07-07-2012 12:16 AM
Well, since there are a lot of gripes with people's machines I thought I would post something a little bit more positive.
I recently acquired an X230T with equipped with the i7, 4GB of RAM, 320GB Hard Drive, Multitouch Screen (2x2), Bluetooth 4.0, Fingerprint Reader and Webcam, Backlit Keyboard.
It was my original plan to upgrade my X230T to 16GB of RAM ($1,060 markup if you order it with the unit!) and have an SSD boot drive using the mSata port (they don't even have that option on the configurator) and having the original HDD as a media/documents drive. I ended up paying $120 for the 16GB of RAM (Corsair Vengeance DDR3 PC3 12800) and $140 for a 120GB OCZ Nocti mSata Sata II SSD (clearly a much less expensive option and more bang for my buck)
I just got the new parts and finally got around to imaging the mSata SSD by using the cdrivebackup.wim (from the Q: drive) and using the factory install on the 320GB HDD to image the SSD using a utility called Imagex.exe (Microsoft). So now I can make a factory fresh install without having to use Lenovo's Rescue and Recovery or having to use up any space on the SSD for the S: and Q: drives.
Finally got everything installed and the boot time has dropped dramatically. I used the fingerprint logon from a cold boot on the HDD and that took around 1 to 2 minutes (all applications I have installed and whatnot). With the SSD, dropped to less than 35 seconds (If that, even). Again, same configuration as I had with the HDD.
For the uninitiated, Windows Experience Index rates system components on a scale of 1.0 to 7.9, 7.9 being the highest score and your base score is based on the lowest score.
Ran the Windows Experience Index to get the following:
For those that can't look at that they are:
Gaming Graphics: 6.6
Primary Hard Disk: 7.8
This is up from a system that had a WEI ratings of:
Gaming Graphics: 6.4
Primary Hard Disk: 5.9
Overall, definitely happy with the X230T. The keyboard layout is taking some time to get used to (migrating from the X220T) but the feel is on par with my previous ThinkPad and having the backlight is a great addition (I didn't think I'd use it much but having it now, I don't think I can ever go back!). Another keyboard thing: The design makes it so that it doesn't scratch the screen like the old X220T keyboard did to its screen.
The fingerprint reader's LED doesn't stay on all the time (when the unit is off/suspended/sleep it blinks every once in a while) and is actually a strip of light (that isn't too bright) on the reader rather than just the bare LED.
The Dolby Advanced Audio definitely helps with sound quality but really not something I would write home about, definitely sounds deeper/fuller than the X220Ts (even after tweaking SmartAudio).
Having opened the unit and taken a peek inside, the keyboard bezel piece seems to have been reinforced in areas that matter the most (the X220T's definitely had been made with less plastic). USB 3.0 is a welcome addition (I can finally use my USB 3.0 devices to the fullest while on the go).
Hiding all the system stickers under the battery was a great move! I just wish the system didn't have the Energy Start, Windows 7, Lenovo EE 3 and Intel badging when it ships but those are simple things one can take care of themselves.
The Ivy Bridge processor definitely shines through as well as the Intel HD 4000 graphics in applications that require the extra muscle.
Yes, there are people with build quality issues like the keyboard bezel tabs being loose (I fixed that myself) and having warped base covers (mine doesn't have that problem and I'm also using the 6-cell battery). I do have my own gripes with the system and my own unit itself. Mine, for example, the top lid doesn't seem to be quite straight against the palm rest when the screen is shut (will post picture once I get around to it).
Another gripe I have is how they got rid of the Bluetooth Indicator as well as the LED on the Caps Lock. They also turned the ThinkVantage and Enter keys black as well as removed some labels and icons on the keyboard (the graphics on the Caps Lock, Shift, Backspace, and Enter Keys as well as the 'ThinkVantage' Label next to the ThinkVantage button).
I wish they had upgraded the mSata port to Sata III to take advantage of the new drives but as an end user, you'll barely notice the difference since things happen so fast even in Sata II speeds.
Stop with the unijack for microphone and headphone! I never know what would work with this jack!
I can't find the option to change the resolution for the built-in webcam... On the X220T there was a setting but this X230T is using a different version and it only has the 640x480 setting.
