I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue

You know, I think it is preferable for someone to acknowledge that they don’t know the answer, rather than to either studiously ignore the question, or make something up on the spot.

This has been brought to mind during my hunt for a suitable Windows 8 Tablet.

You may recall that I haven’t been too impressed with the current state of the Windows 8 Tablet market. Well, it’s now six weeks further on, so I’ve been gathering more data points in my search for a suitable tablet to invest in.

My shortlist of tablets came down in the end to

The Lenovo and the Dell are pure tablets, while the Asus and HP are hybrid convertibles – they can be used as notebooks, but their keyboards completely detach when required. All four supposedly had active digitizers with proper pen support, which was one of my requirements.

I also had an outside candidate, the Microsoft Surface Pro. Outside, because although it uses the more powerful Intel Core i5 CPU, in place of the Intel Atom Z2760 CPU used in the above tablets, this in turn means that it has a shorter battery life, and requires a cooling fan. There’s also a question mark over whether it will be available in the Dutch market.

In the end, I dropped both the HP and the Asus from consideration. The HP, while it supposedly had an active digitizer, the pen was optional, and at the moment is completely unobtainable. In fact, it’s like the mythical unicorn – some people claim to have seen it, but in practice, it’s missing in action. The Asus looks good, and seems to have a decent build quality, but what finally knocked it out of consideration for me is the fact that Asus support is lagging badly. Unlike the other vendors, Asus still do not yet have updated software drivers available for their product, or the Intel Atom chipset. That’s not a good sign in my book.

It was then down to a choice between the Lenovo or the Dell. I liked the fact that the Dell had a replaceable battery, but on the other hand, the prices for the accessories were always higher than for the Lenovo range. So my choice came down to the Lenovo Thinkpad 2.

The problem was, that there was not just the one model in the Thinkpad 2 range, there was a veritable army of them, and it was far from clear as to what precisely the differences might be, or what what be available in the Dutch market.

Lenovo publish documents that detail the models that are available in Western Europe. The first time I looked, last December, there were only a few to choose from. Then, in January, more became available. There seemed to be two series of products: the 3679 series and the 3682 series. From the published information (as of January 2013), that detailed the models as follows:

Type-model Storage

Tablet
Pen

WWAN NFC O.S.
3679-23G 64GB No None None Win8 32
3679-24G 64GB Pen Yes None Win8 Pro32
3679-25G 64GB Pen Yes NFC Win8 Pro32
3679-2PG 32GB No None None Win8 32
3679-4HG 64GB No Yes None Win8 32
Type-model Storage

Tablet
Pen

WWAN NFC O.S.
3682-28G 64GB Pen None None Win8 Pro32
3682-29G 64GB Pen None NFC Win8 Pro32
3682-25G 32GB No None None Win8 32
3682-42G 64GB No Yes None Win8 Pro32
3682-4FG 64GB Pen Yes NFC Win8 Pro32

However, when I looked at the sites of the Dutch retailers, I was seeing a completely different series of numbers:

N3S23MH – 64GB, Win 8 (not clear whether it has the pen or NFC)
N3S25MH – 64GB, Win 8 Pro (not clear whether it has the pen or NFC)
N3S4HMH – 64GB, Win 8 (not clear whether it has the pen or NFC)
N3S2PMH – 32GB, Win 8 (not clear whether it has the pen or NFC)

Looking at all the sets of numbers, and the prices, then I was fairly sure that the mapping would be:

3679-23G – N3S23MH
3679-24G – ?
3679-25G  – N3S25MH
3679-2PG – N3S2PMH
3679-4HG – N3S4HMH

However, I had no clue as to what the difference was between the 3679 and the 3682 series.

I documented all this in the Lenovo Thinkpad forum, and hoped that someone from Lenovo would pop along to clear up the confusion.

No such luck.

And there it stood until a few days ago when I saw that one of the Dutch retailers (only the one so far) had the N3S25MH model arriving in stock. So, I emailed the retailer to ask whether this model shipped with the digitizer and the pen.

No response.

Yesterday, the model was showing as in stock, so I asked again. I also took a chance and ordered it.

Of course, as soon as my order was accepted, I had a reply from the retailer that (1) this model did not come with a pen, but that (2) I could order a pen part number FRU39T0803. Naturally, this pen was NOT the Thinkpad 2 pen, but something else entirely. 

Clearly, either this salesperson did not have a clue, or my assumption that the N3S25MH model was the 3679-25G model was completely wrong. I might add that a few weeks back, I was reliably informed by another Dutch reseller that the N3S23MH model came with a digitizer and pen (it doesn’t).

Well, the Thinkpad 2 arrived today, and I’m relieved to report that the N3S25MH is exactly the same as the 3679-25G model – it even says this on the box. So it came with the pen, with WWAN and NFC.

It also came with a large sticky label plastered on the back saying NON-ENCRYPTION. I suspect that this is the difference between the 3679 series and the 3682 series. The latter has the TPM hardware fitted and enabled, while the former does not.

