Coffee break- first mobile impressions of the ThinkPad x61 Tablet PC


Coffee_manThe initial shock of having a Lenovo x61 Tablet PC show up unannouced on my doorstep has worn off and today I’ve taken Mensa out for a full day of mobile goodness.  Bear in mind this is just a series of random thoughts off the top of my head and not a review nor anything worthwhile like that. If I had to come up with one word to describe the x61 experience it would be "instantaneous", as in that’s how fast everything happens on this Tablet PC.  Before I embark on some first thoughts here are the specs of the particular x61 Lenovo sent me:

  • Core 2 Duo 1.6 GHZ
  • 2 GB memory
  • 100 GB 7,200 rpm HDD
  • SXGA+ (1440 X 1050) with SuperView coating
  • Vista Business
  • Intel Turbo Memory
  • SD slot
  • Ultrabase
  • PC Card slot
  • 3 USB on device
  • Firewire on device
  • 8 cell battery

Read on for the initial thoughts about the x61 from the coffee shop.

It didn’t take me very long to grow very fond of the x61 in laptop mode.  It is a ThinkPad, after all.  Even though I am a big fan of smaller Tablet devices the high resolution 12" screen is very nice, I must admit.  It’s very enlightening to have so much information on the screen at once and still have the device be so small.

Oh my god, the keyboard is to die for!  I do a lot of writing and keyboards are very important to me and this one is sweet.  The layout is outstanding and the tactile feedback of the keys are just right.  The integrated TrackStick is very nice too and the 3 mouse buttons are optimal for a good keyboard experience.  I haven’t even wanted to connect a mouse to this baby, and that says a lot.

The 8-cell battery is fairly large and heavy, I suspect it weighs almost as much as the Tablet.  Unscientific observations tell me it will last about 6 hours which is not shabby.  It does make it a little difficult to hold the unit, at least until I get used to it.  I am using it in Tablet mode mostly while sitting on a table.  Lenovo has put a very nice battery guage on the taskbar.

ThinkVantage utilities.  There are so many of them I won’t list them in these first impressions but just let me say they are all useful.  From the Tablet settings menu to the ThnkVantage utility menu they all put good stuff right in front of you.  The only crapware I uninstalled was Norton Internet Suite.  Like really fast.

Does. Not. Run. Hot.  And that’s cool.

The D-Pad is extremely useful in slate mode, I use it in the browser all the time.  Can’t wait to install eReader on this puppy.

The blue ThinkVantage button can be pushed during boot-up taking you to the Recover and Rescue software that can save your bacon should the system reach a non-bootable state.  Nice touch.

The accelerometer lets you rotate the screen orientation by turning the device over to the orientation you want.  It can be calibrated for accuracy.  The fingerprint sensor is pretty standard, and like most I’ve tried doesn’t like my right thumb for some reason.  I have a dickens of a time with all readers with that thumbprint.  I blame the sloppy job by the Witness Protection program, personally.

The x61 is one of the few Tablet PCs I’ve seen with two separate power buttons- one above the keyboard and another on the corner of the screen bezel.  This insures you can sleep, hibernate or power the device on and off whether in laptop mode or slate mode.  The power button on the bezel has a lock switch to prevent accidental power events, although that power button is very recessed and I don’t think you could hit it accidentally.

Using the x61 in Tablet mode has been a mixed experience so far, no doubt due to my lack of time to get used to the device.  The screen has a coating on it which I assume to be the new SuperView from Lenovo that makes it viewable outdoors and at almost any angle.  It does those two things quite well but it is a smudge magnet that is very hard to clean.  Even the standard microfibre cleaning cloths that I use on all my devices don’t seem to touch these smudges so I’ll have to come up with a solution soon.  You can’t see the smudges unless the screen is off for the most part but they get so bad so quickly that they do become visible while on.  It is quite annoying.

The Tablet is a joy to use with a nice inking experience.  The pen is plastic but feels nice in the hand and I love the way it fits into the silo only one way.  I have been using the Cross Executive Pen too.

