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IBM ThinkPad X32 Review (pics, specs). Ноутбук ibm


IBM LENOVO Notebook Fiyatları ve Modelleri

Notebook

Notebooklar taşınabilir bilgisayar, laptop, dizüstü bilgisayar olarak adlandırılır. Bilgisayar başında geçirdiğiniz zamanı çok daha keyifli kılacak olan en yeni notebook çeşitleri bu kategoride yer alıyor. Kampanyalı notebook çeşitlerine göz atabilirsiniz. APPLE, ASUS, CASPER, HP, LENOVO, MSI, DELL, ACER ve birçok dünya lideri olan markaların geliştirdiği yüksek işlemci hızına sahip modeller ve geniş ekran özelliği ile donatılmış notebook çeşitleri cazip fırsatlarla Vatan Bilgisayar’da

Notebook veya Laptop, klavye ve ekrandan oluşan masaüstü bilgisayarlarla aynı işlemleri yapabileceğiniz taşınabilir bilgisayarlardır. Bunların modernize edilmiş, daha kompakt, ince ve hafif tasarımlarına Ultrabook denir. Ultrabook; zarif görünümüyle, ince tasarımıyla kullanım ve taşıma kolaylığı sağlamaktadır. 2'si 1 Arada dizüstü bilgisayarlar, hem notebook hem tablet olarak kullanılabilen ve katlanabilir dizüstü bilgisayarlardır. Genel olarak dokunmatik özelliği de bulunan bilgisayarlar, özellikle işyerlerinde kullanım kolaylığı sağlamaktadır. Gamebook, oyun oynamak için tasarlanan özel soğutma sistemi ve yüksek özellikli parçalarla donatılan dizüstü bilgisayarlardır. Oyunlar ile ilgilenen bir notebook kullanıcısıysanız, oynayacağınız oyun grafiklerinin minimum sistem gereksinimlerine göre bir notebook seçmeniz gerekmektedir.

Dizüstü bilgisayar satın alırken kullanım şekli ve amacınıza göre ekran boyu seçmelisiniz. Ekran boyu ağırlığı da etkileyen birinci unsur olduğu için sürekli yanınızda taşıdığınız bir cihaz kullanacaksanız 15.6 inç veya daha küçük boyutlu bilgisayarlar ideal tercih olacaktır. Daha çok sabit olarak kullanım yapıyorsanız, seyahatlerde ve gün içinde yanınızda taşımıyorsanız büyük ekranlar (15.6 inç üzeri ekran boyuna sahip) tercih edilebilir. Geniş ekranda işlem yapma verimliliği yüksektir. Kendinize en uygun boyutu seçerek sizin için en ideal dizüstü bilgisayarı bulabilirsiniz.

Notebooklarda anakart, işlemci, ram, sabit disk, ekran kartı başlıca önemli donanımlardır. Bu donanımların uyumlu bir şekilde çalışması gerekmektedir. Anakart, bilgisayarın iç ve dış donanımlarını birbirine bağlanmasını sağlar. Bilgisayarda kullanılan ses sistemi, mouse, klavye, ekran kartı, işlemci gibi donanımlar anakart üzerinden işlem görmektedir. İşlemciler, çekirdek sayısı ve saat hızına göre performans artışında yükseliş sağlar. Bilgisayarın beyni sayılır. Bilgisayarda yapılan tüm işlemler, işlemci tarafından işlenir. Ram, rastgele erişimli hafızadır. Hafıza depolamayı geçici olarak yaparak, programların çalışması için alan sağlar. Bilgisayar kapatıldığında sıfırlanır. Geçici hafıza olarak bilinen Ram işlemlerin daha kısa sürede yapılmasına yardımcı olur ve bilgisayar seçiminde büyük önem arz eder. Ekran kartı, notebook ekranınızda aldığınız görüntünün kalitesini belirler. Oyun ve grafik işlemlerinizdeki performansa direkt etki eder. Sabit disk ise depolama alanıdır. Genel hafıza olarak bilinir. Bilgisayarınızdaki tüm bilgilerin kayıt edildiği yerdir. Kullanım amacınıza göre uygun hafızaya sahip bir notebook seçmeniz yararınıza olacaktır. Bunun dışında SSD gibi depolama alanlarından da faydalanabilirsiniz. Web tarayıcınız ve Windows daha hızlı çalışsın istiyorsanız SSD'li bir notebook tercih etmenizde yarar vardır.

Gamebook modellerinde Intel Coffee Lake işlemci ailesinden 8. nesil İ7 8700K işlemcileri kullanılmaya başlandı. 8. nesil Coffee Lake ailesine mensup işlemciler önceki nesile göre %30 daha fazla performans artışı sağlayacak. Yeni nesil işlemcilere geçen markalar böylelikle siz kullanıcılara en yüksek performansın tadını çıkarmanızı sağlıyor. Ayrıca AMD Ryzen 4,6 ve 8 çekirdekli modellerden oluşan yeni nesil AMD işemciler çıkararak seçim konusunu sizlere bırakıyor.

Notebook alacak iseniz öncelikle fiyat-performans araştırması yapmalısınız. Bu araştırmada fiyat, özellik veya markaların detaylarına ulaşmak için sitemizde bulunan filtre özelliğinden yararlanabilirsiniz. Örneğin; ekran çözünürlüğü görüntünün kalitesinde önemli rol oynamaktadır. 1280*800 ekran çözünürlüğüne sahip bir notebook ile 3840*2160 ekran çözünürlüğüne sahip notebook arasında farklar vardır. 3840*2160 ekran çözünürlüğü ile daha net ve ayrıntılı görüntüler elde edebilirsiniz. Uygun fiyatlı dizüstü bilgisayarlar taksit seçenekleriyle Vatan Bilgisayar'da.

 

Kullanım Amacına Göre Notebooklar

Grafik ve Yoğun İş İçin Kullanılan NotebooklarÖzellikle grafik tasarımcılar için önerebileceğimiz notebook çeşitleridir.  Eğer Adobe, 3d Max, AutoCad gibi programlar işinizin vazgeçilmez bir parçası ise sizlere bu programları hızlı ve herhangi bir problem yaşatmayacak bir notebook almanızı öneririz. Rahat çalışabileceğiniz geniş ve çözünürlüğü güçlü olan bir ekran seçmeniz gerekmektedir.   Ayrıca veri transferi için USB girişi, firewire, HDMI, Bluetooth gibi bağlantı özelliklerinin olup olmadığına da dikkat etmelisiniz. Apple, MSI, Lenovo, Dell , HP, Casper, Acer gibi markalarımızın çıkardığı grafik ve yoğun kullanım için tasarlanan notebooklarımızı en yakın Vatan Bilgisayar mağazamızı ziyaret ederek ya da www.vatanbilgisayar.com adresimizden gamebook kategorisine girerek inceleyebilirsiniz.

GamebookGeçtiğimiz yıllarda oyun tutkunları için en uygun bilgisayarlar masaüstü bilgisayarlardı. Notebook camiası da hızlı bir giriş yaparak sizlere en iyi oyun performansını sunan notebooklar sunmaya başladı.  Oyun için bir notebook almayı düşünüyorsanız işlemci türü, işlemci hızı, bellek seviyesine dikkat etmelisiniz. MSI, Apple, Lenovo, Dell , Acer, HP, Casper gibi gamebook markalarımızı en yakın Vatan Bilgisayar mağazamızı ziyaret ederek ya da www.vatanbilgisayar.com adresimizden gamebook kategorisine girerek inceleyebilirsiniz.

2’si Bir Arada NotebookHem notebook hem tablet olarak katlanabilir dizüstü bilgisayarlar ince, hafif ve sessiz oluşu ile günlük ihtiyacınızı giderebilen cihazladır.  Uzun pil ömürlü olması ile gün içinde sizleri yalnız bırakmaz.  Sık sık iş seyahatine giden kullanıcılarımız için oldukça kullanışlı bir notebook çeşididir.