Lastly, they seem to still be using the same display/digitzer unit from the X220T and we all know the accuracy problems with those (quick fix: In command line enter: tabcal lincal novalidate XGridPts=5,16,60,165,258,640,922,1115,1220,1264,13
Anyway, that's all that I really have to say about this model!
07-10-2012 12:28 PM - edited 07-10-2012 12:28 PM
Thanks for the great review. What do you think of the new keyboard?
07-10-2012 01:06 PM
The new keyboard itself isn't bad, it still feels solid and it's actually easier to touch type since the keys are separated. But the layout leaves a lot to be desired.
Starting with the positives: they replaced the Fn+Space Bar function from the Zoom Function and now it controls the Keyboard Backlight. It's nice since they keys are close together I can do it with one hand and I didn't use the Zoom/Magnification function anyway. And the last on this short is is that they did improve the click of the Audio and Mic Mute buttons,
Now what I perceive to be design flaws/poor decisions on Lenovo's part:
Keyboards can be remapped easily anyway... right now I'm using Alt+Arrow Left/Right for Back/Forward when navigating but eventually I'll map it to the PgUp/PgDn keys.
Finally, I did switch keyboards between the X220T and X230T with some interesting results. Physically, it will not fit, the keyboards are slightly different in shape (across the top). They are also using a completely different mapping scheme and the old X220T keyboard's keys just didn't map properly.
07-10-2012 02:52 PM
Middle button, Fn+F8 (Ultranav) for the reasons you listed, and color scheme will probably be the three largest annoyances for me.
07-10-2012 04:00 PM
The middle button isn't so bad actually... been using it for a week and I'm getting used to it now. I ordered my unit with the backlight option and it's been worth the $40. Didn't know I needed it so much until now that I have it!
Regarding the Fn+F8 removal, I use the trackpoint exclusively but when other people ask to use my laptop they always use the trackpad and now there's no quick way of switching settings!
07-10-2012 05:36 PM
Thanks very much for your detailed review and comments.
The Fn+F3 and Fn+F8 keyboard shortcuts went away due to rules about what can be displayed on-screen in an "upcoming OS" (you can guess which one). Lenovo did not want to have to change the keyboard again to meet "upcoming OS" requirements, so the decision was made to make the change at X230 launch rather than 3-4 months from now.
I haven't tried it, but I wonder if you can create a Windows keyboard shortcut to replace the Fn-F8 function. Make it launch "c:\program files\thinkpad\ultranav utility\unavosd.exe"
A lot of the aesthetic changes you mentioned were made in the interest of simplicity, but I agree some of the key placement definitely takes some getting used to.
As for swapping keyboards between X220 and X230 - it is possible to physically fit the keyboard AND keyboard bezel from X220. But the BIOS mapping is different as you discovered. The only solution to this would be to hack BIOS which obviously I can't recommend.
07-10-2012 05:51 PM
Thanks for the input!
I imagined there were some design and fucntionality changes that were just required by a third party (Microsoft) so I'm not too bummed about it... I still have a great system to use!
I'd have to find some keys to bind application launches to but it's a good work around.
07-10-2012 06:23 PM
I'm glad to know backlight is working for you. It is one of the changes I'm unsure if I need. I've used the ThinkLight to do things like read paper documents late at night without waking others, and I have a feeling I'll miss it.
07-10-2012 06:32 PM
I don't think any ThinkPad tablets have ever had ThinkLights... the X230 Notebooks definitely have them (All off, Backlight dim/ThinkLight off, BL bright/TL off, BL off/TL on).
08-23-2012 01:49 PM - edited 08-24-2012 04:46 AM
Thanks for the great write up.
This was one of the reviews I read that convinced me the X230T was the best all round laptop / tablet that suited my needs at the moment. I have a very similar configuration as you. I also have an i7 + the Multitouch screen. I only have 4Gb of ram for now though and the stock 500GB 5400rpm HD.
This is my first Lenovo purchase.
