Searched for : X41

A couple months ago I took early delivery of a ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC, and I like it a lot. There are a few things I'd improve (like maybe offer a faster proc and faster hard drive spin speed as an option, and possibly higher resolution video), but overall it's great.

But I ran into my first problem last week. The "push-through" latch - which sticks out of the machine's screen either on the screen surface side or the top surface side, depending on whether you've rotated into slate mode - broke and fell out. So not I have a Tablet without a latch. Luckily, the lid tends to close shut. he only real problem is it also tends to rotate if you push on it the wrong way.

Looking at the base side of the latching mechanism, it appears something in there broke. Not good. And the thing, is, all I've done with it is open and close it normally... No torture, drops, hard landings, hard closings or anything.

Bummer. Seems like the convertible Tablet PC latch market needs a better design. Someone out there should design the perfect latch, patent their Really Good Idea and run with it.



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Tablet PC | Tech | Things that Suck
Sunday, 20 November 2005 08:33:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I've been using my X41 for a few months now, and overall I like it a lot. It's one of the better portable computers I've used.

Charles Jade over at Ars Technica has put together an "unreview" of the X41 and it's a fun read, not to mention an interesting evaluation of this specific Tablet PC computer, as well as a commentary on the Tablet PC edition of Windows, which he frequently refers to (in his somewhat sarcastic but also accurate fashion) as "WXPTPCE2005."

He finds both good and not so good things to write about. I liked the review. Read it here.



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Humor | Tablet PC | Tech
Thursday, 27 October 2005 19:17:44 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Several people have asked me for a copy of the wallpaper I have on my X41 Tablet PC desktop right now. It's another picture from my trip to the Lincoln Memorial last week. Click below to download the image in the size you prefer.

1024x681 Pixel



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Random Stuff
Wednesday, 31 August 2005 16:26:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Here's a shameless plug of my very own... I guest-co-hosted the Tablet PC Show with James Kendrick today, filling in for the one and only (and much-better-at-this-than-me) Marc Orchant. It's been published, so check it out if you like:

The TABLET PC Show #19 (MP3 - 21MB - 60min)

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE

Marc Orchant was away but guest co-host Greg Hughes graciously stepped in and we have an action packed show. Greg fills us in on the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet PC that he’s been lucky enough to use for the past month so anyone interested in this fine convertible (or those anxiously awaiting delivery) will get some good information to take away. After the break we shift focus to the hot topic of the week, WindowsVista Beta 1, and round up the information that is starting to emerge from those brave enough to install it on a Tablet PC. Enjoy the show and as always we appreciate your feedback! (We missed you Marc!)

The Tablet PC Show #19 (MP3 - 20.9MB - 61min)
LISTEN HERE

00:00 Intro- Greg Hughes & James Kendrick

05:45 Greg has a Lenovo ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC

25:00 The Podcast Network

26:00 WindowsVista Beta 1 information roundup

eWeek- will your Tablet run Vista?
Random Elements- Colin Walker installs the beta
Greg punches a cat in the face
IE7 panning with a pen
Tablet PC team has a blog
Speech recognition- command and dictation fused
Ink Analysis in Vista

60:00 Wrap up



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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Tablet PC | Tech
Sunday, 07 August 2005 09:44:21 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I just finished spending an hour or so conversing about one of my favorite topics with James Kendrick (jkOnTheRun) as a "guest host" on The Tablet PC Show. As is often the case in the podcast world, we used Skype to communicate and JK recorded and produced the thing on this side of the connection. We talked about the X41 Tablet PC (of course) and then spent a bunch of time bouncing around different Windows Vista on the Tablet PC topics.

You can listen to the show by visiting this link.

I had a lot of fun doing this. Thanks to JK and Marc Orchant (the real co-host of the show, who was out of town this weekend) for the opportunity. James made it easy for me, and hopefully it turned out ok.

If you're visiting here from the show and wondering who the heck I am, check this link. Tablet PC stuff I have written about in the past is available here.

