ideas for laptop selection

Steven R. Baker steven at
Sun Apr 30 20:38:32 UTC 2017

On 30/04/17 21:58, Daniel Pocock wrote:
> 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?

Ah, interesting. That certainly makes the X1 more compelling. I have
only played with a Yoga, but didn't compare it, I was busy drawing with
the stylus.

> 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.

This is promising.

>> 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.

I brought the W550s with me to FOSDEM. I think I brought it one day and
regretted it.


> Regards,
> Daniel
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