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?

What I like about the X41?

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.

Thanks for your comments. I'm looking to purchase a new tablet after the first of the year and the M200 and X41 are at the top of the list. The X41 seems to have a lot going for it, but the slower processor and video capabilities push me back to the M200.
One other thing. I know you can't test everything, but what is your assessment of the Acer C200? It seems to be an interesting solution, but the screen protection is a big concern for me.

It looks like an awesome computer. I have not had an opportunity to test it out. Hopefully there will be some at CES, though.

Screen protection would bother me some - as it did with the TC1100. A screen protector would alleviate those concerns, though.
I agree with your comparison 100% I've used all of these but the Fujitsu and have come to the same conclusions. Nice writeup!
Great write-up! I have an M200 and I love it. However, as you pointed out I would love to have a built in fingerprint reader and a second internal battery.

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 ;-)
Rob, good info, but I've got some niggles...

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.
Why is it so hard to find out which slate is best for me? All I need is an ultra-light weight wireless write-on slate with the longest battery life. I am looking at the Motion LE1600, Thinkpad X41, and Fujitsu ST 5000 series. Anything lighter out there with a long (more than 4 hours of note taking) battery life?


Take a look at the Electrovaya SC series slate - they get about 7 - 9 hours battery life.
I don't have an M200 to check, but your comment on icon & text size sounds silly.
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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