If you're a regular reader here and want to see what podcasting and The Tablet PC show are all about, check out the show's web site right here.

There are a couple things I *have* to do now that I've spoken about them out loud:

  • Get this Windows Vista ISO image to freakin' work - I must have a bad DVD burner or something, as I am consistently making coasters (and then, of course, install it and the additional Tablet bits on a Tablet PC).
  • Revisit the speech recognition capabilities of the Tablet PC - James says he uses it all the time, and I am thinking I may not be taking it seriously enough in terms of daily use, so I want to check it out again.

This whole podcasting/audio show/Internet conversation/etc thing is fun and cool. And, depending on how it's used, I think it can be a great medium for certain styles and forms of content delivery - especially interactive conversations.

Anyhow, the 19th edition of the Tablet PC Show has been posted, so check it out. I'll post a link to the show when it's up. Hopefully I won't sound like a complete dork (but I probably will, heh).



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AudioBlogging | Tablet PC | Tech
Sunday, 07 August 2005 03:11:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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One more dedicated post reviewing the new X41 ThinkPad Tablet and my experiences of the past week, then back to our regular (random) programming. You can read my first two review posts here and here.

Walk into an aiport or a coffe shop and start writing on your screen. You'll get "the look." Tablet PCs tend to attract and grab the attention of people who have not seen one before. They're also of interest to gadget freaks, of course.

X41-SlateModeI spent a few hours Saturday with some "new media" geeks, hanging out in downtown Portland. Several of them asked if I brought along the new ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC I've been using this past week. Well, of course I did. Several of those present said they've been thinking about possibly been getting a Tablet PC for their next computer, and wanted to see one. Others were simply curious about what IBM has done with their initial foray into Tablet-Land.

Of course, Josh Bancroft wanted to take pictures, heh. Many wanted to hold it in their hands, see how it feels, and to learn about what you can do with it. I've noticed one of the huge selling points of these things (with geeks and their wives and girlfriends, anyhow) is how the thing feels in your hand. Once I rotated the screen and placed it in their hands with the extended battery as a sort of "book spine" grip, that Tablet PC realization kicked in and you could see the expressions change on each of their faces. When people start using the pen, the "ahhhhhhh's" come out and the questions start. The main difference this time around is the X41's an even better example than most of why Tablet PCs are so darn cool.

Anyhow, I have been making a quick little list of things I'd like to see IBM/Lenovo to do to improve this thing, because while it's a terrific machine and I'm definitely won over, it's not quite perfect.

ShockerUse the hard drive protection gyroscope for screen orientation
I've been playing with it for a while now, and as far as I can tell, this model has a gyroscope (or similar) device built in that's used for real-time awareness in order to protect the had drive from shocks. You can even open the active-protection configuration applet and move the computer around and watch the picture of the thing on the screen move around just as fast as you can make it. But it doesn't appear the IBM software is connected in any way to the software switches that control screen orientation. Why not? If I'm holding the thing in my right hand with the battery on the left, use that technology to make sure the display isn't upside down, for gosh sake. Or, if I am missing something and the capability's already there, tell me, please.

Better stylus/pen
I wrote about this before. The pen has no "eraser" end on it. As expected, I was able to verify that any standard stylus that does have an eraser end works just fine with the T41 (I used an Acer pen for the test)... So, hopefully IBM will ship a new pen that has the eraser end, and I will buy it. Honestly, it's driving me nuts every time I work in pen mode. But that's okay, I'll live. For now, anyhow. I just wish the Acer stylus was the same size and shape as the IBM model, so I could just swap them out. No such luck.

Fingerprint software loses focus when Windows has been console-locked
This is a software nit-pick, and I am not sure if the problem exists on non-tablet versions of Windows XP or not (and I don't have a computer to test this with), but when the computer is "locked," the fingerprint reader dialog (they replace the regular Windows "This computer is locked" dialog with their own) often loses focus, and swiping your finger does nothing until you click on that Window to bring it into primary focus. I am wondering if it's because of the on-screen virtual keyboard, since it appears to have focus on the screen. I'll have to check on that and figure out how to turn it off, if that's the issue. Anyhow, it's a usability issue, and should be addressed one way or another.