It is a bit frustrating that we have to figure all this out by ourselves. Lenovo don’t make it clear, and their resellers, judging from my experience of the Dutch resellers, don’t have a clue.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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15 Responses to I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue

  1. sekyal says:

    Typical salespeople. Glad you got the tablet you wanted. I too want one, but will have to wait till the price comes down some more.

  2. Peter Ferguson says:

    I need a new laptop/tablet and while it maybe that I am getting old, I have never found it so hard to make a choice. I feel like better ones are just around the corner but experience has taught me those feeling result in never actually making a decision. Tablets with multitouch are obviously the go. The world is moving in this direction rapidly. Do I want a keyboard? Not sure as I have always had one but then I use my new HTC 8X efficiently without one. Do I want a W8? I’m definite about that. YES. Don’t get the concept of Windows RT. Do I want SOC (Atom Z2760 – AMDZ60) or an i5 even an i7. This is where it gets very hard. Lightweight, battery life,no noise or heat verses a chunky heavy noisy maximum 5 hour beast. Finally, do I want 7″, 11″ or 13″ screen. Will be very interested in your comments after using the Thinkpad 2 for a week or so.

  3. Al Feersum says:

    Good for you Geoff. I hope the TP is suitable for your needs and doesn’t let you down in some undiscovered area. Personally I’m going to wait until next year, for a second generation hybrid/tablet. So far, I haven’t seen anything that really floats my boat.

    But then again, OEMs are building systems that most people will want, instead of what the very few want.

    Bit like phones: I like my Lumia 800, and I am considering the Lumia 920, but I can’t upgrade until December (by then, my carrier will be stocking the 920), and I’m hoping to get my hands on the 920 with the aluminium case – and I also hope that they will have addressed the hardware by adding an SD slot (the 820 has already got one). This could double up as a tablet, albeit one with a smaller screen – though it’ll be WP8 (not RT or Pro).

    The 2014 crop of consumer hybrids may indeed include something that suits my needs, but I doubt it.

    BTW, O2 are releasing WP7.8 within the next two weeks for the Lumia 800. Don’t know what your carrier is doing with it though.

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Al, as Peter said above, the better products are always just around the corner. I do think that we’ll see a step-change with the release of Intel’s Haswell and Broadwell chips, but, frankly, I couldn’t delay my gratification that long. The TPT2 ticks most of my boxes now.

      We’ll see how it stands up. There’s a USB power issue that’s causing some users a lot of concern, but it doesn’t affect me for my usage patterns.

      I’ve got an unlocked Lumia 800, and use Vodafone NL as the carrier – one way or another I should be getting WP7.8 in the not too distant future…

      • Al Feersum says:

        … if you can’t wait that long, there are some DIY ‘how to brick your Lumia 800’ sites out there that link to the Nokia download servers for the WP7.8 update… but if you’re prepared to wait a couple of weeks, most carriers will push out an authorised version anyway.

  4. Pingback: Thoughts On The Lenovo ThinkPad 2 | Geoff Coupe's Blog

  5. Morning Geoff. I have a simple question for you: With the SO being Windows 8, am I right in assuming that you can install normal Windows programs on it (as you would on a desktop version of Windows 8)? Dank u wel.

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Morning Christopher. I assume that you’ve mistyped SO instead of SP (Surface Pro)? If so, then, yes, you can install all the traditional Windows desktop programs on it. It uses Intel chips, and runs the 64-bit version of Windows 8/8.1.

      It’s the Surface RT and the Surface 2 that are based on ARM hardware, not Intel chips. You therefore can’t install traditional Windows desktop programs on these machines.

      • Sorry Geoff. I’m like you (dual nationality) and I meant to type OS (Operating System) but reverted to the Spanish (SO – sistema operativo)! So sorry for the confusion. In that case (if I’ve understood you correctly), you can install traditional desktop programs on them as long as it is NOT Windows RT? These Lenovo hybrids seem a fantastic idea and great alternative to Android & iOS systems. My 9 year old laptop is on its way out so this could be very interesting….

        • Geoff Coupe says:

          Yes, that’s right, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 are operating systems designed for Intel and AMD chips (i.e. x86 instruction set and architecture). You can install all your old Windows programs on them.

          Windows RT is the operating system designed for ARM hardware (i.e. the sort of chips that you find in smartphones). Examples of devices using Windows RT are the Surface 2, Nokia’s new 2520 tablet, the Asus VivoTab RT, the Samsung Ativ Tab and the Dell XPS 10.

          It’s because I needed to run some traditional Windows programs (e.g. Windows Live Writer) on my tablet that I went with the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 (an x86 device) in the first place. Five years down the road, and the decision may not be so clearcut. I may be living entirely within the new Modern UI environment by that time.

          • Well I certainly appreciate your time in replying to what must seem to be a daft question. I think I will go down that route too and get a Lenovo ThinkPad when my laptop finally gives up working. Thanks again for a very informative post.

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