Notebook Markaları

Apple Notebook ModelleriYedinci nesil Intel core işlemcilere sahip olan Apple’ın MacBook serisi şimdi her zamankinden daha hızlı bir hal aldı. 14 nanometre teknolojisine sahip yedinci nesil Intel Core m3, İ5 ve İ7 işlemciler bulunuyor. MacBook her türlü işleminizi kolaylıkla yapabilmeniz için tasarlanmıştır. Macbook inanılmaz ince ve hafif kasası ile sizleri oldukça büyüleyecek bir notebook modelidir.  MacBook fan yardımı almadan soğuyabilme özelliği ile gün boyu üstün bir performans sergileyip pil hücreleri için daha fazla yere sahiptir.  Fan olmamasından dolayı oldukça sessiz çalışır. İşlemci çalışırken sadece 5 watt güç kullanır ve böylece sistem daha az ısı ortaya çıkarır. MacBook ile yoğun bir şekilde çalıştığınızda herhangi bir ses duymuyorsunuz. MacBook’un ince klavyesi sizlere hassas bir yazma deneyimi sunar. Force Touch trackpad ‘in baskı algılama yetenekleri sayesinde yapmak istediğiniz işlemleri MacBook’unuza söyleyebilirsiniz. Size dokunsal bir tepki veren Taptic Engine ile ekranda gördüklerinizi dokunma hissi ile de deneyimleyebilirsiniz. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth teknolojisinden en iyi şekilde yaralanabilirsiniz. MacBook işletim sistemi olan MacOS sizlere yeni teknolojiler ve gelişmiş özellikler sunuyor.

MSI Notebook ModelleriMSI notebooklar özellikle gaming notebook grubunda adından söz ettiren bir markadır. MSI, her geçen gün tasarım ve üretimde yeni fikirler üreterek farkını ortaya koyuyor. MSI sınırlı yüksek RGB arkadan aydınlatmalı üst kapaklı ilk oyun dizisine, en ince oyun dizüstü bilgisayarına öncülük etmek ve yenilik yapmak için yoğunlaştı. Oyun meraklılarına oyun oynamak için öncülük etmeye ve yenilikler yapmaya odaklanan MSI çıkardığı yeni modellerle Vatan Bilgisayar mağazalarımızda ve www.vatanbilgisayar.com’da.

HP Notebook ModelleriHp, ürettiği donanımlı notebook seçenekleri ve bütçe dostu modelleri ile sıklıkla tercih edilen markalarımız arasında yer alıyor. Intel Core i3, i5, i7 işlemcilere sahip olan Hp notebooklar oyun deneyimlerinizde ya da iş hayatında sizlere oldukça kolaylık sağlayacaktır. Hafif tasarımı hp dizüstü bilgisayarınızı dilediğiniz her yere götürebilirsiniz.  13.3 inç, 14 inç veya 15.6 inç ekran boyutuna sahip olan birbirinden farklı özellikli Hp notebook ve 2’si bir arada notebooklarımız için www.vatanbilgisyar.com adresimizin Hp notebook kategorisini ziyafet edebilirsiniz.

Dell Notebook ModelleriDell notebooklar görüntü kalitesi le sizlere muhteşem bir izleme deneyimi yaşatır. Şık tasarımlı modelleri her ortama uyum sağlar. Tarzınıza göre renk seçenekleri bulunmaktadır. Yeni Intel Core işlemcisi dizüstü bilgisayarda sizlere üstün bir performans sağlar. Dell şık tasarımı ve kaliteli kasası ile sizlere uzun süre kullanım performansı sunuyor.

Asus Notebook ModelleriAsus notebook kategorisinde çığır açmaya devam ediyor. Zenbook serisi ileri teknolojiye dayalı hassas bileşen ve zarif bir detayla sizler için yeniden tasarlandı.  Zen etkileşimli bulgu metal kaplaması sizleri oldukça etkileyecek.  Bu hızlı ve çok ince notebooku incelemek için en yakın Vatan Bilgisayar mağazalarımıza gidip satış görevlisi arkadaşlarımızdan notebook hakkında bilgi edinebilirsiniz.

 

Notebook Alırken Nelere Dikkat Etmeliyiz?

İşlemciİşlemciler RAM hızı, saat hızı ön bellek boyutlarına göre farklılık göstermektedir. Eğer yoğun programlar çalıştırmak istiyorsanız ön belleğinizin de bir o kadar iyi olması gerekmektedir. Intel core, Intel Atom, Intel Pentium, Intel Celeron en yaygın olarak kullanılan Intel işlemcileri ailesinin üyeleridir. Intel’in giderek performans seviyesini artırttığı işlemcileri ile web’de dilediğiniz gibi gezinebilir, video, film televizyon izleyebilir, birçok işleminizi aynı anda yapabilirsiniz. Raporlar hazırlayabilir, denemeler ve e-tablolar üzerinden çalışabilirsiniz.  AMD’nin en son çıkardığı AMD Ryzen 3,5,7 serileri de Intel işlemcilere meydan okuyor. 16 çekirdek sayısı, oyun akış performansı, CAD çalışmaları ve aynı zamanda birçok işlemi yapabilme özellikleri ile adından söz ettirmeye devam ediyor.

Ekran KartıNotebook alırken performansının göz önünde bulundurulması gereken önemli faktörlerden bir tanesi de ekran kartıdır. Eğer paylaşımsız bir ekran kartı tercihi yapmaya dikkat ederseniz notebookunuzun işlemcisini de yormamış olursunuz. Oyun oynamayı çok seviyorsanız  ekran kartınızı yüksek seçmeniz gerekmektedir. Ortalama bir kullanıcı için ise normal bir grafik kartı yeterli olacaktır. Size en yakın Vatan Bilgisayar mağazamızı ziyaret ederek satış görevlisi arkadaşlarımızdan bilgi edinebilir, www.vatanbilgisayar.com ‘da ekran kartı kategorisinden; Asus, Evga, Gigabyte, MSI, Pny, Powercolor, Sapphire, Zotac ekran kartlarını tercihinizi yapabilirsiniz.

RAMBellek(RAM), bilgisayarımızda bir tür veri hafızası, deposudur. Ancak bunu sabit bir disk gibi düşünmemeliyiz. Bellek, bilgisayar programlarının çalıştığı hafıza alanıdır yani bilgisayarınız açıkken yaptığınız işlemler bellek sayesinde yapılır ve bilgisayarınızı kapattığınızda ise bu veriler silinir. Günlük kullanım için ortalama 4 GB ram kapasitesi bir notebook işinizi görecektir ancak oyun oynamak ya da grafik tasarımı, programlama gibi işlerde kullanacağınız bilgisayarınızın daha üstün bir bellek performansı ortaya koyması gerekir.

HarddiskNotebookta bütün verilerinizin saklı olduğu alandır.  Sata disklerin Sata I, Sata II, Sata III olarak üç çeşidi bulunmaktadır. Notebookunuzda güncel olarak Sata diski bulunmaktadır.  Solid State Disk (SSD) yeni nesil sabit disklerdir. SSD’ye sahip diskler kısa sürede çalışmaya hazır konuma gelir. SSD sabit diske sahip notebooklar 5 kata kadar daha hızlı bir performans sergiler.

Ekran BoyutuNotebookta ekran boyutu kullanım amacına göre farklılık göstermektedir. Eğer çizim için kullanılacaksa full hd  16-17’’ bir notebook yeterli olacaktır. Gaming notebooklarda 15’’, günlük kulanım için ise 13-14’’ kullanılabilir.

 

www.vatanbilgisayar.com

IBM ThinkPad R50 Review | NotebookReview.com

IBM released its new ThinkPad R50 series during the fall of 2003.  The R Series of notebooks from IBM used to parade as a budget class, that s no longer the case, the R Series is in fact quite close to the high-end T Series in performance and specs.  The ThinkPad R50 of course features IBM s easy to distinguish classic black case and with a 13 x 10.4 x 17 (W x D x H) dimension specs we see that it has grown slightly from the previous generation.  With a 15-inch XGA screen (14.1″ also available) and weighing a modest 6.6lbs, or 7.1lbs when combined with the AC adapter for travel weight, the ThinkPad R50 can serve as a good desktop replacement or as a reasonably mobile laptop if you re on the go.  The ThinkPad R50 is a diverse laptop, so let s dig into the details and see if it s worth your consideration for purchasing.

