What's hot: Great build quality. Long battery life.
What's not: Screen looks grainy on our touch screen model. No internal optical drive.
Review posted July 14, 2009 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
ThinkPad laptops are Lenovo’s core products and present Lenovo’s pedigree in the enterprise market with great build quality, strong software and good performance. The ThinkPad X series notebooks are the ultra-light and ultra-portable line weighing between 2.93 and 3.5 pounds. Among these ultra-lights, Lenovo offers the X200 in convertible tablet form. The X200 tablet (X200t) has a 12.1" touch screen that works with both EMR pen and optional finger touch. The tablet runs on Intel’s ultra-low voltage processors with up to 4GB RAM and a 320GB hard drive. Like the Dell Latitude XT2 ultra-light Tablet, the Lenovo doesn’t have a built-in optical drive; and it weighs 3.5 pounds. With business users in mind, the ThinkPad X200t has Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth and integrated wireless mobile broadband via either AT&T or Verizon Wireless for connectivity on the go.
The X200 tablet features the ThinkPad line’s usual sturdy build with magnesium-alloy covers and a spill-resistant keyboard. The notebook has the traditional ThinkPad trackpoint eraser stick and separate mouse buttons below the keyboard. If budget permits, we recommend that you get the ThinkPad X200t running the SL9400 running at 1.86GHz with 6MB L2 cache and 1066MHz FSB (similar to the faster CPU option in the current MacBook Air). The extra $75 is well worth the added speed. The ThinkPad X200t has two SODIMM slots that take a maximum 4GB RAM. The starting model of the ThinkPad X200t comes with a 160GB hard drive (5400rpm), and you can upgrade that to up to 320GB (7200rpm) or a 128GB Solid State Drive (add $450). The ThinkPad has integrated graphics ( Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD) and it can play most casual games and games that require moderate graphics power.
The ThinkPad X200 tablet is available with several Vista OS editions including Vista Home Premium (32-bit), Vista Business (32/64-bit) and Vista Ultimate 32-bit. The notebook comes with Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005 on a disc. Our review model shipped with the Intel Core 2 Duo SL9300 1.60GHz with 2GB DDR3 RAM and 32-bit Vista Business edition (that version has been dropped for the higher clocked 1.86GHz option). We put the ThinkPad X200 tablet through PCMark benchmark tests and below are the PCMark scores and the Windows Vista Experience Index scores. The notebook was set at “Balanced” power setting and plugged in. We ran the same tests on the Toshiba Portege M750 Tablet notebook which runs on the Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 processor (2.40GHz) and provide its scores as comparison.
PCMark Vantage Benchmark results for the Lenovo ThinkPad X200 Tablet (1.6GHz Intel SL9300):
PCMark Suite overall score: 2714
Memory Suite: 1735
Gaming Suite: 1685
Music Suite: 2889
Communication Suite: 2616
Productivity Suite: 2372
HDD Test Suite: 2645
Windows Vista Experience Index score for the ThinkPad X200 Tablet:
Index score: 3.7
Gaming graphics: 3.7
Primary hard disk: 5.2
PCMark Suite overall score: 3035
Memory Suite: N/A (couldn’t get the result)
Gaming Suite: 1818
Music Suite: 3445
Communication Suite: 3457
Productivity Suite: 28487
HDD Test Suite: 2557
For a notebook running on an ultra-low voltage processor, the ThinkPad X200t produced good benchmarks and the notebook feels speedy when working with MS Office applications, drawing programs and surfing the web. Casual gaming worked smoothly on the Lenovo and some RTS games played well. Compared to the AMD-powered HP TouchSmart tx2 tablet, the ThinkPad X200t runs significantly cooler and the fan runs very quietly. Compared to the Dell Latitude XT2, the ThinkPad is faster with the Intel SL processor option (the Dell ships only with the slower SU line running at 1.4 and 1.6GHz).
The wireless antenna housing above the display on the right side.
Display and Digitizers
The ThinkPad X200t has an “activeRotate” display that automatically rotates the screen orientation as you reposition the notebook. The 12.1-inch LED backlit screen looks grainy compared to the one found on the Toshiba Portege M750 (also with touch screen), but when the brightness is turned to max, the Lenovo’s screen has more contrast than most recent tablets.
The X200 tablet is available in two flavors: 1) an active digitizer and 2) an active digitizer plus touch screen. Ours had the touch screen option and we found that touch worked decently, though it can’t compare to the capacitive multi-touch N-Trig digitizers used on the HP TouchSmart Tx2z and Dell XT2. The Lenovo’s touch screen is useful for vertical market applications including on-screen forms with large, finger-friendly buttons, but it isn’t the easiest way to control Windows Vista or Windows 7 since the display isn’t all that sensitive and targets are often too small for fingers. That’s where the EMR pen and active digitizer come in: it’s perfect for graphic artists, designers and medical professionals thanks to its accuracy. Windows 7 adds a great deal of new features and tablet support for the N-Trig and capacitive technologies, but it did little new when we installed it on the resistive touchscreen-equipped Lenovo.
