Gear review: Lenovo ThinkPad X201i


For my recent trip to Europe I was able to take and road test a Lenovo ThinkPad ultra-portable laptop (model x201i). I’m going to be a bit sad to give it back.

That’s a pretty big call for someone like me who usually takes a MacBook Pro on trips and hasn’t used a Windows laptop for many years.

The Lenovo turned out to be a gem of a machine. It is fairly light in weight for a fully loaded laptop. It has built in wifi and DVD drive, several USB ports and all the functionality of a Windows desktop in a nice lightweight laptop. And it has the solid feel of a well-engineered machine, not just flimsy plastic like some of the other Windows laptops I’ve used.

I was traveling for nearly a month and needed to do a lot of work – writing documents, slide decks and working on spreadsheets – while away. This machine turned out to be very good for this. A proper keyboard with large keys for my fairly large hands was a real boon. There is even a little light up near the webcam that gives some illumination to the keyboard in low light, although it would have been even better if the keyboard was backlit.

The ThinkPad survived some pretty cold weather in France and Belgium and worked just fine at airport lounges in transit through London, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Usually I disable all of the manufacturer’s software as it tends to annoy me. But in this case the ThinkPad wireless connector was very useful as I was in low wifi areas.

The built in microphone and webcam are good quality and made Skype calls a breeze so it was easy to join in conference calls while traveling. The onboard DVD drive made watching shows on flights a good option where no in-flight entertainment was available. The multiple USB ports made the mini hub I was carrying redundant and I was able to plug in my phone and Flip Video Camera at the same time.

From this experience I think that the Lenovo ThinkPad x201i is an excellent Windows laptop for business travelers. It combines all the grunt of a a larger machine in a lightweight and fairly rugged device. It’s definitely on the shortlist for the next laptop we buy in this house.


Normandy and D Day


This month is the 65th anniversary of the D Day landings in France and on June 6th, as a kind of remembrance, I watched the film Overlord.

The film brought back memories of my visit to Normandy late last year.  Walking over the ground where the landings happened was very eerie and moving.

Utah Beach Normandy
Utah Beach Normandy

We are gradually becoming removed from human contact with the Second World War as its survivors age and pass away.

And we’ve already lost our last human connection to World War I in Australia, with the recent passing of our last living veteran Jack Ross.

But the physical landscape remembers these dreadful battles – you can still see the scars from D-Day in Normandy.  And the impact on the people who fought remains with them forever. My own grandfather suffered both physical and psychological damage from his service in North Africa & the Pacific for the rest of his life.

Although Australian forces were not involved on the ground in the D-Day landings (they were busy fighting in North Africa and the Pacific) some of our Air Force personnel participated.

It was interesting to hear President Obama speak at the memorial service in Normandy. I was moved, as were many of the veterans in the audience, by his words:

Friends and veterans, we cannot forget. What we must not forget is that D-Day was a time and a place where the bravery and the selflessness of a few was able to change the course of an entire century.