Pricing and Availability for ThinkPad R50

Depending on the configuration you choose for the R50 the price can vary anywhere between about $1450 for a base configuration to $3000 for a high-end configuration.  You can buy either direct from IBM or from various online retailers.  Click here to view the latest pricing and availability for the IBM ThinkPad R50.

ThinkPad R50 Review Unit Specifications

The ThinkPad R50 used in this review has the following configuration:– Pentium M 1.4 GHz (Centrino processor)– 512MB DDR333 RAM (CL2.5)– 14.1″ 1024×768 XGA screen– Radeon 7500 Mobility graphics card with 32MB RAM– 5400 RPM 30 GB Hard Drive– Built in 802.11b Wi-Fi

Design and Build

The R50 is a very nicely proportioned laptop, and strikes an ideal balance for mainstream laptops. The lines on it are very smooth, with a nice blend of chiseled edges and contours. Of course, it’s in the standard IBM matte black casing.

A 3/4 angle-view from above shows that the spacious keyboard and ThinkPad controls

It has the typical oversized “hood” on the outer edge of the screen. Love it or hate it, the beveling does serve a purpose to stiffen the cover. It does not provide any appreciable shading from glare, however. The latch on the screen is a twin-hook arrangement, but it only needs a single sliding switch to unlock it, and it can be easily opened with one hand. The hinges to open and close the screen are solid chunks of metal, and open with a smooth action.  Some laptops you ll find creak or feel cheap when you lift the screen , the R50 suffers no such issues.

The top surface of the R50 has a nice, rubberized feel that is quite easy to grip. The keyboard is full-size, and very tactile. It’s missing a Windows button, and it’s not for want of space. Credit it to typical IBM stubbornness. IBM lists the ThinkPad R50 s weight as 6.6lbs (2.5 kg), but it is actually lighter than my old Toshiba Satellite 3000, which was also supposed to be “2.5 kg”. The weight of the R50 is a comfortable one, and not burdensome in the least.

A view from above of the R50 shows the classic matte-black look and ThinkPad logo

In short, one look at this laptop will tell you why NASA only flies with ThinkPads. The build quality is phenomenal; you wouldn t expect less from a ThinkPad.

Right View: Ultrabay (shown with DVD-ROM drive) and VGA-out

Left View:  Connectors (from left): 2xUSB2.0, S-Video Out, Modem, Ethernet, Line-Out, Mic, PC Card Slot (1xType II) (Note: notice the empty space where a 4-pin IEEE1394 port is found on some models)

Front View of the ThinkPad R50

Rear View of the ThinkPad R50

Shortcomings

It s always best to get the bad news aside and focus on the good, so let me now talk about the only two failings I can think of with the R50:

1. The screen. It’s not bad. It’s actually somewhat better than the screen on the old Toshiba Satellite 3000 I have, but it’s not as nice as Sharp’s Actius screens, or Sony’s black LCDs.  The default settings are lacking in contrast and brightness, and it is easy to imagine the image would get washed out in glare. The vertical viewing angle is a bit small (about 20 degrees before color and contrast reversal start to happen), but the horizontal viewing angles are fine (about 130 degrees). It was clear this was meant as a no-nonsense business laptop, and not a multimedia machine. Having said that, the display is crisp and sharp for text and CAD work that I do.

2. No standard FireWire port, if you want fast data transfer from such things as Digital Video Cameras then you need this. It is true that some models come with IEEE1394 (FireWire), but mine did not. To compensate for this shortcoming in the R50 you ll have to purchase a FireWire PCMCIA card.

Usability

The R50 is a joy to use. The keys are wonderfully tactile, and the TrackPoint navigation stick with the new Soft Dome cap is very comfortable to navigate with. The buttons for the TrackPoint are likewise very well designed. The TrackPad does not fare quite as well. For some reason, it always feels a little too small, and the buttons are flush instead of raised, making them harder to click. The motion of the TrackPad is also not quite as satisfying as with the TrackPoint. However, the extra features of the TrackPad are quite convenient – scrolling areas for horizontal and vertical scrolling, and customizable hotspots are nice to have.  I ended up using the top left corner of the TrackPad to simulate the Windows key.

What amazed me most about the ThinkPad R50 in operation was the sheer silence. I could not hear the hard drive spinning against ambient noise in my home. Even more impressive, with the R50 on my lap, I could not feel the hard drive or the DVD-ROM spinning! While parked on my lap, the bottom surface of the R50 was never the slightest bit warm during normal usage. It did warm up a bit when running 100% CPU utilization with consecutive SiSoft Sandra tests (a benchmark application designed to push a PC to its processing limits to record performance), but other than that, it was always comfortably cool to the touch.

The speakers were also quite a bit nicer than I’d expected, especially for a business model laptop. Please realize that the ThinkPad R50 was not designed to be a music machine though, you ll need decent speakers to hook up via the headphone out jack to get really good sound.

Active Protection System

The much-hyped APS (Active Protection System) on the R50 and T41 is a feature that causes the ThinkPad to park the heads of the hard drives when the notebook senses it is falling. I doubt I’ll be testing how effective that is in an actual fall, at least not intentionally, anyway. In practice, I find the APS program is a little too sensitive, and I miss being able to set sensitivity settings in the software – you get a simple on/off, and another option for ignoring repetitive motions caused by such things as trains and buses. Still, it doesn’t cost me any trouble, and the day it saves my data might make it all worthwhile. In the meantime, I amaze and astound my friends with the 3D real-time position readout!

IBM Hard Drive Active Protection System monitors your notebook orientation and movement in real-time and parks the hard disk head in response to sudden movements

Battery Life

Battery life is another strong point of this laptop. I initially did not believe the 4 hr+ figures in reviews – however, after first getting the R50 I  performed 3.5 hours of heavy disk usage (installing about 5 Gig of apps, and a defrag) the R50 still had 30% of battery life left.   With regular usage (one or two 30-min divx episodes, Word, Excel, Matlab and IRC) and the WiFi turned on 60% of the time, I regularly get 4 hours’ battery life on the dot. If I have WiFi on 100% of the time, the battery life drops to 3hrs 40mins under the same conditions. My battery is the standard 6-cell 4400mAHr battery. Charge times with the computer on are 2hr30m from 0% to full.  With the R50 turned off the charge time is obviously faster, but it’s too hard to determine exactly when it’s fully charged since there s no battery meter you can see if the machine is off!

One great feature I should mention is the Battery Maximizer Utility.  This power management utility comes with more comprehensive options than the standard Windows Power Management. It shows the battery status and time remaining on the taskbar, and you can also choose pre-set power profiles, or create and modify your own. Each profile has different settings for AC and battery, and you can set standby times, hard disk and monitor shutdown, screen brightness and CPU speed (Very slow, Slow, Normal, Adaptive and Maximum). There’s a wizard that lets you choose more options, like automatically reducing LCD brightness when the battery drops below 30%. There is also a battery information page that tells you the current status of the battery, including its specs, health and cycle count, as well as linking you to a help file with tips about battery care and maintenance. This utility is a good supplement to the standard Windows Power Management (but not a replacement).

The ThinkPad’s battery maximizer utility makes it easy to configure your power settings

Processor and Overall System Performance

For those of you interested in a few processor performance numbers I ran synthetic benchmarks (using the SiSoft Sandra 2003 benchmarking application) with various power settings and in comparison with my desktop PC.  Higher numbers represent superior performance:

Thinkpad R50 High Battery Performance running on battery power Memory Bandwidth Int 1640 MB/s; FP 1790 MB/s CPU Arithmetic ALU 1971 MIPS; FPU 789 MFLOPS, SSE2 1167 MFLOPS CPU/Multimedia Int 3356 it/s; FP 3892 it/s

Thinkpad R50 High System Performance – AC (Performance under high batt settings were identical on AC) Memory Bandwidth Int 2104 MB/s; FP 2110 MB/s CPU Arithmetic ALU 4388 MIPS; FPU 1847 MFLOPS, SSE2 2706 MFLOPS CPU/Multimedia Int 7859 it/s; FP 9118 it/s

Desktop Athlon XP3200 424FSB Mem 2-2-3-7 (2.26 GHz), Radeon 9700Pro Memory Bandwidth Int 3231 MB/s; FP 3054 MB/s CPU Arithmetic ALU 8304 MIPS; FPU 3392 MFLOPS CPU/Multimedia Int 12203 it/s; FP 12869 it/s

The Centrino 1.4GHz chip is no slouch, but it’s not ready to go up against an overclocked Athlon. The memory performance in these benchmarks are quite interesting, the numbers are just slightly over the theoretical performance of DDR266 (2100 MB/s), yet shy of the DDR333 that IBM use (2700).  It seems that using DDR333 Ram instead of DDR266 Ram might have some minor benefit after all.

