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Thinkpad 600X: A Retrospective Review

Thinkpad 600X: A Retrospective Review

How I Obtained My IBM Thinkpad 600X:

I purchased my Thinkpad 600X in 2012 about 13 years after it first got here out available on the market. I purchased it lower than half of a yr because the buy of my first used laptop computer, in the summertime of that yr. At the moment I wanted an affordable alternative laptop computer after an extended journey overseas. I wanted to purchase one thing regionally and shortly, and the primary used laptop computer that I bought ended up being a ThinkPad R52 (that was shortly found to be damaged) and that was shortly exchanged for a bigger, older however working ThinkPad R51. Previous to that time I’d used HP, in addition to Acer laptops that I purchased new and I didn’t have a lot of an opinion on laptops, although I might say that a couple of of the HP laptops, the TX-2 involves thoughts, sometimes turned faulty quickly after buy as a consequence of a defective design in warmth dissipation, and that was fairly a headache. The R52 ThinkPad’s “classic” or “retro” plain black laptop computer design helped it stand out from the remainder of the used rivals within the retailer and that’s why I selected to purchase it. As I explored my “new” obsolescent ThinkPad, I used to be intrigued to seek out that it had numerous helpful options such because the Lively System Safety, ThinkLight, TrackPoint, an LCD display that bends all the best way again, good responsive keyboard, a lot of helpful ports, strong design, comparatively straightforward end-user serviceability, in addition to nice system restoration choices. I quickly began to analysis the ThinkPad line extra, and slowly discovered to and commenced refurbishing, and fixing numerous laptops in my spare time. Ultimately I developed one other interest which was to gather numerous older ThinkPads, particularly ones that I might purchase at an inexpensive worth. Some older fashions might sometimes be discovered at my native thrift retailer and this was the place I picked up my IBM ThinkPad 600X. It had no arduous drive, or battery, or ac energy adapter, however I observed that the beauty situation of it was extraordinarily good. It had only a few nicks or scratches, and appeared very strong, fairly good for a laptop computer from 1999 that I discovered in 2012! I can truthfully say that the laptop computer’s general look and design appealed to me a lot in the identical approach as its “cousin” had half of a yr again, it had the last word retro late 90s laptop computer really feel to it. The fabric appeared to be very sturdy, not low cost plastic, and general it appeared to have excellent construct high quality. I additionally liked the rubber coating on prime of the lid, and the palmrest, and the protruding outstanding IBM image on the lid. I even favored the odor that the laptop computer had. I paid about 25 USD for it, which wasn’t an excessive amount of for a “toy” for me to play with.

Once I obtained it house and plugged my ac adapter into it and turned it on, I discovered that it had: a 500 MHz Pentium III CPU, 64 MB of DDR1 PC-100 RAM constructed onto the motherboard, which was a standard factor for laptops of the time, it additionally had two slots for RAM enlargement one among which had a 64 MB SODIMM in it, giving a complete of 128 MB. I elevated the RAM to 384 MB with a 256 MB PC-100 IBM RAM stick that I had. I needed to exchange the lifeless CR2025 CMOS battery (because it gave an error throughout booting) which I did by taking the previous one out and eradicating the battery from the connecting cable and welded-on metallic strips with out breaking them, changing the battery itself, and utilizing electrical tape to connect the metallic strips again onto the battery, and placing it again in. I additionally (ultimately) put in a 20 GB 4200 rpm IBM Travelstar IDE exhausting drive, and bought a separate IBM 54 watt ac energy adapter for it, and ultimately loaded it with Home windows 2000 Skilled SP2. I did order a battery from eBay however sadly it by no means arrived.

A Little bit of Historical past:

The ThinkPad 600 was designed to be a extra moveable model of the 770 collection, weighing in at about 5 kilos. The unique ThinkPad 600 got here with a Pentium MMX CPU at 233 MHz. Later fashions got here with a Pentium II CPU at 233, 266 or 300 MHz. It shipped with both 32MB or 64MB of RAM (and was upgradeable to 288MB/320MB utilizing PC-66 SODIMMs), the screens have been out there as 12.1 SVGA or 13.three XGA. Later the 600E mannequin got here out as an improve, and had a Pentium II CPU at 300 MHz, 366 MHz, or 400 MHz; all of them got here with 13.three XGA screens. The ultimate mannequin (of this collection) was the 600X, out there as Pentium III 450 MHz, 500MHz CPU’s in Dec 1999 with as much as 576 MB or RAM, and eventually 500 MHz to 650 MHz CPU’s (from February 2000 to February 2001).

