Apple MacBook ThinkPad

Apple MacBook vs. Lenovo ThinkPad – Final!

Well, as much as I love OS X, the MacBook just wasn’t cutting it for me. The MacBook is a great computer for people who want to get things done and not have to worry about the underlying technology. I need to be able to get things done without futzing with configurations, but I also need a flexible environment where I can work with new technologies, get back to working on my open source social networking project, and also be able to work with Linux environments like Fedora, OpenSuse and Ubuntu.

The MacBook is great for multimedia things and I will probably continue to use OS X for video editing, managing my music collection, and managing the fast increasing number of digital photos that I take. However, it will probably NOT by my MacBook. I have decided to sell my MacBook. It was a tough decision, especially since I bought it less than six months ago and I upgraded the RAM to 2GB less than two months ago. I might try another Apple portable someday in the future but for now, the geek in me is screaming for a ThinkPad running Fedora Core 6, OpenSuse 10.1 and Ubuntu 6.10.

On Thursday, I picked up a Lenovo ThinkPad T60. Sorry, but i was just too excited about getting a new ThinkPad and I didn’t take the required unpackaging pictures. The ThinkPad T60 comes with 1 GB RAM, 120GB 5400 RPM HD, Intel 3945abg Wireless, ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 with 128MB Hypermemory, SXGA+ video at 1400×1050, Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 at 2GHz, DVD Recordable, 56k Fax modem, Infrared, Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet, Verizon Broadband Connect EVDO, 3 USB, Mic and Headphones, 1 PCI Express Full and 1 PCMCIA Slots, Fingerprint Reader, Security chip, 9 cell battery, and a three year warrant. The only real difference in specs is that the ThinkPad doesn’t have any sort of webcam (Apple MacBook has iSight) or remote control (Apple MacBook has FrontRow).

The ThinkPad has an Intel Core 2 Duo chip, 128MB of video RAM, double the hard drive capacity, double the RAM of the MacBook, and also the Verizon EVDO built-in. That’s a substantial amount of hardware for $1600. The only thing I’ve found so far to complain about the ThinkPad is that the screen isn’t as bright as the MacBook and considering winter is approaching, the ThinkPad can’t double as a heater like the MacBook can.

The 14.1″ version of the ThinkPad T60 is a bit smaller and lighter than the 15″ version. I had considered an ThinkPad X60 or X41 but I decided against it mainly because they both use an Intel 950 graphics chip with 64MB of shared memory, the units in stock didn’t have DVD-RW capability and the HD was maxxed out at 60GB.

The feel of the lenovo ThinkPad T60 isn’t very different from my old IBM ThinkPad T40. However, Lenovo has made a few changes like changing the battery type and the power adapter. I won’t be able to use the battery from my T40 nor will I be able to use the two T40 chargers I have. I presume that dock options are also different for the T60 than for the T4x series of ThinkPads. This ThinkPad T60 also has the Lenovo name displayed prominently next to the T60 logo.

I’ll get into what I’m doing with my new T60 in another post but suffice it to say, I am very happy to be typing on a ThinkPad. However, I do miss having OS X working with such ease and finesse. As much as I love Linux, it is a serious PITA getting things to run and things still don’t run as cleanly or well as they do in OS X. Synchronizing a phone over bluetooth with your PIM is a perfect example … Oh well, I guess that’s part of the fun and challenge of using Linux 🙂

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Nokia E61 Review

I did a firmware upgrade based on some of the issues I was having. The firmware upgrade process is well documented here and ran flawlessly. I just had to get a Windows PC to do it ( I can’t wait for OTA firmware upgrades ). People have talked about backing up their settings and reimporting them after the firmware upgrade but I decided to take a safer approach. I recreated all my settings manually to avoid importing some funky settings that could potentially clash with the new firmware.

I’ve had some issues with the phone such as the limitation of not being able to auto retrieve email for more than 2 mail boxes. I can’t imagine why Nokia placed this limitation.

I can’t say that upgrading the firmware was a good idea. It appears to have fixed some old bugs but created new bugs. I never had to reboot the phone by pulling out the battery but I’ve had to do that today for the first time. I came out of the subway and when I tried to connect to the mail server, it hung up the phone. The E61 has issues with switching connections from Wifi to GPRS. Going from WiFi to GPRS and back to WiFi is probably asking for too much. People on the E-Series Blog have complained about many things such as coming out of the Subway in NYC and having to restart the phone, sometimes with a hard boot by pulling out the battery. This could be a Cingular related problem.

Another major quirk that Nokia needs to fix is that when you enter an area where there is no WiFi or GPRS service, all automatic email retrieval settings automatically get disabled. You have to manually go and enable them.
I’ve also noticed that the Nokia E61 has considerable problems remembering which “Access Point” or “Access Point Group” has been specified in the “Connection Settings” for the various email accounts I have setup. I would expect that a Smartphone should automatically put all packet data and WiFi data retrieval to sleep when there is no network coverage at all and it would remember settigns that have been specified, rather than picking the last “successful” method of connecting to the Internet. An “Airplane” mode, if you will.

The signal strength is not as good as my Motorola SLVR either. The Nokia E61 will get three or four bars in places where my SLVR would get 5. In the basement of some buildings, my SLVR would get one or two bars but the E61 doesn’t get a signal at all.

Having bashed the phone, let me tell you what I like. The phone is light and thin. It’s really not much thicker than the SLVR, though it is much wider.

The screen is beautiful. It’s bright and crisp. The keyboard is better than the Treo 650 but it’s still not great. There are enough keyboard shortcuts available to get things done quickly but it would be nice to be able to customize those shortcuts even more.

Though Nokia doesn’t provide support for synching the E61 with Apple OS X, there is a iSynch plugin available that will allow you to flawlessly synch your Nokia E61 with Apple OS X. Check out the post and discussion here for more information. I am using the plugin available here which I found out about here.

I’ve gotten a few applications running, including an SSH client and a RSS reader, Widsets.

The music player and video player is pretty good and I’ve upgraded the 64MB MiniSD to a 2GB Sandisk Ultra II MiniSD from Newegg. I still miss synching my SLVR with iTunes to get all my podcasts on the go but this really isn’t the phone for that. I might look around for some decent headphones to use with the E61 and put my podcasts on here to listen to.

Nokia E61 Back

Nokia E61 Back Side

Nokia E61 Keypad

Nokia E61 Keyboard View

Motorola SLVR L7 Compare to Nokia E61 - 1

Nokia E61 behind Motorola SLVR L7 – 1

Motorola SLVR L7 Compare to Nokia E61 - 2

Nokia E61 behind Motorola SLVR L7 – 2

Motorola SLVR L7 Compare to Nokia E61 - 3

Nokia E61 behind Motorola SLVR L7 – 3

Update: The WiFi is for all intents and purposes, DEAD and useless to me. I wish there was some sort of logging mechanism to see exactly how much data is being transferred through a specific WiFi AP. Also, it would be great if Nokia would add a default Access Point or Access Point Group option for ALL applications. Individual applications could override this if necessary but at least users wouldn’t have to set up an AP or APG for each application. Thirdly, can someone at Nokia please fix the craziness with the mail application? The mail application intermittently “forgets” the APG settings when it can’t connect to any APs in a group and I have to reset them at least once a day.

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