Your mother is a hamster; Your father smells of elderberries
Just seeing if you're paying attention. Are you? Hmmm... If you can read this, you're too close. No, I mean you're doing fine. Yes, fine, thanks for asking. No, sorry I am busy tonight. Move along, nothing to see here. Maybe lunch though? Oh, oops...

So - All in all, not much to gripe about. If those are the worst things about this computer, then hey - it's a pretty darn good machine.

There are (of course) also a number of things about the computer that I really like over others I have used. So, to tie this thing up and put it to bed, a couple of them are:

The wireless networking software and hardware is pretty much rock solid
They got it right some time ago, and I really appreciate the reliable, easy to use and easy to count on wireless networking setup. I especially appreciate the fact that the ThinkPads are among the few computers  that load the wireless drivers right up front, so when I log onto the Windows domain, the login scripts are able to run just like I was plugged into the wire.

Sturdy, very light, and everything is right where it should be
From the pen location (front left side edge, right up front) to well-placed slate-mode controls (the fingerprint reader is on the monitor frame along with special Tablet PC buttons for rotation and common keyboard buttons as well as CTRL-ALT-DEL), they put stuff right where it works well. It's super-light, and no rickety construction here. The real point is that IBM waits til they know they've got it nailed down before they release it to the market. We've seen them do this before, and I remember talking to and IBM rep over a year ago when they told me IBM was working on a convertible Tablet PC overseas, and that it was definitely coming, but not to expect anything for about a year because there was no way they were going to get it wrong when they actually released it.



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Tablet PC | Tech
Monday, 18 July 2005 20:25:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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ThinkpadX41TiconIt's been a day and a half now since I started using a ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC. Yesterday I posted a few initial thoughts, and today I have some more (part three is also now onlline and can be found here). I'm pretty much using the new computer exclusively now, which is a testament to it's usability, since I really liked the Acer I've relied on for the past couple years.

Update - Many people won't ever find it on the ThinkPad site, since it requires st00pid pop-ups, but there's a very good animated 3D demo of the X41T on the web site. And that link doesn't require a pop-up.

X41TA bit of a description of how this thing feels...

Essentially it's an X-series ThinkPad notebook, one that's thin and light. Mine has the 8-cell extended battery, and in the real world it provides about 5 hours worth of juice for off-the-grid computing (no pun intended, old-timers).

The keyboard is predictably great. I am surprised at how quickly I am adjusting to the little rubber eraser-like mouse pointer device. It's not as bad as I'd feared. I still need some time with it, but that has nothing to do with the fact that this is a Tablet PC - all the X-series notebooks are built with that pointer.

The pen/stylus provided with this model lacks an "eraser" end on the blunt end. I am used to having that with my Acer C300-series model, and I keep catching myself turning the stylus around to try to erase something and finding it lacking in that regard. I'll need to try an Acer pen on the ThinkPad tomorrow and see if it behaves well. If it does, someone needs to produce a good after-market stylus that fits in the ThinkPad holder and includes the "eraser" end. I'd buy a couple of 'em.

It's solid, clearly very-well-built, which is exactly what you'd expect from a ThinkPad. The hinge/rotation point appears to be significantly better-made than the one on my Acer tablet (which has a tendency to buckle and break under extended use).

The fingerprint reader and software (again, not tablet-specific, although on the X41 the reader is on the display panel (in the lower right, so you can use it in slate mode to log in or unock the computer - nice!) gets lots of "WOW, COOL!" comments, and it works quite well. So far, in my totally unscientific study, it has only let me unlock the machine - the fingers of others don't work. That's a good thing.

