ideas for laptop selection

Daniel Pocock daniel at
Sun Apr 30 19:58:47 UTC 2017

On 30/04/17 20:59, Steven R. Baker wrote:
> 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.

In all fairness, I think that is why they have kept the X2x0 series
going in parallel with the X1, they know it is a bit different and they
are giving people the choice.

The fact it has a TrackPoint still makes it partially a ThinkPad though.

> 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.

The 2017 model X1 Carbon is apparently 8% smaller than the previous X1
model, so a lot closer in size to the X270.  Have you had a chance to
see one and compare it?

The marketing says they have kept the same 14" screen but reduced the
border around the screen.

Looking at the spec sheet, it appears to be 1cm wider than my X220
Tablet but about the same height.

> 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.

Being able to fit into these spaces is an issue for me too.

>> 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.)

I can also compile on remote servers so I can manage without the extra
cores, as much as I would like to have them.  On my desk I typically
have 24 cores.

Having something ultraportable for use on trains, planes and at
conferences is essential for me.  Even with the X220 Tablet, I don't
always take it out with me because of the weight.  The lighter my next
laptop, the more frequently I will take it with me.



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