Those of you that have been reading this blog for a while know that Lenovo generously loaned me one of their hot new X41 Tablet PC notebook computers to try out for a few months, and that my experiences have been mixed. I really like the form factor (what’s not to like about a 3lb computer?) and I am highly impressed with Windows for Tablet PC, but after spending a few months with the X41 system, I’m ready to send it back to Lenovo.
There are a number of problems I’ve encountered with the unit, but none greater than the performance issue. My expectations of an ultralight are obviously less than a full-size PC laptop, but the performance of the Lenovo X41 is really quite terrible, and the battery performance is even worse. Some of these issues might well be to do with the settings of the computer, but I’m quite a savvy technologist and have spent hours tweaking and tuning the system for the best possible results.
Here are just a few examples of the problems I’ve seen with the Lenovo X41 Tablet PC:
Last night I was using the system and put it into “standby mode” when I was done. I checked the battery meter on the Taskbar and it indicated that it had a 76% charge. This morning, no more than 12 hours later, I woke the X41 up and was surprised and distressed to see that it had dropped down to 53% charge. That’s right, having the system sleep had consumed almost 25% of the battery charge overnight. And yes, I checked, it was definitely asleep when I put it down last night (there are status lights that make it obvious if it’s in standby mode or not).
I was also at the Consumer Electronics Show last week and left the X41 on my desk for a week. When I returned and tried to restart it, the battery was completely drained, as I would expect, but unlike other laptops, plugging it into the wall was insufficient for me to be able to restart the computer. I had to let it charge for at least 30 minutes before it would actually start up.
Oh, and while I’m talking about power issues, I have never had a laptop that had an alarm klaxon to warn you when the battery is about to die. The first time I heard it I thought the fire alarm in my office had been triggered (it’s that loud). A weird design feature, if you ask me.
While the battery may not be ideal, the key thing that’s driven me batty with the Lenovo X41 Tablet PC is the overall performance of the system. Once the system is all running properly it’s not too bad, but waking up from it being in standby is out and out painful. I have woken up the system and watched as it took ten to fifteen minutes before the applications were responsive to events. Even when the stars are all aligned just so, the fastest wake from standby is still a few minutes long on the unit.
I thought that perhaps there were issues with viruses or spyware, since I didn’t recall it being so slow when I first got the unit from Lenovo, but after having run a raft of different troubleshooting utilities, I couldn’t find anything that’s wrong with the unit. Sure the X41 checks in with IBM, Norton checks in for updates, Spy Sweeper checks in for updates and even Windows XP for Tablet PC checks in to see if there’s anything new, but really, how long should that take and why would that leave the computer disabled until they’d all completed?
In the end, I am not impressed with the usability of the X41 Tablet PC and am not going to buy a unit for my office after all. I am quite impressed with Windows for Tablet PC, however, and will try to find another ultralightweight unit that has better battery life and higher performance, but until then, I’ll have to go back to my trusty Apple PowerBook. And dream of when the MacBook Pro has a Tablet option.
Background reading on my experiences with the Lenovo X41 Tablet PC:
• Lenovo X41 Tablet PC: One Month Later
• Tablet PC Handwriting Recognition is Superb
• Lenovo X41 Tablet PC: I’m Not Impressed