IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad X41 Tablet

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Final Words

The X41 Tablet is the latest notebook to be released by IBM. It is perhaps the last that will come from the IBM side of the business, as pure Lenovo introduced notebooks will have some visible changes ("Access IBM" button will be instead labeled "ThinkVantage").

It makes a lot of sense that IBM would chose to introduce a Tablet PC at this time. The OS is more mature, Tablet PCs are coming to a place where they are at least more attractive with regard to their price point, and prospective notebook buyers are becoming more educated. It makes even more sense that IBM would chose the X platform to base their Tablet PCs on. After all, the Tablet PC is suppose to be the electronic equivalent of a notebook (of the paper kind) and more. It requires a measure of high portability, which IBM provides in the X series platform. This means that this mobile PC will be much better suited for those that are constantly on the go.

We have made note of this in the past, but we feel the need to do so again. Thinkpad notebooks should be expected to be priced at a premium when compared to the notebooks in Dell's Latitude or HP's business series. In terms of TCO (total cost of ownership), the benefit  to a ThinkPad are a wider array of features that may reduce the chance that an RMA or servicing is needed in the future. The higher cost should be considered an investment, and will hold particular benefit for those that have data critical projects, as features like fingerprint security and APS provide a level of data protection not found on competing products.

Priced at $1,899, our X41 Tablet system is actually one of the mid priced configurations (there are some that are not available directly through the website). Like the T series, the X series doesn't really have a "budget" conscience option, as all systems use either the 1.5GHz (LV 758) or 1.2GHz (ULV 753) Dothan Pentium-M processors. There are no systems based on a Celeron-M CPU. Likewise, the X series platform doesn't provide other display options, but this only makes sense for an ultra-portable. Larger displays won't help when it comes to mobility; regardless how thin they are (if the current batch of TFT LCD is any indicator).

As for battery life, we recommend choosing the 8 cell battery and or the Extended Life Battery if you plan to go on the road for more than a couple hours. The down side of the Extended Life Battery is that it slightly increases the width of the machine (the combined weight of the EL battery and 4 cell is pretty close to just using an 8 cell battery, which along with the system weighs 4 lbs.) Considering this is a much more mobile design compared to the R or T series, the likelihood you may need another battery pack is going to be high, especially if you are a student going to classes requiring a notebook, or are a business professional needing constant connectivity to your company's infrastructure. The 8 cell battery is a good choice if you are going to choose just one battery option. It alone provides a little over 6 hours of battery life, while maintaining a reasonably low profile for the X41 Tablet.

This notebook is suited well for day to day computer operations, especially if you are more concerned about general mobility than its price tag. Its adept for other scenarios, as well, due to its well developed integrated security [hardware and software] solution, which means this notebook is ready for corporate deployment. The advantage that this notebook has is that you can replace the paper notebook, notepad, etc., in favor of a completely e-office or e-otherwise experience. For some, this is a necessity for their lifestyle, while many others may find it a bit harder to let go of the "exquisite tactile" feel of a paper writing apparatus. We have, after all, grown up with the latter. Nevertheless, while I group myself somewhere between the two groups (you can't deny that there is something about writing on a notebook that is hard to reproduce), the ability to do everything digitally when it comes to office, school, communication, documentation, etc. has undeniable advantages. No longer do you need to archive a whole shelf or box full of notepads from the previous 6 months or perhaps longer. The ability to store written notes offers the ability to properly archive text and content for fast retrieval in the future. Let's face it, scanning isn't quite the same. Scanning documents for storage doesn't turn text on a page into an e-document. It is basically becomes a stored picture.

Other than price, another problem that Tablet PCs and ultra-portables have faced was performance. The lack of performance in the past meant that these types of PCs were reliant on a main system; be it a desktop or a larger notebook. However, performance is up to the point where an ultra-portable can now conceivably be used as the only personal computer, ergo a better buy for those on the go. Though, those planning to make this their only personal computer would be wise to look into the X4 Dock.

In the end, we are giving the IBM ThinkPad X41 Tablet a high 9.0 on the HotHardware Heat Meter. The only major thing that would make this mobile PC more attractive would be the ability to rotate the screen counterclockwise to better accommodate left handed users. This simple change opens up the possibility for the X41 Tablet to be a truly honed mobile PC, and it is a point I hope others (even right handers) campaign for in the future. After all, roughly 10% of the U.S. population is left handed, and even southpaws need to feel comfortable holding their Tablet PCs.

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