Thinkpad X31 notes #2

Finally had time to unpack my new IBM Thinkpad X31 laptop and transfer files onto it. I’m now on the return leg of my first long plane trip with it, and overall, I’m relatively happy.

First, the good news. The Intel Pentium M works as promised, deliving excellent performance with great battery life. The speed-up from my older X20 is quite noticeable. The battery life is roughly four hours in real-world use, going up to seven and a half with the snap-on extended battery. I made it through the whole Philadelphia-Amsterdam flight with juice to spare.

What I’m not completely satisfied with are the ergonomics. The keyboard is better than any other Windows utraportable, but still not as good as the previous generation Thinkpad. The most annoying thing is the wrist wrest underneath the keyboard. It’s shorter than before, and the front edge is more steeply beveled. I usually find my wrists sitting right on the sharp corners of the machine, which is not the most comfortable experience. But I can live with it.

The X31 is basically a retrofit of IBM’s X30 ultraportable with the Pentium M / Centrino, which means it may not take full advantage of what the new CPU allows. In contrast, IBM’s mid-range T40 was redone from the ground up. I’m guessing that the X40 will fix the things I don’t like… but I’m not willing to wait.