Lenovo X1 Carbon: Some thoughts about an old friend

In the earliest days of January 2013 I ordered the first laptop that I’d bought with my own money in over a decade. It was a Lenovo X1 Carbon. I had been carrying an HP 8510P, which was a decent machine, but getting to be very old. Having carried both netbooks and back-breaking portable workstations, I craved an ultrabook, and the X1 Carbon stood out from the pack.

The X1C cost me dearly. At just over $1800, it was the second most expensive computer I’d ever bought, but I don’t regret it for a minute. The fact that I don’t despise it after 5 years proves that it’s been a spectacular laptop.

Except for the CPU, I opted for an i5 vs i7, it was completely optioned. Maximum memory (8 GB) and storage (256 GB.)

It was the first computer I had ordered with an SSD. It contains a 256 GB m.2 2280 SanDisk drive. It was at a transitional point in technology, so it’s an mSATA3 drive. It predates both mPCIe and NVMe.

None of this would be a concern, except that the X1 suffered a failed Windows update a few weeks back. It was rendered unbootable. Fortunately, I had a full system image that was only a couple weeks old. I was able to wipe the SSD, restore the backup image, and get back to business.

This leaves me wondering about the state of that five-year old SSD. SanDisk has a drive utility that reports that the device has 90% of it’s lifespan remaining.

SandDiskDrive Utility

I’m told that’s based upon the limited number of write cycles that flash media can sustain. Lenovo themselves pointed me to a page that projects the lifespan of an SSD into the hundreds of years. This seems optimistic to me. But then again, I had issues with the Crucial SSD in my old desktop.

Also, what about the future of the X1C itself. At this age, should I bother with replacing the SSD? Or just write of the laptop completely? Retiring the X1C hardly seems appropriate. Since I travel very little these days I don’t rely on it for much.

I tend to hang onto computer hardware. In April 2017 I bought the Airtop-PC, which moved my old HP H8 (AMD FX6100) desktop into a utility role. The even older HP DC5750 desktop that I used three-computers-back is currently running Logitech Media Server, serving music to our various Squeezeboxes (and equivalents.) Heck, it wasn’t so long ago that I finally disposed of the Asus Pundit (P1-H1, AMD Athlon XP) that was my primary desktop some four computers ago.

As I ponder the future of the X1C, I urge you to take the lesson from my recent experience. Make routine backups. Spacious portable hard drives are dirt cheap. Most recently I’ve been using the free version of Macrium’s Reflect for Windows. The process is easy. Restoring is also easy. It’s a good habit to have, and a good way to go about it.

Interconnecting Jitsi Video Bridge, ZipDX & YouTube Live

In the production of over 530 VUC sessions we’ve undertaken some odd and occasionally rather complicated arrangements. Quite possibly the most complex is when we interconnect the WebRTC-based Jitsi Video Bridge with YouTube Live and the ZipDX conference bridge. I set about described aspects of this process a year ago, but stopped short of describing how the entire arrangement worked. Well, worked most of the time. This article will bring you current with my various attempts to make this process robust and repeatable.

Preface: When we use Jitsi Video Bridge we lose a couple of the conveniences that come with a Hangout-On-Air. Where a Hangout-On-Air has an automatic link to a YouTube Live event, we must do this manually when we use JVB.
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Lenovo – The Day The Dock Died

Lenovo X1 Carbon and Docking StationThis is the tale of my first interaction with Lenovo on a matter of warranty support. As you may know I’ve owned a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon ultrabook since January of 2013. It’s a nice, light computer. While it’s coming on two years old, it still serves me well enough.

Since a change in career path in April 2013 I’m not the road warrior that I was for so many years. In fact, I’m largely home office-bound. That puts the X1C in a diminished role, secondary to my desktop. Even so, I’ve augmented the little X1C, adapting it to have greater connectivity.

 

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Deal Alert: Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch Ultrabook

Woot.com is today offering the Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch Ultrabook for $899 & $999. I own the prior model, which is not touch enabled. Even though it’s coming on two years old I still like it a lot. It was a LOT more expensive than this current deal.

The more costly model on offer is to my mind the better deal. It features 8 GB of memory, a high-resolution (QHD = 2560 x 1440 pixel) display  and a larger battery.

According to Woot they both have Displayport and HDMI outputs, where my earlier model had only DisplayPort. Both models include a 128 GB SSD.

In theory there remains an open mPCIe slot that would allow the addition a of a second SSD. This is what I planned to try if the 256 GB SSD I custom ordered in my X1C was too small for my needs

An Open Letter To Lenovo

In January of 2013 I bought one of your X1 Carbon ultrabooks. It’s a lovely machine. Splendid hardware design. You should be proud. I gather that others have come to share my opinion of your wares.

Lenovo X-1-Carbon

However, given your apparent aim at business class customers, at least with respect to the more costly models, I question your decision to litter up your products with bloatware.

I think that you might consider the example set by Google’s Nexus series of Android devices. The attraction of the Nexus series is the pure-Android experience, without any added bloatware.

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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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