM is NOT ENOUGH to run Vista Business with all the applications that Lenovo loaded. My memory usage was constantly hovering around 90%. I did have a Crucial 2GB stick of RAM on the way, but while setting up my machine was extremely painful.

When I did install my 2GB stick of RAM (a total of 3GB), memory usage was still hovering around 50%. I’ll probably need to take a look at what Lenovo included later and determine what I don’t need.

ReadyBoost:
I had an interesting experience with ReadyBoost. This laptop actually comes with a SD (secure digital) flash memory card reader. The old X-series came with a CF (compact flash) memory card reader and it worked extremely well with my Canon PowerShot S400. And now that I have a Canon PowerShot SD1000, it’s perfect! But this also meant I can enable ReadyBoost with one of the many SD cards I have laying around. In fact I cracked open a brand new PQI “Hi-Speed” 60X 2GB SD card. However, when trying to enable ReadyBoost, it said the drive was too slow and wasn’t able to enable it. I thought, “Darn! Maybe the SD card reader is too slow for ReadyBoost.”

So I started searching for USB thumb drive. I also have a bunch of those lying around. Found a PNY Secure Attache 2G (MMAR – make money after rebate) and plugged it in. Gave me the same too slow message when doing the speed test. Getting disappointed, I was beginning to give up, but decided give my new Kingston DataTraveler 2GB I had picked up at Buy.com for $1 shipped. Woot! It worked! However having this USB drive stick out like that was rather inconvenient, meaning I had to unplug it whenever I stuck it into my backpack and plug it back in when I needed to use it.

I decided the inconvenience wasn’t worth it and removed the USB drive. However, I did still have some spare SD cards I could try out. I took my spare Kingston 2GB SD card that I have in my backpack and gave it a whirl. Woot! It worked! Now I can have ReadyBoost the way I originally wanted it. I guess Kingston’s a good brand for ReadyBoost if you’re interested in trying it out.

Fingerprint Scanner:
This is one of the coolest things to have integrated into the notebook. The software that Lenovo provides for it is also rather neat. First of all, there’s the logging in. I associated 2 fingers for each account. Left hand logs into my corporate account. Right hand logs into my personal account. So now you know you can chop off my fingers and gain access to my laptop.

Besides that, it comes with a password manager for Firefox. Instead of using Firefox’s default password manager, I’ve opted to use Lenovo’s and what happens is when you’re prompted for a password that it has or you’ve entered a new password, you get prompted to scan your finger so that it will input the password for you. That’s rather neat!

Networking:
Lenovo has also done quite a bit to upgrade their networking software. I’ve always thought their connection manager was neat, allowing me to create zones which will automatically setup the networking device, printer associated to this network, and some other customizations. They’ve gone a step further where if you’re using a Ethernet connection, it automatically turns off your WiFi radio (conserving battery). Little things like these always make me excited.

Bluetooth:
I haven’t gotten a chance to play with the bluetooth yet, but I’ve always wanted it in my previous laptop, so that’s why I opted for it.

Hard Drive:
160GB isn’t a lot, but it’ll manage nicely. Compared to my 20GB hdd previously on my X31, this is a heavenly amount of space. I even bought a 60GB hdd to swap out, but because IBM has this proprietary partition that’s unreadable by anyone else, I’ve been too lazy to actually try to figure it out.

Portability:
This notebook turned out a bit heavier than I was expecting, probably due to the aforementioned reasons such as Tablet screen, larger batter, etc. It comes out to about 4lbs, a bit heavier than my X31 (which weighs 3.6lbs) and over 1lb heavier than the new X61 (non-tablet) which starts at 2.7lbs. However, despite weighing about 4lbs, it still is extremely portable.

Keyboard:
They FINALLY added the Windows (WIN) key!!! They also added the context menu key which is nice.

Tablet:
To clear out some confusion, a Tablet is NOT a touch screen. There’s some sort of (magnetic?) screen behind the LCD and only reacts to the special Tablet pens.

Anyway, I’ve always noted that I didn’t really want a Tablet, or actually didn’t really care for a Tablet, as I don’t particularly find having the ability to write useful. However, this past week has been nothing but fun with the Tablet capability. It helps that I have Office OneNote to play with. Taking notes is actually fun! I can draw diagrams and then email them out as is. One Note has this doodle-to-text converter where it tries to change everything you’ve written into text so it’s better organize. It’s actually pretty good and as I teach it more, it’s getting better.

Then I found out that Office Communicator actually has a writing mode and I was able to write text which would then be sent to whoever I was chatting with. That was really neat!

Here’s one of the doodles I did in OneNote:

poke krunk

There’s 3 buttons on the Tablet pen:

  • the tip
  • the side button
  • the eraser button

The tip was easy to figure out. If I hold it down, it’ll be like holding down left click and dragging. However, I still haven’t figured out the side button completely. I know if I hold down the tip and not move and wait for the circle to form, it would then act as a right click. If I hit the side button, the circle immediately pops out, but I’m not exactly sure if right click is the only action it can do. I can also use the side button to select items in OneNote. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out how to use eraser button (I didn’t find out it was a eraser button until much later). I kept on clicking and pushing it, but it would have no response on the screen. It wasn’t until I flipped the pen around once by accident and notice it was erasing what I had written in OneNote. I was like, SWEET! I’m still learning the different tricks of the Tablet pen, and if you have any to share, please do!

One thing that is someone annoying is the fact that when I’m writing on the Tablet, I leave fingerprints and palm prints all of the screen, requiring me to clean it everyday. I just end up using Costco’s Lens Cleaner that I use on my glasses.

4 thoughts on “Lenovo Thinkpad X61 Tablet – Review

  1. My Wacom Graphire2 pen had a two-way switch as the side button, and you could assign functions to either side. That was most likely a function of the tablet drivers, but you may want to look into that. It also provided application-specific bindings for the button actions. I never really used it outside of Photoshop, and then it got lost probably two years ago, so… >.>;

    You could also reassign the tip and eraser buttons, IIRC, but I liked them with the default settings.

  2. Hi, I have 2 questions (I have the exact same x61 tablet)
    1) how does the fingerprint scanner work (and where is it)?
    2) How do you turn the Bluetooth on?- I want to hook up a mouse and keyboard.
    Thanks.

  3. The fingerprint scanner is located near the bottom left of your screen. If you start Lenovo password manager, you should be able to setup which fingers you want to use. All you have to do is slide your finger across the scanner.

    As for bluetooth, hit Fn+F5 to bring up the wireless connection screen and you should be able to turn on bluetooth from there.

  4. Hey there, I came across your postings as I was looking for reviews on the X61. I have a couple colleagues with this tablet. They are very pleased with them and use them everyday for work. I have seen lenovo lower the prices of this unit drastically shaving a grand off of their normal price (soon to release a new model?) Thanks for your info and pics of the unit. I am still weighing my decision between this laptop, and the Dell Vostro 2510; however, I believe the X61 will win the day 🙂

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