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Thursday, May 19, 2005

ThinkPad X41 Intro - ThinkPad X41 review - Notebooks - CNET Reviews

ThinkPad X41 Intro - ThinkPad X41 review - Notebooks - CNET ReviewsNET editor's take

Reviewed by Brian Nadel
Edited by Michelle Thatcher
Reviewed May 19, 2005

Editors' rating:
out of 10
How we rate

Editors' note: Lenovo completed its purchase of IBM's PC division on April 2, 2005, so you will no longer see the familiar letters IBM in front of ThinkPad laptops--they are now known as simply ThinkPad products. Lenovo may introduce products under its name in the future. ThinkPad notebooks are being sold by the same outlets as before, and the same support staff will service both new and existing ThinkPads. (5/2/05)

The latest in a long line of ThinkPad X notebooks, the ThinkPad X41 delivers the best combination yet of performance, battery life, and features. Though it's a little heavier than the ThinkPad X40, it's still one of our favorite notebooks for business travelers, offering dependable, secure, high-performance computing in a small, elegant case. The X41's high price may cause some corporate buyers to balk, but we think it's worth it.

One of the smallest and lightest ultraportable notebooks available, the black wedge-shape ThinkPad X41 has a petite, 8.2-inch-by-10.4-inch footprint; the front edge measures a razor-sharp 0.9 inch thick, although the rear bulges to a full inch. At 2.5 pounds, it's about an ounce heavier than the ThinkPad X40, but on a par with the Dell Latitude X1. Add an extended-capacity battery, and the ThinkPad X41 grows an inch deeper and gains 0.7 pound. With its enviably small AC adapter, it has a travel weight of 3.9 pounds.

It may be small, but the ThinkPad X41 includes many of the creature comforts of bigger systems. Forget about a cramped, puny keyboard, because this laptop has full-size keys with a generous 2mm of depth. Those who like pointing sticks will love the ThinkPad X41's TrackPoint, which comes with three different tip options and has a handy scroll button. For those who burn the midnight oil, a keyboard light provides helpful illumination.

The ThinkPad X41's basic connections for the office or the road include external VGA monitor, audio, and two USB 2.0 ports. In addition to the requisite modem and Gigabit Ethernet, the machine has a Secure Digital card slot as well as one for a PC Card--though we would have liked an additional CompactFlash slot, as found on the Latitude X1. With an Intel 802.11b/g Wi-Fi card, the ThinkPad X41 connected with a variety of wireless LANs and stayed online 100 feet from our access point in our anecdotal tests. Still, we wish it had an external on/off switch to quickly turn off Wi-Fi for takeoffs and landings or when in a sensitive corporate area. Snapping the ThinkPad X41 into the included X4 UltraBase Dock adds a swappable bay for an optical drive, a second hard drive, or an extra battery pack, as well as three USB 2.0, parallel, serial, and PS/2 connectors and a pair of speakers. On the downside, the dock makes the ultraportable computer into a 5-pound slug that's 1.6 inches thick.

Designed for corporate users, the ThinkPad X41 also offers some of the best data protection and security features you can find in a notebook. Like older X models, it has a dedicated internal security chip that can block access and encrypt key data. And although it lacks a smart-card reader, the ThinkPad X41 does feature a fingerprint scanner: not only can it assure a user's identity for the corporate network logon routine, the fingerprint reader can handle passwords for applications ranging from eBay to e-mail. After a little practice using the device, swiping a finger becomes second nature.

Whether you're purchasing 1 or 100 notebooks, it all comes down to price, and the X41 is one of the most expensive on a per-pound basis. At $2,149 (as of May 2005), our test machine, which included a dock with a DVD/CD-RW drive, is on a par with the ThinkPad X40 model it replaces, but it costs more than the Dell Latitude X1. Still, we think the ThinkPad X41 is the better choice for the corporate road warrior.

