Lenovo gives its 12.5-inch ultraportable convertible an “Ivy Bridge” upgrade and a snappy new keyboard.
With all the buzz about the touch-screen hybrid and convertible ultrabooks that we can expect to see when the touch-centric Windows 8 operating system arrives this fall, it’s easy to forget that convertible laptop/tablets have existed for almost 10 years thanks to Microsoft’s Tablet PC initiative. PCMag’s Editors’ Choice in the category, the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet, is getting an “Ivy Bridge” makeover and array of other enhancements in the form of the ThinkPad X230 Tablet, a.k.a. ThinkPad X230T, shipping in early June at a starting price of approximately $1,479.
As before, the X230T works like an ultraportable X230 (or X220) whose 12.5-inch screen swivels 180 degrees and folds back face up over the keyboard to turn the laptop into a tablet that works in either portrait or landscape orientation. a multitouch digitizer supports gestures, while a provided stylus handles fine movements and handwriting recognition.
The two big changes are to the ThinkPad’s processor and keyboard. a choice of Intel third-generation Core CPUs brings improved performance and faster HD Graphics 4000 integrated graphics with DirectX 11 compatibility—probably not enough, we expect, to make the tablet a gaming demon, but enough for moderate gameplay on its 1,366-by-768-pixel screen.
Meanwhile, Lenovo’s new “precision” keyboard replaces the X230′s conventional setup with today’s fashionable tile-, chiclet-, or island-style design with minute spaces between the keys. a backlit keyboard is optional. The keyboard layout puts the Home, End, Insert, and Delete keys at top right, with PgUp and PgDn at bottom right by the cursor arrows; the Print Screen key replaces the context-menu key between Alt and Ctrl to the right of the spacebar. Lenovo’s signature red TrackPoint pointing stick nestles between the G, H, and B keys, with its mouse buttons below the space bar and a touchpad below those.
Two USB 3.0 ports and a Mini DisplayPort are new on the X230 Tablet’s base. Dolby Advanced Audio and webcam face tracking improve the multimedia and videoconferencing experiences, respectively.
We briefly hefted an X230T and found it well-balanced and easy to hold clipboard-style in one arm, although obviously and noticeably heavier (maybe 4 pounds) than an Apple iPad, Fujitsu Stylistic Q550, or Android tablet. The display was bright and sharp, with wide viewing angles, and the digitizer worked smoothly.
With keyboardless tablets blooming like wildflowers, the ThinkPad X230T might be a relatively heavy, pricey niche product for power users, but it might also be the ultimate Windows 8 laptop. We’ll find out when PCMag gets a chance to test a production unit.
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