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Augmenting An Ultrabook

Lenovo X1 Carbon and Docking StationWay back in January when I bought a Lenovo X1 Carbon (X1C) I was a bone fide corporate road warrior. The decision to move into an ultrabook was motivated largely by the desire to have less to carry.

More recently I’ve transitioned into a more stay-in-the-home-office role. Sooooo, I’m not carrying things around very much…but I am living with some of the compromises entailed by the ultrabook class of device. All of this has me wondered when it’s ok to spend a bit more to augment the X1C vs going in another direction entirely?

Allow me to share some of the things that have come to light about the X1C. These are not so much defects as practical realities attached to the ultrabook form factor. For example, there aren’t very many ports. To be more specific, there’s one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port and a displayport.

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Contemplating Keyboards

X1-Carbon & HP PavilionAfter a few months with the Lenovo X1 Carbon ultrabook I’m still rather impressed with the device. It’s in many ways the nicest laptop style computer that I’ve ever used. Even so, the differing keyboards between it and my desktop keeps presenting an annoyance. It has me considering the purchase of a new desktop keyboard.

My desktop, an HP Pavilion H8-1214, typical of consumer class machines, came with a terrible keyboard. The system was purchased from Woot.com in July 2012. It was nicely specified and very good deal, so I simply replaced the supplied keyboard with something more appropriate.

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Dave Michels On The Demise Of Netbooks

Self-proclaimed telecom Blogalyst and all-around great guy Dave Michels recently posted some interesting observations about Microsoft, the sorry state of the PC industry and the demise of the netbook category. As someone who has counted a couple of netbooks as important tools in my arsenal I’ve been pondering his assertions. While I agree with many of his observations, I’m not so certain that I draw the same conclusions. Netbooks were doomed to be transitional items from the start.

Dave is correct that Microsoft took a dim view of netbooks, offering only Windows XP Home at a price point that would permit them to retail in the $200-300 range, at least initially. Recall that the entire category was started by the Asus Eee PC. That device offered a 7.0” display, Intel Celeron CPU,  512 MB of memory and 8 GB of flash storage and sold for $199. That device tapped Linux to keep the price down and the performance acceptable.

One of the innovative aspects of the early netbooks was the use of flash-based storage. This was before SSDs were commonplace. It was a great way to eek some performance from otherwise pokey hardware.

The category evolved quite quickly, with most netbooks offering traditional hard drives for storage and displays in the 9-10” range. Most were based upon Intel’s Atom CPU family. At their peak they sold in the range of $350-500.  Only the occasional model reached beyond those prices.

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Eight Weeks Later: Living With The Lenovo X1 Carbon Ultrabook

thinkpad-x1-carbon-site-300pxWhile under a different title, this post is the third in a series called A Road Warrior Plans To Shed Some Weight. It describes my thoughts leading to the purchase of an Ultrabook.

It’s been about eight weeks since the Lenovo X1 Carbon arrived. During that time I’ve made three business trips. So I’ve accumulated some experience with the X1 Carbon (hereafter just X1C) both at home and on the road.

The day or two after I placed the order for the X1C I came down with a significant case of buyers remorse. I paid around $1700 for the device, which is without question a lot of money. I had thought that perhaps I was being unduly irresponsible, even for me.

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A Practical Application For Virtualization In The Home Office

Polycom-VVX-600-300pxA short while ago I spend a little time dealing with some Polycom phones in my home office. This time around I needed to perform some firmware updates, but it was little more complicated than normal. The tale highlights how we can make use of a VM in an incidental but convenient role.

The phones I had to update were a mix of Polycom VVX-1500, VVX-600 and VVX-500  models. Some were devices that I had purchased that run release software. Others were devices from  beta programs. Those can only run beta firmware releases. I had several different releases to accommodate.

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Learning About SSDs

HP-Pavilion-HPE-H8-Desktop-PC-300px.pngSolid state disks (SSD) are coming down in price and going up in capacity. The attractions are many; lower power consumption, low heat output, mechanically robust, decent write performance and dramatically faster read performance. There’s plainly a lot to like about SSDs.

Last winter I put a cheap 120 GB San Disk Ultra SSD into my aging netbook and gave it another year’s lease on life. Over the summer I saw a deal on some nicely spec’d HP Pavilion HPE desktops I bought a couple for myself and the Mrs. It seemed a sensible way to move us away from Windows XP.

This is a little story about the solid state disk residing in my desktop PC. The device in question is a 128 GB Crucial M4 model that I added to a new HP desktop purchased from Woot.com last summer. The tale is worth telling because the SSD seemed to fail after just a few months.

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