Lenovo X201 Tablet review – week 2
This is my first follow up post after my first impressions, which went up ten days ago now. I’m using the X201 as my main machine on the road, at work and around the house, so it’s getting to the stage now where I know it reasonably well.
Pimping my ride
I’ve done a few upgrades in the last week or so:
- An extra 2GB of RAM, bringing the total up to 4GB. I’d previously noted that 2GB was a bit stingy, and I had an extra 2GB on order when I last wrote. Of course when it arrived it immediately rubbed my face in the fact that 32bit Windows 7 really doesn’t deal well with any more than 3GB. Time for another upgrade then…
- Windows 7 x64 (Ultimate). I’ve been a bit cautious about using x64 fearing issues with with drivers (and particularly driver signing). That said, I’ve been running Server 2008 x64 on my garage box for a while now without any snags, and the recently arrived ThinkPad Edge machines I got for the office also had Windows 7 x64 so it was time for a change. I didn’t want to blow away the supplied system though, and 250GB was a bit of a squeeze, so for a bit of space (and speed)…
- A Seagate Momentus 500GB 7200rpm. This drive is big and fast. I contemplated a large SSD, but felt that 256GB wouldn’t be large enough, and the price of 512GB SSDs is still stratospheric. Seagate claim that the Momentus only uses 0.05% more power than a regular 5400rpm drive, and it doesn’t seem like a power hog (but it does feel quick). It also works with the ‘airbag protection’ mechanism, which was at one time the sole preserve of Hitachi/IBM drives.
I think it needed all three upgrades to unshackle this machine’s capability, but it now really does feel fast and responsive.
Plugged in, not charging
I committed the cardinal sin of not waiting a full 12 hours for the battery to charge when I first got the machine, so I feel that I only have myself to blame for subsequent issues. But it was new, and shiny, and I needed it.
Anyway, battery management seemed to be a complete game of chance for the first week or so. The machine would regularly fail to charge, and battery life indicators would swing quite dramatically.
The update to Windows 7 x64 (or the clean install process) seemed to bring things back onto an even keel, and I had a bit more confidence that I could get 3, maybe even 4 hours out of the 8 cell battery. Then yesterday it basically refused to charge past 43%. I’ve now updated the BIOS, and it seems to be behaving, but this power management bugbear goes back to the early days of Vista, so I’m somewhat shocked that the shipping BIOS for a machine this new would still suffer.
I continue to be impressed by the GigE, which seems more useful than ever when paired up with a really fast drive.
The Lenovo comms utility seems to have been the only driver that has refused to install properly since the x64 upgrade. To be honest I’m not missing it as the default Windows 7 network management works well enough and doesn’t have me tearing my hair out at seemingly random radio on/off actions.
The bump is on the wrong side
After a bit of investigation I turned up an answer to my issue with ‘Display cannot switch to secondary portrait with this configuration‘. It seems that it’s all to do with the position of the WiFi/3G antennae and the proximity of them to the body when the screen is used in tablet mode. Lenovo, I have a suggestion – put the antenna hump on the left hand side.
Since the clean install/upgrade to Windows 7 x64 resume from sleep seems to be more reliable and robust than it was before, and it also doesn’t start playing paused videos, which was a niggle before.
I had a go at playing some HD (720p) video, which to be honest didn’t look that much more impressive that SD, but barely tickled the available resources. There was certainly no need to go into a battery sapping energy management configuration (though it was nice to turn up screen brightness, which seems to suffer more than my old s10e – maybe because of the tablet sensor stuff acting as a filter).
I also tried some video transcoding, which seemed impressively fast, though Divx Plus doesn’t give FPS data like the old Dr Divx. With a fast network and drive it’s almost worth copying stuff to and from this machine for transcoding.
The upgrades that I did were relatively cheap (about £100) and have transformed the machine. It really does feel pretty top class now, and I’m looking forward to continued use as my main machine for work and travel.
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Tags: 3G, lenovo, review, tablet, thinkpad, WWAN, x201, x201t