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New Toy — Brief Review of Thinkpad X61 Tablet and Windows Vista

Jun 22, 2007 Michael Wurzer

x61After toting around my Sony Vaio and an HP tablet for several months, I finally decided to get the Thinkpad X61 tablet from Lenovo so I could consolidate to one computer. Here’s a blurry picture of my new baby just after syncing up my iPod and Treo. So far, I’m pretty excited about it and know that my life will be simpler with just one computer.

I’ve been carrying both because the tablet is fantastic for drawing mockups of new features we’re developing. I still had to carry my Sony, though, because the old tablet wouldn’t run a projector at a resolution higher than 800×600, which isn’t effective today. Also, for whatever reason, my Treo wouldn’t pair, no matter what I tried, with the HP tablet, so I couldn’t get Internet access through my phone. These shortcomings led me to be a two computer geek for months, and it was giving me a headache.

With the X61, I’m hoping I have the best of both worlds and I thought I’d write about it here because I think a tablet is a great choice of computer for a real estate professional. The small form factor, the ability to lay the screen flat like a book for showing your clients a CMA or photo tour, and the ability to write (literally) contracts with digital ink are all killer features for real estate. The X61 I ordered has the Wacom digitizer (a must), the Intel Santa Rose processor, 2 GB of RAM, a 1 GB solid state drive, and a 100GB 7200 rpm hard drive. The last two features are noteworthy. The solid state drive seems to really help with boot and resumption times (the unit wakes in just a few seconds) and the 7200 rpm hard drive is relatively rare in the world of laptops because of the power requirements. The battery life, though, seems to be great so far. The battery lasted well over four hours last night, with quite a bit of heavy duty use moving documents.

Every time I get a new laptop, I’m filled with excitement and dread, because I really want the new features but know transitioning all my data will be a chore. I like to take advantage of the freshness of the new laptop and so I pick and choose the files to move over instead of doing a backup/restore. It’s a lot of work but worth it. I particularly wanted to start clean this time since the new tablet has Vista on it and I didn’t want to hassle with any complexities from the XP/Vista migration.

I’m not sure if this is a Vista issue or the Lenovo setup, but, for whatever reason, the ClearType fonts weren’t selected by default and so I freaked out for about an hour wondering why the screen looked so bad. After pouring over all the options (Vista hasn’t made any of that easier!), I finally saw that ClearType wasn’t turned on. Another problem has been Vista incompatibilities with the Sprint dial-up networking client, so Bluethooth is the only option right now.

Otherwise, Vista looks great with the Aero interface and the writing experience is unbelievable. I have some of the worst handwriting of anyone I know and the recognition is just fantastic, which leads me back to my recommendation of a tablet for real estate professionals. Microsoft has done a magnificent job integrating tablet functions into their OS. Once you get used to touching the screen, you’ll find a whole new world of productivity and you’ll never go back. Though the iPhone and Surface are getting tons of hype right now in the touch-screen space, Microsoft has been advocating tablets for a long time and I know I wouldn’t have anything else right now.