Law School Discussion

Buying a Notebook Computer for Law School? The Q and A thread

Re: Buying a Notebook Computer for Law School? The Q and A thread
« Reply #100 on: March 06, 2006, 11:02:15 PM »
Well I have been playing with my new X41 this evening. First Impression?

1) It's tiny. Small. Waaaaaay small. and light. Even with the eight cell battery


So is it small in a good way or is it impossible to type?  They say it has a "full size keyboard" but is this true?  Also, how does the screen construction seem to be?  This is one of my concerns about a tablet cause I think my hand would be resting on it all the time.  And finally the one hinge, do you think this will hold up as well as the normal two metal hinges? 

Sorry for all of the questions but this is the same notebook I'm thinking of getting.

Tiwaz

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Re: Buying a Notebook Computer for Law School? The Q and A thread
« Reply #101 on: March 06, 2006, 11:14:15 PM »
Well, I took a look at the latest Consumer Reports repair ratings.  Dell doesn't come off looking very good, but then neither do any of the other major brands.  It seems like laptops are inherently unreliable.  Maybe I'll just pay for a three year warranty and save myself the worry.

Re: Buying a Notebook Computer for Law School? The Q and A thread
« Reply #102 on: March 07, 2006, 01:33:48 AM »
I'm using an X41 -- I like it. I wish it were mine. I have no trouble typing; then again, I have small hands. A buddy of mine has one; he's got larger hands and doesn't seem to have issues with typing.

My computer is a Dell 600m. No where near as sturdy. It needs to take a second trip back to Dell for a replacement of most of the guts. I don't want to deal with Dell, but I need to get the boatanchor fixed, soon.

OingoBoingo

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Re: Buying a Notebook Computer for Law School? The Q and A thread
« Reply #103 on: March 07, 2006, 09:56:14 AM »
Well I have been playing with my new X41 this evening. First Impression?

1) It's tiny. Small. Waaaaaay small. and light. Even with the eight cell battery


So is it small in a good way or is it impossible to type?  They say it has a "full size keyboard" but is this true?  Also, how does the screen construction seem to be?  This is one of my concerns about a tablet cause I think my hand would be resting on it all the time.  And finally the one hinge, do you think this will hold up as well as the normal two metal hinges? 

Sorry for all of the questions but this is the same notebook I'm thinking of getting.

The machine is EXCEPTIONALLY sturdy. I am impressed with the construction. Nothing about it feels flimsy at all. Aside from a smaller backspace key and smallish arrow keys, the keyboard feels fine. In fact they are handy "back" and "forward" Internet explorer page keys just above the right and left arrow keys that have proven useful.

Let me just say how disappointed I would have been if I settled for the non-tablet X41. Once you convert to tablet mode, you wonder how you ever did without it. I actually prefer reading in the tablet mode. The screen becomes a better fit for Word, Internet Explorer, Windows Journal, OneNote and other programs.  The pen is the only "cheap feeling" part of the machine but it is light and easy to use. Once it gets to about a half inch away from the screen the pointer shows up. You can keep this distance and move the pointer around until you get precisely where you want. At that point double tap and you can select, touch the screen and drag and you can drag. It works sorta the same way as your pda, except for the fact that you can move the pointer, which is EXTREMLY helpful in bumpy situations (read: bus) where it is hard to control pen movement on screen.

I have used the notes and Windows journal program briefly to write and erase text. The whole process works smoothly. I have not converted any handwritten text into typewritten yet - I'll try that later this week.

Oingo.

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Re: Buying a Notebook Computer for Law School? The Q and A thread
« Reply #104 on: March 07, 2006, 10:12:05 PM »
Oingo Boingo,

Thank you so much for your willingness to share your experiences with the X41.  I've also been looking at that exact model.  I'm so glad you brought up the "bus" issue.  I'll be doing a 3 1/2-hour "express" bus commute to and from law school, so I've been looking at the Tablet PC as a way to possibly increase my commuting productivity.

I'm very interested in any further comments you'll have on the X41.

Officer Rod Farva

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Re: Buying a Notebook Computer for Law School? The Q and A thread
« Reply #105 on: March 08, 2006, 07:22:27 AM »
Vapid, I would stay away from Sony. They use all sorts of proprietary drivers (or at least used to) and don't have the best reputation as reliable machines. HP is pretty well liked, but I'd still take the T43 without a doubt. IBM makes very good, very reliable machines.

My opinions are based on time spent in a large, diverse tech forum and on cnet's review section.

Hobert

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Re: Buying a Notebook Computer for Law School? The Q and A thread
« Reply #106 on: March 08, 2006, 08:33:32 AM »
I am definitely going to get a T or X series Thinkpad. I just got IBM employee prices for a few of the models I was considering. They aren't bad at all.

If there is a chance that you know someone who knows someone who works for IBM, try to find them. All you need is the number to call and their employee ID. It is relaltively painless for them and perfectly within the rules to let friends get machines throught the plan.

OingoBoingo

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Re: Buying a Notebook Computer for Law School? The Q and A thread
« Reply #107 on: March 08, 2006, 08:58:27 AM »
Ok, Oingo (or anyone else):

1. Assume that I'm almost completely computer illiterate (I use them for school work, internet, small applications [Party Poker, Yahoo Spades], and a little digitial photography).

2. I'd like something light, but I'm a big guy, so I'd rather have something with a nearly-full-sized keyboard and a 14-15" screen than something in the 2-4 pound range.

