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Lenovo ThinkPad X230T 3435-2TU Tablet PC – 3rd generation Intel Core i7-3520M 2.9GHz, 4GB DDR3, 500GB HDD, DVDRW + ThinkPad UltraBase Series 3, 12.5" Multi-Touch, Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
I’ve been a long-time Thinkpad fan–including 600E (late 1990s), R40 (early 2000s), T42 (mid 2000s), T420 (late 2000s)–for the rock-solid dependability, non-nonsense styling, and in particular the king-of-them-all keyboard. I mistakely tried a Dell Latitude E6400 for a couple of years, and I truly hated it, despite its own pointer stick and solid construction. When I decided to get this X230 Tablet, the only thing I was worried about was how the new keyboard was going to feel. Well, have no fear. I am a big fan of the new keyboard. It’s got deep travel, its motion is the perfect blend between smooth travel and pleasing resistance, and the contoured surface actually feels comforable. This new keyboard is a winner. Other than that, there really isn’t anything that needs to be said about this machine that the prospective buyer wouldn’t already know. I loaded it up to the gills with the fastest and best of everything, except a 3G cellular card–totalled over $3000 MSRP before a the Ultrabase 3 and extra power adapters. On paper, the only thing the X230T lacks is discrete graphics, but the Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics that comes with the Ivy Bridge chipset is good enough for my occasional Engineering analysis and 3D modeling work–just make sure to get a least 8 GB RAM to share with the inegrated graphics. Plus, the Ultrabase 3 is able to support dual monitors via its dual VGA+DisplayPort ports. Just one final tip–get the Multitouch keyboard; you’ll be ready for Windows 8 Pro when it’s released.
The structural integrity is excellent and exhibits a very solid design in stark contrast to a HP Pavilion I had which was slightly flexible (you could bend it). That is definitely not happening with the X230. One concern I had while reviewing it was that the single, central hinge would be a point of weakness for the overall design. I’ve only had it for a week now but the hinge is showing no signs of wear and does not appear at all to be cheaply made. It provides a surprisingly greater resistance to motion and is quite a bit stronger than I was expecting. Another concern expressed by a review was that the edges of the keyboard frame rubbed against the lid at the hinge side when the laptop is closed producing a small white mark. This did occur on the lift side for me but I could care less because it’s strictly a cosmetic issue and is easily fixed by placing a small piece of screen protector over the rubbing surfaces. This isn’t a toy, it’s a tool.
The keyboard is either the best or very close to the best keyboard I’ve ever used. I’ve been using shallow laptop keyboards for a while and this one puts them to shame. It has a deeper range of motion and a strong "springy" feel to it that makes it very comfortable to use. The concavity on the keys also sets it apart making it easier to feel and find the center of the keys to stay in position. The only change I would make would be to make the arrow keys slightly more concave/defined to make it easier to find when reaching outside the normal typing position. One thing to point out is that the function and control keys are switched – the control is not on the outside. However, these key assignments can be easily swapped in the startup options. Jesse B. Andersen has a YouTube video on it (and a ton of other helpful videos).
The mouse pad is relatively small. Apparently that bothers some people. Even when using a larger mouse pad I don’t use the whole space anyway. I normally rest the palm of my hand on the table and edge of the laptop and use my index finger so because my palm is stationary the range of motion is limited to the area within the range of the metacarpal-phalange joint which range fits the mouse pad almost perfectly. Besides that, the laptop also has the track-point input, any mouse you plug in, touch screen input and digitizer input so needless to say I hardly notice the smaller mouse pad size. The pro for a smaller touch-pad is you make less accidental clicks while typing if you leave it on.
The digitizer/stylus is the red dot on the right side of the laptop in the pics. It clicks into its position with a spring loaded mechanism. The input on the touch screen is accurate once you’ve calibrated it well. If you don’t calibrate it well it can be pretty sloppy but you can calibrate it (with some experience) to neigh perfect accuracy. It is worth it to spend some time in the calibration screen to experiment with the angle of inclination of the pen and whether you get the best results from touching the screen slightly below, above or to the side of the target. With some practice and experience you can make this work really well. I don’t have to aim carefully anymore when trying to click on stuff now that I have a good calibration.
The 6 cell battery has been working fine. I don’t get 9.9 hrs out of it, usually between 4 and 6, but I normally run the laptop on max settings. It defiantly doesn’t have the problems that the Lenovo ThinkPad Twist is apparently having with battery life. I normally don’t have to think about it and just charge it when it’s convenient. I think it’s important to point out that battery life and performance power are in a sense inversely proportional. So remember when looking at smaller computers, iPads or tablets that have a longer battery life that they sacrifice processing power and hard drive size. I think the X230T has an amazing score with regard to its display size, processing power and overall performance it can produce for the length of time it does.
The screen and audio quality are great. I wasn’t originally looking for a dazzling graphics show in the first place. My primary use is for note taking and editing for biochemistry, physics, physiology, immunology and other science classes (which are slam-dunked by the stylus input and Microsoft OneNote). However, even though I don’t particularly need the quality the display and audio are phenomenal.
For internals, I added a 16GB RAM upgrade which with the i7 Core and HD 4000 graphics has powered through anything and everything I’ve thrown at it like a boss. It is way faster than anything I’ve had previously and makes work/study/tasks incomparably faster and easier. With its speed, the touch screen, the pen input and it’s ability to fold into a tablet the X230T is a very functional laptop and has met my requirements with flying colors.