A small "review" of the x201t, x230t and t430

Discussion in 'Lenovo (IBM)' started by AndreR, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. AndreR

    AndreR Scribbler - Standard Member

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    [​IMG]
    I put this review on Notebookreview.com, and I will put it here too since it also concern tablets. This is a consist and short review, only considering what I believe is important as a professional user. I mean with professional user as someone who uses the computer daily in a office environment (or on the road) with MS Office or specialized application, and thus value productivity features more than the average user. I will also only consider aspects which cannot be determined through official specs, mainly what I myself would want to know from other users.

    The computers are the two ThinkPad convertible tablets, x201t and x230t, and the ThinkPad t430.

    Spec:
    ThinkPad x201t: Outdoor display (400nit, PVA-panel, polarized anti-reflective layer, digital digitizer input), 8-cell battery
    ThinkPad x230t: Multi-touch display (300nit, IPS-panel, anti-glare layer, digitizer input and finger-touch input), 6-cell battery
    ThinkPad t430: Standard display (250nit, TN-panel, anti-glare layer), 6-cell battery

    The display.
    Outdoor performance.
    This is the performance of the displays in harsh light conditions and with brightness turned to maximum. Each display has been cleaned from any grease or dirt.

    [​IMG]
    This image shows the morning sun shining straight on the displays. The image does well represent the real perceived performance of the displays, and the t430 is significantly worse than the other two. It’s worth to mention that the x201t has till this day the best performance I have ever seen from any kind of display in harsh light conditions.

    Indoor performance.

    [​IMG]
    The displays are adjusted to what I believed is the same brightness. The x230t and x201t does perform better than the t430 even from a straight angle.

    [​IMG]
    The IPS and PVA panels of the x230t and x201t are doing an excellent job, and the x201t has almost no color, brightness or contrast shift. The TN-panel of the t430 however, performs poorly.

    [​IMG]
    Not only is the t430 worse with the actual image representation, but it has more problem with lights from the environment.

    Dark representation.
    Each display is set at maximum brightness in darkness, showing a black image.

    [​IMG]
    The x201t has severe problems with backlight bleeding, which could be my particular unit. This problem is however, and strangely, only visible when the display trying to create dark images, but does not affect light images. I believe that this is also the result of Lenovo trying to put the protective glass as close to the panel as possible to minimize the distance from the pen-tip and panel, which I will talk about later. The x230t does an excellent job, and the t430 is if even possible as worse as the x201t.

    The keyboards.
    The x201t differs from the others and have the older ThinkPad keyboard. The keyboard does not have backlight, and hade some flex when I got it which was bad enough that it had to be fixed. The x230t and t430 have the same keyboard, and the typing experience is excellent.

    [​IMG]
    Not much to say, the x230t and t430 is superior to the x201t when typing, and the backlight does an excellent job in dark conditions.

    [​IMG]
    The t430 is unlike the others equipped with a small diode which illuminates the keyboard. This is a feature I personally is found of since it becomes a desk mini-lamp and gives the ability to read from physical papers while using the computer.

    Battery life.
    This is not measured, but the time I have experienced using the different laptops. Do not use these numbers as facts, but more as guidelines.

    x201t. The 8-cell battery gives ~4 hours of use on normal brightness setting. The strange thing with the x201t is that the computer seems to consume a lot of power with a little concern of the application.
    x230t. The 6-cell gives ~5 hours normal use during the day (maximum brightness) and with WiFi. Working with MS Office in the dark gives almost 9 hours, which is excellent!
    t430. The 6-cell gives ~3.5 hours of battery life with normal usage. Have not tried to work only in MS Office in the dark. This computer also has the Lenovo version of Windows 7, while the x230t has a fresh install.

    Cooling.
    x201t. The fan is basically soundless and very efficient. However, some component did give away a very tiny high frequency sound when it was brand new, but which has disappeared with time.
    x230t. The fan is as with the x201t, basically soundless until a heavy application is started (as CAD).
    t430. Very loud! The fan will activate even when surfing the web, and gives away a sound which sounds like a mixture of a Harley Davidson and a Spitfire. It’s very annoying, and I must warn everyone to be aware! The computer has been "repaired", and the technicians said they had very big problems with companies returning the t430 because they were unsuitable for an office environment! The new fan helped a little bit, and the technicians claimed it could not get better for this model despite still being unacceptable.

