Lenovo ThinkPad X230T Convertible Notebook - HotHardware

Lenovo ThinkPad X230T Convertible Notebook

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Our test unit shipped with Windows 7 Professional, but you'll have to forgive us for already looking a few months ahead -- especially with this form factor. We have a pretty good idea of how much more impressive the X230T would be with Windows 8 onboard, and it's getting harder and harder to recommend a Windows 7-based hybrid tablet/notebook form factor given Win8's impending release this fall.


Lenovo loads up its typical ThinkVantage suite of management tools, and per usual, we found these largely unnecessary. We greatly prefer using the Control Panel and built-in Windows tools to manage things like wireless networks; Lenovo's suite just feels like bloatware. They take longer to load, and mostly just duplicate functionality that's already in Windows. We often found ourselves wondering whether to consult the Settings within Windows or Lenovo's own management suite, and there's really no clear indication as to which is superior in a given scenario.


Outside of that, there isn't too much bloatware, but the usual anti-virus pop-up takes up the bottom right of your screen upon first boot. Talk about an uninvited guest. We're obviously fans of protecting one's PC, but a "trial" version of software you never asked for isn't our idea of accomplishing that. You shouldn't have to uninstall various pieces of software before you can enjoy your new PC. (That's a topic we've covered at length here before.) We know it's all about money and placement, but when you break open a new PC, it shouldn't feel like someone already opened it, installed some unwanted software, repacked it and then shipped it on to you.


There is one particular piece of software that's worth talking about given that this is designed to be used (at least partially) as a tablet. Lenovo's SimpleTap software isn't new -- it's been on machines for well over a year -- but it remains a useful app in touch mode. Basically, it pulls up a grid of app icons that you can customize, enabling easier launching into programs while it's being used as a tablet. It's a really simple grid, not unlike what Android, iOS and Metro in many ways, but there's one problem: once you (easily) launch into a program, it's not tailored for touch.


If you launch into Internet Explorer, the same IE shows up in either touch mode or notebook mode. In other words, it's really difficult to tap on that tiny address bar, pull up the virtual keyboard, poke your URL in there, and hit enter. Then, you have to remove the keyboard to swipe around the webpage. It's a completely broken experience. There's no two ways about it. Windows 8 is en route to solve this exact problem (with "Metro apps" and "standard apps"), but we're reviewing this unit with Windows 7 -- and the experience isn't pleasant.

We can't think of a single time when we'd actively want to use this machine in tablet mode. As we were alluding to in the prior page, once you're in tablet mode, touch points are almost never accurate. You effectively have to recalibrate your brain to always aim about a centimeter higher than you mean to in order to land on the right spot.


The real issue here is that our expectations of what a tablet should act like has been defined by the iPad and competitive Android devices. The touch response and touch point accuracy on virtually all current generation tablets is so incredibly precise, and so incredibly well done, that anything you touch should feel at least that good… or else it'll feel really, really frustrating. And that's what happens with the X230T. The touch response and accuracy is so far and away worse than that of the iPad, that you find yourself struggling to believe the $1,200+ price tag. How can touch response be so good on a full-fledged tablet, but so poor on this? It's hard to know if it's a driver problem, Lenovo's problem, or a Windows problem -- or some combination of the three. But it really doesn't matter. Five minutes attempting to use this as a tablet will have you switching back into laptop mode, and at that point, why not just buy the standard ThinkPad X230 and save yourself the trouble?

The only out here is for those who simply prefer pen input. There's a built-in Wacom digitizer, which does indeed contribute to the lofty price, and it's one of only a handful of machines to offer it. Pen input, as you'd suspect, is good. For drawing and note-taking apps, pen input is enjoyable, but the relatively large size of the device makes it beg for a kickstand of sorts. We don't typically take notes with a pen, but for those who work with charts or more visual applications, that alone may be enough to overshadow the other cons of this machine, simply because it's such a unique feature.

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I'm not raging or anything but this is not a good review.

You completely ignored the fact that this is one of the few devices in the world that has a built-in Wacom digitizer (adding considerably to the price). *That* is the tablet part of this device, not the piddling finger-touch functionality. Did you even pull out the pen? You get hundreds of levels of pressure sensitivity and rotation. You can make art. You can do hand-written notes during school lectures or office meetings. Try either of those with the iPad you compare it to. And no, simply adding a stylus does not compare.

Yes they should fix the finger-touch accuracy. But not having Windows 8 isn't a mark against this computer. The touch-centric Metro UI is for for Metro-designed apps, which, like most tablet apps, are designed for content consumption (videos, web) not creation. Read any power user's preview/review of Windows 8 and you will see that you have to stay in the normal desktop mode to make use of your normal day-to-day software. So Windows 7 will work just fine and, using that pen, accuracy will not be a problem.

It would be nice to know if they fixed the edge accuracy issue from previous models though. Maybe you could update your review of this tablet by actually testing the tablet?

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I completely agree with you, the reviewer is obviously ignorant of several things one must know when reviewing a thinkpad. 