Based on Intel's latest-generation Centrino architecture, the ThinkPad X41 uses a low-voltage Pentium M processor that tops out at 1.5GHz, which is quite a bit faster than the Latitude X1's 1.1GHz Pentium M. Unlike the Latitude X1, the ThinkPad X41 has a cooling fan--it's not particularly noisy, but it doesn't prevent the bottom of the notebook from heating up. Our test system came with 512MB of DDR2 memory (it can hold up to 1.5GB), and a 40GB hard drive spinning at a pedestrian 4,200rpm. With a 1,024x768 native resolution, the 12.1-inch display is clear and sharp, but not nearly as bright as that of the Latitude X1.

All this high-powered hardware adds up to one of the top-performing notebooks in its class. Its performance in CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks was much faster than that of the ThinkPad X40 and was virtually tied with the Dell Latitude X1, which had a much slower CPU. However, the ThinkPad X41 delivered an excellent 5 hours, 26 minutes of battery life--about equal to the X40's span, but nearly twice as long as the Latitude X1's smaller battery lasted. Only the amazing 6-hour, 24-minute battery life of the Sony VAIO VGN-T250 runs longer in this class of mighty mites.

The machine comes with Windows XP Pro, as well as a phalanx of utilities for security, online connections, keyboard customization, and data backup. Happily, the system includes Watergate Software's PC Doctor, which can help diagnose problems with any of the computer's components. But its ace in the hole is the anachronous (given that IBM no longer owns the ThinkPad line) Access IBM button above the keyboard, which connects the machine with Lenovo's help desk or contacts your own company's support site, when you configure it to do so. The machine comes with a three-year warranty, and it includes lifetime support through a 24/7 toll-free hotline or via e-mail. While a tad complicated, the company's online support resources are complete and up-to-date, with spare parts, downloads, FAQs, and troubleshooting tip - Taiwan companies among fastest-growing U.S. patent holders - Taiwan companies among fastest-growing U.S. patent holdersTaiwan companies among fastest-growing U.S. patent holders

Mike Clendenin
(05/18/2005 12:20 PM EDT)

MANHASSET, N.Y. — Among the technology companies with more than 50 U.S. patent awards in 2004, according to IFI Claims Patent Services, three Taiwanese companies ranked among the top 10 performers in percentage gains over their 2003 patent totals: DRAM maker Nanya Technology, chip set specialist Via Technologies and LCD manufacturer AU Optronics.

ThinkPad T40 (Pentium M, 1.60GHz, 512MB, 80GB) review - Product brief - Notebooks - CNET Reviews

ThinkPad T40 (Pentium M, 1.60GHz, 512MB, 80GB) review - Product brief - Notebooks - CNET Reviews ThinkPad T40 (Pentium M, 1.60GHz, 512MB, 80GB)

CNET Product Brief (beta)
Description: This configuration of the - ThinkPad T40 is a 4.5-pound, thin-and-light notebook computer. Compared to other thin-and-light notebooks on the market, it is midpriced at around $1,995. Has Wi-Fi (wireless connectivity) built-in. Features ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics with 32MB of video RAM.

Pros: Has an 80GB hard drive, which is somewhat larger than some similarly priced notebooks. Also, this notebook has 1400 x 1050 native screen resolution, which is somewhat higher than some similarly priced notebooks. The CD-RW/ DVD-ROM is housed in a modular plug-in drive bay, which is more upgradeable and gives you more options than an integrated drive.

Cons: None noted, given available product data.

Suitability: A thin-and-light notebook, suited for business computing. Comes with a DVD player for watching movies. This notebook also has a CD writer, allowing you to compile your own mp3 CDs or video CDs. Comes with office-grade word processing software; whether you regularly create tables of content, elaborate footnotes, or complex newsletters this software can handle it all. With 32MB of dedicated video RAM, this machine will do OK with some games and multimedia applications, but will fall short of satisfying the serious gaming enthusiast. This notebook comes with its own tiny LED flashlight to illuminate the keys, for when you need to type in dim locations. If you have a wireless network at home, wirelessly browse the Web from any room in your house with this Wi-Fi enabled notebook.

Value: Overall, this notebook's features are in line with its price.

