Sometimes, you just need to be able to pick up your laptop and keep working as you go. Be it an office, a retail store, or a factory floor, a lot of people do some (or all) of their work on their feet, and Lenovo has done a great deal to make sure that the productive power of its business laptop can also be found as a convertible tablet. Case in point: The Lenovo ThinkPad X230 business laptop has a tablet sibling, the Lenovo ThinkPad X230t , a convertible tablet that packs all of the same hardware and capability into a design that switches easily between laptop and tablet, giving you touch-screen capability and a handy easy-to-carry design as well. While we’ll surely be reviewing new Windows 8 convertibles in the coming weeks, not all businesses are ready (or want) to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro, making this the Windows 7 convertible to choose. The Lenovo ThinkPad X230t replaces the previous Lenovo ThinkPad X220 tablet as our Editors’ Choice for Windows 7 convertible business laptops.
The X230t will have a familiar design to anyone that has used another Lenovo convertible tablet, such as last year’s Editors’ Choice, the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet . Instead of two hinges at either bottom corner of the laptop lid (like on the X230 laptop), the X230t uses a single swivel hinge in the center, which allows the display to swivel 180 degrees and then close flat, with the display facing out. Unlike more traditional ThinkPad X230 (a standard laptop), this convertible tablet is also equipped with a touch screen, allowing the use of either a Wacom-style pressure sensitive stylus or finger tips to input directly from the display. The display itself is a 12.5-inch 1366-by-768 panel with a Wacom Digitizer built in. It’s the same resolution seen on the 13-inch Toshiba Portege R935-P322 , but the Toshiba R935-P322 doesn’t offer touch functionality. The swivel hinge is much like that used on earlier models, but with a stronger magnetic latch holding it in place.
This tablet functionality is supported with several design elements you won’t find on the standard ThinkPad laptop, such as a large grip added to the battery, and the inclusion of a digital stylus and onboard stylus storage. The X230t measures 1.7 by 12.0 by 10.4 inches (HWD), and weighs 3.7 pounds, which is a bit heavy for a tablet, but Lenovo has designed the X230t to be carried in the crook of your arm, much like a clipboard. This is achieved thanks to the oversized battery, which adds a large grip to the top two-thirds of the laptop hinge, but leaves the bottom third without any extra grip, making a niche that nestles into the elbow comfortably.
For those times that you aren’t using it as a tablet, the X230t has Lenovo’s Precision keyboard, a chiclet-style design. In the midst of the keys is a red TrackPoint, for cursor control without having to pull your fingers from the home row. Joining the TrackPoint is also a clickpad that integrates right and left click into the touch surface, with three additional physical buttons above the touch surface for use with the TrackPoint.
The X230t provides decent sound, thanks to quality speakers and Dolby Advanced Audio v2. Additionally, you’ll find that the X230t is equipped with a 720p webcam, which offers wide-angle viewing and has improved automatic focus through face tracking technology.
Unlike convertible ultrabooks, which reduce the number of ports to fit a much smaller frame, the X230t offers a full selection of ports and features. In addition to standard features, like two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port with Sleep and Charge, a combination mic and headphone jack, and an Ethernet port, the X230t is also outfitted with built-in stylus storage, a card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC), and an ExpressCard Slot.
For connecting an external monitor, you’ll find both VGA and DisplayPort outputs, along with Intel’s Wireless Display, which lets you stream HD video and audio wirelessly through an adapter, such as the Netgear Push2TV. In addition to Wi-Fi (802.11n), the X230t also has Bluetooth 4.0, and optional mobile broadband (3G and 4G) without a contract through Lenovo’s pay-as-you-go Mobile Access service.
Our review unit came configured with a 320GB 7,200rpm hard drive, but configurations are also available with either a 500GB drive, or 128GB solid-state drive (SSD). The ThinkPad X230t has no optical drive.
The X230t comes with Windows 7 Professional, along with the Windows TouchPack, which adds touch screen integration and handwriting recognition. Companies looking to upgrade to Windows 8 will need to wait, as the X230t is only available (at present) with Windows 7. The system itself, however should be upgradable without issue. While Lenovo doesn’t put a lot of software onto its ThinkPads, the X230t does still have a few extras pre-installed, like Evernote, Google Chrome browser, Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer, along with common programs like Microsoft Office Starter 2010, and a 30-day trial of Norton Internet Security. Lenovo covers the ThinkPad X230t with a one-year warranty.
The X230t is equipped with a 2.6GHz Intel Core i5-3320M processor, paired with 4GB of memory and Intel integrated graphics—identical to the laptop Lenovo X230. As a result, the test results were similar, but not an exact match in some cases. That’s likely due to the slightly different software load and the power requirements added by a digitizer touch screen. As a result, the X230t had an identical 3.09 point score in Cinebench, but fell one or two seconds behind in Handbrake (1 minute 37 seconds) and Photoshop (3 minutes 38 seconds). In actual practice, however, the two will offer indistinguishable performance. It’s also a healthy step up from older business systems, like the HP ProBook 6360b . While not made for gaming, the X230t’s Intel HD Graphics 4000 integrated graphics do provide a solid basis for other graphics-heavy activities.
The X230t lasted 7 hours 31 minutes in MobileMark, which is long enough to take you through your full work day, and a two-hour improvement over the Lenovo X220 Tablet (5:28). It falls just a bit short of the regular Lenovo X230 laptop (7:45), and an hour and a half behind the Toshiba Portege R935-P322 (9:07) on the same test.
While there may be many more convertible laptops on the horizon, the Lenovo ThinkPad X230t is definitely the easy choice for those who want productivity for work and the flexibility to pick up and go. It takes all of the capability of our business ultraportable, the Lenovo ThinkPad X230, and puts it into the same form factor as our previous Editors’ Choice for Windows 7 tablets, the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 tablet. Combine the two, and you get the Lenovo ThinkPad X230t, our new Editors’ Choice for convertible Windows 7 laptops in the workplace.
More Laptop Reviews:
|Processor Name||Intel Core i5-3320M|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 Professional|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Type||Ultraportable, Tablet, Business|
|Screen Size Type||Widescreen|
|Processor Speed||2.6 GHz|
|Primary Optical Drive||External|
|Screen Size||12.5 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||320 GB|
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