Across the time that the ThinkPad 600X got here out, the ThinkPad 600 was IBM’s hottest pocket book, with 2 million models in use. The 600X was the ultimate 600 collection laptop computer and was the direct precursor to IBM’s, and later Lenovo’s, iconic T collection, beginning with the IBM ThinkPad T20. This laptop computer was designed for the company and enterprise market (just like the later ThinkPad T collection) and that was in all probability the most important consumer base for it. It also needs to be famous that it was an costly laptop computer, even for its time beginning with a whopping $4100 USD price ticket. The 600X was an necessary laptop computer for its time; it was a part of the era of laptops that helped to make the transition from desktops to laptops viable. A drawback of laptops of the earlier era was that the battery life was slightly brief and lots of Pentium II and earlier era laptops overheated, making them extraordinarily uncomfortable to make use of for prolonged durations, particularly in the event that they have been sitting in your lap. Additionally the earlier CPU’s consumed a whole lot of energy and so the battery lifetime of the laptops was slightly poor. With the introduction of cellular Pentium III processors these drawback have been overcome to a sure extent, as they didn’t generate as a lot warmth, and consumed much less energy, thereby growing battery life, and this contributed to laptops turning into extra viable and fashionable. The opposite profit that this laptop computer had was the load, 5 kilos actually isn’t too dangerous for portability; I keep in mind I had an previous 13.three” display Pentium II Compaq Armada and it weighed a ton! (It strikes me that such heavy laptops have been as soon as regarded as being moveable). The design of the 600X was retained, with some modifications, in IBM’s T2* collection, till the extra drastic redesign of the T30, and past.

Design and Options:

This laptop computer contains a “classic” ThinkPad design, although the ThinkPad 600 was considerably of a redesign from the earlier ThinkPad laptops, it had much less of a lunchbox design than its predecessors. It’s cumbersome by as we speak’s requirements; it’s fairly thick compared to extra trendy iterations of ThinkPads such because the T40, and T60. To offer some concept of this it has a thickness of 1.four″, examine that to 1.zero” to 1.2” thickness for a 14” T60. Nevertheless I liked how strong the laptop computer felt, it felt sturdier than my ThinkPad T42, the fabric is a carbon fiber plastic composite materials that’s mild however very robust, and the LCD display hinges on mine have been extraordinarily tight. The chassis is aluminum strengthened; I heard that the chassis has crossbeams that give it extra rigidity than newer laptops that don’t use crossbeams for structural help. Like I said it’s coated with a thick rubbery coating on the lid and palmrest space, for some purpose I liked the odor of it (although your affinity for this can certainly differ). The display hinges have been truly so tight that (if I recall appropriately) the laptop computer might be picked up by the sting of the display with out the hinges shifting. It encompasses a 13.three” XGA TFT display (SXGA was not an choice for most of these laptops till the T21). It has a sliding brightness change on the display bezel to regulate display brightness, which is one thing not discovered (to my information) on subsequent fashions.

The mannequin I had solely had a swappable CD-ROM within the UltraSlimBay, however a DVD-ROM is an improve choice. The CD-ROM was a bit noisy, however just like the ThinkPad itself, it had a that strong really feel or no less than look about it, and a cool retro look that matches the remainder of the laptop computer (it opens on the entrance finish of the Thinkpad, in contrast to later fashions which have the Ultrabay on the aspect of the laptop computer). The keyboard is what you anticipate of the standard of “legendary” ThinkPad keyboards, the keys themselves have been a bit larger than ones discovered on newer fashions such because the T40 collection, it’s truly very very similar to an actual exterior keyboard. The long-lasting TrackPoint and mouse keys are right here, however there isn’t a touchpad (it was not added till the T30 for this line of ThinkPads). The audio system are positioned on the sides of palmrest; regardless of the issue this presents of mud and different materials falling into the speaker holes (in all probability why they have been moved elsewhere on subsequent fashions), I appreciated the best way it sounded when the sound didn’t come from underneath the chassis; it appeared to have a greater sound.

600X Keyboard

The 600X Ultrabay CD-ROM is situated on the entrance of the laptop computer, as an alternative of its aspect like on extra trendy Thinkpads.