Stepping outside the benchmark numbers and focusing on my perceived performance of the ThinkPad R50 I find that a CAD program I often use, Catia v5r10 P1, is a little sluggish in battery mode, but definitely acceptable on AC.  Indeed, the CAD application ran almost as well on the R50 as it does on the P4 2.0 GHz systems we have at school.

Photoshop resizing and filters, a commonly used application that puts a system to the test, were likewise very fast – I credit this to the SSE and SSE2 optimizations that have been done with Photoshop (SSE and SSE2 are a type of instruction set used by certain Intel processors, if applications are written and optimized for SSE then they will run much faster). If the R50 was any slower running Photoshop than my Athlon powered Desktop PC, I couldn’t discern it in daily usage.

Windows startup is a little slow on the R50. It only takes 30 seconds to get to the logon screen, but once you login, it takes another agonizing minute before the hourglass cursor disappears. Hibernate times are very good, however, it takes 30 seconds to hibernate (on a 512 MB system), and only 15s to resume from hibernation. It is a good idea to make sure your hibernate file is not fragmented as this will ensure fast transition to hibernation mode.

Video Encoding Performance Showdown

Nothing puts a system to the test better than video encoding, so a shootout between my AthlonXP desktop computer and the Thinkpad R50 is a great way to illustrate the type of performance one can expect from this laptop:

These are the specs of the machines in the test:

IBM Thinkpad R50 Centrino 1.4 GHz Processor  512 MB DDR333 RAM (CL2.5 according to IBM, no data on memory timings) Radeon 7500 Mobility w/32MB Ram 5400 rpm 30 GB Hard Drive AC Power

AthlonXP Powered Desktop Computer AthlonXP @ 2.26 GHz Processor 1 GB DDR424 RAM (2-2-3-5) ABit NF-7 nForce2 mobo ATI RAdeon 9700Pro w/128 MB Ram 7200 rpm 120 GB WD Hard Drive w/8MB cache

Test 1: Straight recompress (no filters)2-pass straight recompress of a 24 minute 640×480 video clip at 23.976 fps using xvidBeta1.00.  Encoding performed in VDubmod 1.4.13.  Average 2nd pass times are reported by dividing the number of frames by total time taken:

ThinkPad R50: 24.88 fps

Desktop: 52.58 fps

Test 2: IVTC in AVS2.5The second test was an IVTC using decomb.dll and Dup of a 24 minute 640×480 video-clip from 30 fps to 23.976 using xvidBeta1.00.  Encoding performed in VDubmod 1.4.13 using AVS 2.5.2.  Once again, 2nd pass times are reported:

ThinkPad R50: 15.81 fps

Desktop: 24.88 fps

Based on these results it is seen that the 1.4 GHz Centrino based R50 performs at about the level of my old desktop powered by an AthlonXP2000 with 256 K cache. The performance of the R50 is acceptable for occasional video encoding with light filtering, but it won’t take the place of a good desktop for heavy usage. Be aware that encoding performance on Battery power will be much slower, as it will scale with both CPU speed and FSB (both of which drop on battery power). Also, it will probably chew through your battery life. As a side note related to multimedia editing, if you plan to transfer files from a digital camera or video recorder, make sure to get an R50 model with a Fire Wire port, or buy a PCMCIA Firewire card for fast file transfer.

File Compression Performance Showdown

Using the program WinRAR 3.0 to compress a 233MB AVI into the .rar compressed file format, I got some interesting results for speed of file compression performance when compressing this same file on my Athlon XP 3200 desktop versus the ThinkPad R50.  Below are the timed results for compressing this 233MB avi file, the R50 was running on AC power and not battery:

Athlon XP 3200 (2.26 GHz) 1 Gig DDR424 RAM: 6 min 13 s

Thinkpad R50 Centrino 1.4 GHz 512 MB DDR333: 5 min 13 s

Amazingly, the Centrino is significantly faster at compressing the file, even with a slower Hard Drive (5400 RPM Vs. 7200 RPM).  I attribute this superior performance at least in part to the 1 MB L2 cache on the Centrino processor.

The Centrino is able to keep up with the big boys, and even show them up a time or two!

Ethernet Performance

The LAN performance of the notebook using the built-in Ethernet port is very good. I took it to a LAN and used an external USB2 Hard Drive for file transfers. I was able to sustain 98-100% Network utilization with 16-20% CPU (on AC) and multiple streams going at the one time. Note that running the USB2 drive would incur some CPU overhead, so actual figures using the internal IDE drive might be a bit lower.

Wireless Performance

Wireless networking is likewise very good on the R50. I use an SMC Wireless Access Point/Broadband Router, and get sustained 48-50% network utilization of the WLAN during file transfers (these numbers are very good because the theoretical maximum is 50% of 11Mbps, since the “total speed” is calculated by adding the upload and download bandwidths).

The signal strength is 98-100% throughout my apartment (not a big apartment). Going outside my building, signal strength drops to 49% at ~30 metres (~100 ft), but that is through 3 brick walls!  Even at 49% signal strength the reception is still usable for Internet browsing, but not for heavy file transfers. Doubtless I would get better range and signal strength with a clear line of sight  to the Wi-Fi router and fewer obstructions.

Added Features Worth Noting

You know, it’s the little things. It is the little touches that IBM puts in that truly separates the R50 from the rest of the pack. It seems everyday I find more to like about the R50 as I discover the extra-added software features IBM includes with the ThinkPad.  I ll provide a few examples of these little-things :

1. IBM Access Connections

IBM access connections lets you set up different network configurations, so you can have different profiles for work, home, school etc. You can set different IPs, WEPs, File-sharing rights etc. This is so much better than manually configuring everything through Windows (which is what I used to do before I learnt how to use this great utility). Even better, you can set IBM Access Connections to automatically detect and switch to the fastest available connection. I use a Wireless Router at home for networking. Say want to transfer large files, I simply plug an Ethernet cable into my R50. Access Connections automatically detects it, and switches over my R50 from wireless to Ethernet, turning off the Wireless LAN in the process. It even keeps the same IP! I unplug the Ethernet, and it switches the WLAN back on and reconnects. Brilliant!

IBM Access Connections, possibly the most useful piece of software on the notebook. Manage your location profiles, IP, Encryption and Access levels with a single program.2. Presentation Manager

How many times have we struggled with cycling through the Fn+Display Key settings to get the right combination of Internal and External displays working? And don’t forget getting the wrong primary (embarrassing to have a black screen on the projector during movies) or different settings between home and work (refresh rate, resolution etc).

Pressing Fn+F7 keys brings up an on-screen menu where you can select from a list of display options, as well as create your own. Need two settings for home and work? Done. Now I look at laptops that still use “cycling” and think…”how 1995! . Oh, and before I forget, you can also set up profiles to automatically disable screen-savers/monitor standby – nothing like wading through 10 minutes of presentation and then having your monitor blank out!

3. Easy Eject Utility

I can’t count the number of times that Windows unhelpfully decides not to show the “Safely Remove Hardware” icon in the taskbar (this happens on both my laptop and desktop from time to time). By pressing Fn+F9 on the R50 an onscreen menu is brought up letting me choose which device to disconnect.