    Drivers.
    x201t. Have problems with the pen accuracy. It’s barely suitable for fine art applications. The computer has otherwise been very good with no driver problems.
    x230t. The big flaw of this computer is the drivers. The finger-touch is not accurate enough when close to the edges of the display (as with the digitizer, but the finger-input is automatically accurate in Linux(!)), the sound driver is completely corrupted and breaks constantly, the SD-card reader does seldom to almost never work, the microphone effect completely distorts the sound (can be turned off with some trix), the network managers (there are three of them (Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft)) are in conflict and the display has some very weird power saving feature which distorts the gamma level in battery mode. However, everything works perfectly in Linux (Ubuntu 13.10), which means that there is nothing wrong with the actual hardware. There have been some software updates recently, and I’ll update this review if the problems have been dealt with. The network is fixed by un-installing the Lenovo and Intel firmware, but the sound and SD-card reader must be fixed!
    x430. Everything works.

    Durability
    I cannot test the x230t and t430, but the x201t have been through some challenges throughout the years. It has almost every day been transported in a bag, experienced cold climate to -24C, been through some wet weather, been dropped a couple of times etc. and nothing has happened. The moment of proof for the x201t was when I accidently dropped a whole cup of coffee on the keyboard and thus “drained” the computer with coffee when it was on. I pushed down the power button in panic, which disappeared beneath the coffee level of the keyboard, and the computer was still running as the coffee was “pouring” out from beneath the computer. Incredibly, nothing happened with the computer, and it has been working flawlessly for a year after the incident. I am impressed of how well the "spill resistant keyboard" actually worked.

    The x201t has been the most durable computer I have ever had and is still running strong. Hopefully will this also be the case for the x230t and the t430.

    Comparison of the tablets.
    Displays.

    [​IMG]
    This is the tablets facing the sun. The x201t is without doubt completely superior to the x230t. As said before is the old x201t the best display, of any computer, phone or tablet, that I have ever seen in a harsh light condition.

    [​IMG]
    This shows the computers with the sun coming in from the sun and it’s a little bit cloudy. The iPad 2 is put there as reference, and the x201t is superior while the iPad despite strong backlight produces more reflection and gains some color distortion. The x230t is however somewhat usable in this condition.

    The digitzers.
    The difference from the x230t and x201t is that the protective glass of the x201t is much closer to the actual display (and thus the problem with backlight bleeding?). The benefit of the x201t is the short distance.

    [​IMG]
    As the image shows, taken from a very short angle from the display, is the pen-tip very close to the actual panel on the x201t.

    [​IMG]
    However, the user won’t be looking from the side when annotating, but from above. From this perspective does the x230t perform well, and better than the x201t. However, I have noticed that some users liked the small gap of the x201t and is therefore worth to mention.

    Summary:
    x201t.
    Pro: Excellent outdoor performance (display), proven durability, quiet, good drivers
    Con: Severe backlight bleeding, small touchpad, some keyboard flex, battery life and digitizer accuracy could have been better.

    It’s a good computer, with excellent performance in some areas, but someone has to be aware of the cons. I can barely recommend it.

    x230t.
    Pro: Excellent battery performance, quiet, pen accuracy better than x201t, excellent keyboard, excellent display in low light conditions.
    Cons: Some drivers are worthless (SD-card and sound are the worst!), finger-input accuracy is bad at the edges (driver problem since it’s perfect in Linux), the strange power saving feature of the display (also a driver issue), the touchpad is not good for those who uses it (I use the TrackPoint). It's worth to mention there is some "ghosting" with the display, but in such a small amount that I would not consider it a problem.

    I cannot recommend this computer with such poor drivers. But the hardware is very good, and is an excellent machine as soon as they take care of the driver issue. It might also be the first time in my life when everything works, and works well, in Linux out-of-the-box, but not in Windows.

    t430
    Pro: Excellent keyboard, ThinkLight (the little lamp), good drivers.
    Cons: The fan is unacceptable (be aware!), the screen performs poorly, mediocre battery life.

