Product Type: IBM laptops
Newest Review: ... I could get things up to scratch, such is the level of support Lenovo offers to the IBM old models. Features-wise, the X31 came complet... more
Iconic laptop with bulletproof design and subtle design
IBM Thinkpad X31 2673
Member Name: evansncl
IBM Thinkpad X31 2673
Advantages: Honed, solid design; small footprint, good battery life, do-anything laptop, plenty of spares.
Disadvantages: Screen could be brighter, no Bluetooth/3G as standard, Wifi may need self-upgrade.
I bought an X31 refurbished about a year ago and it is the best technology decision I've made. I can't now use a standard trackpad on a laptop without thinking, this could be so much better with a red button in the middle of the keyboard! The chassis design means you really can walk around holding it by the corner and it just stands up to punishment. My model is pretty rough-and-ready, ex-business use, but it came with a nice clean install of XP with all the correct Thinkpad drivers. Soon after starting to use it, I made a ghost image of the 40gb drive's installation to allow me to recover it if anything goes wrong - thankfully nothing has, but I'd be confident even without the backup that I could get things up to scratch, such is the level of support Lenovo offers to the IBM old models.
Features-wise, the X31 came complete with everything I specified as essential apart from internal Wifi, but this was easily remedied with a short search for the right chip. Installing it was just a case of a screwdriver and lifting the keyboard out for a moment, and clipping the new board into place, then securing it to the antenna that goes up the side of the screen casing. The same applies to most parts of the X31 - there is a big market in secondhand and replacement parts to keep these little workhorses going long past when most laptops would be considered scrap.
There may not be Bluetooth, but there are two USB 2.0 ports of which one could be dedicated to a low-profile adaptor if you have regular use in mind. The hard disk can be upgraded easily if you do want more space, even via SSD if you want it to be shockproof, but I tend to use an external HDD when needed, and there's also the option of buying a larger capacity CompactFlash card to boost your options.
The screen is a standard 1024 x 768 resolution which is actually a refreshing change from all those more modern widescreen high-res laptops. The brightness isn't amazing but perfectly fine for long periods of use - and plugging it into the mains does give it a boost. The external VGA monitor port means most flatscreens are catered for, with an easy Fn-F7 key combination to switch between settings, and three 3.5mm ports for audio in, out and microphone use.
Performance is moderate but running XP, it's not too shabby at all, easily beating most netbooks for speed, and the battery life even on this reconditioned model is around 2.5 hours, which is fine for me, and you can obviously double up with a bit of auctioneering. I can't see myself upgrading from this Thinkpad, simple as that. If may not run Black Ops or anything, but for surfing and boring stuff like work, you really can't do better than this.
Summary: Smart secondhand choice that will stand up to daily use.
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