These are very brief observations and of course I’ll be giving you good information down the road.  Which is where I’m headed right now.  Kendrick out!


James Arnold

Thank you James! I do not think that I would have found it without your most generous assistance. Kind regards, James

James Kendrick

James, it’s hard to find. Hit the toolbox button on the screen bezel. When the menu opens hit Settings at the very bottom left. There it is!

James Arnold

Hi James, I have an X61 and have been struggling to find how to turn the automatic screen rotation on despite searching on the web. I am probably missing the obvious, but any pointer would be most appreciated. Kind regards,


Hi, James. I’m looking forward to reading more about that new Lenovo. I’m writing you from Spain, and Lenovo is actually quite hard to find here. They are basically focused on big companies, so they don’t sell directly through the web and you can’t find them in stores either. It is no suprise then that I have never seen a Lenovo Tablet (and not many Lenovo laptops), which is a shame, because they seem to be very well constructed.

Thanks for your great job (and Kevin’s too!). Neither Tablet-PCs nor UMPCs are very popular here, so I visit your blog daily just to feel among friends. Please go on, and see you in Spain!!


Hi James,

Attractive device. I’m contemplating either this or the P1610… Another thought, the Thinkoutside iGo Bluetooth keyboard ought to integrate the TrackStick to bring down the need to carry an external mouse for other devices. Just as you say “The integrated TrackStick is very nice too and the 3 mouse buttons are optimal for a good keyboard experience. I haven’t even wanted to connect a mouse to this baby, and that says a lot.”

Chris Magnusson

“makes it viewable outdoors and at almost any angle.”

But does it have 360° viewing?

(Sorry, saw that recently in an ad for a plasma TV ;-) )


“It does make it a little difficult to hold the unit, at least until I get used to it. I am using it in Tablet mode mostly while sitting on a table.”

That sounds so uncomfortable. Personally, I prefer using my Tablet while sitting in a chair. But hey, whatever works for you!



With the sale goingon right now, I am seriously considering buying one of these next week.

Question: can the buttons on the screen be customized to any aplication or keystroke like they can on the tc1100?

I love this feature on the tc1100 since it allows me to set a button to be the “shift” key. And since I use my tablet for drawing, “shift” in art apps will let you draw straight lines. Much much easier than having to bring up the on screen keyboard and hit the shift key there.


The X61 sounds like an incredible tablet, the perfect complement to one of the smaller ultra portables.

I’m drooling over those specs!
– SXGA+ (1440 X 1050)
– Core 2 Duo
– 2 GB memory
– 100 GB 7,200 rpm HDD

Its a pity my employer doesn’t have any tablets on its list of corporate laptops (just the usual Thinkpad models). I’m going to buy an x61 an see if I can stir up some excitement. (If I can find one here in Japan that is.)

Jamie Poster

I’m really excited to get your full take on the device, particularly as a regular p1610 user. The are many appealing things about the x61 but l do love my 1610! When you get a chance, I’d love to know what you think of the speaker. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I worry that the location of the 1 speaker will pose a problem.

Chris Davies

I’m jealous as hell, James. What’s the retail of an x61 like that, and more importantly do you get to keep it?


i have similar feelings about my x41t, there are obvious improvements since my model came out but overall i’m pleased with lenovo. the crapware did get old and slowed the tablet a bit. i found that i didnt need many of the thinkvantage applications so i removed them. the only thing i didnt like was the battery which sticks out which made the machine a bit bulkier so i ended up getting the smaller one, this made a big difference in weight and portability. thats my 2 cents on the lenovo tablets.

Toby Brown

Thanks for the first impression James. Very nice of Lenovo just to send you an X61T!

I am looking forward to receiving my SXGA X61T, so interested to see the major flaw both you and Warner Crocker note in your first impressions is the greasy screen.

Surely Lenovo must have realised this downside of their new Superview layer? If it doesn’t come off easily with a micro-fibre cloth, then what on earth can you use to clean it without fear of damaging the screen?! Perhaps Lenovo can send you a nice bottle of alcohol, both for drinking and cleaing…

Comments are closed.