If you’re in the market to buy the Lenovo ThinkPad X230, which is an excellent choice as a portable laptop and you’re commended on your decision, you might be thinking “hey, why don’t I just get the Tablet version of the X230, it only costs a little extra?” I certainly had that thought cross my mind when I saw the price of the X230 tablet at the time I was shopping for the regular X230 was only $200 more. It seemed that the pen input and touch screen functionality of the X230 tablet could be well worth the extra money. However, I wasn’t really sure of how the form factor would change or if there were downsides to getting the X230t. Lenovo doesn’t do a great job of showing all the ins and outs of the X230t on their site. As it turns out, there are some pretty major form factor differences between these two versions of the X230. I happen to have both models on hand at the moment and so wanted to do a picture and video comparison. This is not an in depth review of each notebook, nor is it an analysis of the tablet PC functionality as that’s a large topic, rather it’s just a comparison focused on features and form factor differences and whether the X230t or regular X230 makes the most sense for you.
First up, take a look at this side by side video comparison of the X230 and X230t Tablet. It goes a long way to demonstrating how these two are similar and different.
Depth and Height Comparison
This may come as a surprise to some, but the height and depth of the X230 tablet are actually quite a bit more than the regular version of the X230. Take a look at this side by side picture and see that the X230t is looks almost a full inch extra in height (X230 tablet is on the left in all pictures):
Similarly, when the lid is closed you can see the depth of the X230t is revealed
Both of these models have the 6-cell battery installed, and you’ll notice that the 6-cell sticks out on the tablet version so that adds even more depth at the back. Now you can see why if you’re ordering a custom sleeve for the X230 it’s important to know which version. The X230 regular is 8.13” deep while the X230 tablet is 9 inches deep, so in actual fact it’s about 0.87” of extra depth on the X230 tablet.
The X230 tablet is also slightly thicker than the X230 when closed, we’re not talking a huge difference, but it is about 0.1 – 0.2” thicker depending on whether you’re looking at the front or back. Here’s aside profile photo showing this difference in which you can see the X230 tablet on the left (in the distance) and X230 on the right:
And here’s a front profile thickness comparison with the tablet version again on the left:
For those who are obsessed with how thin a laptop is, this small difference may be a consideration.
While the ports are almost exactly the same between both versions of the X230, there is are some subtle difference that occur on the left side, see if you can notice it (the X230t tablet is on the bottom, X230 regular on top):
See it? The DisplayPort is full size on the X230t Tablet whereas you get a mini-DisplayPort on the regular X230. Also, the VGA monitor out port has its posts embedded on the X230 regular but they protrude on the X230 tablet. The blue coloring is used on the USB 3.0 ports on the X230t but not on the X230 – no idea why that is.
On the right side all the ports are the same, but you do get the pen silo for the stylus on the X230 tablet, you can see the red eraser head pointing out.
Some people get really annoyed at having to use a mini DisplayPort, so if that’s you the full sized DisplayPort on the X230t might be a plus.
The X230 and X230t Tablet on hand both have the 6-cell battery. However, though the capacity is the same the form factor for each of these are very different. A look at the bottom of each notebook demonstrates this best. The battery on the X230 Tablet sticks out quite a way and also has a hollow bubble area underneath. I assume it’s for something to do with structural integrity or to provide a way to grip the tablet at the back. The X230 regular battery meanwhile is flush at the back and sticks out just a little at the bottom:
There is a weight difference between each version. The X230 regular weighs 3.44lbs with the 6-cell battery:
While the X230 Tablet weighs in at 4.15lbs with the 6-cell battery:
That’s over a half pound in extra weight on the tablet version. This is somewhat ironic since a tablet is designed to be held in slate mode by field work professionals, but the extra technology and screen requirements simply means the tablet version weighs more.
Now we of course glossed over the whole Tablet PC functionality, that’s definitely a bonus for users interested in the X230t. However, if you have little use for tablet functionality or don’t know how you’d use it, you may want to consider the downsides the X230t has. It’s thicker, weighs more and has quite a bit of extra depth. Some people won’t like the fact the battery sticks out at the back and has a strange hollow area on it for the tablet either. While we don’t have a full review of the X230 tablet yet, check out our review of the ThinkPad X230 for more coverage.