For Canadian buyers see the Lenovo Visa site for some really good discounts compared to the regular Lenovo site: Just wait til it goes on sale again and enter the promo code at the end after you configure whatever laptop you want: http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/vi
Here are my thoughts on the X230T:
Note on screen type: This was very confusing choice for me. Listed on the site is the Multitouch and Outdoor options. The Outdoor does not mean a matte screen that is good for using outside. All it means is that it only has Pen input. The Multitouch has both Pen input and finger touch input. (Why Lenovo chose “outdoor” to describe the other screen type is beyond me. They should have just described it as it really is- Pen Input only.) So to summarize:
Multitouch = Digitizer pen and finger input
Outdoor = Digitizer pen input only
[EDIT: Thanks to Chimuel for pointing out the Following about the Outdoor screen option:
It has Gorilla Glass which even though is glossy and reflective has higher brightness for actual outdoor use.
Also the Multitouch is a matte screen- see this great video review by Jesse B. Andersen of the Multitouch screen being used outdoors: http://www.jessebandersen.com/2012/07/lenovo-think
The other things to note is that you can only get the 720p camera with the Multitouch and only a 2X Antennae wireless card. The Outdoor does not have the 720p camera and has a 3 Antennae wireless card. Quite frankly I have been using a 2 Antennae wireless card for quite a while in my other laptop and even when using it outdoor I have had zero issues.
When indoors with the X230T I can get full 300 Mbps when needed from my wireless TP-Link router. This is after I set the transmit power in the router to low / medium and the X230T to high. I have not tested the link while outside yet. I see no issues since my other wireless card is also an Intel card.
Laptop Backpack Size: My laptop backpack is a 15.6” Swiss gear bag I grabbed at Cosco for around $38+ taxes. A smaller 13-14” backpack will do, but it might be tight depending on the make of the backpack. I got the bigger one so I can throw other stuff in it besides the x230T when traveling.
Gaming: The Windows Experience Index scores were perplexing at 5.1 even with the Intel HD 4000 graphics card. Good to know it will increase once I get the Msata II card and an SSD. I know the WEI is kinda pointless and the X230T in no way a full gaming rig but it just irked me for some reason to see that 5.1 average score. (Even if it is for the useless Aero graphics.)
Btw- anyone ever overclock an Intel HD 4000 ?
Using the free version of PCmark 7 benchmark util at first I got an abysmal 2280 score. After using Gamebooster v3.4 and shutting down even more unneeded services I got a 2802 score. Still abysmal but good enough to play the types of strategy and occasional fps at low-medium settings that I like. Quite frankly on this 12.5” screen I won’t miss the extra gaming details.
Laptop Sleeve: I looked around for a sleeve to fit and wound up getting a cheapo 15.6” laptop sleeve. It fits the depth (front to back) of the X230T, with about a couple inches to spare on the side. It is also not a really close fit. I toss in the cooling mat (see below in Dislikes,) for extra laptop protection inside the sleeve with the laptop and it snugs things up even more.
Screen Protector: Finding a screen protector was a pain. It seems all the electronic stores only sell iPad or 10.1” Galaxy Tab or smaller smartphone screen protectors. I later stumbled upon some discount clear screen protectors while in the NCIX store. They are 15.4” made by Halloa that you just cut to fit since they have size lines that help you measure the surface area before you cut. At $4+ each I bought three just in case I mess up the first install, plus keep one as an extra.
Well I didn’t do too bad of a job. Some small bubbling around the edges of the screen and hardly any trapped dust bunnies. I don’t even notice them when I am using the laptop. So quite happy and feel much better when using the Digitizer Pen on the screen. No more worries about scratching the screen. Also a lot easier to wipe off the finger smudges after I tap or swipe the screen. It does not affect the pressure sensitivity that I have noticed or the “feel” when you use your fingers on the screen to do things. Still very responsive.
Speaking of which- I find myself using a combination of input when using the X230T alone. When typing in Word I use the keyboard. To edit I just reach out and tap where I want the cursor to be. I also use the pinch to zoom on screen with my fingers when browsing. I use the trackpoint and the touch/tap features on the touchpad. I find myself doing these things more and more without thinking about it. I am starting to wonder if I will ever be able to go back to just a regular laptop. (Also what really surprised me was the fact that there were right and left click mouse buttons built into the touchpad itself! Cool.)
