By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2005-07-18 Print this article Print

Lenovo Group Ltd.s Thinkpad X41 Tablet might be machine enough to persuade skeptical IT managers to take the tablet PC plunge.

The ThinkPad X41 Tablet, released last month, is Lenovos first mobile computing offering since it bought IBMs PC division earlier this year. The convertible tablet doesnt just sport the IBM and ThinkPad names; eWEEK Labs tests show it also lives up to IBMs tradition of well-designed, well-engineered laptops. The X41 Tablet is built on the same platform as the ThinkPad X Series systems. The key difference is that the X41 has a screen that swivels, enabling users to convert the machine into a slate format.

The debut of a ThinkPad-branded tablet will likely make it easier for the platform to move beyond the vertical markets where it has gained ground. IT managers who have already purchased ThinkPads, for example, can introduce tablet PCs to users by going through the same channels.

Click here to read more about how Tablet PCs have struggled to gain traction outside of vertical markets. We found the X41 Tablet to be a robust solution that possesses all the features of its X Series counterparts, plus additional tablet functionality, yet its still priced competitively, starting at $1,900.

Like the ThinkPad X41 Notebook, the ThinkPad X41 Tablet is armed with Intel Corp.s 1.6GHz Pentium M 758 processor. It is also loaded with 512MB of DDR2 (double data rate 2) 533MHz RAM, Intels Graphics Media Accelerator 900GM chip set, Intels Pro/Wireless 2915BG integrated WLAN (wireless LAN) network connection and a hard drive that can accommodate as much as 60GB of capacity. The $2,059 unit we tested had a 40GB hard drive.

The X41 Tablets standard four-cell battery lasts an estimated 2.6 hours. Road warriors who need more juice can upgrade to an eight-cell battery ($159), which lasts about 6 hours.

At 3.5 pounds, the X41 Tablet is considerably lighter than other comparably sized tablets weve seen. Buyers should note, however, that the X41 Tablet is not equipped with a built-in optical drive. An external DVD+/-RW costs $429 more. An X4 dock, which can be converted for use with X Series ThinkPads, adds $219. The X41 Tablets 12-inch screen is held in place by a quad-metal alloy hinge. The hinge mechanism was solid enough to handle frequent screen rotations during our tests.

The X41 Tablet ships with Microsoft Corp.s Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005, which let us take advantage of applications such as OneNote 2003. The X41 Tablets digital pen was responsive in tests, and the placement of the eraser is pleasantly intuitive. The tablet is equipped with technology from ThinkVantage Technologies, including the rescue and recovery feature, which "parks" the hard drive if the tablet is accidentally dropped.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.

As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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