Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

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The New Computer

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Photo Credit: David July — UNIVAC 1232 computer in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, Virginia, 06 September 2009 Believe it or not, I am writing this article on the Gateway Solo 2500 notebook I customized and purchased, or rather had purchased for me as a graduation present in May 1999. It arrived at my house in early June while I was vacationing in San Francisco and was the only thing enticing me to return to Orlando. This system has provided reliable service to me for 10 years and 8 months now, but is obviously slow and underpowered for my current needs. My philosophy on buying a new notebook is simple: upgrading them can be difficult and expensive so I get the most powerful one I can afford. Although prices have fallen and technology improved in the past decade, my philosophy remains valid for modern desktop replacements. Entering the 21st century, Gateway hit hard times and the quality of their offerings lessened. In the meantime, my line of work has provided me the chance to use a variety of business notebooks from Dell, Toshiba and HP/Compaq. By far the most impressive notebook is the well-designed ThinkPad by IBM, acquired by Lenovo in 2005. I have logged incalculable hours on the ThinkPad T43p and T61 and am continuously impressed with their quality and performance. Yesterday afternoon, I placed an order for a custom build ThinkPad W500. The W Series is a recent line of systems designed as upgraded successors to the popular T Series and could probably be referred to colloquially as the Cadillac of ThinkPad notebooks. The W700 even comes with a secondary flip-out LCD panel and built-in tablet. Now that is overkill for me, but I am saving nearly $1000 on the W500 between a sale price and coupon discount. My ThinkPad W500 will be equipped with the following components: Needless to say, I am fairly excited to get my hands on this computer. I will likely be compelled to run and post some speed tests and boot-up times. I have yet to use a solid state hard drive, but I am preparing to be blown away based on the performance results I found online. With any luck, the shipping estimate I was provided—22 March 2010—is highly conservative and it will only be a matter of weeks before it arrives. Update: I received an e-mail on 22 February that it would arrive on the 24th and it did. I will elaborate at a different time, but for now it is sufficient to say this notebook is the fastest I have used and I absolutely love it. Update: Read the follow-up article The New Computer II.
Photo Credit: David July

Two Comment Bubbles three Comments

  • SursumCorda

    Good luck! I hope it does better for you than Porter's two-week wonder Lenovo that we couldn't even make lemonade with.

    However, all manufacturers can have bad days, and we will almost certainly go with Lenovo when we try again. We both have been happy with our T60/61 machines -- at least until my fan quit just out of warranty; we'll see how things go -- and our old R31 is still going strong.

  • Jeff

    Oh wow, I have a Gateway Solo notebook that I bought in 2000 (hello, Windows ME!). It's like a tank compared to the netbook I got recently. I don't have the Gateway in front of me right now so I'm not certain of the model number, but I'm sure it's a close relative of yours. Somewhere along the way, I dropped it (and where the AC adapter plugs in took most of the brunt), and its power connectivity was never the same (also its original battery is kind of shot by now), so I stopped using it many years ago. But I recently booted it up to transfer files off of it, and it still chugs away!

  • David July

    My Gateway Solo is definitely showing its age. The keyboard has some wear and broken keys, the battery became a fifteen second UPS years ago, the LCD panel cannot be closed due to a crack and malfunctioning hinge and the CD-ROM works intermittently.

    I should probably define intermittently for this context. The CD-ROM drive stopped working for good over four years ago. I even looked into replacing it but did not think the value to me was worth the cost. When I tried the drive again in September 2009, you know, just for the hell of it, wouldn't you know it worked well enough for me to reformat and install Windows XP from disc.

    This computer may just run forever. It is a tempting thought to turn it into a digital picture frame once the ThinkPad arrives. What more could a PC in retirement want?

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