External Mouse: I also purchase a little travel mouse made by Logitech called the “Couch” mouse model M515 for $28.99+ taxes because my wife hates using touchpads. It is a laser mouse with the bottom portion enclosed so that dust/dirt doesn’t get into it. It also has a great battery saving feature where it only turns on once it detects your hand on it, then off in a few seconds once you let go.
It comes with a little “unifying” usb plug. So this can control other Logitech devices that can take advantage of this unifying device. I installed then uninstalled the Setpoint v6.3 software. The most useful thing is the reconfigure the mouse key feature- or else shows you the mouse’s battery charge level. These are useless for me. The built in MS mouse drivers recognizes the unifying usb plug and controls the mouse using all the built in features. So I uninstalled Setpoint- one less prgm chocking up the memory and trying to log online when I don’t want it to.
The M515 mouse uses 2 standard AA batteries so I threw in a couple AA rechargeable batteries into it. So now I have another mode of input of controlling the X230T. I switch between input modes depending on what task I am doing.
Flat black matte laptop shell- since I pick this up and move it quite often I really like the fact that finger prints doesn’t show up as much. Only unless I have sweaty or oily hands do I see an imprint.
Small form factor. Yes it is not as small and thin and sexy as the ultrabooks. But cost to feature ratio is much higher for me. I like the fact I can upgrade the ram and HD as well as wireless card etc. when I want to. It is so small compared to my 15.6” ASUS gaming laptop. Looking at all the reviews and videos people were saying how big and heavy it was with the 6 cell battery I was expecting something larger and heavier. So I was very pleasantly surprised at just how small this thing is. Compared to the regular X230 it looks much bigger. But in real life I find this thing down right svelte.
Touch screen / Wacom Digitizer. I have a Wacom Bamboo Fun drawing tablet and was contemplating the Full size Cintiq line. I know X230T does not compare- but it is good enough for my purposes. I can sketch, draw, paint, highlight articles, pics and tech layouts and communicate that info to others in real time.
I have not really tried out the built in Wacom Digitizer screen yet. I have not had a chance to use my Painter 12 or Paint Shop PPRO X4 yet. I just dabbled using a regular windows paint pgrm and used the markup feature on a PDF file. It works fine. I don’t think I have to calibrate the screen either at this point. The very edges of the screen around a couple milimeters can be a bit flaky, but i ave learned to push straight in as opposed to at an angle to get a better tap to miss ratio.
Keyboard. I used an older Thinkpad years ago and remember the keyboard was pretty decent. I was worried when I heard that Lenovo had “upgraded” it.
Well I have a $120+ Mechanical Cherry MX gaming keyboard for my other laptop and that is the metric that I judge all keyboards by. I find the keyboard on the X230T to be very good. The Ctrl / Fn keys are switched. But I have gotten used to it in the week I have been using this configuration. I really like where the arrow keys are and the PgUp and PgDn keys. Also the Delete and Backspace keys are in the perfect spot for me.
Keyboard Backlighting. You never know you need this until the first time you use it. Amazing in low light for us non-touch typists!
Fingerprint reader: Another feature I thought little of until I started using it. A lot faster than typing in a long password every time I boot up.
Fan: is very quiet. I really have to push this machine hard, play a graphics intensive game- which is expected, or else turn on the Lenovo Turbo Boost in order to hear it spool up. I can feel the air being pushed out but have a hard time hearing it. (The Turbo Boost feature is located in the Basic settings in the Lenovo Power Manager. To get easy access to it, just right click the taskbar- go to Toolbars and enable Power Manager. It will now show up in the taskbar on the right hand side.) The fan settings will affect this in the Power Manager so play around with it. I have Balance all parameters under System settings and Active fan settings under Advanced settings- for both battery and AC charge mode.
Boot time: Boots really fast compared to my other Gaming laptop- even when it pauses briefly for me to swipe my finger on the fingerprint reader. The Lenovo Rapidboost really works. I was pleasantly surprised. This is after I loaded all of my programs that I had on my other laptop. (Of course see below, I did disable a lot of crapware. But even with them all enabled the X230T booted pretty fast for the 500GB 5400rpm HD in it right now. Looking forward to dropping in an Msata II and a 7mm SSD hardrive in the future.