Suggestions: (1) Given this device's Wi-Fi capability, you may want to get a wireless access point for your home, so that you can browse the Web more conveniently from any room. (2) This portable computer comes with an expansion device that makes it easy to plug in at a permanent workstation, where you may have an external monitor, keyboard, printer, etc. (3) To get the most out of this notebook's Bluetooth capability, you could have a Bluetooth-enabled headset, handheld or other device, and be able to link it wirelessly to your computer within a range of 20-or-so feet inside the same room. (4) You can take advantage of this notebook's USB 2.0 support, which allows faster data transfer between peripherals, but also maintains compatibility with USB 1.1 devices. (5) For help in deciding if this is the right notebook for you, see CNET's buying guide for notebooks.

Full specs

Processor type Pentium M

Clock speed 1.60 GHz

Processor manufacturer Intel
RAM installed size 512 MB

Max supported RAM 2 GB

Memory speed 266 MHz

RAM technology DDR SDRAM
Storage Hard Drive
Hard drive size 80 GB

Hard drive 80 GB IDE Internal

Hard drive installed qty 1

Hard drive type Portable
OS Provided
OS provided Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Optical Storage

CD / DVD drive CD-RW / DVD-ROM Plug-in module

CD / DVD read speed 24x (CD) / 8x (DVD)

CD / DVD rewrite speed 10x

CD / DVD write speed 16x

Optical storage enclosure type Plug-in module
Optical Storage (2nd)
2nd optical storage type None
Audio Output
Audio output compliant standards AC '97, DirectSound, SoundMAX with SPX

Audio output type Sound card
Audio Input
Audio input type Microphone
Battery capacity 6.6 Ah

Battery technology Lithium ion

Installed battery qty 1

Max supported batteries 2

Mfr estimated battery life 7.5 hour(s)
Cabinet (Chassis)
Cabinet form factor Portable
Cache Memory
Cache size 1 MB

Cache type L2 cache
Max transfer rate 56 Kbps

Modem interface type CDC

Modem protocols & specifications K56Flex, ITU V.92

Modem type Fax / modem
Chipset type Intel 855PM

Data bus speed 400 MHz
Video Output
Graphics processor ATI MOBILITY RADEON 9000

Max resolution (external) 2048 x 1536

Video output interface type AGP 4x
Display (Projector)
Display (projector) diagonal size 14.1 in

Display (projector) technology TFT active matrix

Max resolution 1400 x 1050
Localization English

Model 2373

Packaged quantity 1

Product line IBM ThinkPad T40
Data link protocol Ethernet, Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11b, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet

Networking compliant standards IEEE 802.11b

Networking type Network adapter

Remote management protocol CIM, DMI 2.0
Dimensions & Weight
Depth 10.9 in

Height 1.2 in

Weight 4.5 lbs

Width 12.2 in
Designation Small business, Corporate business

Notebook type Notebook
Features IBM Security Chip

Miscellaneous compliant standards CE, CUL, NOM, BSMI, MPR II, VCCI-II, ACPI 2.0, ACPI 1.0b, FCC Class B certified
Storage Floppy Drive
Floppy drive type None
Input Device
Input device type UltraNav
Interface Provided
Interface provided 2 Hi-Speed USB, 1 Parallel IEEE 1284 (EPP/ECP), 1 Display / video VGA, 1 Infrared, 1 Modem Phone line, 1 Network Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX/1000Base-T, 1 Display / video S-video output, 1 Docking / port replicator, 1 Microphone Input, 1 Audio Line-out/headphones
Environmental Parameters
Max operating altitude 9840 ft

Max operating temperature 95 °

Min operating temperature 41 °

Operating humidity range 8 - 80%

Sound emission 36 dB
Video Memory
Video RAM installed 32 MB

Video memory technology DDR SDRAM

Video memory type Video adapter memory
Power Device
Power device form factor External

