I have a Lenovo thinkPad X61 tablet that I use for a bunch of things, but mainly for working on the book in places that aren’t my home or office on campus, and lecturing. I do use the tablet features, primarily for marking up my lecture slides (I have PowerPoint slides that I use for class, and I leave blank spaces on them for examples, which I hand-write. This helps slow down the pace of the lecture a little, which is the chief student complaint about PowerPoint lectures.
The X61 is a few years old, now– three and a bit years— so it’s been getting kind of creaky. It crashes hard every couple of days and needs to be rebooted, and the wireless, which has always been kind of flaky, is getting to be ridiculously flaky. A lot of this is probably software related, and would clear up if I backup up my files and reinstalled the OS, but I haven’t wanted to deal with the hassle.
There are, however, a few issues that seem to be hardware problems, and these are getting a little worrying. This morning, for example, when I pulled it out of my bag, it was making what I can only describe as squeaky noises from the vicinity of the speaker. More disturbingly, while it had been asleep, it was now solidly off, and did not respond to pressing the power button. It stopped making noise after I took the battery out and put it back, and has now come back up, but I’m worried.
So, I think I probably need to start thinking about a replacement. Which means an opportunity for you, the reader, to weigh in, because my knowledge of the current state of the laptop market is pretty minimal. So:
What should I be looking at if I need to replace my ThinkPad X61 tablet?
this is, of course, subject to a bunch of constraints that won’t get read, but I feel I must type out anyway:
Constraint 1: It must run Windows. I am not a fan of Microsoft, but the fact is, I’m locked into a Windows state at the moment– my work computer, and our desktop machines at home run Windows, and I need to be able to move work back and forth between them as seamlessly as possible, and handle student-generated Windows files without trouble. Yeah, yeah, OpenOffice, blah, blah, blah. It doesn’t work as well as everybody says it does– anything with graphics or tables gets messed up, and that’s what I need to avoid.
Constraint 2: It must have a keyboard. No iPads, thanks.
Constraint 3: It must be reasonably fast. The currciulum we use for the intro classes these days uses a fair bit of simulation, so I need it to be able to run VPython programs well. This is another “no iPads” item, basically– I don’t want some stripped-down thing that can only run one program at a time, or only choose from a limited set of “apps.”
Constraint 4: It should have some tablet functionality, or the equivalent. This isn’t a complete deal-breaker, but I’m pretty happy with the “write on PowerPoint slides” scheme I’m now using, and I’d rather not have to completely re-invent my lectures again.
So, subject to those constraints, what should I be looking at?