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8/96 Reviews Systems: IBM ThinkPad 365XD

Listing of August 1996 Reviews

New Blue Book Cooks

By Jim Forbes

With its ThinkPad notebooks, IBM has carved out a sizable slice of the portable computing market. That market share is likely to grow as new ThinkPads roll off Big Blue's assembly lines. The ThinkPad 560 (reviewed in our July issue) and the ThinkPad 365XD continue to support IBM's reputation for turning out fine, reliable notebook PCs.

I tested a preproduction version of the ThinkPad 365XD, a member of the eight-computer family of 365s. The entry-level models have a 100MHz 5x86C processor, a 10.4-inch dual-scan passive-matrix screen, a 540MB hard disk and a VESA bus. They don't include CD-ROM drives.

The ThinkPad 365XD model I tested uses a 120MHz Pentium processor and the PCI-bus architecture. The standard configuration includes 8MB of RAM (expandable to 40MB), a 1-gigabyte hard disk, an internal 4X CD-ROM drive and an external 3.5-inch floppy drive. The 365XD has a 10.4-inch active-matrix screen capable of resolutions up to 800x600, built-in 16-bit audio and PCMCIA slots that accept two Type II cards or one Type III. In addition to the standard set of ports, the 365XD has a 115Kbps infrared port.

Like other ThinkPads, the 365XD is easy to use. Its IBM 85-key keyboard is extremely comfortable, even when used over extended periods of time. The 365XD lacks a palm rest, but its TrackPoint III pointing device with edge-mounted cursor control buttons is convenient.

The ThinkPad 365XD's screen is bright, with good contrast.

In my tests, I was consistently able to get about two hours of juice from the notebook's nickel metal hydride battery charge. A utility program graphically shows the remaining battery life.

The 365XD's overall performance is equivalent to, or just slightly below, other 120MHz Pentium notebooks we've reviewed. Tested with our Wintune benchmarks, its CPU rating averaged 214.33MIPs. The notebook's hard disk achieved an uncached throughput of 1.9MB per second, and its video system clocked 5.73Mpixels per second. The 365XD's video performance was much better than average for this notebook category.

The 365XD's performance on our application tests was less spectacular; it took 54.33 seconds to complete our Word macro and 23 seconds for the Excel macro. The one disappointing component was the CD-ROM drive. Although it is a 4X drive, in my tests it performed more like a 3X drive. However, the evaluation unit was a preproduction model; the shipping model's performance may be considerably different.

The 365XD offers functionality, durability and value-backed by IBM's reputation for great notebook computers.

-- Info File --
IBM ThinkPad 365XD
Pros: Construction; choice of OSes; Lotus SmartSuite
Cons: No palm rest; no secondary cache
800-772-2227, 914-766-1900
WinMag Box Score 3.5
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