The Opinionator recently received a new weapon for use in the daily war at work; A Lenovo X61 Tablet PC. The system has an Intel Core 2 Duo 1.60Ghz Processor, 1GB of RAM, extended battery, 80GB HDD, integrated Verizon EVDO WWAN and an extended battery. We also loaded Office 2007 and OneNote 2003. OneNote is the killer app that allows you to take advantage of all that a Tablet PC has to offer.
My first impression was that the boot up process took forever. Or 6-8 minutes as it turned out. Once booted up, Vista looked good. And the Index search feature was terrific. It reminded me of the Spotlight search feature on my iMac and works quite well. This will make my life easier as I can just save documents to "Documents" and not worry about being able to find them again without having to create folders and sub-folders.
The boot up process was just the begining. Once up and running, the first thing I noticed was that the system was slow, very slow. In fact, it was almost unusable. My ThinkPad T43 running XP Pro with 1GB of RAM was much faster. The Tablet ran so slowly that I was still using the T43 for many of my daily tasks as I could not stand to wait on the system to catch up. Even typing email was difficult as it took forever to open Outlook and typing showed up several seconds after the letter was typed. Programs often gave "Not Responding" messages before they finally loaded because the process was taking so long. And shutting down was taking even longer than booting up. This was progress?
Complicating the performance issues was that the system was downloading updates to Vista or Windows Defender on a nearly continuous basis. This further reduced performance.
Another effect of the system's sluggish performance was that the HDD was spinning virtually all the time. This was loud and you could follow it by watching the HDD indicator light. Not only was this loud and annoying, but this meant that I was draining the eight cell battery in roughly two hours, well below what one would expect in terms of battery life.
After several days it became apparent that the system was either going back to my contacts at Lenovo or I needed to fix the problem. My choices came down to blowing off the loaded image and loading XP, adding memory or both.
Fortunately, memory is relatively cheap so I decided to give it a try. I considered adding 1GB to the open slot however, for roughly $70 I was able to get a 2GB stick of memory which would max the system at 3GB of RAM (for 32-bit Vista). Two days later the memory arrived and in less than five minutes, thanks to the ingenious design of the Lenovo Tablet, I was up and running with 3GB of RAM.
The results have been nothing short of amazing. Boot-up still takes nearly five minutes on average and my iMac shames it in that task. However, the system performs briskly. Index is fast and extremely useful. Office 2007 works well. The HDD is no longer spinning constantly and a pleasant side effect is that the battery now lasts in the five hour range, meaning I often spend a day away from the office without carrying a power adapter. And the system now shuts down relatively quickly. All in all, a remarkable difference. There are a few quirks; My VPN does not like to play with Vista all the time, for instance. However, the system has not crashed once since I added the memory three weeks ago, nor have any programs.
My verdict: Vista is bloated and a resource hog. It is unbelievable that it performs so poorly with 1GB of RAM. What Microsoft was thinking is beyond me. Despite that, Vista is a good O/S for my needs. I really like Index and could recommend it just for that reason. However, do not even think of loading it on or ordering a system with Vista with less than 2GB of RAM and 3GB is even better. And the X61? That is a topic for another review but suffice it to say that it is amazing and even Vista could not diminish my enthusiasm for the system.
Disclosure: I do not work for Lenovo. However, I do support them for my company.
In the midst of ignoring my blog, I discovered Imogen Heap, both solo and as part of the duo Frou Frou. Some of her stuff is not my cup of tea but the songs that are, I find amazing and am unable to stop listening to them And they make videos. Remember those? Here is Frou Frou with "It's Good To Be In Love" from Details. I think you might agree with me, she is amazing.