When you convert to slate mode (by rotating the screen panel backwards and folding it down over the keyboard), the whole thing fits in the hand quite well. It's well-balanced and the battery lets me comfortably grip it much like I would a paper notebook - a good physical metaphor. It also makes it easy to keep a very solid grip, which is a great think in the IT department world - Anti-dropping features are always good. And as a bonus, it has the requisite ThinkPad "hard drive air bag" capability that protects the drive and heads from shocks.

The screen has a very wide viewing angle (I think it's like 170 degrees). Once I installed the hey-its-about-time patch for the Tablet PC OS and configured a few tweaks on the machine (typical Windows stuff), it's running like a champ.

X41T-Detailthe 1.5GHz Pentium Mobile processor is quick enough, and the machine seems to run a little faster than the Acer overall. We'll see what happens when I install VS.net on it in the next day or two - Oh and that reminds me, it needs a bigger hard drive... I have a gig of RAM in it, and that certainly helps performance. the IBM software that helps control the display and a plethora of other things has improved over the years, and that's good to see. It even let me map the Right-ALT key to act as a Windows key, which is a welcome feature since the IBM keyboards don't have one. Nice tweak.

I was a bit confused when I saw a USB port on the right side, and another one on the left side with some goofy looking, slightly narrower port right below it. After doing some looking around, it appears the extra port is a power port that accompanies the USB 2.0 port. Nifty. Power to the people. There's also a SD card slot, which is how these pictures reached your eyes.

Okay - so... What makes this one better?

Up til now, most Tablet PCs have often been heavy in the "shiny" department - lots of cool looks and nifty flair - but somewhat lacking in the durability and consistency areas. Keep in mind, I haven't used every tablet out there. Motion and others make Tablets that I have no experience with. I have extended experience with the Compaq, Toshiba and Acer models. Of those, the Acer has been my favorite. Until now, that is.

But what I can tell you is that the ThinkPad X41 takes the strong utility value and characteristics of the IBM line, trims it down, and adds Tablet hardware. It's classic IBM (now Lenovo) to watch the market and wait things out to see what works and what doesn't, then take the market by storm.

X41T-DetaiLogolIn my book, it's all about ThinkPad keyboard and durability, light-weight construction, lonnnnng battery life, a nice bright/contrasty display (much better than Toshiba's in that area), and excellent placement of controls.

Areas to improve? Better pen (with the eraser end on it), higher-res display (Toshiba may be flat in terms of contrast, but they kick serious ass in the resolution department), more microphones (again a Toshiba win) and find some way to build in a slot-load or slide-out optical drive (not likely in this form factor, I know, but hey I can dream).

By the way, the screened label says "IBM ThinkPad" on it. On the bottom it also says "IBM" with no mention of Lenovo. I assume that will probably change over time.

There's no huge surprises here - and that's what makes this Tablet so great... You get everything you'd expect from a quality, lightweight, compact and durable ThinkPad, and you get well-designed and -built tablet PC components and functionality built into it. And it all works, without the typical third-party software glitches and digitizer electronics frustrations I've had to deal with in the past. It's already fitting like a glove.

In my book, that's a real success.

By the way - just to be clear - in my original post I said I have received this Tablet for "evaluation and testing." This is a purchased computer, one we are checking out for use at work. I just wanted to be sure to explain that no one sent a free one and I am only blogging about it because I think it's pretty nifty and sweet. - gh



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Tablet PC | Tech
Wednesday, 13 July 2005 19:31:55 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Update: Part two of this review is here. Part three is here.

Just in time, since my old laptop's hard drive just started making shhhpppppttt-CLACK!!! sounds (sure sign of impending hard drive death and doom), an IBM X41 Tablet PC arrived on my desk this morning for testing and evaluation. I'm doing more and more travelling, so a single-machine solution with killer battery life and compact size is of interest to me nowadays.

Anyhow... So I've spent the last half a day between meetings and conference calls with a new X41T. That and backing up the old machine.

So what's it like? Well, let me just say this: "Finally – a Tablet PC that really makes me really want to have and use a Tablet PC."

