Lenovo seems to understand the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Given the warm reception the ThinkPad X200 received when it debuted two years ago, the company didn't need to do much to improve upon an already solid design. But thanks to a few important enhancements, the next-iteration ThinkPad tablet offers an even better mix of power, speed and mobility, making the device one of the best 12-inch tablet notebooks available.
With its light weight and small footprint, the ThinkPad X201 fits perfectly in the hands of users. The tablet offers a full-size keyboard and up to eight hours of battery life, which means users can work all day without having to charge their notebooks.
Although the X201's screen can't compete with that of a desktop or larger notebook, its mobility features and multiple expansion ports make it a capable tablet. Also notable are its 4 gigabytes of RAM; LED-backlit wide viewing angle; multitouch touchpad (a welcome improvement over the X200); and audio/video components for recording notes and pictures.
As a tablet, the ThinkPad X201 is versatile. It gives users the flexibility to do serious word processing one minute, then switch to tablet mode the next for field worker applications.
For extra security, the X201 offers an optional integrated fingerprint reader that can be used to log in to the notebook and to secure websites. Lenovo's ThinkVantage Access Connections interface allows users to customize location-specific preferences for printers, home pages and IP configurations. Profiles can be tied to all types of network connections -- a great addition for on-the-go users. Although the tablet's screen is the least vivid in the X201 series, Lenovo does offer a SuperBright Outdoor panel with ultra-low reflectivity for users seeking a brighter screen.
Lenovo upgraded the ThinkPad X201 Tablet's CPU to the Intel Core i7 mobile processor -- the single most important change from the X200 because of the amazing speed and energy efficiency the dual-core i7 provides. All benchmark tests I ran showed improved performance, with increased speeds of nearly 50 percent in some cases.
The company's decision to boost the X201's video card performance also is significant. The tablet comes with an Intel GMA HD integrated graphics card that's miles ahead of the X200's GMA X4500 card.
For those who can afford them, the 80GB and 128GB solid-state drive options Lenovo offers with the X201 ensure even faster performance and longer battery life.
Lenovo produces solid, stable devices that deliver the features and performance most on-the-go users need. I'm currently using the ThinkPad X201 as my main notebook, and the worst thing I can say about it is that it doesn't have a 17-inch screen. Then again, this type of tablet isn't meant to offer that much real estate.
I would highly recommend this tablet to anyone looking for a mobile computer with a screen measuring less than 13 inches. Netbooks may be smaller and cheaper, but when it comes to features and functionality, they can't match the X201 Tablet. Its horsepower, battery life and flexibility will take your mobile computing program to the next level.