Power device frequency required 50/60 Hz

Power device type Power adapter

Power provided 72 Watt
Storage Removable
Removable storage type None
Slot Provided
Slot provided 2 (1 free) Memory SO DIMM 200-pin, 1 (1 free) CardBus Type III (2 x type I / II)
Software type PC Doctor, Access IBM, IBM RecordNow, IBM Access Support, Lotus Notes Client, Drivers & Utilities, Adobe Acrobat Reader, IBM Rapid Restore PC, IBM Update Connector, Norton AntiVirus 2003, IBM Access Connections, Lotus SmartSuite Millennium
Storage Controller
Storage controller type IDE
Service & Support
Service & support type 3 years warranty

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Sony DVDirect VRD-VC10 review by PC Magazine

Sony DVDirect VRD-VC10 review by PC Magazine: "
Sony DVDirect VRD-VC10
REVIEW DATE: 01.11.05

By Don Labriola

Most video-capturing DVD rewriters are designed to act like a single integrated device, but the early-production version of Sony's DVDirect that we tested behaves more like two independent components in a single box. When attached to a PC's USB bus, the DVDirect becomes a ringer for Sony's popular DRU-710A 16X dual-layer DVD-rewriter—complete with an updated version of the 710A's unbeatable Nero 6.6 software bundle—but can't be used to capture video.

Like the DRU-710A, our DVDirect test unit recorded a full single-layer 16X DVD+R disc in about 6 minutes, a 2.4X double-layer disc in just under 43 minutes, and a 30-minute VideoCD in a mere 1:48. But it took about 8:10 to rip a 67-minute audio CD to MP3 files. The only significant performance difference between the two drives was their DVD-ripping speed. The DVDirect required a disappointing 10:32 to copy a 4.7GB DVD-Video disc to a hard-drive folder, but still outperformed the DRU-710 on this test by about two minutes.

When you unplug the DVDirect from your PC, its front control panel and small LCD display become active, allowing you to use the device as a standalone direct-to-disc video recorder. In this mode, it can capture analog video directly to DVD+R and DVD+RW media, but loses its ability to perform other types of DVD-recording and playback functions. Standalone mode also lacks a way to preview and cue incoming video streams, so if your VCR, camcorder, or other source device doesn't provide a second video output that can be plugged into a monitor, you'll have no way to know when to start and stop recording.

In most other ways, the DVDirect's elegantly designed standalone-mode interface makes it trivially easy to capture multiple video clips to disc. The DVDirect doesn't attempt to duplicate the full functionality of a $500 set-top DVD recorder, but aside from a slight loss of color intensity, we found its recorded video quality to be limited primarily by that of our VHS source material.

The DVDirect's inability to capture video while connected to a PC limits its appeal, but this is merely a growing pain that Sony expects to resolve soon. Once that upgrade is implemented, this unique new device could easily become a category leader.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Blogging, as in Slogging - New York Times

Blogging, as in Slogging - New York TimesMay 15, 2005
Blogging, as in Slogging

"YOU should have a blog."

Apparently I push my opinions on my friends rather aggressively, because I often hear this remark.

Last week, I had my chance. My wife and I agreed to be "guest bloggers" - the online equivalent of what David Brenner used to do for Johnny Carson - for Dan Drezner, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, who runs a popular libertarian-conservative blog,

How hard could blogging be? You roll out of bed, turn on your computer, scan the headlines, think up some clever analysis while brushing your teeth, type it onto your site and you're off.

But as I discovered, blogging is no longer for amateurs or the faint of heart. Blogging - if it's done well - has evolved into an all-consuming art.

Last Sunday, after a cup of coffee, I made my first offering, a smart critique, I thought, of an article about liberal politics in The New York Review of Books by Thomas Frank, the author of "What's the Matter With Kansas?"

I checked back a while later. There were, I think, three responses. Later, another post generated eight replies. Another, two. A couple got zero.

I checked the responses to Dan's posts. He seemed to average about 50. Sure, my wife, Suzanne, had been blogging for weeks on her own site,, but still how was she getting 12, 19, even 34 replies?

I started to worry. It wasn't just my ego. I didn't want to send Dan's robust traffic numbers into a downward plunge.

