Windows 7 on Lenovo Thinkpad X61 Tablet

It’s only been a few days since I’ve installed Windows 7 on my Lenovo Thinkpad X61 Tablet, but so far it’s been GREAT! The version I had installed was the beta (build 7000).

I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Windows 7, and it’s not like I didn’t want to install Windows 7, but things had been working fine for now, and I saw no reason to chance destabilizing any of my critical machines. However, I had Vista SP1 running on my Thinkpad and generally it does okay, but once in awhile, after I haven’t rebooted the laptop for a few days, I get into a state where the laptop just becomes unresponsive and slow and has problems connecting to the wireless network.

Jan Lyk had shown me Windows 7 running on his Dell mini laptop and I decided I’d give it a shot. It was pretty much an impulse decision. The same day after I saw Jan Lyk’s laptop, I grabbed the beta, and installed it that night. I decided to do an upgrade instead of fresh install since I didn’t want to bother reinstalling all the applications and backing up the data.

The upgrade actually went pretty well. It did take longer than I expected. In fact, there were certain points in time during the upgrade which I thought it was stuck, especially when it was migrating files, settings, and programs.

The “fun” part came when it prompted me to log in. I swiped my finger and it logged me in.

I started typing on the keyboard. No response. I started moving the mouse. No response. Thinking to myself, I’m !@#$%^. I could use the fingerprint scanner to login, but I needed some other way to actually install drivers if they’re missing. Suddenly I remembered I still had a tablet pen to try out. Amazing, the tablet pen WORKED! Typing using the tablet pen wasn’t that fun though, but I managed to get to the device manager and noticed that the keyboard and trackpoint devices had the little yellow alert sign. I opened both of them and told it to automatically update the driver and amazingly, it found the driver and I was able to use the keyboard. The trackpoint/mouse actually needed a reboot before it started working.

The only other issue was I also needed to update the GEM smartcard reader driver (which was also done automatically). Things were starting to look good.

Moving on, it complained that my antivirus software was not turned on. I use AVG 8.0 and it was turned on from what I could tell. Someone on the AVG forums mentioned that if you disable resident shield and re-enabled it, Windows 7 would stop warning you about it. I tried that, but didn’t seem to work. I thought I’d try reinstalling, but in the end, decided to just switch back to eTrust, since AVG doesn’t officially support Windows 7 yet. This thing also warned me that Windows Defender was turned off, but I think that’s because it was set to delayed start, and the warning would disappear after awhile.

I love the fact that the tablet feature and fingerprint scanner just worked out of the box. It definitely boots up a lot faster than Windows Vista and definitely more responsive. I haven’t had much time to tinker or play around with it much, but it looks like most of the Lenovo applications also work out of the box.

The pinned programs on the task bar is like a merge of quick launch + task bar, which is pretty neat. Usually I have a vertical task bar, because when horizontally, the names of the tasks just take up too much space. Now that they’ve gotten rid of the name and only show an icon, I no longer really need to have a vertical task bar. However, I still dislike the fact that they group same tasks together. There’s probably a way to disable it, or make it more responsive so the moment I hover over the icon, the windows thumbnails would appear immediately instead of waiting a few seconds.

Another cool thing I noticed is that they have a dim screen feature. Usually you have 2 options for your screen: On or Off. I usually set mine to turn off after 5 minutes of idleness, but now there’s an intermediate step where it dims it after 2 minutes of idleness and turns it off after 5 minutes.

I’m going to enjoy playing with Windows 7 on my laptop.

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:
lenovo x61 tabletlenovo x61 tabletlenovo x61 tabletlenovo x61 tabletlenovo x61 tabletlenovo x61 tabletlenovo x61 tabletlenovo x61 tabletlenovo x61 tabletlenovo x61 tabletlenovo x61 tabletlenovo x61 tabletlenovo x61 tabletlenovo x61 tablet

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

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.

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.

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.

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 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!

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.

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.

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.

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

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.