4. IBM Rapid Restore

This is a useful utility for the safety conscious, but I find that it takes up way to much hard disk space when it creates a backup. Is not pre-installed on arrival, but you can install the software from your ThinkPad hard drive. Unlike the professional version, you can only have one image at a time. Note that there is already a factory pre-set image in a hidden partition of the hard drive that will restore everything to factory defaults (wiping your data in the process) – this is in addition to the Rapid Restore, and you can choose between the two if you decide to do a restore operation.

5. Thinklight

The Thinklight does what it is meant to do. It illuminates the keyboard in dark settings. However, I can’t honestly say I have ever had to use it. I can touch type (though not on a professional level), but anytime I need to find a key in the dark, the LCD screen has provided enough light for me to see by. Perhaps if I was using DOS or an Xconsole (black background), the Thinklight would then be more helpful, but on the whole this is just a nice to have but not necessary feature.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I am very happy with the R50 indeed. At the price I got it at (Australian Dollars $2133), it was an absolute steal. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense notebook for study and/or work, the ThinkPad R50 is the one for you. If you want an all-in-one multimedia notebook to play movies on, try another manufacturer.

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IBM ThinkPad X32 Review (pics, specs)

by Bill Orr, Georgia USA

Note to readers: In May of 2005 Lenovo officially acquired IBM’s PC Division, which includes the.  Please understand that while these products carry the IBM logo they are produced by Lenovo. For more information on the IBM/Lenovo transaction, go here.

Overview and Introduction

The ThinkPad X32 is the latest revision to the X30 series of ThinkPad notebook computers.  Although the X32 is designated as an ultraportable notebook along the lines of X40 and X41 series ThinkPads, the X32 may also be compared to the IBM T Series ThinkPads.  In fact, while the X32 is a very attractive notebook computer in its own right, it seems to suffer from a bit of an “identity crisis,” in that it blends features of other ThinkPads without achieving a strong sense of individual identity in it’s own right.

ThinkPad X32 front profile view (view larger image)

IBM’s X40 and X41 ThinkPads have achieved acclaim due to their ultra slim profile and ultimate portability.  The T Series ThinkPads, on the other hand, are renowned for their flexibility and usability.  The X32 falls somewhere in the middle of these two models.  Not as thin and light as the X40/X41, not as flexible as the T42/T43.  As a previous owner of both X40 and T43 ThinkPads, I find the X32, strangely enough, the most well-rounded and satisfying of the three options.  Through this review, I will attempt to compare and contrast the X32 with the X40 and T43 ThinkPads, to allow you to make up your own mind on which model is right for you.

Reasons for Buying

I have a desktop at home and also at work.  I travel with infrequent regularity and need a sturdy and dependable laptop that is small enough to use in an airplane, and one that also has both wireless and wired network connectivity for use in hotels, coffee shops, and the like.   In this regard, either the X32, X40 or T42 would make a good choice.  All are Centrino notebooks with wired and wireless connectivity.   I have access to USB 2.0 CD-R/W and DVD-R/W drives, so an internal drive is not essential.   Neither the X32 nor the X40 come with optical drives.

I have a somewhat convoluted history of laptop purchases.  I initially purchased a T43 to take on a trip to Tokyo, Japan.  IBM markets the T43  as a thin and light design, and I selected the 14″ model.  During my trip, I found out two unpleasant aspects of using the T43.  First, the 14″ screen made the T43 too large to comfortably use on the airplane.  I found this out during my 19-hour flight from Atlanta to Tokyo – the passenger in front of me reclined her seat all the way back, and due to the large screen size, I had to practically hold the notebook in my lap.  Also, I found out that lugging a 5.81 pound computer along with power supply, cords and cables gets to be very heavy, especially after carrying the notebook all day.  After the trip, I wanted something thinner and lighter.

Taking advantage of IBM’s 30-day return policy (you may return your notebook for 30 days, for any reason), I returned the T43 and purchased an X40.  The model I purchased came with the Intel 733 ULV processor and 256MB of ram.  My experience with this X40 was not the best.  Although I loved the size and weight of the X40, the performance was noticeably worse than the T43.  A large part of the poor performance most likely came from my decision to purchase an X40 with only 256MB of main memory.  In reality the memory was even less due to the fact that the X40 comes with integrated graphics that share memory with the main system.  The X40 also had a relatively slow 4200 RPM hard drive, and a 1.1GHz processor.  The battery life was also not what I expected.  In real-world use, the 4-cell battery provided less than 2 hours of battery life.  To top it off, the LCD had a large dead pixel right in the middle of the screen.  Like the T43, I returned the X40 under IBM’s 30-day return policy and purchased the X32. 

I purchased the X32 because I believed it would be a good trade-off between size, battery life and performance.  As discussed above, the X32 is almost (but not quite) as small as the X40, but has some distinct advantages over the X40.  Some examples of these advantages:

Advantages of X32 over X40
Video Card Memory X32 has 16MB ATI Radeon with non-shared video memory, X40 has Intel Extreme Graphics 2 with shared video memory
Hard Drive X32 has 5400 RPM 2.5″ drive, X40 has 4200 RPM 1.8″ drive
Standard Battery

X32 has 6-cell standard main battery with no other optional main battery. X40 has 4-cell standard main battery with optional 8-cell extended main battery.

Connectivity X32 has IEEE1394/Firewire port.  X40 does not.

Where and How Purchased

This X32 was purchased through IBM’s EPP program.  My X32 was priced at $974 (list $1299).  At this price, the X32 came with 256MB memory.  Owing to my bad experience with the X40 performance, I upgraded the memory to 512MB.  This added $30 to the price of the X32.  After tax, the total of the X32 and memory upgrade came out to approximately $1050 (all prices in US Dollars).

Competing Notebooks

It’s always good to know what other options you have in a certain notebook category you are looking to buy within.  Here’s a rundown of similar 12.1″ screen ultraportable notebooks that the X32 competes with:

Form & Design

While not as thin and light as the X40 series notebooks, the X32 is thinner and lighter than the T43.  The specifications of the R52 are added for comparison: 

X322884A2U X402386BHU T432686DHU R52184659U
Weight 3.6 lbs 2.78 lbs 5.81 lbs 6.12 lbs
Height 1.19 in. 0.81 in. 1.2 in. 1.35 in.
Depth 8.8 in. 8.3 in. 10.5 in. 10.2 in.
Width 10.7 in. 10.5 in. 13.0 in. 12.4 in.

It is interesting to note that, while the X32 is similar in depth and width to the X40 series ThinkPads, it is approximately as thick as the T43.  If you are looking for a head-turning ultraportable, then the X40 comes out ahead here.  Although the difference between 1.19 inches and 0.81 inches may not seem like much, it does make a big difference – the X40 is definitely the “sexier” of the two notebooks.  The X32 could hardly described as “thick,” however.  It is still very portable. 

X32 thickness comparison (view larger image)

The X32, X40 and T43 ThinkPads are all very sturdy, with Titanium case materials and a generally solid feel.  The X32 feels very well put together, with no case or screen flex at all.  I should note that the T43 seemed to have some flex in the case near the touchpad – the case would flex slightly when I rest my left hand while typing.  Neither the X32 or the X40 have this problem at all.  Both feel very sturdy and tight.

Most of the time, the X32 fan does not come on, and the X32 is very quiet.  The fan turns on rarely and only when the processor is stressed.   With the T43 and X40, the fan seemed to come on much more frequently.  The bottom of the X32 frequently gets warm but never uncomfortably hot.

X32 Above view (view larger image)

X32 under side view (view larger image)

X32 right side view (view larger image)

X32 left side view (view larger image)

X32 back view (view larger image)

X32 front view (view larger image)

Screen

The screen is a 12.1″ TFT screen of the non-reflective type.  Resolution is 1024×768.  The screen is bright and uniform, with no dead pixels.  The video card is an ATI Mobility Radeon.  The advantages of this card is that it uses dedicated memory that is not shared with the system (a fact that undoubtedly contributed to the poor performance of the X40 was that a portion of its paltry 256MB of memory was shared with the integrated video card). 

The disadvantages of the Mobility Radeon is that it is not a high-performance gaming card, but it is fine for desktop applications and regular use.  The T43 had a Radeon X300, which is a PCI Express part.  I could run Doom 3 at low resolution acceptably well.  I have no such expectations out of the Mobility Radeon in the X32. 

