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ThinkPad X230T: Keeping Tablet PCs Alive

Lenovo's ThinkPad X230T Tablet PC, Tested And Reviewed
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Although they're both useful and entertaining, tablets like Apple's newest iPad fail to make our lives any simpler. As much as we'd like to travel with only the weight of a tablet in our bags, there's simply no way to get around our need for content creation, even if that's as simple as banging away at a Word document. And content creation is what separates tablet PCs like Lenovo's X230T from tablets.

Tablets are good enough for what they're designed to do: read a book, browse the Web, watch a video. But they're difficult to type on quickly. And multi-tasking is nearly impossible. Forget about using powerful Windows-based applications. Really, to get the best of that world and what tablets offer, you have to pack multiple devices.

That's a real bummer, though. Our bags are already loaded with cameras, phones, and batteries. Adding a tablet and notebook only serves to make us realize that we're slaves to technology. Often times, it's just as easy to leave the tablet at home in favor of the more useful gadgets.

Lenovo ThinkPad X230TLenovo ThinkPad X230T

Tablet PCs attempt to conjoin the worlds of tablets and notebooks. Granted, the battery life of a tablet PC can't come anywhere near what you expect from an iOS- or Android-based device, and we're a long ways away from a tablet PC with such a compact form factor. But then again, products like Lenovo's ThinkPad X230T level copious processing power at Windows, allowing you to run heavy-duty applications in Windows without delay.

Nevertheless, for their benefits, tablet PCs continue to merely fill a niche. Samsung's Series 7 Slate was the last tablet PC to pass through our labs, and that was almost a year ago. The X230T is the first Ivy Bridge-based tablet PC, and we'd absolutely recommend it to the business professional on the go. A built-in keyboard makes this convertible better-suited to offices and classrooms than standalone slates that rely on external connectivity for keyboard functionality.

Though tablet PCs are rare, we may see more variety once Microsoft's Surface emerges later this year. Initially, the Surface is expected to be limited to ARM-based hardware and a more tightly-controlled software ecosystem. However, we expect a more flexible model centering on Intel's x86 platform in 2013. Until then, power users looking for a Windows 7-based tablet will have to be content with the X230T. Lenovo deserves a lot of credit for keeping alive this endangered form factor—but one is a very lonely number.

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  • 9 Hide
    serhat359 , September 6, 2012 5:52 AM
    Ctrl+Alt+Del as a hotkey!? Good thinking.
  • 2 Hide
    greghome , September 6, 2012 5:56 AM
    The problem I see with the X-T series Convertible tablets though, is that for the same price I can purchase a X230 and a Thinkpad Tablet and still have money left.

    I can imagine a market for it, but once the Thinkpad Tablet 2 launches with Windows 8, I'd say there market would grow even smaller. just my 2 cents :) 
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , September 6, 2012 8:16 AM
    Hmmm interesting to see the A5 just about manage to keep up with the two year old Atom N450.

    Anyway, Tom's: X1 Carbon review please! :D 

    Read that its trackpad is best-in-class for a Windows laptop.
  • 2 Hide
    Zetto , September 6, 2012 12:22 PM
    These machines should come with the leather sleeve included, it really comes into it's own in the sleeve.
    I've carried an older model around all day for years, the battery lasts 8 hrs easy with a good power profile setup and intermittent use.
    OneNote is gold on it.
    My users often borrow it just for it's presentation benefits as well.
    This new model will shine with Win 8.
  • 0 Hide
    jaquith , September 6, 2012 1:26 PM
    As a past owner of the IBM/Lenovo Convertible I very rarely used it as a 'Tablet.' However, with Windows 8, and I don't like Windows 8, you'd probably use the 'Tablet' mode a lot more.

    I use an HP EliteBook Mobile Workstation and have little desire to go back to the Tablets.

    Originally I wanted folks to be able to 'sign contracts' out in the field, but in practice Paper wins.
  • -7 Hide
    cknobman , September 6, 2012 1:27 PM
    Lets see:
    Big, thick, heavy
    Ugly
    Crappy battery life

    When you think about it I could:
    Buy an Asus Zenbook 1080p for $999
    Google Nexus tablet for $199
    Both combined would be as thin and light (or thinner/lighter) than this lenovo contraption while offering superior battery life and screen quality (at least on the ultrabook).

    This product just seems like a fail.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , September 6, 2012 1:36 PM
    cknobman - you're really not the target market for this thing. They're fantastic for health care, home health, etc.
  • 5 Hide
    greghome , September 6, 2012 1:46 PM
    cknobmanLets see:Big, thick, heavyUglyCrappy battery lifeWhen you think about it I could:Buy an Asus Zenbook 1080p for $999Google Nexus tablet for $199Both combined would be as thin and light (or thinner/lighter) than this lenovo contraption while offering superior battery life and screen quality (at least on the ultrabook).This product just seems like a fail.



    From your post, I'd say you've never really used a IBM Thinkpad before.
    The Thinkpad lines were never meant for normal consumers like you. If you've compared to built quality as well, the Thinkpads, especially the T and W series are wonders.

    and unlike the ZenBooks or Macbooks......you can step on them and the hinge will be able to stand it.
  • -3 Hide
    cknobman , September 6, 2012 1:53 PM
    greghomeFrom your post, I'd say you've never really used a IBM Thinkpad before.The Thinkpad lines were never meant for normal consumers like you. If you've compared to built quality as well, the Thinkpads, especially the T and W series are wonders.and unlike the ZenBooks or Macbooks......you can step on them and the hinge will be able to stand it.


