The Good Tablet is thin, light, and convertible; more than five hours of battery life; sturdy case and hinge; great screen for writing; top tablet security; excellent screen controls.
The Bad Writing surface is recessed; character recognition software is a work in progress; has neither S-Video nor FireWire ports; expensive.
The Bottom Line With the performance of a laptop in a lightweight case, the ThinkPad X41 tablet is one of the best convertible tablets we've seen.
At long last: a ThinkPad tablet
With the ThinkPad X41 tablet, Lenovo has added tablet functionality to one of the best ultraportable notebooks on the market, the ThinkPad X41, without compromising on the screen quality or the security. At $1,899 (as of July 2005), this tablet's price is similar to that of convertible tablet competitors with faster hardware, but the ThinkPad X41 tablet's balance of portability, performance, and security make it one of the best convertibles on the market.
Its smooth, jet-black case may look just like the X41 notebook, but the tablet version is slightly bigger, measuring 1.1 inches thick, 10.7 inches wide, and 9.5 inches deep. And weighing 3.6 pounds, it's almost a pound heavier than the notebook. The extended battery pack adds an inch to the depth and 0.5 pound to the weight, but that's still significantly thinner and more than half a pound lighter than either the HP Compaq tc4200 or the . The X41 tablet's AC adapter adds a tolerable 0.7 pound to the travel weight.
Like other convertibles, the ThinkPad X41 tablet has a split personality: you can use it like a standard notebook, or you can swivel the display and fold it over the keyboard to create a digital slate for writing, drawing, or just doodling. Unlike other convertibles, the X41 tablet's screen doesn't wobble on its single hinge, and the digital grid layer required to interpret the pen's movements doesn't diminish the quality of the 12.1-inch XGA display. We did find that the slightly recessed screen makes writing a little awkward, though the glass surface closely mimics the feel of pen on paper. The character recognition is still a work in progress, so you'll need to write slowly and carefully for scratches and scrawls of the pen to be correctly translated into editable text; in our usage, the X41 tablet recognized 86 percent of our handwritten comments. Alongside the screen are helpful buttons for scrolling, rotating the display orientation, rebooting, and calling up a system control panel, plus Enter and Escape keys--pretty much everything you'd need to control your computer while it's in tablet mode.