Even before I started working at UZH, I got my new hardware. Back in February, when I visited Zürich to look for rooms, I was offered to choose a new notebook for myself. Since I already have a large notebook (at least that’s what I consider my 14.1″ T61) and toyed around with the idea of getting a desktop again (after 4 years of exclusive notebook use!), I chose an X301. I included some hardware upgrades that weren’t included in the basic offer:
- +2 GB RAM (4 GB overall)
- 3G card
- USB Port Replicator
- DisplayPort->DVI converter
Being in Switzerland, I had the choice between CH and US keyboard layout. Since CH is physically the same as the German layout (105 keys), I took it and haven’t really noticed that the keys have different symbols (as far as most of the special characters are concered) printed on that what appears on the screen when I hit them. I should really get Das Keyboard after all.
The X301 is not quite the workhorse the T61 is, which is especially noticeable from graphics speed, although that might be due to an Intel driver being in several different transitions right now. The SSD compensates for that, booting and starting up is a breeze. Fortunately, I don’t have to do much booting these days, because unlike other major graphics hardware creators, Intel’s developers are able to support powersave modes on Linux hardware, both Suspend-to-RAM and Suspend-to-disk.
Everything else works more or less, even the DisplayPort, dutyfully serving my 24″ screen at the university. The pièce de résistance is definitely the 3G card. I had to install it myself, which was quite a bit more involved than what I would have liked, but it worked on the second try. I got myself a prepaid data contract which allows me to surf the net for 3 CHF/h, which is a good complement to free wireless access at most public hotspots in Switzerland, which is due to SWITCH. The wireless became especially hand today, when I was shopping for a new router without having a clue about what’s good. Standing in the Media Markt (yes, this very pillar of the German retail market also metastasised into Switzerland) network hardware aisles browsing the web with a notebook probably didn’t look as superior as doing the same thing with a smartphone, but it helped me finding a router.
What really sets the X301 apart is the weight. I’m quite used to it by now, since I’ve had it for over a month, but it’s usually the first response I get when I hand it over to somebody else. It is, however, very noticeable in direct comparison, and the T61 feels clunky and hugely oversized when I carry it around or use it on my lap. The battery lifetime is okay, usually I get 3h under Linux. There’s probably some more running time to be gotten, but I’m more or less done tweaking the system for now and using it for actual work; or for blogging, emailing and chatting on my nice, new, comfy chair.