    Actually I've used ThinkPads a lot as I am a software developer. Two of my last 4 jobs issued them to the developers as their primary workstations. ThinkPad build quality, usability, design are all top notch for business users.

    My comment was in response to the way this article was phrased. This article was not necessarily written in the context of a business user and actually was slanted more towards personal use and its ability to replace a tablet and laptop combo while traveling.

    In that context I do see this product as a fail.
  • 0 Hide
    Wisecracker , September 6, 2012 2:09 PM


    I thought it was common knowledge that Acer and Compal have Trinity Win* Tab-hybrids coming out next month -- may even be articles on Toms about it.

    I can't really recall but pricing was something "less than $900" with Brazos II models substantially less.

  • 3 Hide
    Zetto , September 6, 2012 3:33 PM
    cknobmanLets see:Big, thick, heavyUglyCrappy battery lifeWhen you think about it I could:Buy an Asus Zenbook 1080p for $999Google Nexus tablet for $199Both combined would be as thin and light (or thinner/lighter) than this lenovo contraption while offering superior battery life and screen quality (at least on the ultrabook).This product just seems like a fail.


    Being as they've been selling them for 7+ years, "fail" seems to be a strange word to use.
    I guess the Surface Pro may be a contender in this product space, but neither of your alternatives have the functionality of this "contraption"
    "ugly?" Really?
    You see that as being a pass / fail for usability / productivity?
    Or have you been sucked in by the (cool) apple "us / them" marketing BS like so many others?
  • 1 Hide
    daglesj , September 6, 2012 3:42 PM
    Wow, take away the standard Lenovo styling and its almost a dead ringer for my old Toshiba Tecra M7 from 2006.

    We have moved on a long way......

    With these you tend to buy them for the tablet side of things but then find after a couple of days you just don't bother and wish you had bought a proper laptop in the first place.
  • 0 Hide
    DRosencraft , September 6, 2012 3:45 PM
    Have long loved ThinkPads. My first laptop was a ThinkPad. They will literally take almost any beating and keep going. Lovely machines. Unfortunately, in terms of price and spec I have ended up gravitating away from them.
  • 0 Hide
    Zetto , September 6, 2012 3:57 PM
    daglesjWith these you tend to buy them for the tablet side of things but then find after a couple of days you just don't bother and wish you had bought a proper laptop in the first place.


    Only if you never really needed a tablet, with it on my fore arm and a bar code scanner I can do an inventory audit in a few minutes, with a laptop it's a nightmare, dropping it is a distinct possibility.
    Taking notes on the fly around the office isn't happening on a notebook.
    Doing detailed infrastructure sketches isn't happening either even with most "modern" tablets.
    You can carry this with both hands free when necessary.
    Heavy? that's just not my experience with it.
  • 0 Hide
    bigdragon , September 7, 2012 1:51 AM
    I am looking to replace my LE1700 tablet PC, but this Lenovo is not the one. That screen resolution is a huge downgrade from the 1440x1050 I have now. The battery life is better, but 2 hours is still too short. The stylus is a critical feature and it's good to see it represented well here. Sorry, try again Lenovo. Maybe next time.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 7, 2012 12:51 PM
    i'd like to see a Windows 8 run on such devices to let Readers know if the device will work correctly in case of an upgrade..
  • 0 Hide
    belardo , September 7, 2012 1:54 PM
    Having used such convertibles before... the problems shown on this latest model is the same as it always and kept them a niche product.

    - Too expensive ($1100 is nothing - they use to sell for $2000+), 3~4lbs, limited battery life 1-2hrs, WIndows XP, etc. When it came time to upgrade at a company I replaced all convertibles with normal Thinkpads. They were rarely ever used in tablet mode... so less was spent for more reliable and bigger screen notebooks.

    Hence, the $500 iPads from 3 years ago did what MS could not.... sell a tablet system that people WOULD BUY.

    BTW: All the guys who have Thinkpads at work (I own two ThinkPads) - we all have iPads.

    This 2002 era design was never good at either job. A $1000 slate from Samsung or Asus would be better.
  • 1 Hide
    Shinobi_III , September 8, 2012 11:51 AM
    serhat359Ctrl+Alt+Del as a hotkey!? Good thinking.

    Domain servers generally require the PC to be set up to use C+A+D to login ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 9, 2012 6:39 AM
    I use this in class for taking notes in onenote and is perfect for me!
    Paperless society means I get all my handouts electronically and submit assignments online now. Great tool for learning.
  • -2 Hide
    daveg_22 , September 10, 2012 5:04 PM
    I was waiting for the anti-iPad comment and wasn't disappointed. I use and enjoy Lenovo laptops but to suggest this is a good tablet is a bit far fetched. Creating content, website design and even light programming is both possible and preferable on an iPad without a stylus or keyboard. Dictation is getting better. The use of MS Word is less important because most of what create is destined for the web.
    Windows is in trouble. MS office is in trouble. Period.
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