Now that I’ve narrowed my tablet PC options down to three – though I may add to this list over the next few months – I can start comparing them to each other.
My current options are:
Their basic specifications are similar. Though, as you can see in the summary below, the ThinkPad X200 edges the other two out slightly:
|Processor||Core 2 Duo |
|Core 2 Duo |
|Core 2 Duo |
|Hard drive||160GB, |
|Graphics||GMA X4500||GMA 4500MHD||GMA 4500|
|Screen||12.1" WXGA||12.1" WXGA||12.1" WXGA|
All of these specs were taken from Tablet PC Review, by the way, and they’re based on the specs of review units. You can, of course, customize these specs when you actually by the computer.
Moving beyond that, the next thing I always check on a laptop is its keyboard. This is because I do a lot of typing and constantly use keyboard shortcuts so having a great keyboard is crucial to both my productivity and sanity.
As a benchmark, this is what the Toshiba Satellite M750’s keyboard looks like (all photos from TabletPCReview.com):
Note the Control key in the bottom left hand corner. This is good because most keyboard shortcuts involve pressing that key and it irritates me when the Function key is in the left most one in the bottom row.
Also note the convenient location of the Page-Up and Page-Down keys next to the directional arrow keys on the bottom right hand corner.
The Home, End, Insert, and Delete keys on the top right hand corner aren’t at their optimal positions, I know, but their relative ordering isn’t terrible. Ultimately, that not-so-good location was the sacrifice I was willing to make in order to get this laptop.
Finally, the laptop uses a track pad (as opposed to a track point), which is something I like and am accustomed to.
Let’s now look at the Lenovo ThinkPad X200’s keyboard:
A number of things stand out. First, the Function key is at the bottom left hand corner. That’s not good, but survivable. On the other hand, even though they’re located on the top right hand corner, the placement of the Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page-Up, and Page-Down keys is beautiful!
That said, the one big adjustment I’d have to make if I got this tablet PC is switching from a trackpad to a trackpoint.
Next, let’s check out the HP EliteBook 2730p’s keyboard:
I like this one because its Control key is in the right place and it has both a track pad and track point. On the other hand, I hate this one because it’s Insert, Delete, etc. keys are very unfortunately placed.
Finally, here’s the Fujitsu LifeBook T2020’s keyboard:
The Control key is in the right place and the Page-Up and Page-Down keys are good, too. The Insert, Delete, etc. keys are survivable but we’re back to a track point instead of a track pad.
So, overall, my least favourite keyboard is that of HP 2730p. I really don’t like that they’ve placed the Home, End, etc. keys in a line on the top right hand corner. The Fujitsu T2020 and Toshiba M750’s keyboards, meanwhile, are both okay and I’d be fine with using them.
The keyboard that stands out, then, is that of the Lenovo X200. Yes, I’d have to use a track stick and, yes, I’d have to get used to the new placement of the Control key…but I did manage to get used to the latter on my previous keyboard so it won’t be the end of the world. On the other hand, I love how the Home, End, etc. keys are placed and this makes up for most of its other shortcomings.
So my preliminary choice of tablet PC is the Lenovo ThinkPad X200. The added benefit of this is that the X200 is the only one with a multi-touch screen.
There is more to explore and examine – like cost, for example – but I’d say this was a good start.
A Quick Aside About Lenovo Design
By the way, Lenovo are generally praised for their excellent keyboards and, having used them on and off in the past, I tend to agree.
If you want to know more about Lenovo’s design ideas, be sure to check out their Design Matters blog.
Good posts to read are:
- The Keyboard You Helped Design – about their latest updates to keyboard design
- Fn Versus Ctrl: Let the Games Being – about the Control versus Function key in the bottom left hand corner of a laptop’s keyboard debate
- Touch is a Natural – about their introduction of multi-touch screens
- ThinkPad Case Study – about ThinkPad carry case designs