Speakers

The only speaker is a single speaker located on the bottom of the X32.  The sound is relatively poor.  If I sit the X32 in my lap during use, the sound is also muffled.  This was about the same as the X40.  The T43 was a little better, although none were outstanding.  Given that IBM markets these notebooks primarily to business users, this is not surprising.

Processor and PerformanceMy X32 came with an Intel Pentium M Processor 725 clocked at 1.6GHz.  I use the laptop primarily for Internet use and word processing applications, as well as light photo editing and multitasking.  I occasionally watch videos or listen to music while I am working.  The X32 performs well in daily use.  I found the performance to be on par with the T43 and much better than the X40.

Benchmarks

As you can see from the SuperPi benchmark results, the X32 lies somewhere between the X40 (1.1GHz ULV Pentium M) and the T43 (1.86GHz Pentium M).  Because I could not find benchmarks for the 1.1GHz ULV configured X40, I have substituted with the Dell Latitude X1SuperPi Results

X32 (1.60 GHz) T43 (1.86GHz) Dell Latitude X1 (1.1GHz ULV)
Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits 2 minutes, 9 seconds 1 minute, 45 seconds 2 minutes, 40 seconds
PCMark04 Benchmark Results
  IBM X32 (1.60GHz) IBM T43 (1.86GHz) Dell Latitude X1(1.1GHz ULV)
 Multithreaded Test 1 / File Compression 3.07 MB/s 3.33 MB/s 2.0 MB/s
 Multithreaded Test 1 / File Encryption 23.30 MB/s 27.19 MB/s 16.26 MB/s
 Multithreaded Test 2 / File Decompression 20.71 MB/s 23.4 MB/s 14.43 MB/s
 Multithreaded Test 2 / Image Processing 9.58 MPixels/s 10.88 MPixels/s 6.5 MPixels/s
 Multithreaded Test 3 / Virus Scanning 1550.60 MB/s 1914.17 MB/s 1309.7 MB/s
 Multithreaded Test 3 / Grammar Check 2.37 KB/s 2.82 KB/s 1.79 KB/s
 File Decryption 47.11 MB/s 54.11 MB/s 32.66 MB/s
 Audio Conversion 2160.95 KB/s 2496.87 KB/s 1495.55 KB/s
 Web Page Rendering 4.57 Pages/s 5.27 Pages/s 3.39 Pages/s
 DivX Video Compression 42.83 FPS 51.71 FPS 78.81 FPS
 Physics Calculation and 3D 31.43 FPS 159.19 FPS 65.05 FPS
 Graphics Memory – 64 Lines 232.16 FPS 868.44 FPS 374.57 FPS
Futuremark 3DMark05 Scores
3DMark Score NA 727 3DMarks NA
CPU Score 2478 CPUMarks 3414 CPUMarks NA
HD Tune Benchmarks
IBM X32 Dell Latitude X1
Minimum Transfer Rate 11.9 MB/sec 2.2 MB/sec
Maximum Transfer Rate 34.6 MB/sec 21.2 MB/sec
Average Transfer Rate 38.1 MB/sec 16.4 MB/sec
Access Time 17.7 ms 19.7 ms
Burst Rate 67.5 MB/sec 53.7 MB/sec
CPU Usage 5.8% 5.2%

Battery Eater Pro v2.5

Classic Benchmark Mode: 3:27:15

Using Battery Eater Pro version 2.5, I got a respectable 3 and a half hours.  This was accomplished with the ThinkPad default settings and wireless card turned off.  In real world use, with wireless, I get similar battery life.  The battery life on the X32 is on par with the T43, and much better than the X40. 

Originally I expected that the ULV Pentium-M in the X40 would have had a longer battery life.  As it turns out, the CPU is only one of many factors that go into determining battery life.  As Intel’s web site points out, the CPU only draws about 10% of the main system power, compared to 8% for the hard drive, 9% for the memory controller hub, and 33% for the LCD display. 

See http://www.intel.com/products/notebook/centrino/enablingbatterylife.pdf for details.

Keyboard and TouchpadThe X32 keyboard, typical of other IBM-designed ThinkPads, is excellent.  The keys are logically laid out and the response is good.  I have large hands and find the keyboard quite usable.   The X32 keyboard is pretty much the same as the X40.

ThinkPad X32 Keyboard and Touchpad (view larger image)

The X32 contains an illuminator light that aids in typing in low-light situations (speckles in picture are dust).

ThinkLight revealing the keyboard…and screen dust (view larger image)

Like the X40, the X32 has a TrackPoint pointing device, but no touchpad area.  IBM’s TrackPoint implementation is my favorite style of the traditional “eraser-tip” style pointing device.  IBM’s TrackPoint is very precise and has good response.   Much better than the “eraser-tip” found on some Dells and Toshibas that I have used.

TrackPoint (view larger image)Input and Output Ports

The X32 comes with 2 USB 2.0 connectors, 1 Firewire port, speaker inputs/outputs, modem (RJ-11) and Ethernet (RJ-45) jacks, an external display port, parallel printer port, infrared port, and an expansion port for an optional docking station or port replicator.  The X32 also supports Type I or Type II PC Cards.  I believe that the X32 is the only one of the three to include a Firewire port.

Firewire, infrared, PC Card slots (view larger image)

Wireless

The X32 comes standard with Intel’s Wireless PRO B/G card.  I have found range and connectivity to be quite good and on par with the X40 and T43, which were also both excellent.  All these units feature IBM’s Ultraconnect antenna, which, according to IBM, places the antenna at the top of the LCD screen to allow for maximum range and stronger signals.  I have found the wireless performance of all the ThinkPads I have used to be uniformly excellent.

Although some ThinkPad models come with Bluetooth built-in, my X32 did not.  Bluetooth is available as a standard option on some of the more expensive ThinkPads, but not on the X32 I purchased.  In fact, Bluetooth was not even available as an upgrade option on the X32.  Because I require Bluetooth while traveling to connect to the Internet through my cell phone, I have to use a USB dongle or Bluetooth PC Card.  I would have liked to see Bluetooth as an option on my X32.Battery

During typical use, I get about 4.5 or more hours from the X32 standard 6-cell battery.  This is about on par with the T43, which also had a 6-cell battery.  I am very pleased with this performance.  The X40 4-cell performance was much lower, less than 2 hours in my experience. 

The X32 battery is located in the front of the notebook, not the back like with the X40 and T43.  This does limit expandability, because while the X40 and T43 have extended-life batteries available (both stick out of the back and increase the depth of the machines by about half an inch), the X32’s only extended battery option is an extended life battery that plugs into the bottom of the notebook, which will further add to the weight and thickness of the machine.

Operating System and Software

The X32, as with the X40 and T43, comes with Microsoft Windows XP Professional.  IBM adds a suite of utilities that allow you to manage your online connections, monitor battery life, and download update packages directly from IBM. 

ThinkPad default desktop view (view larger image)

IBM Access Connections (wireless utility) (view larger image)

IBM’s utilities are very useful, although many of the utilities run at startup and therefore use resources and clutter the tray.  If memory and performance is a concern, they can be uninstalled. 

Other than the operating system and utilities, there is little else.  IBM includes a 90-day trial of Norton Antivirus. 

Customer Support

I have not had to make any support calls for any ThinkPad I have owned, although as mentioned above, I did return 2 ThinkPads under IBM’s 30-day return policy.  This process was painless and hassle-free.  I also have also found IBM’s US-based sales staff to be well educated and helpful.

My X32 came with IBM’s standard 1-year warranty.  Additional warranty options are available at the time of purchase, up to three years.  The X40 and T43 ThinkPads all come with standard 1-year warranties that can be upgraded at the time of purchase.  Some models have standard 3-year warranties, depending on the configuration of the notebook. 

