Lenovo ThinkPad T400s Multi-Touch Notebook

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User Experience and Multi-Touch Testing


In short, using the ThinkPad T400s Multi-Touch was a blast. A real, honest-to-goodness blast. Compared to Asus' Eee PC T91 tablet (which also accepted touch inputs), the T400s wins in a big way. Of course, it costs at least three times as much, but you can really understand why. The machine screams quality from top-to-bottom, and from the moment that you boot into Windows 7, you know you're in for a treat.


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Our test machine was equipped with a pricey 128GB SSD, and we have to believe that this inclusion made our overall experience much, snappier and generally better overall. Booting up and launching applications on an SSD-equipped machine is simply leaps and bounds more enjoyable than on an HDD-equipped machine. Never once did we feel our T400s Multi-Touch lag or hang when we invoked it to start an application, and we were amazed at how well it handled intense multitasking. We had a 1080p movie trailer open and were able to launch Firefox, Word, Paint and even Lenovo's own Simple Tap UI without feeling the pinch. The machine simply took our commands in stride.


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The only real weak point on the machine is the integrated  Intel GMA 4500 MHD graphics, a setup that remains unchanged from the original T400s. The GPU was powerful enough to handle 720p and 1080p movie trailers, but we wouldn't dare try any serious gaming here. You may get away with playing a few older titles at lower resolutions, but make no mistake, Lenovo did not design this machine to play 3D games. It was built to be a long-lasting workhorse, not a LAN party rig. Frankly, we felt that the integrated GPU held its own in multimedia testing, but again, the Core 2 Duo CPU (instead of an Atom, let's say) and the SSD (instead of an HDD) really helped it out. If you'll take a look at the Windows 7 Experience rating below, you'll see that the machine scored quite highly in every aspect except graphics performance. Again, steer clear of this rig if you're a hardcore gamer, but feel free to consider it if all you'll do is watch movie clips for your leisurely activities on it.


Windows 7 Experience Rating; Click To Enlarge

As we alluded to earlier, typing and mousing were generally great. The keyboard was fantastic, and the "nub" is wonderful for those who prefer it. The "grid" trackpad took some getting used to, but the fact that even the trackpad accepted multi-touch commands (two finger zooming of web pages and two finger scrolling anywhere on the pad) made us forget about it. Apple has perfected the multi-touch trackpad on its MacBook products; it's good to see a PC maker getting it right as well. We should also point out that the tweaked keyboard (enlarged Escape and Delete keys) felt incredible. Even though the machine is just 14", the keyboard really feels full-size. We typed away for hours in comfort, yet we grew tired after just an hour or so on many other 13.3" ultraportables.


T400s Multi-Touch Trackpad And Keyboard; Click To Enlarge

Overall performance was fantastic in our eyes, and we're giving Windows 7 most of the credit here. Windows Vista had a tendency to "drag," whereas Win7 really feels nimble and light on its feet. The LCD is one of our favorites. We love matte displays, as they resist fingerprints/reflections and are easier to use outside. This 14" (1440x900) panel was super bright, crisp and clear, and it also accepted our multi-touch inputs with ease. We tested out a variety of operations, from handling Lenovo's own Simple Tap UI to touch-drawing in Microsoft Paint, and we felt that machine was well-equipped to handle anything touch-related.

    
T400s Multi-Touch LCD; Click Any To Enlarge

By and large, we were floored by how well the machine recognized our finger inputs. We never had to mash the display; a simple tap/touch was all it took. Multi-touch inputs were recognized equally well, with web scrolling as easy as flicking a single finger up or down the display. Frankly, it made going back to a non-touch LCD somewhat frustrating. Our only gripe with the touch screen was the 10% or so of the time when it wasn't accurate. When trying to close windows or select small boxes where exact accuracy was needed, the panel would infrequently think we pressed higher or lower than we really did. Still, we've played with touch screens of yesteryear, and this one is far superior. It's not perfect, but it's about as good as it gets in the consumer market today. We have no doubt that Lenovo will continue to hone the technology and maybe even offer firmware updates in the future that enhance precision.


T400s Multi-Touch in Paint; Click To Enlarge

The video below shows us tinkering around with the multi-touch capabilities...


Everything is pretty much self-explanatory; the red button there on the side (which can be moved anywhere around the edges) pulls up the Simple Tap UI, as does double tapping the panel with two fingers. The icons can be moved about or tweaked, and you simply tap away from an icon to exit Simple Tap. We also show you how to pinch zoom in/out on a website, and you'll notice that the screen doesn't quite recognize our inputs 100% of the time when aiming for small corners and the like. Still, we were very impressed with the overall product and Lenovo's first attempt with touch input.  It can only get better from here.

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