If you're thinking about a portable PC, IBM wants you to think about a ThinkPad. This week, the company is introducing a new generation of mid- to high-end models that are designed to be easier to use as well as easier for creative professionals to manage.
With the new models comes a new naming scheme - so if you thought you'd figured out the confusing model numbers, think again. Overall, however, the company has simplified the ThinkPad line.
The current ThinkPad 390 models are transitioning to the A20m (for mainstream), the high-end ThinkPad 770 line is becoming the A20p (for performance), and the ThinkPad 600 is becoming the ThinkPad T20. The "A" designates a desktop alternative and the "T" stands for "thin and light", according to an IBM spokesperson.
All models come in a wide variety of configurations, with display sizes ranging from 12.1 inches to 15 inches. All have Windows 98 preinstalled, along with a basic suite of applications and utilities, and are available immediately.
The A20 series weighs 5.9 pounds, has a battery life of up to 3.7 hours, and starts at around £1,100 for the A20m. This includes a Celeron 500, a 12.1-inch thin-film transistor display, a 6GB hard drive, 64MB of memory, a CD-ROM drive, and a 56K modem. A version with a Mobile Pentium III 650, a 14-inch display, and a 12GB hard drive sells for around £1,800.
The A20p series sells for around £2,400 with a Mobile Pentium III 700, a 15-inch display, a 18GB hard drive, 128MB of memory, a 56K modem, and a 6X DVD drive.
And the 4.6-pound ThinkPad T20, with up to four hours of battery life, starts at around £1,700. This includes a Mobile Pentium III 650, a 13.3-inch screen, a 6GB hard drive, 128MB of memory, a CD-ROM drive, and a 56K modem. The top-of-the-line version, which sells for £2,300, is fitted with a Mobile Pentium III 700, a 14.1-inch display, a 12GB hard drive, 128MB of memory, a 6X DVD drive, and a 56K modem.
The A20p and T20 ThinkPads covers are made of titanium composite, mixed with carbon-reinforced plastic. IBM claims this material allows thinner case walls with higher strengths and therefore a more compact design.
All the latest ThinkPads include the new UltraBay, which allows fast swapping of standard and optional devices in both the A20 and T20 series without having to move the notebook. Devices available include a CD-Rewriteable drive, a DVD-ROM, an LS-120 SuperDrive, a CD-ROM, a second hard drive, and a second battery.
Also included on all models is the UltraPort connector, a Universal Serial Bus port located at the top edge of the display for connecting what IBM calls "location-centric" peripherals such as a UltraPort camera or the antenna for a wireless network. IBM will make Bluetooth technology wireless options available later this year.
Each model now features the ThinkLight (an LED located on the top edge of the display that allows you to work in low light), individual speaker volume controls, and a redesigned cover that allows you to open the notebooks with one hand.
IBM has also revamped dock and port replication solutions for the entire new series of A and T ThinkPads, with the new ThinkPad Dock measuring 12.5 inches by 7.7 inches by 2.6 inches.