    I will never recommend this computer, and the fan can even make the desk to vibrate! It is also strange that Lenovo cannot even deliver a mediocre solution for the t430 when the x230t is on the other hand completely quiet. The poor display is also a problem, but not as serious as with the fan.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2015
  2. DRTigerlilly

    DRTigerlilly Tablet Lead Mod (Retired) Super Moderator

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    Very thorough review!
     
  3. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    This is great info AndreR. I haven't seen you around here much, since we did that thread about outdoor viewability. I'm still chugging away on my x200t SBO. It's been a great machine. Quiet, dependable, good keyboard IMO, and a great screen for outdoor work.

    Wanted to say that I had the pleasure of using an x230t with the Outdoor screen for about a week, and it was very good outdoors. Perhaps not quite as bright as my x200t SBO (since it was only 300 nits), but I've noticed that more modern screens often have a better contrast ratio, and this definitely also helps outdoor readability. Honestly, as an outdoor device, I found it very functional, as it basically had the same or a very similar polarized layer over the gorilla glass that the x200t/x201t has on the hardened plastic. What was pleasant was that it had the added benefit of not flexing under the pressure of the pen pressing down on the screen while drawing, which my x200t does. However, as you point out, the parallax is far less on the x200t/x201t SBO, as the screen surface is much closer to the digitizer.

    Can you go into a little more detail about your experience with touch input on the multi-touch model of the x230t? You said you had issues with accurracy on the edges. What OS were you using? Do you use any art programs? If so, how did it perform with them, panning, zooming, rotating with touch, etc?

    Also, re: sound on the x230t-- did you try the dolby drivers suggested? I only tested it for the week I had it, but once I installed the dolby option I found the sound quality amazingly better-- not Macbook Air good, but easily the best I'd ever heard from a tablet pc.

    Also, are you running Thinkpad Fan Control (aka TPFC) on your Thinkpads? I find this program indispensable for controlling fan speed and keeping a cool, quite machine while working alone in a quiet room at home. It's free too!
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  4. AndreR

    AndreR Scribbler - Standard Member

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    It has been a while since I have been busy with other projects. ;) I do barely annotate on the laptop anymore, and even less sketch.

    Interesting info about the outdoor version of x230t. I was a bit concerned when I read that it had only 300nit. And as you said, it's very nice with the magnetic latches and the harder cover which eliminates most of the flex I experienced with the x201t.

    Make sure to turn off the "multi-touch gesture" in Windows 7 when you get an multi-touch laptop. This will not turn off pinch zoom, two finger scroll etc., but turn off "page changing" and other similar functions, and the touch will then be similar to the touch of an iPad. The touch experience from an fresh Windows 7 install is somewhat bad, and the extra functions makes the touch unresponsive.

    [​IMG]
    This image is what I consider is the limit. The red area is where the finger-touch has large problems, and the orange area is where the digitizer has accuracy problems. It is a problem with the tabs in chrome, and the task manager when using the fingers. You will have to press several times before it registers the touch. But as I said before, Linux (Ubuntu) does not have this problem, meaning it's not a hardware issue.

    The computer recognizes the difference between finger and pen-input, meaning that it's up to the applications on how well they handle the finger and pen input.
    Google Chrome. I have activated touch from the settings in chrome, and it works amazingly well and works just like an iPad, and is very smooth.
    Sketchbook Pro 2011. Pinch zoom works, but that's it.
    Photoshop CS5. Adobe is without doubt the worst out there. Does only recognize the finger as panning, but no zoom or rotating. Autodesk Inventor (CAD software) is even doing a better job where the touch function is not even very interesting.
    Office OneNote 2010. Works very well. Pinch zoom works, and panning. The only problem could be that you have to touch with the finger two times before it let you pan.
    Microsoft Word/Excel 2010: Works very well. Two-finger scroll and pinch zoom works which basically the only needed touch functions for these applications.

