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Products I Use: Lenovo ThinkPad T61p

After several years lugging around 17″ laptops made by Dell, I decided to change my strategy a little bit. I decided that I wanted to move to a laptop that had a smaller footprint, and was lighter. I don’t travel that much any longer, but the fact that I could never use my 17″ notebook on a plane was a problem. It meant I had to choose other strategies for being effective on planes. I switched to a Lenovo T61p. The switch has been relatively painless except for some Windows Vista issues that I won’t go into at the moment. In the end there are some things that I really, really, like about the new machine. Specifically:

1) The Ultrabay … I put another hard drive in it so I can run two hard drives to keep my performance up while running virtual machines. In total the machine has 640GB of storage (2x 320GB 7200 RPM drives). More than enough storage.

2) The 8GB of RAM… no, it’s not a stock option, I had to by the memory from Kingston but the operation has been flawless. I was struggling with 2GB of RAM on my Dell Inspiron E1705 — and I’m glad to be free of that problem.

3) The Screen … I was using the 17″ models because as a developer more resolution = greater productivity. I was able to run my Dell @ 1920×1200 on 17″ … I got the 15.4″ screen on the Lenovo … and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to run the resolution that high. Much to my surprise the screen is just as crisp as the Dell … if not crisper.

4) The Trackpoint … I have a really nice mouse, but frankly, I rarely pull it out unless I’m doing some graphics work. Why? Because the Trackpoint is so awesome. I don’t have to move my hands to move the mouse. Even with a nice mouse pulling my hand off the keyboard takes too much time.

5) Fewer wrist issues … I always had trouble with the Dell being too high for comfortable typing so I got the Targus X-Stand. I still use it with the T61p … but I wouldn’t have to the lower height made typing much easier and less painful.

6) Hardware wireless switch — It’s great to be able to turn off wireless (including BlueTooth) with a hardware switch.

7) The feel… The feel of the laptop itself is more solid than the Dell. The metal hinges stand out — but overall it just feels more solid — without feeling heavier.

8) Controls and Software … The included software for managing wireless, network connections, track point/touch pad, etc… is a nice touch. It makes it easier to manage the system and the power consumption.

9) The keyboard light … The keyboard light on the top of the screen is useful for when you’re having trouble working in the dark. I imagine it will be good when giving a presentation.

There are some things that I don’t like…

1) Intel Turbo Memory — One might wonder why a laptop with 8GB of RAM needs what amounts to a 1GB cache. Well, the answer is it was cheap. It was less than $30 and even though people weren’t singing its praises, I felt like it was a reasonable investment to try. Well, that was before the install crashed the first time, I had another blue screen while I was working ,etc. I downloaded an updated driver directly from Intel and things seem to be stable for the moment, but well, for the moment.

2) Fewer USB Ports — The Dell was great in this area — 6 onboard ports. The Lenovo has 3. It’s enough but I wish I had more.

3) Speaker Volume — The Dell had the ability to blast you out of the room. While the T61p is respectable, it could have more umph.

On upgrade that happened coincidentally around the same time was moving to a 24″ LCD (I’ll provide details later)… I have it positioned above the laptop which is great. It’s easier to see than having to turn my head like I had to do with my previous monitor. The T61p drives it really well and the Presentation Director software is slick.

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