As I thought about what else to opine about, I started to see that blogging wasn't as easy as it looked. Who were these people, blogging on other sites, who so confidently tossed about obscure minutiae relating to North Korea's nuclear program or President Bush's proposed revisions to Social Security benefits? Where did they find the time? (To say nothing of the readers.)

Serious bloggers, I realized, aggressively report a pet issue, updating their sites throughout the day. They scavenge the Internet for every shard of information on a hot topic, like John R. Bolton's chances of becoming ambassador to the United Nations or Tom DeLay's ethical troubles.

Since I wasn't going to make myself expert on these subjects anytime soon, I decided to write about what I knew, history.

On Tuesday, I posted a link to a piece I'd written for the online magazine Slate, faulting President Bush for his remarks criticizing the 1945 Yalta agreement, in which he said that Europe was unjustly carved up by Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin.

This time I got a lot of responses - abusive ones. Sample: "Anyone who thinks its 'ugly' to point out what was done to millions of people at Yalta is a moral cretin."

I posted again to clarify my point - that the Yalta agreement wasn't what consigned Eastern Europe to Soviet oppression. But I wasn't looking forward to the next fusillade of invective.

I did have sympathy for the audience. They expected their usual diet of conservative commentary. Instead, they got a liberal foreign policy expert (Suzanne) and a liberal historian linking to Arts & Letters Daily ( and the History News Network (

One Dreznerite vilified me for linking to a piece by the liberal journalist Joe Conason ("Why on earth would you think that gutter-dwelling hack would have any credibility on this blog?").

At one point, Dan took time out from real surfing in Hawaii to post a note informing readers that he had two liberals subbing for him. He must have been watching the train wreck on his beloved blog with horror.

I posted an item thanking readers for their indulgence.

"Could you please stop with these silly remarks about how you 'liberals' have to deal with Dan's 'conservative' readers?" came the reply. "I'm liberal, and I regularly read Dan's blog."

As I checked other sites for ideas, I now realized that I didn't need only new information. I needed a gimmick - a motif or a running joke that would keep the blog rolling all week. All of a sudden, I was reading other blogs, not for what they had to say, but for how they said it.

The best bloggers develop hobbyhorses, shticks and catchphrases that they put into wider circulation. Creating your own idiosyncratic set of villains to skewer and theories to promote - while keeping readers interested - requires as much talent as sculpting a magazine feature or a taut op-ed piece.

I'd always enjoyed, for example, but I had taken for granted the way my friend Mickey Kaus paced his entries and mixed his news topics (Social Security) with personal obsessions (Jonathan Klein, the CNN honcho).

I knew I wasn't going to master the art in my few remaining days. And the vicious replies were wearing me down. I've gotten nasty responses to my articles before, but blogging is somehow more personal.

When Dan Drezner guest-blogged at the Washington Monthly site, one reader wished bodily harm on his family members. I found the blood lust jarring - especially when it started arriving in bulk, daily. (Suzanne cheerfully said, "Oh, just ignore them!" and kept posting thousand-word items by night.)

It's not that the readers were dim. Some forced me to refine or clarify my arguments. But the responses certainly got reductive, very quickly. And for all the individuality that blogs are supposed to offer, there was an amazing amount of groupthink - since some of them were getting their talking points from ... other blogs.

By the end of the week, with other deadlines looming and my patience exhausted, I began to post less and less. There was a piece for Slate due, a book chapter to finish, my baby boy, Leo, to entertain and a piece to write for the Week in Review.

I wasn't the only newcomer to blogging last week. On the ballyhooed "Huffington Post," Gary Hart, Walter Cronkite and David Mamet dipped their toes in the blogosphere as well.

I don't know how they'll fare, but I doubt that celebrity will attract readers for long. To succeed in blogging you need to understand it's a craft, with its own tricks of the trade. You need a thick skin. And you must put your life on hold to feed an electronic black hole.

What else did I learn by sitting in for Dan Drezner? That I'm not cut out for blogging.

David Greenberg teaches at Rutgers University and is the author of "Nixon's Shadow: The History of an Image."