[update 7/8/2005:  Lenovo representatives informed NotebookReview.com that customers shoud have “no concerns about the future of the X30 series for some time to come in terms of new version or service & support”]

Complaints and Praises

Comparing the X32, X40 and T43, the X32 is my favorite of the three.  While I wish the X32 was as thin and light as the X40, I have experienced better performance in the X32, owing in part to the non-shared video memory and 5400 RPM hard drive of the X32, versus shared memory and 4200 RPM drive of the X40 (in addition to the obviously lower processor speed and limited 256MB memory of the X40).  In my experience, the X32 is similar in performance to the T43, but with a much more portable size. 

If IBM could have found a way to squeeze a 6-cell battery into the size of its current 4-cell battery, I would have preferred the X40 series.  Being newer designs, the X40 series, primarily the X41, and the T43 have newer technologies such as PCI Express, active hard drive protection, and Expresscard slots.  The X41 and T43 also have the embedded fingerprint reader, a feature I found worthless. 

I do not know what IBM plans for the future of its X30 series notebooks.  With its X Series, IBM appears to be moving forward with its X40 designs, including the X41 and X41 Tablet.  In that regard, I am concerned about the future support for the X32. For example, I can not find any information on IBM’s web site informing me of whether extended warranty options are available for purchase (as they are for the T43 and X41).  I am also concerned about the future availability of batteries and replacement parts. 

Conclusion

Overall, I have found the X32 to be an excellent choice.  The EPP price of $974 for the base model, even including the $30 memory upgrade (from 256MB to 512MB), totals hundreds less than a similarly configured X40 or X41, and about the same price as a T Series, which is a heavier and larger machine. 

Other models I considered but rejected were the Dell X1 and the Panasonic Toughbook W2.  These models offered similar performance but at approximately $500 (the X1) to $1000 (Toughbook) more than the X32 I ultimately purchased.  Granted, without the EPP price, the difference would have been less.  The ThinkPad notebooks also receive consistently good reviews, and I have heard favorable remarks about IBM’s support.  These factors resulted in my decision to purchase a ThinkPad machine.  The decision to purchase (and keep) the X32 were based on my needs and prior experiences with the T43 and X40.  So far, I am very pleased with the X32, especially given the price.Pricing and Availability

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IBM ThinkPad T42 Review (pics, specs)

Usage:

I mainly use my laptop around the house to do such things as surf the web, use MS Office and burn a few discs.  I get outside jobs, mainly fixing PC/Laptops hardware and software, doing upgrades, tutoring, internet setups and de-spywaring PC/Laptops.  I find it is usually a good idea to have one PC at home that I know works.  It does make it out of the house occasionally at other times.

IBM ThinkPad T42 15.0″ Sized Screen Notebook (view larger image)

Requirements:

  • Sturdy – Good build quality was a must for me.  I have seen a lot of laptops lately that aren’t that old seeming ready to fall apart.  You could hear my old Compaq creek under it’s own weight when you picked it up by the side.  Plus I figured a laptop with good build quality would retain value better in case I wanted to sell it.
  • Service – I wanted a laptop that was backed by good service.  If I ever have an issue, I want it resolved quickly.  I wanted the white glove treatment.  I didn’t want to have to call a service center in another country where language can be an issue.
  • Good Performance – I wanted good performance.  I don’t consider myself to be a power user, but I like it to be snappy.  I also wanted a 7200RPM hard drive.  It did not have to be large since I have an external drive in a case.  My other laptops have had this and I didn’t want to go without.  I didn’t care if I had to upgrade it myself.
  • Screen – It had to be a high resolution screen.  I had recently upgraded my desktop to an LCD right before I got my T41, so I found its XGA resolution to be too small.  I also wanted a matte screen since I find them much easier to use for extended periods.
  • Battery Life – I wanted at least four hours.  I also wanted a modular battery.  I’ve had older laptops where you had to reach for the cord every few hours, which is a drag.
  • Dedicated Video Memory – I wanted dedicated memory not because I game, but I did not want it to draw off the system memory.
  • Light – I wanted my notebook to be light for its screen size class.  I realized that if I got a 15″ screen, six pounds was probably the minimum, but I didn’t want an eight pound behemoth.
  • DVD Burner – I wanted a DVD burner.  I didn’t care if it was internal or external as long as I could use a modular battery.

Buying Decision:I have owned Compaq, Dell and ThinkPad notebooks before my T42 and have worked on many others.  After doing lots of research, I had narrowed it down to the Asus Z71v, the Fujitsu s6231 and ThinkPad T42/T43.  None of the laptops were perfect.  The Asus case was plastic which I did not like and it was a bit of an unknown to me.  I had seen a few Asus laptops and generally had a favorable impression of them, but in the end was not a leap of faith I was willing to make.  I really liked the Fujitsu s6231.  I have recommended them to a few people I know and have heard nothing but good things about them.  I do not like the glossy screens, but if I was going to get one, it would be a Fujitsu.  I was also concerned the Fujitsu would be too small.  At the time I was considering getting rid of my desktop and a 13″ screen seemed too small.  I have since decided to keep my desktop, which in some ways makes me regret not getting the Fujitsu.  In the end I decided on the ThinkPad.  I decided to get the T42 instead of the T43.  At the time T43s could only be had with integrated graphics cards.  I had heard about fan noise issues with the T43s.  I have also heard those issues have been solved with the newer T43s.  The T42 uses the older Dothan Pentium Ms which run at lower voltages than the newer T43.  I was hoping for better battery life on the T42.

Buying:

I purchased my laptop in May.  After deciding to go with the T42, I set about to find the best price. After looking at many models and prices, I decided that ebay was the best place to buy.  I had bought my previous laptop on ebay as well and had a good experience for that purchase.  My seller had over 10,000 feedbacks with 99% positive.  My laptop was retailing on IBM’s site for about $2300 and the cheapest I could find on the internet for a similar model was $1850.  I managed to get mine, the 2379-R9U, for $1600 which was a very good price.  The notebook also came with a free printer which I was able to sell at a later date.  Prices on T43s have come down recently.  I think I can get one now with a DVD burner for around the same price.  I won my auction on a Wednesday and it was delivered the following Monday.  I had requested a tracking number from the seller which actually was emailed to me after the notebook arrived.  Shortly after buying my laptop, I added a 1GB memory module.  I also purchased a NEC ND-6500A hard drive and a case for it.  The case is usb powered so I don’t have to lug around an adapter.

Specs:

  • 1.8Ghz Pentium M/2MB L2 Cache/400Mhz FSB
  • Windows XP Pro
  • 1.5GB DDR PC2700 Memory
  • 60GB Hitachi 7200RPM Hard Drive
  • 15″ SXGA+ FlexView Screen
  • Hitachi-LG CDRW/DVD Combo Drive/External NEC ND-6500A DVD Burner
  • Nine Cell Lithium-Ion Battery/ Modular Bay Battery
  • 64MB ATI Radeon 9600
  • Intel 2200BG Wireless/Bluetooth/56k Modem
  • 2 USB 2.0/2 PCMCIA Slots/Parallel Port/Serial Port//VGA Out/PS2 Port
  • Headphone Jack/Line-Out/Volume & Mute Buttons
  • Fingerprint Reader
  • ThinkLight
  • Three year warranty until April of 2008
  • 6.2lbs./Width 13″/Depth 10.6″/Height 1.3″

Arrival:My laptop arrived on a Monday.  I had a few hours to play with it before I had to leave.  After opening the box and quickly setting the free printer aside, I turned it on.  One of the few things concerns I had about buying on the internet and not from IBM with there 30 day return policy, was having a dead pixel or two which IBM would not fix cause there not enough dead ones.  Returns on the internet can be problematic.  Much to my delight, there were no dead pixels.  Included in the box was the service manual, a Quick-Start guide on how to install memory, a few different heads for TrackPoint, and an advertisement for some Targus bags.  After burning off the recovery discs and the drivers folder, I proceeded to wipe out the hard drive and do a fresh install.

