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BW Businessworld

A Serious Thought

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ViewPad, Optimus Pad, Eee Pad, TouchPad. Clearly, adding a "Pad" in a tablet's name isn't enough to emulate the success of the iPad. But what if it's a ThinkPad? Does Lenovo's ThinkPad tablet live up to its hallowed name, or fall by the wayside?
With a name like that, you really shouldn't be surprised the ThinkPad tablet's design is a serious throwback to the original IBM ThinkPad notebooks. A raven-black shell, soft matte finish, sturdy build but not the lightest (at 715 grams) or the slimmest (at 14mm) around the block — oh so ThinkPad, isn't it? That said, with its rounded edges, the tablet is comfortable to hold in the hand and the almost rubberised finish doesn't just feel great but also provides a secure grip and is quite rugged.
Plain Jane looks aside, this is one tablet that really feels like the serious productivity tablet it claims to be. Straight off, aside from the mini-HDMI-out, SD card and SIM slots, you get a full-sized USB port that you can attach a USB flash drive, an external hard drive, or a keyboard/mouse. Also, noticeably different from the other button-less Honeycomb tablets is the ThinkPad's row of four physical buttons — to lock the screen orientation, launch the browser, a back and a home key — that would have been rather handy had they not been so stiff to operate.
Getting to the ThinkPad's screen, this one packs in an almost defacto-for-premium-tablets 10.1in 1,280x800 pixel, IPS display, which features excellent viewing angles and pretty accurate colour reproduction. Front and rear cameras are also part of the package, but to be honest, the rear 5MP one produces the usual mediocre results I've come to expect from tablets, while the 2MP shooter is usable for the video chatting/conferencing needs.
Possibly the real star of the show is the Tablet Pen, which lets you scribble notes in the Notes Mobile app or mark up PDFs or doodle in one of many drawing apps available. I used it during a meeting, and it managed to almost completely decipher my cursive scrawl — quite the accomplishment given how years of keyboards have taken their toll on my handwriting! And I personally love the really cute touch, topping off that pen with a red cap a la the signature pointing stick you'd find on any ThinkPad notebook.
The icing on the cake is Lenovo's optional keyboard folio case, which provides one of the best typing experiences available on a tablet by combining a keyboard into a protective case. A full set of dedicated Android shortcut keys is provided along with media controls and Page Up/Down. You also get what looks like a traditional ThinkPad TrackPoint at first, but actually is an optical trackpad. Comes in handy on occasion, and it's safe to say the whole package is about the closest to a laptop experience I've seen on a tablet. Combined with the Pen, the folio case really takes the ThinkPad Tablet to the next level in terms of productivity.
Meanwhile, on the software end, you get pre-installed productivity apps, note-taking/OCR and antivirus apps, remote monitoring and wiping apps, plus access to Lenovo's dedicated and carefully vetted app store. Stuff IT managers will simply lap up. Net, there's a lot to like about the ThinkPad. It offers good battery life, a good display and neat add-ons like the USB port and the Pen that really help with taking work on the road. Buy the optional folio case with keyboard built in, and you get possibly the best typing experience this side of a ThinkPad notebook, albeit on a tablet this time around! Bear in mind its chunky profile will deter some buyers looking for the slimmest tab on the market, but the feature set sets it apart as the most versatile option on the market.

Rating: 8/10
Price: Rs 29,500 (16GB,WiFi), Rs 41,900 (32GB, 3G), Rs 46,900 (64GB, 3G)

Fashionable Calling
A good pair of headphones often make you look like an air traffic controller when you wear them. Not the case with the Jabra HALO2, which looks more like a slightly oversized hairband, in a seriously stylish sort of way. The cans fold away for decent portability — this also switches them off (and on), which is neat — but the durability of the folding flaps worries me just a wee bit. Not the kind you'd want to throw into a backpack crammed full of stuff.
Pair the HALO2 over Bluetooth with your laptop or smartphone, and with its support for the AVRCP Bluetooth connection type, you can control the music playback options (track change, play/pause) from the headphones itself.
Looking good does come with some compromise on the audio front. While the talk time for this headset isn't half bad at around 8 hours, the lack of an external microphone means that voice quality on the other end is just about average, as is the music listening experience. Strictly recommended only for the fashion-conscious.
Rating: 7/10
Price: Rs 6,499

Extended Support
If you work on a laptop for extended durations, a notebook stand is one of the best investments you can make for your health, not to mention your laptop's. Try the Cooler Master Notepal Ergostand — it combines a cooling pad, notebook stand and a USB hub, all rolled into a package that's built like a tank. Not only does it bring the laptop up to an ergonomically correct height on your table, but the fan-cooled base also regulates your notebook's temperature, and the cable management clips are a welcome touch.
Price: Rs 3,000


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