In 1995, I got my hands on some crazy future tech, an IBM ThinkPad Pen Computer. The first wave of pen tablets had arrived. As it goes however, when a college student needs money for a new drum kit, they sell cool things to pilots who pay a lot for that kind of stuff. I did buy that drum kit. I didn’t think it would be 20 years until I used another ‘Pen Computer’ again, nor did I think it would be another ThinkPad. Surprisingly, both have happened. Now, I’m sitting at the local coffee show with a shiny Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga blasting it’s backlit LED beams into my oculars and a pen in hand. These tablets have come quite a way, and deserves a thorough review, but here’s a quick breakdown and my first impressions.
So, after Lenovo unveiled the new P40 Yoga, they were kind enough to ship one over for which I’m eternally grateful. If I was honest, I’d tell you my kids have been using the tablet way more than I have–sketching, modeling, plotting world domination–it’s just so adorable. After they’ve sufficiently run the battery out and I’ve charged it up again, I get use to using a pen again and realize that this is a really, really fun way to work. I started out with using it opened up like a laptop, but I can also stand it up (like a tent), flip the keyboard underneath, or lay it flat. The more I use it, the less I’m dependent on the keyboard, but still ever so thankful it’s there. It’s a 14″ lappy with 2560×1440 resolution, which makes it feel a lot larger.
I’ve loaded software on it that covers the entire design process, from sketching, to modeling, to rendering to post. Right now my process includes:
So, just to give you an quick idea of how I’ve been using this lap-tabby. The majority of my time has been spent sketching and setting up SolidWorks to be easier to use with a stylus–Lenovo’s ThinkPad Pen Pro (which uses Wacom tech). Yeah, I’m using SolidWorks with a pen. Not unusual for those who use a Wacom tablet, but quite a bit different when you go from violently mousing a model to lovingly jabbing the model. Thin line for some perhaps. Needless to say, IT’S CHANGED ME. Other things that provide repeated, brief moments of bliss are how:
- The ThinkPad Pen works flawlessly (2048 level of pressure sensitivity and different nub options FTW)
- The 2560 x 1440 display is super crisp (and yeah, easy to clean your kid’s peanut butter fingers off of)
- The battery-life is excellent (first laptop I’ve not had to use perpetually plugged in)
- The palm rejection is rejectorrific (once you understand how it works in relation to your hand and the pen)
- The extra stylus integrated with the P40 ThinkPad has been a LIFE SAVER (big thanks to those old ladies for all the times they told me I dropped it)
Right now, my big ‘please add this’ comes down to tablet mode and pen functionality. Some programmable quick buttons to the side/back would be fabulous (for undo, redo, brush size, context menu, switch app, etc) and program-specific buttons for the pen. Outside of that, software makers just need to get a few of these in-house to work on improving touch/pen/tablet functionality.
I’ve used other laptop/tablet combos, but this is all kinds of different. It’s the first I’ve been able to load all my software on. The first I’ve had a stylus, a pressure sensitive one at that, that improves the way I work. I never really thought I would be using 3D modeling software on a tablet, much less go through the entire design process. We were dreaming of this yeeeeeears ago. It’s like Lenovo was reading our minds (or our Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet review). Before the P40 Yoga, there was a disconnect, either with getting sketches into modeling software or having to use different devices to do it. Now, I’m finally able to use one device to go through it beautifully. More to come. Let me know what you would like to know about in the comments.
Read more about CAD, product design and related technology at SolidSmack.com
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