Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X41 Tablet
October 7th, 2005
Lenovo's ThinkPad X41 Tablet is Lenovo's first Tablet PC, released approximately 18 months after Tablet PCs first came to market. With it's 3.5-pound weight and convertible configuration, it has the potential to meet the needs of many of the University's Windows-based 'road warriors'.
Introduced in June 2005 and generally available in September, the ThinkPad X41 Tablet closely resembles other current members of the ThinkPad X41 series in look, feel, and functionality, with the tablet components available as a $400 extra cost option.
The ThinkPad X41 Tablet carries most of the ports you would expect on an enterprise-class single-spindle laptop. Relatively unusual ports include a powered USB port and a SecureDigital card slot. Of course, the X41 Tablet also includes a compartment for the pen.
The ThinkPad X41 Tablet is certainly not going to blow any user away with it's raw speed, but it has enough processor capability to get most general computing tasks done. Firefox 1.0.x (running University web-mail and other web applications), Microsoft Office 2003 Professional, MeetingMaker, FileMaker Pro 8.x, and other University-centric applications ran in acceptable fashion.
ISC does not suggest the ThinkPad X41 Tablet for users of applications that work the processor hard. The low voltage Pentium M, though a good compromise, is not capable enough for heavy users of Dreamweaver, Photoshop, etc. - even with additional RAM added. It is also hampered by the lack of a discrete graphics card - something that is present in some other Tablet PCs.
The ThinkPad X41 Tablet should be configured and purchased with the best processor available. The small savings in battery life and slight savings in cost gained by going with lessor processors does not begin to make up for the loss in performance.
Having at least 1.0 GB RAM is essential for the optimal functionality of a modern single-spindle laptop, especially since almost all such models (including the X41 Tablet) use Intel's integrated video. Remember that any Tablet PC also has increased overhead for the pen-related functions.
As with any 'road-warrior' laptop, ISC suggests purchasing both a high-capacity and a low-capacity battery along with an extra AC power adaptor for the ThinkPad X41 Tablet.
See ISC's Tablet PC Purchasing Guide for more configuration hints. As of October 2005, configuring a X41 Tablet to these specifications can be done for approximately $2,450.
Thanks to Neil Estavez, Michael Johnson, Mary Lou Miller, and Amy Phillips for their help with this article.
--John Mulhern III, Senior Project Leader, ISC Technology Support Services (October 7th, 2005)
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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