When we last visited the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s, we gave it a relatively good score based on its sleek, black matte chassis, its comfortable ergonomic keyboard and its reliable on-the-go specifications, which included a 128GB SSD. Now, the T400s has had a minor overhaul in hardware (including a touchscreen LCD) and software and we were lucky enough to get some hands-on playtime with the still-in-beta SimpleTap multi-touch software.
This version of the T400s now includes a capacitive multi-touch screen, which integrates the finger-gesture actions a tablet PC into the desktop interface. Tap twice with your index and middle-finger to initiate the proprietary SimpleTap interface; you’ll be able to control the basic functions of your computer from this menu, including the brightness of the display and the audio settings, as well as any hot keys and web pages you may want to bookmark. Additionally, you can use your fingers instead of the Multi-touch Touchpad or the TrackPoint joystick to navigate around Windows, though we found that using touch to hit small Desktop icons was a chore.
The SimpleTap Menu, which pops up when you tap the screen twice with both your index- and middle-finger
This Simple Tap feature reminds us a lot of the iPhone home screen, with each transparent square tile functioning as its own application. In essence, SimpleTap accomodates new customizable hot keys that are not embedded into the hardware, and can be switched out and utilized in any manner the user prefers.You canadd custom application links or even bookmarks to your favorite websites.
The SimpleTap menu icons can be arranged however you like. Some buttons bring up other options, like the volume menu in the top left corner.
Though it seems to be a bit of an overkill for a laptop that does not have a reversible swivel LCD screen, we can see how the touchscreen could benefit professionals that do not have the luxury of having an external mouse or a tablet with them at all times—like graphic designers, doctors, and engineers using Auto Cad. The screen however, isn't a pen-based digitizer, so you'll have to rely on your fingers.
SimpleTap is currently still in beta mode and the multi-touch gestures are not supported by all programs. Regardless, the new T400s comes equipped with Windows 7 and the Microsoft Touch Pack, which includes a handful of nifty games, a touch enabled screen saver, and the Microsoft Surface Collage, which allows you to arrange your photos into a collage for your desktop. Though it may seem a little out of place to include a touch screen on a non-tablet computer, we’re excited to see if more laptop makers will adopt this hardware in the future.