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-- by Jim Forbes
IBM's ThinkPad notebook line is one of the real success stories of portable computing. The notebooks are built like tanks, backed by a solid one-year warranty and gaining ground as presentation platforms. The new ThinkPad, the 133MHz 365XD, offers a great display and simple expandability.
The base configuration for this machine includes an 11.3-inch active-matrix screen, an IBM 1.3GB hard drive, an internal 6X CD-ROM drive and an external 3.5-inch drive. Integrated 16-bit Sound Blaster-compatible sound, 8MB of RAM and a full complement of external ports, including infrared, are also in the base configuration. IBM upped the memory on my test unit to 16MB, a level that should be part of the standard basic configuration.
I found the machine easy to use over long periods of time. The 365XD uses function keys to enter suspend mode, display remaining battery life and control other functions.
If you use this machine as a presentation system, you'll appreciate the very accessible contrast, brightness and speaker volume controls.
Like most ThinkPads, this unit is easy to upgrade. It also weighs 7.1 pounds.
IBM chose one of the brightest active-matrix display panels I've ever seen. It has excellent contrast. Like most new notebooks, the native display mode for the ThinkPad 365XD is 800x600 pixels with a maximum of 65,536 colors.
This notebook has a nickel metal hydride power cell, which delivered about 2 hours of battery life in my run-down tests with power management set at advanced. I was able to extend the battery life to slightly under 2.2 hours by reducing the screen brightness and using more stringent battery conservation techniques.
I was disappointed in this computer's performance. Although the 365XD sports a 133MHz processor, it doesn't include secondary cache. This resulted in benchmark scores and overall performance that ranked below similarly priced systems that do employ level 2 cache. In three passes with our Wintune tests, it averaged 240MIPS, with 2.6MB per second disk throughput and 6.2Mpixels of video throughput (nowhere near the best in that class). Its scores on our Excel and Word application benchmarks were a fairly slow 23.33 and 29 seconds, respectively.
This machine is similar in configuration to notebooks like NEC's Versa 6030H and Hewlett-Packard's OmniBook 800CT, both on our Recommended List. But although it features a relatively low price (for a ThinkPad) of $3,499, the ThinkPad 365XD's lack of cache and mediocre performance keep it out of the competition.
Copyright © 1997 CMP Media Inc.