Tuesday, July 04, 2006

ThinkPad X41, ten weeks later

I wanted to follow up on my post on getting an X41 with a few more observations on good and bad things I mentioned then. For the most part, I am very happy with the X41, but since I am a resident of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, it is in my nature to complain. I have kept a list of the complaints and I share them with you now. Some are follow ups to my original post, and some are new observations I've made. So, if you're thinking of getting an X41 and you happen to run across this blog entry rather than one of the many others that have been written, well, hell, dude, read on:

Follow up:

  • I uninstalled the Client Security Software and now just use the fingerprint driver. This solved the problem of having to launch another configuration wizard every time I rebooted which would then error out because it didn't like my password. I have since applied a BIOS password which works well for BIOS, but is not always successful in passing through the authentication all the way to login as it is supposed to. I've also noticed that in certain situations on login, the software will appear to register a successful fingerprint read, but will then revert back to the login screen, making me swipe my finger again.
  • For whatever reason, the cursor problem (wherein the cursor jumps down to the bottom right or, less often, left of the screen and sometimes clicks) has rarely reappeared. Someone on either tabletpcbuzz or the ThinkPad forum mentioned that uninstalling the Virtual CD application (sorry, I can't remember what it's called) was the solution -- I did that and though it didn't fix it at first, it seems that I can't remember the last time the cursor jumped down to the corner. I'm sorry if that isn't very definitive but I suggest trying it and then waiting a week or so for results.
  • The battery life is still great. However, I am finding that its connection to the laptop now feels slightly loose after only a few months of use. Admittedly, the laptop has been to and from St. Louis 7 times since I got it, and has also been to and from Madrid and Las Vegas.
  • The pen holder is poorly engineered in my opinion. It is getting harder and harder to make the pen click in to stay in place properly.
  • I think I press the forward and back keys more by accident, when I mean to press a cursor key, than on purpose. But they are still sometimes useful. I think that overall I might rather not have blank keys there than have the navigation keys. Maybe I would have a different opinion if I was less sloppy of a typist. Or I just need more time -- after all, I did eventually get used to the horrible design of the Fujitsu keyboard, in which PgDn, PgUp, Home, and End were not real keys but rather required you to use function keys.
New:
  • The utilities launched by Fn-key combinations are slow to launch. Compare pressing Windows-L, which immediately locks your computer in most circumstances, to pressing Fn-F2, which when I just tried now, took almost 10 seconds to let me press the big "lock computer" button. I've reverted to the old standby, Ctrl-Alt-Del followed by Enter. This I am told is a requirement to maintain your dignity at my client, as there have been many reports of email and desktop wallpaper pranks perpetrated by mischievous IT staff people when laptops are left unlocked. There is no equivalent to turn on or off the wireless radio, unfortunately, so accessing that utility via Fn-F5 is another 10-second wait.
  • I find I miss very much that my old Fujitsu T3010D left power flowing to its USB port while it was in standby. What this meant to me is that I could charge my Treo through the USB cable while leaving the laptop in standby overnight. Now I either have to bring my Treo charger, remember to charge my Treo during the day or while I'm using the laptop in the hotel room, or leave my ThinkPad on overnight to charge the Treo, which seems wasteful. I wish one of the ports in the ThinkPad still supplied power when the laptop was in standby mode.
  • The function keys, in my opinion, are shifted leftward a bit more than I am used to. The main impact is when I'm using MindManager and mean to press F2 ("edit topic text") and instead press F3 ("collapse everything in the map except the branch you're in"). Also, F2 is "rename" in Explorer whereas F3 is "bring up a giant and mostly useless search panel". Both are annoying. I don't think F3 does anything in the other program with which I use F2, Excel.

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Comments:
I also have a similar problem with the cursor jumping to the lower right corner of the screen, usually with cpu intensive applications (microsoft office and acrobat come to mind). It seems that you were close to a solution, however your blog entry cuts off right before you mention it. Could you please describe how you resolved this issue?

thanks, from a fellow x41 user
eugene. sirrice [at] gmail [dot] com
 
Thanks for pointing that out. I have updated the entry.

Tried to email you at eugene.sirrice at gmail but it failed, and gmail wouldn't let me use a space after the first period. Hope you come back to view the update...
 
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