The X200t’s screen picked up finger schmutz as do all touch screens, but unlike others, the Lenovo’s was nearly impossible to clean even with a liberal application of iKlear and a chamois cloth.
A good collection of buttons and LED indicators on the display bezel are accessible in tablet mode.
The ThinkPad has plenty of ports including 3 USB 2.0 ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, VGA out, an ExpressCard/54mm slot, mic/line in, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a 5-in-1 card reader. There is no modem or internal optical drive on the Lenovo, but they sell external DVD and Blu-ray drives. We tested a Sony DVD drive with the Lenovo, and had no trouble playing DVDs smoothly. In addition to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and mobile broadband, Lenovo will also offer the ThinkPad X200t with WiMAX (in the U.S. only) in the near future. On the mobile broadband models you can also get a built-in GPS that’s part of the mobile broadband chipset.
Plenty of ports on the left side, along with the EMR pen silo.
The ThinkPad X200t comes with a 4-cell Li-Ion battery, but if you’re on the road a lot, get the 8-cell battery for $50 extra. The battery plugs into the back of the notebook and the high capacity battery creates a convenient handle. The claimed usage time for the 8 cell battery is 10.3 hours max thanks to the ULV processor. In our tests with the 8 cell battery, the notebook lasted 4:30 hours playing a DVD via an external DVD drive with Wi-Fi turned on and the power setting at “Balanced” with screen turned to max brightness. The notebook’s battery lasted 7 hours while working on MS Office documents, surfing the web, taking notes and drawing pictures with Wi-Fi turned on and screen turned to max under the“Balanced” power setting. Getting the SSD version will also give you better battery life.
The ThinkPad X200t has Lenovo’s excellent productivity and wireless tools and utilities. Lenovo Access Connections lets you manage all your connections (Wi-Fi, mobile broadband, WiMAX, etc.) in one app with both a graphical representation and percentage numbers for signal strength. The machine also comes with Lenovo’s ThinkVantage Productivity Center, which offers one control point for managing the wireless radios, backing up the system, and launching entertainment tools, the device manager and more. Other included software: camera center for using the integrated web cam, security tools for the embedded TPM, fingerprint reader software, full disc encryption and rescue and recovery. The notebook has a restore partition that you can use to restore the system to its factory state (you can also create recovery discs). The notebook has InterVideo Virtual Drive, InterVideo WinDVD and Roxio Creator Business Edition. Like many notebooks today, the ThinkPad X200t has MS Office 2007 trial edition and McAfee VirusScan Plus 30-day trial.
Among 12-inch Tablet notebooks, the ThinkPad X200t stands out with its build quality and good software. Though the ULV processor can’t compete with more powerful low voltage Core 2 Duo processors that are standard on most Intel-based notebooks, it ensures light weight and long battery life. The lack of an internal optical drive can be limiting however, and adding an external drive increases cost, travel weight and bulk. The finger touchable screen looks great at max brightness and the notebook runs quiet and cool. If you are looking for an ultra-light Tablet with wide range of connectivity options, the ThinkPad X200t should be on your short list.
Pro: Sturdy build, spill resistant keyboard, lots of wireless connectivity options, long battery life and several very useful software tools.
Con: The screen looks grainy when it’s not turned to max brightness. No optical drive. Touch screen really holds onto finger grime and is hard to clean.
Display: 12.1” WideView MultiTouch + MultiView LED backlight WXGA display supporting digital pen and finger touch. A version supporting only the digital pen is available for built-to-order.
Battery: 4-cell lithium Ion rechargeable. 8 cell battery also available.
Performance: Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 CPU running at 1.86GHz with 6MB L2 cache, 1066MHz FSB. Other processor options include the 1.4GHz SU9400. 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 memory with 2 DIMM slots. Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics.
Size: 11.6 x 8.9 x 1.04 inches with 4-cell battery. Weight: 3.50 pounds with 4-cell battery; 3.88 pounds with 8-cell battery.
Camera: 1.3 megapixel web cam with built-in mic.
Audio: Stereo speakers, stereo mics and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack and mic jack. Has dedicated volume keys and mute button on top of keyboard.
Networking: Integrated Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, WiMAX (US), gigabit Ethernet, mobile broadband via AT&T and Verizon with built-in GPS. Bluetooth optional.
Drives: 320GB 5400rpm hard drive (smaller capacities available), 64GB and 128GB Solid State Drive option.
Software: Windows Vista Business 32-bit SP1. Home Premium and Ultimate Editions are available for built-to-order. Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005 included on media. 60-day trial version of MS Office 2007 and 30-day McAfee VirusScan Plus, InterVideo Win DVD, Creator Business Edition and Lenovo utilities and tools.
Expansion: 1 SD card slot (5-in-1 or 3-in-1) and one ExpressCard slot.