Lenovo Thinkpad solutions

Hi everyone,

With my old Toshiba tablet PC coming to the end of its natural life, it is time for me to look at alternatives.

I have tried using my iPad 2, but I write too fast for it: it can’t keep up with me! So either I need to write more slowly, or I need a more powerful processor. In any case, if I do want to continue using Camtasia etc., I really need a powerful machine to process audio input + two video streams while running some significant software such as Bluebeam PDF Revu to handle the PDF annotation.

Unfortunately there are no longer very many genuine tablet PCs out there. Still, my department (The School of Mathematical Sciences at The University of Nottingham) has now purchased two Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Tablets for us to try out.

This is a promising machine, which runs the 64-bit version of Bluebeam very nicely. There are some curious features though! Thanks to David Hodge for working out some solutions to these issues.

This tablet PC appears to be designed so that you should use secondary landscape rather than primary landscape when in tablet mode: otherwise the screen slopes downhill away from you! However:

  • With wireless on, it says that you are not allowed to use secondary landscape. (This appears to have its root in radiation legislation.)
  • By default, when you use a data projector, having the tablet in secondary landscape will produce upside-down output on the data projector screen.
  • There is only one programmable tablet button, which by default is set to rotate the screen orientation.

For the first of these, you can turn wireless off. But this could be a problem if you actually need the wireless internet in your presentation. Other solutions are rather drastic, so if you do need the wireless internet it may be better to use primary landscape instead, along with a suitable laptop stand to counter the slope.

For the second, there are lots of options available in the advanced display options. David Hodge found various ways to make this work. You need to be connected to an external display in order to change the relevant settings and save a new profile. And we still need to find a short cut to select this profile when you arrive in the room and attach the projector: otherwise you  have to navigate the menus each time.

So where are these settings? You can right-click on the desktop (I use press and hold with the pen), choose Graphics Properties, and make sure you are in Advanced Mode. You can then change properties of each display you are attached to. The Built-in display is the tablet’s own display, while the data projector output corresponds to the Monitor settings.

When I tried things last Friday, I did end up with some bizarre effects: at one point all my displays were showing the way I wanted, but the tablet pen position was 180 degrees out from where the pointer appeared. That was fun! Anyway, with David Hodge’s help, today I have gone for using the tablet in primary landscape, but setting the display option for the Built-In display to “Rotate to 180 Degrees”, while keeping the Monitor rotation option as “Rotate to Normal”.

It is also possible to use the tablet in secondary landscape, set the Built-In display rotation option to “Rotate to Normal”, and set the Monitor rotation option to “Rotate to 180 degrees”.

Whichever one you go for, you should save the profile with a sensible name. Once you detach the monitor, it will probably throw you out of your named profile. (This can also happen whenever you change screen rotation etc., depending on your set-up). So you will want to be able to reload your preferred profile easily. Once we figure out a short cut for this, we’ll let you know! For the moment, right-clicking on the desktop  allows you to choose

Graphics Options -> Profiles -> Display Profiles -> Your named profile

(but you can’t switch to the new profile unless you are connected to an external display).

Regarding the tablet buttons: you can assign different keystrokes to “press” and to “press and hold”. I am currently using “press” to activate Pen Attention, while I am using press and hold to produce “f11” . Our IT support people have suggested that it may be possible to add things to the context menu (right click), so that will probably help. But it is still rather more restrictive than the six different programmable actions available using tablet buttons on my Toshiba.


2 responses to “Lenovo Thinkpad solutions

  1. I have now reactivated the side-button on my tablet pen, and told the tablet pen control panel that I want it to bring up a pop-up menu. I can put as many custom keystrokes etc. as I like in this pop-up menu. It’s not as nice as having lots of tablet buttons, but it a good approximation.
    I will have to avoid accidentally pressing the button while writing, but the shape of the pen makes this easier than it was when I was using the Toshiba pens.
    I am getting a minor curiosity when I write quickly. When my word ends in “ing”, for example, and I finish the g and head back to dot the i, I am maybe a bit too fast, and it often draws a thin line extending the stroke at the bottom of the g towards the dot of the i. I had thought this was to do with hard disk protection mode, but that isn’t it: it still happens under stable conditions in my office. Possibly changing the pen settings will help with this. Or maybe it is a setting in Bluebeam that I need to change. In any case, it’s not very serious!
    [See my next comment below for more on this]


  2. Here is some more data on the wild pen stroke issue:
    with the same tablet and software, David Hodge and I both tried writing the word “going” a lot. David does not get the problem but I do.
    I THINK the problem is worse for me when the tablet pen tip is set to soft rather than firm. In fact I thought that the firm setting had solved the problem, but it hasn’t quite.
    We think that I am pressing harder than David when I write, and that this is making the pen report that it is still pressed for a fraction of a second even once it stops touching the screen. I can try pressing less hard.
    Interestingly, I can use my old Toshiba tablet pen, and the problems do not arise. Perhaps the Toshiba tablet pen has a slightly firmer tip? Or possibly it is the angle at the top of the pen.
    I might just use the Toshiba pen instead!


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