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.

Flash In The News

microSDXC-trioOne of the announcements coming from MWC2015 today was the release of a frightfully capacious flash memory card from SanDisk. Their new Ultra Premium Edition microSDXC card holds a whopping 200 GB of data! With class 10 performance it’s able to record 1080 video.

The company positions the product as targeting those who want to collect and carry massive amounts of media in their handheld devices. You can expect to put 20 hours of VC1 encoded 1080p video on the tiny card.

At first glance, I am at a loss to know why I would truly need such vast storage in a tiny flash card. However, Alan Buckingham provides some enlightenment via Beta News. He notes that there are a coming wave of security cameras that require substantial local media storage. This also came up in conversation with Grandstream during VUC529. Some of their surveillance cameras & encoders sport USB or SD-based local storage capability.

At $399 the monster SanDisk card is not exactly cheap, but it’s still only $2/GB. That’s a bargain compared to Sony’s SR-64HXA audiophile microSDXC card. Announced at CES2015, the 64 GB Class 10 card has an asking price of $155. That’s $2.42/GB. It’s marketed in Japan as “for Premium Sound,” presumably targeting those who would also shell out $1200 for their latest ZX2 uber-walkman

In contrast, Amazon has SanDisk Extreme 64GB UHS-I/U3 Micro SDXC Memory Card for just $45, which is just $0.70/GB. For my money, that’s where I’d put my bits, be they music or other.

Sony has clearly lost it’s way. Although, there is a long and storied history of depriving the rubes of their currency. This holds especially true in the realm of audiophiliacs. Witness Audioquest, who offers a $10k audiophile Ethernet cable. P.T. Barnum would be proud.

Deal Alert: BUY.COM Offering SanDisk Cruzer 4 GB USB Sticks 2 for $7.99

I know we’ve been down this road before. These USB sticks are on the short list of those that can be used with Polycom SoundPoint phones that are capable of recording calls to a USB port.

At first glance 4 GB might seem small, but it’s 30+ hours of phone call in uncompressed wav format. They’re very handy for the podcaster who wants convenient, high-quality call recording.

If you need these you can get them here.

Newsflash: SSD Pricing Is Getting Enticing

Back in January I rather impulsively purchased a 120 GB Sandisk Ultra SSD. At $120 it was just too tempting to pass up. Until recently that disk lived in my HP Mini 5102 netbook.

In truth, 120 GB was on the borderline of being large enough for what I need. I have a 50 GB paid Dropbox account. That dictates that s very small disk will present certain inconveniences.

The SSD in the netbook achieved what I had hoped. The little PC booted faster, ran faster and had longer battery life than with the stock WD Scopio drive.

The events of past week or two have resulted in my having a spare 750 GB Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drive. I’ve swapped that into the netbook for now. That leaves the SSD without a home, a situation that I will surely remedy shortly.

Continue reading “Newsflash: SSD Pricing Is Getting Enticing”

Mini-Me And The SSD

SanDisk-SSD & HP-5103A couple of weeks ago one of the daily deals emails from New Egg made an offer that I found I could not resist. I am weak, it’s true. The offer in question was a 120 GB SanDisk Ultra solid state disk (SSD) drive for a mere $120Most SSDs of that size are $180+.

The appeal of SSDs is rooted in the same kind of sensibility that had me building Asterisk appliances that boot from flash media. Flash offers an attractive combination of performance and reliability.

The trade-off presented by SSDs is very high cost-per-gigabyte of storage. This offer, which was basically $1/GB, seemed like a nice chance to try an SSD for the first time. I wasn’t really certain how I’d use it, but I ordered one anyway.

Continue reading “Mini-Me And The SSD”

Deal Alert: San Disk Cruzer Micro 4GB $8.95 @ BUY.COM

I can hear you now. “What! Why would Graves be recommending a plain vanilla USB memory stick? Not especially cheap nor especially large? He must be mad!” That may well be true, but it remains comfortably beside the point.

As you may know we do like our Polycom SoundPoint desktop phones around here. In fact, the IP650 has perched upon my desktop longer than another other single device. One of it’s great conveniences is the software option called the Polycom Productivity Suite, which I purchased for all my IP650s.

This software includes the ability to record calls locally on the phone with just one or two button presses. This has been tremendously useful for podcasting, technical and normal business applications.

Continue reading “Deal Alert: San Disk Cruzer Micro 4GB $8.95 @ BUY.COM”