3. Every Dell I have ever owned has been a piece of crap (admittedly, they were all a year or two old when I bought them), so they are out of the question.

4. The computers that have most attracted me are: (pros;cons)

a) Sony Vaio FS series (big, but light and thin; feels a little less-than-sturdy);
b) HP dv1000t (powerful, sturdier, and cheap; unneccessary DVD buttons and remote are just taking up space, smaller screen than the Vaio);
c) Thinkpad Z60m (reliability, touchstick, reasonably cheap; can't see it in person, allegedly dim monitor)
d) Thinkpad T43 (reliability, touchstick; very expensive)

My questions:

1. Does anyone have any experience with any of these? Good/bad things to say? 
2. What is the difference between the Z60m and the T43?  Why is the one so much more expensive than the other?
3. If I was going to spend the money on the T43, would it be better to move up to the tablet X41?  What are the benefits of tablets for those of us who do little more than homework and web browsing?

I have a total of ZERO experience with all the machines you have mentioned. I avoided Sony machines because of the quaity of build concerns that I have read in many places (including CNET). When I saw the Vaio in person, the keyboard felt flimsy - nowhere near as tactile as the Thinkpads. The HP looks very cool but the thing I dislike about all the HP's you see at CompUSA & Best Buy et all is that they are very flashy and call attention to themselves (Think: Close Encounters of the Third Kind). As you mentioned, there are more buttons than I would know what do with. This bothers me with my wife's laptop (a three year old Chembook with a lot of fussy buttons) and I just didn't want to have to deal with that.

The Z60m and T43 are fine machines. I have seen the T43 for ~$1400 with some pretty basic configurations. You could do MUCH worse. Resist buying the machine with the most "features" for the money. It's a hard thing to do, especially when your spending close to $2000 on a laptop. The thing to realize is that even if they cost the same, machine A may be a better deal, long term, than machine B with a "stronger" feature set. Don't fall into the "since they are all made in China so they must be the same" fallacy. It ain't true.

As for the usefulness of the tablet, I have to say that I have stepped into the waters and I am converted! I do not know why more of these type of machines aren't being made or sold. I can't begin to tell you how much easier it is to "compute" on the bus and in other cramped quarters in tablet mode. I don't really type much on the bus - I mostly read. It is natural to navigate windows with the pen. The screen is real sharp and text appears crisp. I have bad eyesight but even for me it is easy to focus. The viewing angle(s) on the machine are very good. The pen pointer placement is accurate. I have not experienced any goofy lag with the machine when writing although I still have not tried to convert my writing into text (I haven't figured out how yet). The included Franklin Plan PLus software seems pretty nifty - that said, One Note and Office 2003 make this software seem unnecessary.

I did a comprehensive update of the bios and drivers last night using the Leveno update software. For those who are not computer savvy, the automatic installer works real real well. I have been used to installing a new bios by burning a CD or writing the files to a floppy & rebooting. The Thinkvantage thingy just installs & reboots automatically - I was impressed. Plus the boot time after the update was nearly cut in half (the X41 still takes 20 more secs than my wife's laptop).

My only pet peeve with the machine has to do with the wireless internet connections. I cannot get the X41 to connect with my home network at full speed. There is a known cross platform issue with the Intel 2200 pro G wireless internet card that makes connections flaky and causes low speed issues. Before I updated the driver I was seeing both problems. After updating the flakiness went away but the slowness remains. I'll put in a call to Leveno this weekend to tyr and figure things out.

Oingo.

Hobert

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Re: Buying a Notebook Computer for Law School? The Q and A thread
« Reply #108 on: March 08, 2006, 09:25:42 AM »
I am definitely going to get a T or X series Thinkpad. I just got IBM employee prices for a few of the models I was considering. They aren't bad at all.

If there is a chance that you know someone who knows someone who works for IBM, try to find them. All you need is the number to call and their employee ID. It is relaltively painless for them and perfectly within the rules to let friends get machines throught the plan.

What is the discount?  That is, how hard should I work at this?  I'm sure that I know someone at IBM within four degrees.

I picked a couple configurations from the tabook I was interested in. Tabook found here: ftp://ftp.software.ibm.com/pc/pcinstitute/psref/tabook.pdf

The one I think I like is a model number 2007-4CU: a 14.1" T60 with the SXGA+ display, the Core Duo T2400 512MB RAM, 60G HD, Bluetooth, finger print scanner, 64MB AIT Radeon Mobility, and more. The employee price was just over $1300.

Re: Buying a Notebook Computer for Law School? The Q and A thread
« Reply #109 on: March 08, 2006, 09:33:26 AM »
I am definitely going to get a T or X series Thinkpad. I just got IBM employee prices for a few of the models I was considering. They aren't bad at all.

If there is a chance that you know someone who knows someone who works for IBM, try to find them. All you need is the number to call and their employee ID. It is relaltively painless for them and perfectly within the rules to let friends get machines throught the plan.

What is the discount?  That is, how hard should I work at this?  I'm sure that I know someone at IBM within four degrees.
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I bought a T43p (2.0 GHz, 1GB RAM, 80 GB harddrive, Bluetooth, etc.) and saved over $700 off the list price.  It's definitely worth the trouble of asking your friends if anyone they know works for Lenovo/IBM.  It sounds like IBM employees still get discounts on the Thinkpads, but I'm not certain.