- Durable, classic-looking chassis
- Stellar keyboard
- Responsive capacitive touchscreen
- Battery juts out of back
- Small touchpad
- Tinny speakers
Look and feel
Though we're fans of the simple aesthetics, we've got to admit we're peeved by the system's thicker 1.3-inch body and vertically protruding eight-cell battery. While you can pick up the inch thin, three pound X201s sans a convertible touchscreen, the four pound X201T feels heavier than it should, especially when resting on an arm in tablet mode. At least the extra space on the sides does accommodate a laundry list of ports, including a trio of USB 2.0 sockets, Ethernet, VGA, ExpressCard/34 and headphone / mic jacks. Yeah, we know -- we would've loved an HDMI port as well.
Lenovo, if you are listening, please do something about these speakers. We get that this isn't a multimedia machine, but the two speakers on the bottom of the laptop made our stellar music collection almost unlistenable. They are worse than most netbook speakers, and describing the sound as tinny is a gross understatement.
Screen and tablet performance
So, how is that touchscreen? We must say that it recognizes both finger and stylus input very well. The capacitive display was extremely responsive to our light finger taps and familiar multitouch gestures like two finger scrolling and pinching to zoom. There aren't many programs that take advantage of the multitouch capability, but we did have fun playing around with some of the preloaded Windows Touch Pack applications as you can see in the video below. Nothing beats scaring away digital fish. On the topic of software, we've got to hand it to Lenovo for understanding that digging through Win 7's menus with a finger can be more than frustrating -- its SimpleTap application provides shortcuts to system controls, which is helpful for quickly turning down the volume or launching a program or website.
Though the Windows 7 onscreen keyboard is decent for typing a quick URL in tablet mode, we much preferred using the stylus for writing or taking notes – alright, us bloggers don't really take notes, but we pretended to be all corporate for a bit. As soon as we turned the tablet into portrait mode the accelerometer adjusted the screen orientation, and when we put the Wacom stylus to the screen, our chicken scratch was immediately turned into accurate editable text. Impressed that we wrote the whole first paragraph of this review out on the screen? Don't lie.
Performance, graphics and battery life
|Lenovo X201T (2.13GHz Core i7, GMA HD)||5895
|Sony VAIO Z (2.53GHz Core i5, NVIDIA GT 330M)||9949
|Toshiba Satellite E205 (2.2GHz Core i5, GMA HD)||5187
|Lenovo ThinkPad Edge (1.3GHz Core 2 Duo, GMA)||2955||905||5:12|
While we expected the Core i7 CPU to heat up our lap or wrists, the system actually remained relatively cool – the left side got warmer when we ran a Flash HD video on loop for a few minutes, but it wasn't scorching like the HP Envy 15's temperatures. The integrated GMA 4500HD graphics performance is fine for some casual 3D games – our WoW gnome enjoyed a nice stroll around at 28fps – and handling full HD video, but as the 3DMark benchmarks indicate it isn't going to provide the sort of performance one would expect from a dedicated GPU.
It should be noted that Lenovo will offer the X201T with a less cumbersome four-cell battery, but the six-cell battery allowed it to breathe for 4 hours and 16 minutes on our video rundown test (with brightness set to 65 percent). That translated to about six hours of normal use -- i.e. web surfing and writing this review in Google Docs. Sure, that isn't as long as a ULV laptop, but endurance is the sacrifice you make for the Core i7 performance.
Lenovo's ThinkVantage software has about every utility tool you could ever want including apps for battery management, hard drive recovery, and password storage. The fingerprint reader software is actually pretty James Bond – you can customize it so that your finger swipe boots the laptop and automatically logs you in.