Welcome to guest blogger, Ari Morse. Ari is a licensed private investigator (www.bestpi.com) and forensic genealogist (www.findanheir.com), based in Central Florida. He is the fourth generation in a family business that specializes in locating missing heirs to estates and conduct international genealogical research. He is often hired to handle complex genealogical matters, prepare comprehensive Affidavits and testify in Court. He is a Past President of the Florida Association of Private Investigators, former board member of the Better Business Bureau of Central Florida, and serves as a board member of several civic and professional organizations. His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Review: Lenovo Thinkpad Twist
As a private investigator and forensic genealogist, my electronic tools are an important to my getting the job done as efficiently as possible as we rely heavily on email, imaging of vital records, large documents and spreadsheets. We were in the market to replace some three year old netbooks with some ultrabooks, and while reading the ABA’s Solosez listserve there was a post by Ross Kodner about his interest in the Lenovo Thinkpad Twist. We value what Ross has to say, especially about technology and spent over twenty hours researching, going to stores to actually test drive the machine. We also compared the Twist with the Lenovo Yoga, several Sony Ultrabooks, the Lenovo X1 Carbon, and the Dell XPS 12. Our research proved one thing, that for the price, and flexibility of options, Ross was right, the Twist could not be beat.
We were initially going to order the Twist from Lenovo directly through their shareholder program, however, their shipping time was several weeks out, so we opted to reach out to Carrie Waller at MacMall, who had the computer we were looking for, in stock, and ready to be shipped that day.
We ordered the Twist with an i7 processor, 500 gigabyte standard hard drive (7200rpm) together with a 24 gig micro solid state drive, and 8 gigs of ram. We chose the regular hard drive over both solid state drive options because of the extra space, as we often open large files that contain thousands of images of vital records, and family history items.
Once the computer arrived at our office, we charged them for about one hour before we began setting them up. The only things in the box were the computer and the charger. Even though we had tested out the Twist at several big box office stores, we were surprised at how light it was, and even more at how well the weight was distributed. The weight was distributed fairly evenly and there were no areas that felt heavier than others, which is nice when using the computer. The appearance was nice, as it the computer is a matte black, with a texture of a very soft and smooth plastic or rubber. The outside edge of the screen has a metallic finish which is only visible when the screen is closed or in tablet mode, and does not interfere with any images on the screen.
When we first booted up the laptop, it took about sixteen seconds from pressing the power button to the screen where you must enter your windows password, and it seems to vary between fourteen and eighteen seconds usually. Having come from a Windows XP machine where this takes no less than sixty to ninety seconds, we were in awe. The many reviews that we read complained that the screen was not a HD 1080p resolution, however, the screen is vibrant and has crisp images, handling everything without any pixilation or problems. Given that we review many older documents and images, there are always quality issues, but this screen was very clear and allowed us to figure out the writing in a pre-1900 census record that we were previously unable to discern.
Using the Twist in the usual laptop setup where the keyboard is perpendicular to the screen is simply great. The keyboard has keys that are curved slightly so that if you are someone who types rather quickly, it helps your fingers from slipping to the next key, which happened all the time on my older computer. The keyboard also has the red trackpoint that is nice and comfortable. The touchpad is a good size and very responsive to touch, although there are no buttons on the bottom, instead, Lenovo placed them above for use with the trackpoint. There are only two negatives that I have discovered with the keyboard, the first being that it is not backlit, which would have been a nice feature, and the second is more of a personal preference in that the bottom left corner does not have the control key (the bottom left corner has the Fn key, and the CTRL is the second key in).
There are plenty of ports for peripherals, including two USB 3.0 (one on each side), a mini HDMI (left), headphone jack (left), ethernet (left), 4 in 1 card reader (left), and a mini display port (right). This was definitely an advantage the Twist had on several of the other computers.
One nice aspect of using the Twist in different directions is that it will automatically change the view so that your screen is always facing the right way. Given that the computer relies on one hinge, it feels strong and sturdy when lifting the screen or twisting. There is a screen lock button just above the power button, if you would rather lock the screen so the computer could be passed or moved without fear of the display changing.
Most of our time so far has been using the Twist in the usual laptop setup, but it was also nice when using it as a tablet. One thing we found interesting is how much heavier the Twist feels when using it as a tablet, and it could be because we are comparing it to the iPad, although the screen is significantly larger than the iPad.
This computer will definitely not replace my iPad in form or function but I do like that I can use the tablet feature while editing and reviewing a Microsoft Word Document, or while scrolling through a spreadsheet, or marking up a pdf. I was also able to enlarge a document to show a client an image while the twist was in tablet mode, which was very neat. So far as I have been able to tell, Lenovo does not make a stylus or recommend one for this laptop.
Setting the computer with the screen inverted, into tent mode is nice because the keyboard is hidden, not exposed like the Yoga. This is perfect for watching movies, or simply showing a presentation to a small group. While this may not be something I would envision using often, it is a nice option to be able to utilize when the need arises.
So far the battery has lasted between four and five hours of pretty heavy office related use. Turning the monitor to the side slightly is nice, especially to avoid any potential glare or bad angles with lighting.
The Twist would never replace the ease of use or the simplicity of an iPad, nor is it meant to do so. It is a powerful, robust computer with lots of bells and whistles, for a very reasonable price. Now that Windows 8 has become the norm, a touch screen is becoming more necessary, and in that case, there is nothing I would rather have in my bag than the Twist, as it gives me the best of all worlds for form, productivity, and pleasure, in a compact and lightweight design.