ideas for laptop selection

Steven R. Baker steven at
Sun Apr 30 18:59:49 UTC 2017

On 30/04/17 20:05, Daniel Pocock wrote:
> On 30/04/17 17:00, Steven R. Baker wrote:
>> I've spent a lot of time thinking about this lately. My next machine
>> will be a Purism Librem, I think. But I've been a life-long fan of
>> ThinkPads. I currently have a W550s, an X250, and an X1 Carbon. Cannot
>> recommend enough.
> I've also been on ThinkPad for more than 10 years.  I'm comfortable with
> servicing them and I'm happy with their TrackPoint.
> As long as other options such as the Purism are not 100% free, I would
> not favor them completely over another ThinkPad.
> Even if some of the vPro stuff is hard to avoid, can ThinkPad be ordered
> without vPro or can it be sufficiently disabled?

I don't know about this.

>>> The main reasons for replacing the X220 tablet:
>>> 1. weight - I'd like to get something under 1.5kg, the lower the better
>>> and there are plenty of models between 1.0 and 1.2kg these days.
>>> 2. screen resolution - the 768 pixel screen height is troublesome for
>>> some applications
>> X270 will solve this nicely. So will the X1 Carbon. I have two machines
>> with "HiDPI" (the W and the X1 Carbon) and it's very well supported by
>> both GNOME and KDE.
> What were the factors for you in choosing between X1 Carbon 2017 and the
> X270?  I noticed you preferred X270.
> The older X1 Carbons were a bit bigger but now they have made it smaller
> by reducing the edge around the screen it is very tempting for me.

First, the subjective: the X1 Carbon doesn't feel like a real ThinkPad.
If you were comparing it to an Apple laptop or something, it compares
favourably. It's beautiful, strong, comfortable, etc. It really is a
lovely machine. But I prefer the more traditional ThinkPads. I'm sure
I'm just old and cranky.

Objectively: the removable second battery is a big winner for me, and
the smaller footprint of the X270 means it fits better in my favourite
bag. It's also more comfortable on the tiny tables on our local trains
(I'm in Skåne, in southern Sweden) and on airplanes. Finally, I like the
ultradock better than the "USB hub that's called a dock". I'm not sure
if that's subjective, or objective: but iit does mean that the
additional screen size doesn't matter to me. I have a 40" 4K display at
home, and at work a 32" WQHD display and I use it "like a desktop" in
both places.

I will reiterate about trains + planes: the 12.5" screen really shines
here, because it's shorter than the 14" on the X1 Carbon. I can open the
X250 comfortably, without touching the reclined seat in front of me on a
plane. And it fits at all on the tiny tray on the local trains. The X1
Carbon often can't open to 90°, let alone past it, on planes, and it
doesn't really fit on the tiny tray on the local trains.

> One particular concern I have is that there is nothing with quad core in
> the ultraportable market but I guess I just have to live with that if I
> want long battery life.  Compiling projects like reSIProcate benefits
> from extra cores.

At my day job I work on a graph database, which is about a million lines
of code in Java and Scala. That's why I opted for the W550s with 32G (I
have the loadedest model with every option; it wasn't my bank account).
But when I was using the X250 with only 8G of RAM before I got the W, it
was a mild annoyance. Incremental compilation and the ability to spin up
an AWS instance (on my employers' dime, of course) to do the build for
me really helped.

When I use the X250 for work related things, and I have to wait for a
compile I grab a coffee and don't even think about how much faster the W
is. When I use the W550s and pick it up to put it in my bag, my back
aches and I wish I had just got an X260 or whatever was current when I
ordered the W. (Or just upped the RAM in the 250, but my employer bought
it, and the budget was unlimited.)

If you're going to battery and portability, you have to sacrifice the
speed, which you know. But my experience is that computers are "fast
enough" now adays that going nuts really doesn't matter. Also, since
you're moving from an X220, you won't know what you're missing anyhow.
It'll be a welcome improvement. (Or not. I really don't notice speed
differences anymore.)

>>> 3. battery - it is not like new any more
>> The X270 has a replaceable second battery, so you can carry around as
>> many as you need.
> In 2015 I bought a new battery for the X220 Tablet but I've found that
> "new" batteries are never as good as when the laptop is new.  When you
> buy a "new" battery for an old laptop, there is every chance the battery
> has been sitting in a warehouse for 3-4 years.  So to get a real new
> battery experience, the only option is usually buying a current model
> laptop.

For me, the replaceable battery is more about "I can carry a spare in my
bag" than "I can replace it when it dies completely." That said, battery
technology keeps getting better. Anecdotally, I haven't experienced
noticeable (although I'm sure it's measurable) degradation in the
battery I got with the X250 two years ago.


> Regards,
> Daniel
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