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Introducing Freya

Started: 2013-11-07 21:02:31

Submitted: 2013-11-07 21:34:12

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator acquires a new Thinkpad X1 Carbon

The last time I bought a new primary computer was Portico, more than five years ago. Much has changed since then, especially in personal computing. Netbooks came and went without much impact, killed by the tablet, but they did manage to leave in their wake a much-more-capable thin-form-factor computer with an SSD and no moving parts first exemplified in the Macbook Air and now adopted by Intel as an "Ultrabook".

Just to make my life difficult, I wanted the biggest Ultrabook I could get my hands on: this machine will be my primary computer, and I want enough screen to have multiple windows open at once. (This comes in handy in my line of work.) After thinking about buying a new computer for months I ultimately decided against paying the Apple premium and settled on a Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon, equipped with 8 gigs of RAM and a 256 gig SSD. It arrived two days ago, direct from Lenovo's final assembly plant in Shanghai, and I quickly named it Freya (after the main character in Charles Stross' Saturn's Children) and set to work installing Ubuntu 12.04 (the current latest long-term support release) and a sensible version of GNOME. I'm still customizing; I still need to find the settings to increase the sensitivity of the trackpoint to something usable, and keep the touchpad from kicking in as I type, but having a third mouse button right in the middle of my keyboard is very nice.

Portico (D830) and Freya (Thinkpad X1 Carbon)
Portico (D830) and Freya (Thinkpad X1 Carbon)

I am very impressed with how small and light the computer is. I could fit two of them on top of each other and the stack would still be shorter than Portico. I'm almost worried it'll get lost in my bag, but I'm sure I'll manage.

The big downside of a tiny-profile Ultrabook is its lack of built-in ports and peripherals. I forgot to check the box to get a USB Ethernet adapter, so I have no hard-wired network connection; I don't use a hard wire all that much but it's very handy to have when moving large files (like moving everything onto a new computer). (I ordered one off Newegg; it's supposed to arrive tomorrow.) I did check the box to get an external optical drive, which came in handy while installing Ubuntu but is fairly ugly; it seems like Lenovo spent all of their industrial design budget on the computer itself and outsourced the optical drive to the lowest bidder. The worst part is the USB daisychain: one USB 3.0 port for data (on the right side of the computer) and one USB 2.0 port for power (on the left side of the computer). Surely they could have figured out how to make a single USB port source enough current to power an optical drive. I don't expect to use it very often but it might come in handy once in a while. I've also ordered a mini-DisplayPort adapter to transmute the one external monitor connection I have into something sensible.

Freya (Thinkpad X1 Carbon) and Portico (D830)
Freya (Thinkpad X1 Carbon) and Portico (D830)

(Thanks to my employer-issued Thinkpad T430, I now have two Thinkpads in my possession, but they have incompatible power supplies.)

So far I'm happy with Freya and I expect to spend many quality hours with her in the future.