 

First offense was calling the machine a NETvertible. I'm sorry, but does this thing look/function like some pathetic atom-based netbook? It is an i7-based intel laptop with a wacom digitizer, premium IPS multitouch panel. Of course, maybe you didn't realize that CONVERTIBLE TABLET = DIGITIZER. MULTITOUCH DOES NOT EQUAL TABLET. In order to review something, knowledge of what you are reviewing is necessary. You need to be able to identify that this computer is in a class of its own, not a NETBOOK with a useless oversized touchscreen. You obviously don't know thinkpads when you mistake the dedicated trackpoint buttons, a feature since day 1 of IBM thinkpads, for poorly placed touchpad buttons. COME ON! And YOU don't see the use in this machine, I don't think someone like YOU should be using this machine. <Sigh... >

 

I looked forward to reading the first proper review of this machine, but I'll have to keep looking. I suggest this reviewer be reassigned the job of opening the packaging for the real reviewers. Luckily you haven't cost Lenovo any sales because anyone interested in this machine can recognize every ignorant erroneous piece of information in your.. review.

 

To everyone else who unfortunately read the (cough) review, I am sorry for the rant. Please look elsewhere for a review of this great thinkpad.

 

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Although I appreciate the benchmarks and overall reactions to this system, like the other commenters, I must encourage HotHardware to do another review, one done by the intended audience to this platform. The pressure-sensitive stylus is the selling point. The rest (touch, CPU power, etc) is all there to make the stylus experience more useful.

If you doubt me, please consider the fact that Lenovo has an identically-formatted non-convertible non-tablet laptop (Thinkpad X-series http://www.lenovo.com/products/us/laptop/thinkpad/x-series/index.html) that would probably be more familiar and attractive to Ray Willington (this reviewer).

Please also consider that Lenovo has THREE tablet devices to compete with the iPad, that fall into the "Netvertible" space (whatever that's supposed to mean). http://www.lenovo.com/products/us/tablet/?menu-id=learn&ref-id=learn

The real competition for this particular tablet are Samsung Series 7, Asus EEE Slate 121, and the new Microsoft Surface for Windows Pro. And of course the previous generations of the X2xxT series. I'd love to see how this X230T stacks up against previous generations, as I have an X200t and am looking to upgrade.

If a human being reviews these comments, please consider my request. If you're looking for a reviewer that would fit the bill for this product, please contact me, as I have some experience in that regard.

JF

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I got to agree with the 3 other posters here...

Actually I didn't read the conclusion to begin with, I already gave up when "Gaming" on a platform like this came up, here it was obvious to me that this reviewer had no idea of what market this machine belongs in... I would go so far to say that testing Gaming performance on ANY Thinkpads out there would be hitting far off ground...

Lets through in an analogy... Reviewer: "Say this Coffee is a real damn poor coffee"... Seller: "Well sir, that is because it is not coffee, its tea"... Reviewer: "That might damn well be the case mr, but I am going to review it as coffee anyways, and so I can't even give you a single star because it is just damn crappy coffee"...

This is a ridiculous review from someone who clearly have trouble seeing the usefulness in anything else than the "modern" day tablet that is purely for Media consumption and not for work or creativity.

I have been a Convertible-Tablet user since the Toshiba M200 Tablet, this was tablets before iPad's even existed, and while it was a "clunky" feel under Windows XP Tablet Edition, It has still been the single most greatest Laptop I have ever owned!...

Back then I could use it to take my Math notes in class with the digitizer while I could switch to normal laptop mode during programming classes... Both are things that I could NEVER dream of doing on say the so wonderful iPad... Today, about 8 years later... I STILL sometimes use it for taking notes during meetings, drawing UI Mock-ups and so forth... But obviously with it's age, it can no longer be used for much more than that.

And so I regret that I went with the Lenovo X201 instead of the Convertible-Tablet version of that same model a year back, and this is why I am looking into reviews of this machine at all...

This review just hardly touched any of my use cases...

Where you would otherwise have taken a pen and a piece of paper, this is where this fits in while still allowing you to use it for regular laptop tasks... Granted that a more lightweight device would be desired, but that is always the case... To me there us just no other devices that are capable of covering so many of my needs in a single box...

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Well I made an account just so I could voice my opinion. I will probably sound like I'm raging but maybe it's deserved.

This review is just terrible, the posters above me have explained why nicely, but I will reiterate. This website needs to find a reviewer who actually knows where the pen is located on this tablet and give it a try. I only read the introduction and conclusion but I failed to see any mention of wacom or pen input. This is what separates this machine from other tablet devices and is the primary reason for spending the extra money on a machine like this one (maybe this is why the reviewer didn't understand the product). Try taking calculus notes with an iPad, I can't say that I have personally tried it, but I don't think I want to. Also how this reviewer manages to compare an x230t with an iPad is beyond me, not even close to the same functionality, capabilities, or market. Stop focusing on the touch screen, I feel like it is only there because its possible, not because its intended to be used to navigate the operating system (this can actually work reasonably well when booted up into ubuntu with unity).

I don't understand how they managed to include a gaming section, not at all what lenovo or convertible tablets are about (or at least a couple years ago when I purchased my x201t)

If anyone from hothardware actually reads this, your review is one of the first listed after a google search, I wish that you could have written a reasonable review for the x230t.

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