The 600X additionally comes with a number of ports (most of those are out of date lately). What I favored concerning the ports although is that that they had rubber covers on prime of them to guard them from dust, and injury. It has just one USB 1.1 port on the aspect (which is sort of sluggish for file transfers by at present’s requirements). It additionally has a port on the aspect for connecting an exterior floppy drive or an UltraslimBay floppy drive in exterior housing. Some fashions additionally had a TV-out port that required a particular cable to transform it to composite video. It has an ordinary VGA connector, to attach it to an exterior monitor. Additionally it has parallel and serial ports on the again, coated with rubber covers. Parallel ports have been used to hook up with numerous peripherals, the printer in all probability being probably the most used with this connection (it was also referred to as a Parallel Printer Port). Serial ports have been used to switch knowledge to units, and may be used to attach numerous peripherals. It additionally has an infrared irDA 1.1 port that can be utilized to speak with peripherals, cell phones, digital cameras, and so on (this was earlier than the times of Bluetooth). One other relic of the previous is included: a PS/2 port for connecting both an exterior PS/2 mouse or keyboard. There isn’t a Ethernet port, and no Wi-fi LAN, solely a phone socket for its 56okay dial-up modem. Cellular web used to imply taking your laptop computer with you someplace and connecting it to a dial-up modem. Nevertheless there are CardBus, PCMCIA slots on the aspect that permit the connection of both an Ethernet adapter, a PCMCIA WiFi card, or a PCMCIA USB 2.zero port adapter. It additionally has the enlargement port that permits it to hook up with a port replicator or docking station. It has an audio in (sadly some newer ThinkPad’s have eliminated this handy function) and an audio out jack. It additionally has an inner microphone! (I used it for Google voice a couple of occasions)

The 600X speaker is on the palmrest

You possibly can’t see the ports on the again as a result of that they had black rubber port covers for cover.

When it comes to hardware it has 64 MB of RAM soldered onto the motherboard and has 2 RAM slots for PC-100 (or PC-66) DDR1 SODIMMs. It might have a most of 576 MB of RAM (with two 256 MB SODIMMs). There have been three main fashions obtainable the 450 MHZ, 500MHZ CPU fashions (obtainable December 1999), and the rarer 650 MHz CPU (with SpeedStep Know-how) (obtainable in February 2000) fashions. Like ThinkPads of later eras it was primarily aimed on the enterprise market and thus its graphics have been its weakest level, it had a NeoMagic MagicGraph256ZX GPU chip with four MB of VRAM, which I consider has problem with some 3D purposes and video games. Nevertheless whether it is related to its giant docking station that has a PCI slot obtainable, it’s potential to attach a 3D card similar to Voodoo or Nvidia GeForce and play 3D video games on it. It initially was obtainable with both 6.zero, 12.zero, or as much as an 18.zero GB 4200 rpm exhausting drive. And naturally as most different ThinkPads of its measurement it had a model of the UltraBay, the UltraSlimBay launched within the ThinkPad 600. This can be utilized to deal with a CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, and Floppy Drive, ZIP drive, LS-120 Superdrive, an HDD adapter or an UltraSlimBay battery to increase its battery life. These laptops initially retailed for about $4100 USD; though laptop computer and desktop costs have been greater in these days (an honest desktop might value about $1000) this was in the direction of the higher degree when it comes to worth.

The 600X was a big enchancment over the 600, or 600E hardware-wise, and as I already talked about the predecessor to the legendary T collection. The 600 solely had both a Pentium MMX or Pentium II and used PC-66 RAM. The 600E additionally solely had a Pentium II. The PIII cellular CPU it had not solely improved its efficiency considerably, however as was talked about lowered the warmth it generated in addition to elevated battery life. The CPU’s that have been used have been the MMC-2 sort, not the newer (and smaller) sort that was present in later PIII fashions such because the T20. That’s, it was the MMC-2 Coppermine CPU, and never the later Cellular Pentium III-M Tualatin. The unique OS choices have been Home windows 98 and Home windows NT (on the 1999 fashions), with a Home windows 95 downgrade choice, and Home windows 98 and Home windows 2000 on the 2000 yr fashions. Battery life might be about three hours at decrease energy consumption settings. Apparently a reviewer of this laptop computer on the time was capable of watch virtually all however the final 10 minutes of his DVD on battery energy. And I suppose I ought to point out that it was marketed as being Y2K compliant. Final level I ought to point out is that it has a really colourful BIOS, it’s fairly graphical. This can be a function missing in newer laptops, when you haven’t seen it earlier than I like to recommend looking for a brief video of it on YouTube.

How I Used It:

Having gotten all of that technical info out of the best way, I need to talk about how I truly used this laptop computer. Its extra trendy options compared to its predecessors actually helped me get some precise use out of it in 2013. As I stated I had an previous 13.three” display Compaq Armada with a PII 300 MHz CPU, and it was so sluggish that it was virtually unattainable to get any actual use out of it, except for both as doorstop, a showpiece, or a toy. At one time limit I additionally had a twin boot of Home windows 98SE and Home windows XP put in on it, as I used to be partly utilizing it as a DOS/Home windows 9X gaming machine (fairly a couple of good reminiscences there). It’s fairly well-known that some previous video games typically have hassle with the newer NT based mostly working methods, and utilizing a laptop computer with native Home windows 9X OS drivers avoids the difficulty. I ought to say nevertheless that I had this setup with an IDE SSD earlier than I put within the HDD and put in Home windows 2000 Skilled SP2 utilizing T23 restoration CD’s. I used to be additionally capable of do fairly a little bit of primary duties, together with watching primary (decrease bit-rate) video information, doing mild phrase processing, downloading torrents, and even some primary web searching, together with checking my emails. I used to be actually impressed with how properly it labored for a laptop computer of its age. I suppose its nice design and construct high quality in addition to hardware enhancements over its predecessors, is why some individuals even assume the ThinkPad 600X was relative to its time one of the best laptop computer ever! I undoubtedly acquired some amusement out of it, although I did finally promote it (which I considerably remorse) on account of simply not having sufficient area for it (and my different laptops).

