Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SSDs Are Here to Stay

I have been using an IBM X41 ultra-portable notebook PC for about two years and I figured out it was really a POS. Although it was small and relatively light, it took forever to boot and it was slow - even waking from sleep-mode took forever. The final straw was that the battery stopped holding a charge, giving me maybe two hours when mobile - not exactly a feature you want when on an airplane.

After complaining to my IS manager, he allowed me to be the guinea pig for the new ultra-portable my company is considering making standard-issue: the Dell E4200. This is the first computer I've tried with a solid state drive (SSD), and I got to tell you, it is very, very impressive. It is in the same class as the X41 - so it is small - but it is such a better machine. I've had it for two weeks and this is the feedback I gave to my IS guy:


Pluses

  • Weight – Incredible. The computer itself weighs nothing. The only thing that gives it any heft at all is the battery. Probably the most impressive feature
  • Speed – Awesome. The speed of Outlook is practically instantaneous. Opening large files and folders is also way faster
  • Screen – It seems brighter, or clearer somehow. Also it is a 16:9 ratio, which makes it seem a little bigger, with more room to put things
  • Wake Time – The X41 took forever to wake up from sleep. This is practically instant-on
  • Boot Time – While not lightning fast, it is good, and WAY better than the IBM, which seemed like a 5 minute wait
  • Quiet – The only moving part is the fan, and it doesn’t come on very often. SSDs are definitely here to stay for high-end notebooks.
  • No Vista! (Windows XP - I think is more a thank-you to my IS guy than to Dell)
Cons (and none of them huge)
  • No PCMCIA slot – Not a big deal, but I will have to get a USB version of my 3G internet card for when I travel and can't find WIFI
  • On-Off WIFI Switch - Not really a con, but a RTM sort of item. I accidently turned it off, not knowing it was there, and it took me a few minutes to figure out what happened
  • Speakers Suck - Not a huge deal, and you can’t expect much out of a notebook
  • Touchpad - One thing I did like about the IBMs was the "eraser head" pointer. For the touch pad, users just need to configure it to their liking, like turning off the “zoom” feature or making it less sensitive. More a customization item that users need to be aware of and not a “con”
Overall this is a marvelous travel machine. I think road warriors will love it, and I plan to hold on to my "test" unit.

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