IBM Thinkpad 42

Quite exactly one year ago, I reviewed my then new IBM Thinkpad T40. To save you from going there and have a look: I really liked the device.

In the year that has passed, I had some things that began to bug me me, though they are somewhat minor. I have not noticed them back when I made the review:

  • The harddrive is slow. And when I say slow, I really mean it. Windows has a tendency to swap, regardless of available memory. And those times when my TP was swapping made it nearly impossible to work with it. The boot time after entering my password and before the system really gets responsive (you know: The GUI is drawn, but does not really react to input yet) was quite long – stripping down the installation and defragmenting the drive did not really help, which – considering 1 GB of available RAM – lead me to the conclusion that the drive really was quite a bottleneck.
  • The display had a resolution of just 1400×1050. I would really have liked the 1600×1200 one
  • Soon after I got my T40, the T41 was released with a feature to automatically park the heads of the harddrive and spin it down when the laptop is shaken. This feature was absent in my T40 and this march, I had to learn this the hard way: The drive died (I was very lucky: It only had tons and tons of bad blocks on the system partition – my data was not affected). This was when I really wanted this drive-spin-down feature
  • Graphics-Performance was somewhat behind of what I would have whished for. Especially it was not possible to run epsxe at sufficient speeds. Certainly not something I would need in a computer I use mostly for work, but it would have been nice. Doom 3 comes to mind, too, though I don’t think any laptop existing today is actually powerful enough for that game – at least no portable one ;-)

And that’s about it: Minor issues. I am a really big fan of my T40. Really. Believe me. And continue to believe me when I tell you this: IBM has announced the T42 model which finally comes with the 1600×1200 screen resolution. And not only that: The built-in Fire GL Chip from ATI should definitely provide enough juice for epsxe (though I’ve not tested that yet because of the lack of PSX-CD’s here in the office). I could not resist getting one

I mean, 1200×1600 resolution is just great for anything you do beyond just surfing the web. While you can use more than one monitor, it’s always more convinient to have everything on just one screen. Just think of Delphi with all it’s palettes and stuff. Very convinient

And this harddrive spinning down feature. Very convinient too.

So, I’m writing this blog entry on my brand new IBM ThinkPad T42p. Time for a review, don’t you think?

From the outside, IBM has not changed much: With it’s 15 inch monitor, the whole thing got a bit bigger (and a little bit thicker, if I’m not mistaken), but else they have left the outside unchanged from my T40 model.

On the inside, when installing Windows XP (while the IBM preinstallations are quite un-intrusive, I still prefer a completely un-customized installation of Windows and downloading just the drivers I need. That way I could even test my slipstreamed SP2 installation), I noticed the immense power this thing had. After just about 15 minutes, the installation was completed (excluding the drivers, of course). Boot time was much shorter than what I had on my T40 – even considering the emptyness of the harddrive. And it remained to be that short after copying over my profile. I really think, they finally used a better harddrive. Because the new computer is just 100 Mhz faster than the old (1.6 -> 1.7 GHz), I think that it must be the drive performing better.

The display is great. Highly readable and very bright. I really like the resolution. Display-related, though is my one big problem I have with this wonderful toy (why oh why must everything have at least one flaw?):

The DVI-Port (provided by my docking station) is (still) limited to 1280×1024 pixels, so I have to use the analog output to power my 1600×1200 monitor, giving me a somewhat suboptimal performance. Too bad. Maybe tey’ll fix that later.

Now I’m looking forward to check the computers 3D-performance. If there’s something unusual about it, I’m going to post it, of course.

Overall, I think, if you don’t need the 1600×1200 resolution, you can live without upgrading. If you really like (or even depend on) that big resolution (and consequently high DPI count), you should maybe consider updating. Was there not that problem with the DVI port, this would be the perfect notebook. With this flaw, it’s just the best one existing on the market. ;-)

UPDATE: Jepp. ePSXe works. It works extremely well, actually. I’m using Pete’s OpenGL GPU plugin with nearly everything turned on and I’m still not getting any lag. This is nice.