Battery charge: is pretty good. Doing browsing and streaming from a net music channel and the occasional Word / Excel document, I can get approx. 7-8+ hours from the 6 cell battery. I can squeeze out 9 if I use the battery stretch feature and use it very lightly- but at this point I might as well have it turned off since it is pointless babying it just get this sort of battery life. Right now I have screen brightness set at 3 when on battery and using tweaked Optimize Power settings when in battery mode and a tweaked Maximum Power setting when in AC charge mode.
When I really tax the hardware, it drops to 5-6 hours. Really depends on what you are doing. Hard to quantify. Hindsight being what it is I should have sprung for the 9 Cell- but the Lenovo Visa site that had discount promos didn’t offer a discount on the 9 cell or even lists the 6 Cell slice (aka Thinkpad Battery 19+) at the time I ordered.
Heat: The X230T gets warm on left side where the fan/heat vents are located. I find my leg when I am in shorts, start getting that sunburn feel that keeps intensifying. Even in long pants it gets uncomfortably warm. I just bought a cheap little mat at the Source that was being discontinued. It has raised bumps on it to give the underside of the laptop air flow instead of a just a flat surface. Works great, keeps the heat off of my left leg. Before I used to just shift my left leg and balance the tablet at an angle- but I could see the day when it slid off and hit the ground, not a good thing. The little mat is portable; I can just throw it into the laptop sleeve and throw it all inside the 15.6” backpack and go.
No HDMI: It has a Displayport and a VGA out (Why ? Time to get rid of this old outdated VGA connector. Users can get an external adapter if they really need it.) But no HDMI? I bought a Displayport to HDMI v1.3 adapter to solve this. But it would have been nice if a v1.4 was built in since hooking up to the TV using HDMI is my default way of doing so.
Sound: Okay the speakers- like the majority of laptop speakers are right crap and have very low sound quality. However, playing with the included Dolby sound program was a bit of a revelation. It made the sound much louder and I was actually able hear music and voices when viewing a video or listening to songs. Quality wise still not great. I will have to grab the Dolby prm and try it on my other laptop and give it a good listen. Of course using my Sennheiser Gaming 515 headphones on the X230T is much better and outputting sound to a dedicated stereo system would be ideal. But overall the sound quality is lacking compared to my other laptop even when using my headphones and after tweaking the Realtek and native MS sound settings. BTW- I turn off the Dolby Audio when listening with headphones.
Keyboard: I would have liked a retro Blue Enter key. I am one of those that prefer a big L-shaped enter key. So the Blue colour would stand out more for me since I am also not a perfect touch typist. I need to look down at the keys I hit. Also a Blue Thinkvantage button would be have been nice. Also dedicated back / forward media buttons next to the volume keys would be great.
LEDs: or more precisely lack off in some places. For instance the Mute / Volume / Microphone / Thinkvantage buttons. Hard to see even when the Backlighting for the keyboard is on when using the X230T in low light while playing music.
Battery fitment: the 6 cell battery seems a bit loose. Whenever I lift the X230T there is a little click sound and I can feel the battery wobbly very slightly.
Bloatware: This is very subjective. There are quite a few business, security etc. prgms and services on this laptop that can be of use to various users depending on their needs.
For me, I have uninstalled a lot of things that were not needed and stopped a lot of unnecessary services from starting. The only thing I kept were the Lenovo Device Experience and Lenovo ThinkVantage Tools. There were also a lot of unnecessary Intel auto start programs I had to figure out if I needed and disabled them. I used MSCONFIG and SERVICES.MSC as well as the CCleaner Startup manager to stop the rest of unnecessary services.
On my other computers and Gaming laptop I have roughly 64+ processes and services running at idle. On the X230T I notice a lot more because of the additional screen input services. I still have around 106 – 108 processes showing in the Task Manager Process screen at idle. It jumps to 114 – 117+ processes when I am actually doing tasks. (For those of you who do not know- just right click the task bar and have a look at the number of Process and Services being run.)
How much do you have running?
So far I am very happy with this little X230T and I can see myself using this as my main computer. I can carry this on the road, into the garage with me when I am having trouble shooting issues with the cars or else outside consulting tech drawings, designing and building things.