Above and Below view of the T42 (view larger image)

Build & Design:

Like all ThinkPads, the build quality is outstanding.  It just feels solid.  It does not creak when I pick it up.  The case is made of magnesium and titanium with metal hinges for the screen.  It has high quality plastic on the inside.  I can push on the lid and get no ripples.  The screen never moves unless I adjust it.  My T42 has a 15″ screen and weighs a little over six pounds which is very light for its screen size class.  It still feels heavy when compared to my old T41, but I carry it in a backpack with a bunch of other tools.  Even if I had gotten a smaller one, my backpack would have only gone from 15 pounds to 14 pounds.  Some people have commented that they don’t care for the boring ThinkPad design.  Personally I like the black.  It says I don’t mess around.  I sort of think of it as the Volvo of laptops – Boxy but good.

ThinkPad T42 Right side

ThinkPad T42 Left side

Performance:The T42 came with a 1.8Ghz Dothan Pentium M.  It is fast CPU.  I am not a power user so 1.8 Ghz is probably overkill for me.  It is at least the equal of my desktop PC which has an Athlon XP 2600+ CPU.  CPU performance is just one of many things that determines overall system speed.  Second on my list would be hard drive speed.  Mine came with the 7200RPM Hitachi 7k60 hard drive.  It is the best notebook hard drive in my opinion.  It boots in about 20-25 second from when I push the power button to the log on screen.  When I click on an application it opens right up.  It does run a little warmer than the 5400RPM hard drive, but the speed is oh so good.  The 15″ T series is a little thicker than the 14″, so the heat was a little more noticeable on my T41.  It is fairly quiet.  You can hear it if you are in a very quiet room, but otherwise I don’t notice it.  I added a 1GB module of memory shortly after.  Having that much memory is probably overkill, but I got a good price on it making it only slightly more expensive than the 512MB stick.  The performance was a little better after, but nothing great.  I usually say my fan never comes on which isn’t exactly true.  If you place your hand by one of the vents you can feel the hot air flowing out, but I only hear the fan when I turn it on.

Keyboard Area:

IBM T42 keyboard / TouchPad / TrackPoint view (view larger image)

What can I say about the keyboard, it is the best I have used.  I like it better than my desktop keyboard.  The keys are perfectly spaced and sized, keeping errors to a minimum.  There is the right amount of travel when pressing the keys.  Each key seems independent of one another and there is no flex.  The keyboard does not have many extra buttons, only volume controls, mute and the Access IBM button.  ThinkPads do not have a Windows key.  I think they are still mad at Microsoft for stealing the OS market from them.  Every now and again I wish I had this key.  The touchpad works fine.  Sometimes it is a little imprecise.  I personally have never liked TrackPoint like devices all that much.  I think this dates to the first ones which where very stiff and hard to use compared to a mouse.  I like the stick on my T42 better than the old ones.  There are two other heads for the stick included if you do not like the eraser head style one.  I use the larger slightly concave one, but it still feels funny.  I finally rigged it up so I could use it to scroll.  If I pull down on it, it scrolls down and vice versa.  Next to the touchpad is a fingerprint reader.  You can use the fingerprint reader to login and in place of passwords for websites, and while is nice to not have to type my password, I don’t think I would pay extra for it if it weren’t included.  My ThinkPad came with the ThinkLight.  It is a little light you can turn off/on using keyboard controls.  It illuminates the keyboard in dimly lit environments.  I can see where it would come in handy.

Screen:

Front view of T42 with external drive attached

It is a little hard to tell from the picture, but of all the features on my ThinkPad, this is the one I like the best.  I am one of those who does not prefer glossy screens.  I find them hard to use for extended periods.  The FlexView is amazing.  It is only offered on 15″ ThinkPad models and only in SXGA+ resolution.  It is clear and bright from one corner to another.  I had the good fortune of getting one with no dead pixels, the bane of the LCD industry.  It has excellent contrast.  It also offers wide viewing angles.  On a regular matte screen, as you turn it off center the screen darkens.  The FlexView does this too, but not nearly as much.  If I am sitting up with it in my lap, I can turn it down so the lid is parallel to my legs and the screen is completely readable.  I really like the SXGA+ screen.  I found XGA+ to be too small.  I had to increase the DPI a hair to make it more usable for me.

Front view of matte finish screen (view larger image)

Connectivity:

My ThinkPad came with the Intel 2200BG wireless card.  There is no off/on button but can be switched using keyboard controls.  When I first got it, I still had an 802.11b router.  It worked well with that.  I have since upgraded to an 802.11g router and it works well with that too.  I really only use it co share my internet connection so the 802.11b standard is more than enough for my 400k DSL line.  My ThinkPad also came with Bluetooth.  I purchased a Bluetooth enabled Kensington Pilot Mouse to use with it.  It works well and finds it right away when I turn it on.  One of the few faults I can find with my ThinkPad is the lack of connection options.  It has two USB ports and that is it.  It has no firewire or card reader.  Not that I use those all that much, but they would have been nice on such an expensive laptop.  They could have gotten rid of the parallel port to add them because they are rarely used anymore.

Optical Drive:

Most ThinkPads come with a CDRW/DVD combo drives even though DVD burners are common on a lot of other laptops.  Newer T43s are more likely to have a DVD burner.  Mine came with a Hitachi-LG 24x/8x drive combo drive.  ThinkPads have a super slim modular bay.  There are only a few drives that will fit in there.  I decided not to get one with a DVD burner because IBM burners are slow and expensive.  The burn quality on the drive is not very good either.  I have the modular battery and like to keep it the bay, so an external seemed like a good choice.  I purchased a NEC ND-6500A from NewEgg and a case for it from Centrix Intl.  The burn quality on the NEC is the best I have seen on a laptop drive and it is much faster than the 2x Panasonic drives offered by IBM.  The case it a little cheap and platicky, but seem to work as described.  It is USB powered so thankfully I do not have to carry an adapter.

Audio:

It is a laptop so using it’s speakers to listen to audio will do in a pinch, but a good pair of headphones is a must.  I use the ones that came with my Creative Labs Muvo2.  It uses a SoundMax chip.

Battery:

I have the larger nine cell and the modular bay battery.  I haven’t done any scientific testing, but with both batteries full charged it goes between six and seven hours on medium settings with wireless on which is excellent considering the larger screen.  More often than not, I stop using it before the battery runs out.

Software:All ThinkPad T series laptops come with Windows XP Pro.  It comes with quite a bit of additional software.  For the burner there was Sonic Record Now and WinDVD 4 to view DVDs.  Microsoft Works and a 90 day Norton Trial were on there.  It also has numerous utilities installed like battery MaxiMiser, hard drive protection software, and the UltraNav.  There is the Access IBM button as well.  You can think of it as your notebook’s assistant.  Push it and you can find out everything you wanted to know about your ThinkPad and more.  You can use it to recover your ThinkPad in case it ever gets corrupted.  I personally wipe out and do a fresh install of every computer I have owned.  That way I can get rid of all the extra stuff I don’t like.  Then after I finish installing it just the way I like, I use Arconis True Image to make an image of the hard drive.  That way if I ever want to re-install, True Image can re-install a blank hard drive in about five minutes.  I have also had Unbuntu Linux and Windows 2000 installed on it.  Both worked very nicely.  ThinkPads are known to be Linux friendly.  T42s also support Windows NT, Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows ME.

Service & Support:I have only had to use support a few times since owning my ThinkPads.  They always have picked up in the first few rings and I have never been put on hold.  The reps have been friendly and competent.  It would be nice if there was chat or an email offered as support.  Sometimes I want to ask a question, but I do not feel it rises to the level of making a phone call.  When I installed Windows 2000 I was having an issue with the wireless driver.  I called support and they declined to help me since my notebook came with XP.  I thought that was a little shabby.  I could understand if they never supported Windows 2000, but they support Windows back to Windows 95.

Conclusion:Overall the T42 is a great notebook.  When I am using it in my lap it is a dream.  The performance is very good and the FlexView screen is astounding.  A great choice for people like me who do not like coated screens.  It is very well constructed.  I can see why for me it is the perfect blend of size and performance.  Not too big and not too small.  Anyone looking for a well constructed and versatile notebook, business user or otherwise, would do well to consider it.

Pros & Cons:Pros:

  • Well Built
  • Great Screen
  • Good Performance
  • Long Battery Life
  • Cool and Quiet

 Cons:

A Little Heavy
  • No Good DVD Burners
  • Pricing and Availability

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