My Gear – Chapter 20
Lenovo ThinkPad 13

Before I talk about my new computer I have to bring things up to date on my old computer. The computer being retired is a Lenovo ThinkPad T400 that I bought in March of 2009 but which didn’t appear as a My Gear item until October of 2012. At that time I was already bragging about its longevity and it is still functioning today although it’s hardy original and the ThinkPad 13 replaced it as my front line machine nearly half a year ago [12/12/16].

Those who follow my trip journal have been exposed to most of the T400’s story but here’s a summary. It was running fine six months after that 2012 My Gear article when I spilled a glass of water on it and toasted the mother board. That was less than a month before the Lincoln Highway Centennial Tour and I panicked. I rushed out and bought a Lenovo IdeaPad and had started installing the necessary software when I saw a disk-less T400 on eBay. I bought it, swapped in the drive from my old unit and immediately sold the IdeaPad (with the dreaded Windows 8) at a loss which I didn’t mind a bit. The eBay sourced computer hiccuped in Kearney, NE, and required some assistance from a local shop but otherwise served throughout the month long trip. The company that I’d bought it from listed a second identical machine which I bought as added insurance. It was a good move as it has taken all three carcasses to keep one T400 working. Display electronics and power supplies have faltered and my reports of preparation for the last few road trips including new duct tape to restrain the hard disk were not jokes.

Toward the end of 2016 I experienced a gust of common sense. Or maybe it was a gust of fear. Computer malfunctions had interfered with timely posting on multiple trips and the pile of spare parts was getting smaller. There was a big sale on at Lenovo and I decided to treat myself to a Christmas present. I futzed around with details too long and missed the end of the sale by hours. A telephone call revealed that the sale’s end was quite firm but there was another option. Units ordered but not shipped for one reason or another are sold at a discount. The person I spoke with found one very similar to what I had intended to order for even less money. The price difference was partially due to the discount and partially do to a couple of absent features. The biggest feature difference was a 256 GB hard drive versus 512. With the 320 GB drive in the T400 sometimes feeling cramped, that concerned me but it has not been an issue at all so far.

The new machine is a Lenovo ThinkPad 13 with 2.30 GHz i5-6200U processor. It has 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. For any who don’t know, SSD means Solid State (rather than rotating) Disk. This makes a tremendous difference in the time required to power up. Other operations are also faster and it uses less power and makes less noise. Actually, it’s silent. The 13 in the model name is the display’s diagonal dimension. The whole machine is significantly smaller and lighter than the one it replaces. Contributing to the reduced weight is the absence of a CD drive. This was not even a slight problem as I already owned an external USB CD for use with the T400 which had become unreliable in CD writing.

The OS is 64 bit Windows 7 Professional. It’s an OS that is no longer being developed but will be supported through 2020. Moving to it from Vista required little relearning and absolutely no cursing.

Acquiring the new machine triggered some other software changes as well. I really like Microsoft Outlook and Word but, with no need for compatibility with an employer’s software, I could not justify the cost. I am now using Gmail in place of MS Outlook and am adjusting a little more and whining a little less each day. Open Office Writer has been installed to do MS Word’s job. It is not a perfect replacement as using it to access existing Word documents instantly shows. It seems to be quite capable, however, and I’m hoping it will satisfy my few needs for producing new documents. It will be tested as I get serious about producing another book later this year.

All in all I am quite happy with my purchase six months in. It’s smaller, lighter, and faster than the eight year old laptop it replaces and it cost less than half as much ($595 vs. $1297). I guess it only has to make it four years to prove its value but I’m thinking it’s going to make it a lot longer.

My Gear – Chapter 19 — Lumix DMC-ZS40

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