Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Results of M200 vs X41 comparison
I just love technology. I especially love getting my hands on gadgets, playing with them, figuring out what works / doesn’t work – especially for my customers.
I’ve been putting the Thinkpad X41 Table PC through its paces since last Friday and then running some working scenario comparsions against the Toshiba M200 Tablet PC. For those of you looking for a spec review, this is the wrong article for you. There are plenty of articles that have matrixes comparing devices. I’m mainly looking at feature comparisons and working scenarios – what works for the mobile professional like myself.
My needs: light, long battery, pretty decent performance, and very dependable keyboard. I currently use my tablet pc as a secondary unit, but it has to be capable of picking up the slack should my main computer go South on me. In the end, I’ve reduced what I’ve really been looking for down to: I want the LE1600 as a convertible tablet. I believe I have found that in the X41 Tablet PC.
I tried to dedicate days to using either the X41 or the M200 and then some days to seeing which one I would tend to pick up. While heading out the door, I leaned more toward the X41 simply because of battery. A couple of times, I would pickup the M200 and then think – is my spare battery charged? not sure – better take the X41 instead just to be safe.
In many ways, the M200 is simply a much better tablet and notebook: better scroll options (bidirectional vs only vertical), faster processor, 7200rpm harddrive, higher resolution. Price wise, it also competes really well against the X41. So, if the M200 is so much better of a machine than the X41, why would I dump the M200 in favor of the X41?
What I don’t like about the X41?
- the pen – the pen is growing on me, but it is difficult to slide in the slot since one side is squared off.
- the scroll button – only vertical scrolling support
- the harddrive – I wish there a 7200rpm option for the size drive it is.
- the video card – the Nvidia card on the M200 simply outshines the Intel 915GM in terms of extended display options.
- I don’t like the push / pull plastic latch that holds the screen to the tablet when closed.
- I wish the screen were completely flush with the casing – it is almost there and is certainly better than the LE1600, but it doesn’t compare at all to the TC1100 in that regard.
What I like about the X41?
- the keyboard and track stick – I just don’t like touchpads, especially the M200’s. I’ve struggled with their touch pad since I owned the M200 last year. The trackstick and the keyboard on the X41 simply feel so much better to my fingers. It doesn’t feel like I’m going to rip the keypads off the keyboard accidentally, if that makes any sense.
- I like the grips on the battery and on the thin side of the tablet. They provide a nice way for me to grasp the tablet whichever way I pick it up.
- I like the slight angle that the tablet sits at on my desk so I can see the screen better and write easier.
- I know the latest M200’s have a better wide screen angle than the one I had, but the X41 wide angle make writing on a flat surface much easier. To use my M200 that way, I had to prop it up against a book so I could see the screen.
- I’m finding that on a 12” screen, I like the 1024 x 768 resolution better. I didn’t realize how tiny the icons and text were on the M200 until I started using the tablets interchangebly.
- I really, really like having 6 hours of battery at my disposal without having to think about it. It is built in – I don’t need an extra battery charger or to remember to bring something with me. I also like that Lenovo sells a slice that fits across the bottom of the tablet to give me an additional 3.5 hours - that is 9.5 hours of battery!. It adds about a pound of weight.
- I really like having a finger print reader built in. It is also in a great spot on the screen – lower right hand corner – perfect for the right thumb. I have a pc card finger printer reader that I used with my M200, but it took up the only pc card slot. That mean that I couldn’t use it if I was using my EVDO pc card. There were many times I found myself surfing while using the EVDO card and I couldn’t use the finger print reader. That is not a problem with the X41.
- I like the IBM feature of Location Profiles. This a real plus for me and will be for my customers. XP really likes having the local DNS server in the DNS server settings for log in purposes. Other wise, it just sits and cranks while looking for the server on the Internet. Setting the location profiles, i can set the DNS properties for where I am working. No more rekeying that information when I travel, especially to places that require me to have a dedicated ip address. What is also nice is that the location profiles allow me to set my default printers per location. The Location Profiles feature is a huge benefit.
- I like the way it looks. When I took it to church and to the conference, it didn’t look like a shiny computer – it was solid black and very thin and inconspicuous. Perfect for taking notes in church or at a meeting where you don't want to draw attention to yourself.
If I were looking for a Tablet PC to be my only computer, I would probably choose the M200 over the X41 due to performance reasons and the type of work that I do. However, my tablet is a secondary machine for me and the X41 will perform just fine with what I need. That said, the X41 should also be a fine performing tablet for the average user. Dollar for dollar, spec for spec, a person will get more tablet for their money with either the TC4200 or the M200, and maybe even the T4020. However, you need to really consider your needs, your working style, and then pick the tablet that works best for you. The most powerful tablet and best spec’d one out there is not always the best fit. How does it feel when you carry it, what are the extended battery options, how does it feel when you write on it and view it, and other built-in features that speak to how you work (location profiles for example)
My main gripe with the LE1600 was the convertible keyboard – it was the main reason I opted to purchase it in hopes that Motion had a great solution – I was wrong – it ended up just causing me a lot of headaches for going mobile, especially when it came down to dependability. However, I grew to love the wide angle on the LE1600 and especially the long battery life. All along, I’ve been looking for what the LE1600 offered, but as a convertible. For my needs, the X41 is a great fit. I believe I have found my LE1600 convertible tablet pc in the X41.
Screen protection would bother me some - as it did with the TC1100. A screen protector would alleviate those concerns, though.
However, after using the NVidia extensions for over a year, I don't think I can live without htem anymore. It is incredible to me how much more productive I am.
Specifically being able to set any window as "always on top" and being able to set transparencies on windows is incredible.
I guess that will probably be a moot point when Vista is released, but by then Lenovo might have their Yoga tablet released ;-)
The oh-so-overpraised IBM Thinkpad X41's keyboard - the entire reason for buying a 'vert - is no marvel. The lack of a Windows key is a dealbreaker on any keyboard for me and the Function key is exactly where the Control key should be. The feel of the keyboard, while certainly not bad, isn't anything significantly better than most and didn't seem as good as many of the Dell notebook keyboards I've used.
And then there's that silly TrackPoint nub instead of the standard touchpad interface that nearly all notebooks offer. Now granted, I know that's a highly personal preference, but most folks have at least a cursory familiarity with the touchpads offered on most notebooks. Approaching this from the point of view of an implementor, touchpads just seem more newbie-friendly.
And even with the RAM bumped to a gig, the X41 seemed quite sluggish as compared to notebooks and even other tablet (slates) PCs I've used.
The pen felt kinda light and cheapy, but the flat edge did make it a bit more comfortable to hold.
I agree about the nice rubbery grip along the battery edge of the X41, although it does mean that you get a smaller screen for the same footprint of a comparable slate tablet PC.
The X41 simply has too many tradeoffs for me to consider it a good bang-for-the-buck value either as a notebook or a tablet PC.
I believe users get a better dose of the whole tablet UI with a dedicated slate than with a 'vert-turned-slate. And certainly the bang-for-the-buck ratio is much higher.
While 'verts may suit seasoned IT pros better who have a better grasp of which platform is appropriate for the expected tasks, I'm a big advocate of embracing the tablet UI and avoiding convertibles. In a nutshell, if you need a notebook, get a notebook. If you're going to get a tablet, get a real tablet.
Take a look at the Electrovaya SC series slate - they get about 7 - 9 hours battery life.
Right click on the desktop, get the properties dialog and change the font sizes! You can select themes with larger buttons too.
Same size text, higher resolution = smoother graphics.
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