I've been pounding away my ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC and I still think it's a best-of-breed notebook. What's I find attractive about this machine is that it's size and durability. I'm the first to admit that I'm hell on hardware yet there's no sign that my ThinkPad is any worse for the wear. Physically, the X41 is small. I have big hands and can easily tote this notebook from room to room.
And that's exactly what I do with it everyday. I boot it up, swipe my finger across the reader, make myself comfortable in a chair and start pounding out words. When I'm down, I close its lid, move on to the next task and pick up on where I left off when it's convenient, Last week I started preliminary work on my 2005 taxes, saved my work, closed up my machine, stowed my X41 in my overnight bag, loaded two days worth of clothes and whirred up I-5 to the San Francisco Bay Area. Five hours and 385 miles later, I checked into my hotel, opened up my X41 and plugged the next-to-last set of numbers I needed before transmitting my tax data to my tax partner.. Everything --including the X41's suspend mode worked exactly as it should.
Over the years, I've become very wary of relying on any notebook's suspend mode, the only other notebooks I've ever used that could be reliably suspended were early HP Ominbook's (specifically the 300, 600 and 800) which set sch a high bar for this feature that 10 years after my last 800 surrendered to my abuse I still see if a notebook I'm testing measures up to that stratospherically high standard. The X41 does, providing you take care to save your work. I've had a few problems in the last month caused I believe by my not paying enough attention to the amount of power remaining in the battery.
And I've used this machine enough both as a conventional easy to carry notebook and as a tablet PC that I have to add a note to Lenovo, HP, Toshiba and others tablet PC makers. No other type of portable computer cries our louder for "instant on" than this category. Think about it: manufacturers want badly for tablet PCs to be used in vertical applications. Yet, it's exactly this type of use where professionals don't have the time to wait for a machine to boot up.
And that brings me to another thing I've happily learned to live with on the Lenovo Thinkpad X41, it's long boot-up. The really good news is that rock solid biometric security like finger print verification helps to guarantee the sanctity of your data. The maybe not so good news is that it adds to the time it takes a notebook like the X41to boot up. I can live with this very nicely, thank you. But it needs to be noted. I like biometric finger print identification and think it should be a part of any notebook sent by a company into the field. On the X41, it makes this computer really shine.
I'm beginning to use my X41 in its tablet mode more every day, particularly for answering emails as they come in when I'm away from my desk, but more importantly to me, the tablet mode is great for cruising the web and for entering and looking at statistical data I keep on my garden, which on March 5 has already produced it's first three crops, six days earlier than last year. My general impression is that tablet computing is something that you find new uses for as you become more accustomed to this new style.
What makes the X41 such a great platform for tablet computing in a group setting is it's native communications capabilities, which include blue tooth short range networking and a great implementation of 802.11 WiFi. Once you get used to this, it's easy to imagine sitting in a group setting listening to a pitch and quickly communicating your thoughts on the presentation to others with similar computing platforms. I won't even get into the potential for making snide private comments to others, But you can imagine that.
I've enhanced the X41 by installing Skype 2.0 and a Bluetooth headset. I spend at least two hours outdoors everyday, on the fringe of my house's wireless phone's range but well within the comforting umbrella of my 802.11 network. I use Skype to make calls in and out of network and my X41 to take notes on projects that need followup work.
I'm anxious to see how the X41 fits into my life. Thus far, I've found it rock solid, extremely capable and flexible enough to fulfill all of my portable computing needs.
** Disclosure statement: I was a member of IBM's mobile advisory Council for nearly 10 years, was privy to IBM's research and development of this computing platform and have been provided with a sample unit for review purposes. When I'm done reviewing this notebook, it goes back to Lenovo. I receive no compensation for my review. I do it for fun and because during my career as a journalist, I reviewed hundreds of notebooks, and now I still like to write about new technologies.