Keep in mind, I’ve been using Tablet PCs ever since the TC1000 came out a couple or so years ago. Since then, I have primarily been using an Acer C300-series Tablet. That’s the one with the sick hard drive. A week or so ago I wrote about past experiences and how much I use the Acer machine. I also wrote about my thoughts spawned by an Engadget article that asked "How would you change the Tablet PC?"

While the X41T doesn't have all the things in my wish list, what it does have is quality and well-put-together.

Initial thoughts:

  • This one has the biometric fingerprint reader. Cool, and it actually works.
  • The red eraser/nub/pointing device will take some serious getting used to. Touchpad would be better.
  • /me likes the keyboard - ThinkPad keyboards rock.
  • Nice display, wide viewing angle, matte finish reduces glare nicely but doesn't sacrifice contrast. Needs to be higher than 1024x768 resolution, but I'll live.
  • It's really light and really sturdy. Even with the extended battery I have on it. In fact the 8-cell battery makes it easy to handle when walking around with it, due to the ergonomic shape (OMG did really I just type "ergonomic???" Aaagh!)
  • Seems to be speedy and snappy in terms of processing and computing power. I have a gig of RAM in this one.
  • The hard drive is this goofy new short/stubby model, not something you can easily replace with another available standard notebook hard drive.
  • Overall, impressive!

I'll have to live and work with this thing for a while, and then document some more thoughts. For now, the honeymoon has started and so far it's a lot of fun. But don't read anything into that.

More to come...



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Geek Out | Tablet PC | Tech
Tuesday, 12 July 2005 16:29:41 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I was super busy all day yesterday, so I didn't get to update about the Tablet PC stuff that was announced by IBM. The news is everywhere, so I am just providing a few detail items that matter...

First of all - A link to the IBM/Lenovo PC Institute's webcast from Monday (which is available til the end of June). They spend a lot of time talking up TabletPC's in general (Tablet PC's for beginners), discuss what they saw in the Tablet PC market that people really wanted, and show off their new X41 model.

Too bad it's 1024x768 though. That's going to have to change at some point. But I can live with that, my Acer Tablet that I've been using for some time now is 1024x768... I like the resolution of the Toshiba (yes I have used that one as well), but not the screen image quality. We can still dream.

And finally, here are the two models that were given actual online catalog prices and remain listed on the IBM/Lenovo SKU list that I mentioned last week. And hey, what happened to the others that were on there, and where's the $1899 model everyone's quoting press releases on?

X41 TABLET PENT M LV 758 (1.5) 12 WAXGA 256 40GB BG XPT 8C
LENOVO 18662GU
$2,199.00
 
X41 TABLET PENT M LV 758 (1.5) 12 WAXGA 512 40GB BG XPT 8C
LENOVO 18666GU
$2,399.00



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Tablet PC | Tech
Tuesday, 07 June 2005 05:39:36 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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It became obvious last week that the IBM Tablet PC was most definitely real. Now it appears IBM/Lenovo will hold a webcast to introduce their X41 Tablet PC to the world, probably on Monday (possibly Tuesday since the URL includes 07June in the address?).

Lenovo/PC Institute: Complimentary Tablet Webcast
06 Jun
IBM Business Partners
Customers

Description: Be sure to tell your Business Partners and customers about this complimentary Webcast on the one-of-a-kind features of the new ThinkPad X41 Tablet!

This Webcast will feature:

  • A demonstration of ThinkPad X41 Tablet
  • The new Lenovo CEO and VP of Marketing explaining Tablet's importance in the marketplace
  • Microsoft, Dendrite and Siebel discussing Tablet OS and ISV strategy
  • Customers, including MIT and Harvard Medical School, as well as IBM’s Healthcare and Life Sciences GM, discussing Tablet's use in the public sector

Replay available through June 30, 2005.



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Tablet PC | Tech
Sunday, 05 June 2005 13:23:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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