    The sound issue is not the quality (but the quality is bad), but that the driver crashes when plugging in/unplugg the stereo jack. It's absolutely worthless, and you have to restart the computer to get the sound back. The rumor is that it will work if you use the Lenovo version of Windows 7, which also rumored to consume more energy. This seems to be a problem from Realtek, the sound chip manufacturer. However, it works without any issues in Linux.

    I have the TP-fan control. It can help a little bit, but the real problem lies with the actual hardware for the t430. There's a huge thread at the Lenovo support site of people complaining about the sound level, and some people believes it sounds as a "fokker" which I believe is an somewhat accurate description.
    Oberursel UR-II Rotary Engine - YouTube
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2013
  5. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    For PS, have you checked "Use Scrollwheel to Zoom" under Edit> Preferences > General? If you do that, my understanding is that it'll work fine with pinch to zoom. I know
    Win8 is a different ball of wax, but it enables it in Win8.

    BTW, where is the "turn off Multi-touch gesture" option in Win7 that you speak of? I don't have a MT x230t, but I have another device, and would curious to see if things improved.

    The truth is I think Win7 is fine with MT if you increase the borders and the checkboxes. The major issues I have with it for touch are that-
    a) there's not a good onscreen keyboard to use, like the one in Win8. This is probably the most major glaring issue. It's just, IMO, incredibly difficult to input text if you're not using the TIP. What do you use? The TIP? or do you just open the keyboard back up? or hunt and peck on the offered keyboard?
    b) there's not a good touch enabled brower to use, like the Metro one Win8 has (which is wonderful with touch). However, your "mini review" of the newest versions of Chrome means it's something I should try out.

    I wish there was a way to have one of these polarized, high brightness screens but also have Touch as an option. I would really like both, but I end up having to choose. :(

    Re: brightness on the x230t-- I didn't have the opportunity to take comparative pics, but off the cuff, using the two side by side (x200t and x230t), it wasn't an issue. I was concerned too, given the brightness rating, but I guess it's really the Polarized Anti-Reflective layer that's doing the bulk of the viewability work. That, or, as I mentioned before, contrast ratios have improved enough since 2009 that that's helping too. Either way, yeah, it seemed a good update in that regard, and given the other options, if you wanted a more powerful machine, it would be the way to go I think.

    Just to back up what you said in your mini-review-- typing experience on the 230t was also very nice, as you mentioned, even though they're chiclets now. Nice springy response, with a clear "bounce" to things when you hit bottom. Surprisingly pleasant. I also found it pretty quiet. I didn't install TPFC for the time I had it, but I would imagine, given how quiet it was without it, that it would have been good enough for my finnicky ears with TPFC installed. The fan, though, did have a bit more "whine" to it at low rpm's than my current x200t, which was a nuisance. But perhaps it was just a "different" sound that my ears were more attuned to, from lack of habit.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2013
  6. AndreR

    AndreR Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I can't get the MT work in Photoshop CS5, and have only found complaints and no solution after some "googeling".

    To disable the "extra touch features", search and enter Touch Settings. Uncheck "Enable Advanced Gestures", but leave the "Enable Gestures" checked. Also Tablet PC Settings->Other->Go to Pen and Touch->Touch and make sure Touch pointer is unchecked. This will disable some of the features which made my touch somewhat unresponsive.

    In Google Chrome, type chrome://flags in the address bar. Look up and activate #touch-events and #touch-optimized-ui. Enjoy a really touch friendly webbrowser.

    I use the TIP keyboard. Has worked fine for me the few times I have used it.

    Yea, I agree. I really do miss the display from the x201t. It's something that really should be a standard on non-touch and non-digitizer computers!
     
  7. AndreR

    AndreR Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I have tried the multitouch feature with the link below, and the touch works perfect.
    scripty2 | Touchspector

    However, Photoshop and Sketchbook has bad or basically no support for multi touch. It even seems that Autodesk Sketchbook 6 disables multi touch if any unit but some certain Wacom units are detected! Wouldn't suprise me of Wacom and Autodesk have made some kind of deal here, as some people on the forums thought.
     
  8. Yao

    Yao Scribbler - Standard Member

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    thank you for this wonderful review! im collecting classic amazing thinkpad. i am looking at all these laptops! :)
     
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