black is beautiful


I’d been using an IBM Thinkpad T40 for the past couple of years for my research. It was a fine machine, ordered and paid for by my advisor. After my graduation though, he needed his sizable investment back of course, so I began researching what I should replace the machine with.

My needs were 1. thin and light, given that it would be used for travel to conferences and on the bus, 2. fairly powerful given that I will be running IDL and MATLAB, and 3. rock-solid and dependable. These requirements, along with a lot of help from the forum at, led me right back to IBM/Lenovo’s T42. I chose the T42 instead of the T43 primarily because I could get a faster hard drive. I spent about a month and a half researching models from Fujitsu, Asus, Toshiba, and HP before finally deciding that the T42 was indeed the machine for me. I placed an order in November and the machine was received early December.

Here are some specs:

* Pentium M 1.86 GHz
* 14.1″ SXGA screen
* 1 GB RAM
* 7200 RPM, 60 GB hard drive
* Bluetooth and Wireless 802.11b/g
* model part number 2373m3u

I ran some basic benchamrks on the old machine before sending it back to my advisor and will run the same ones on my new one soon for a laster post.

One of the major issues I faced was whether I should wait until the new Yonah (dual-core) Pentium-M chips were released in January. I decided to buy right away, however, because new T60 model with Yonah would be more expensive anyway, and I also needed a machine asap since my advisor needed the old one back and couldn’t wait until January (esp with ISMRM 2006 on the horizon)

I got a very solid config at a very reasonable price, which I think will be more than sufficient for the next few years to handle whatever I need. I could have saved another $150 had I purchased from an ebay reseller, but I think that the peace of mind of buying direct from Lenovo was worth the markup.

I notice via Brian that Apple has finally played catch-up to IBM and released a black laptop of their own. If I were a Dell user I might have some envy, but come on, a glossy screen and iPod lacquer finish? And what’s with the chiclet-style keyboard? It reminds me of the Apple IIc.

I love my ThinkPad. The keyboard is the best I have ever used on any computer, laptop or desktop (and I’m not alone in that assessment). The wireless antenna is built into the screen lid, so you get tremendously stable and sensitive WiFi reception. The components are top-drawer quality and the support software suite for rescue, recovery, administration, and security is astounding – easily several hundred dollars worth of software alone. Even the small touches, like the built-in keyboard light and the hard-drive shock protection are designed with the actual user experience in mind – not bells and whistles (like the integrated iSight on the macbook) that have no contribution to actual productivity.

Yeah, I am a partisan. But unlike in politics, my partisanship doesn’t require that I hate Macs – in fact the day the Merom-based Mac Mini comes out, I am buying two! A laptop is an intensely personal choice and everyon’es mileage may vary, but this is the best computer I’ve ever owned, and where else to share my love for it than here?

5 thoughts on “black is beautiful”

  1. The new black MacBook is baffling. It’s pretty much the same as the white one, except that it has 20GB more hard drive space and $200 higher price. Huh? $200 for a marginally bigger HD and a color change? I like Macs (well, I like OSX), but I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to pay such a high premium (even for the white one)… then again, that premium appears to be shrinking…

  2. I think you’re obsessed with keyboards; always encouraging others to touch and feel it. 😀

  3. Mark, I think that Apple has been pretty consistent – you pay more for extra “style”. And black is the new white, apparently. It’s basically a fashion premium.

    What is more baffling is how this new MacBook will uttterly cannibalize sales of the iBook, but I guess they can dump those machines on the resale/educational channel.

    quorlox, you’ve seen my keyboard, admit it was awesome :) Keep i mind though that 99% of your interaction with your machine (esp if youre a blogger, writer, or programmer) is through the keyboard. It makes a difference – the single most important piece of teh user interface.

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