OS Choices and Upgrades:

When it comes to the OS that it will possibly run, it’s potential to put in Home windows XP, however in fact all the service packs and updates sluggish it down significantly. The said necessities for Home windows XP on Microsoft’s web site actually apply solely to XP with no service packs or maybe as much as Service Pack 2. The system I had had a 500 MHz CPU and 384 MB of RAM together with a 4200 rpm 20GB HDD, and it appeared to run Home windows 2000 Skilled SP2 (that I put in utilizing the T23 restoration discs) fairly comfortably. I ought to say that the OS set up utilizing these restoration discs appeared flawless (Home windows 2000 Skilled in all probability consists of many legacy drivers that care for the 600X throughout set up), the software program put in appeared to be very minimal, that’s, there was nearly no bloatware, but all the drivers seemed to be there. I think about that with the complete 576 MB of RAM and a 7200 rpm HDD it could possibly both run Home windows 2000 Skilled SP4 or a stripped down model of Home windows XP pretty nicely, simply don’t anticipate it to do greater than the lightest shopping. I’m unsure if it might even be capable of play YouTube movies as of now, even with my T42 I appear to have fairly a little bit of problem doing this in 2017. As for efficiently utilizing a Linux distribution, it must be one thing very light-weight like Pet Linux or maybe Lubuntu. I suppose some individuals additionally would set up IBM’s personal working system OS/2 warp, however I don’t know very a lot about that so I’m unable to remark.

When it comes to upgrades apart from the instructed peripherals reminiscent of a CardBus WLAN adapter, and CardBus USB 2.zero adapter, maxing out the RAM, and getting a quick HDD, or SSD, there isn’t rather more that may be executed. It’s unusual now however for the 650 MHz mannequin (with SpeedStep know-how), individuals used to improve the CPU to the utmost 850 MHz. It seems that non-SpeedStep fashions may also be upgraded however not reliably. Because of the shortage of cellular P-III MMC-2 CPUs they promote on websites resembling eBay for ridiculously excessive costs, so it actually isn’t well worth the improve (when it comes to worth but in addition when it comes to the quantity of disassembly and reassembly required).

One other Purpose That I Appreciated This Laptop computer:

Apart from admiring its construct and design high quality and significance for the ThinkPad line, for me the higher worth of the laptop computer actually lay in its classic retro issue and nostalgic reminiscences that it conjures up of the late 1990s. The 600X jogs my memory of a time when dial-up was an ordinary web connection they usually have been simply promoting cable and DSL web on TV with infomercials, a time when AltaVista was a well-liked net search engine, a time when Napster was a approach to (illegally?) obtain mp3’s, a time when connecting to the web made all of these bizarre dial-up noises, a time when individuals began to obsessively use prompt messaging providers, a time when three ½ inch floppies have been a standard approach to save information, and a time when net pages didn’t have means an excessive amount of flash content material. It was a time once I was in my very early teenagers and I might solely afford to dream of getting a laptop computer, and a desktop was actually the one “affordable” (and I exploit that time period loosely) choice for a younger man like me. This was additionally a time when the DVD started to have prominence out there in North America. It was a time when the Sony PlayStation and Nintendo64 have been the preferred recreation consoles though they have been getting previous, and the Sega Dreamcast simply got here out to launch the brand new 128 bit period of console gaming. A time when cell telephones began to develop into extra commonplace. It was a time when Home windows 98 was the usual Home windows OS that you simply had nearly anyplace with a desktop PC. It was the time when there was resurgence in animated exhibits and collection and so many now basic TV exhibits, e.g. sitcoms, had their heyday (TV was nonetheless an enormous factor again then, streaming over the web wasn’t actually an choice).

It’s not that the time was notably good for me personally, it was truly fairly troublesome, however I wish to reminisce all the good issues of the time, all the inspirational issues, the reminiscences of being younger and rising up on this technologically creating society. There was little doubt that computer systems would grow to be extra well-liked and closely used worldwide, and that the web would develop, and unfold enormously everywhere in the world in a variety of years. Consequently it was evident that pc use and pc literacy would develop into important members of society as computer systems turned extra included into nearly all features of recent day life. This appeared like a time of issues to return with nice technological advances within the not-too-distant future, psychological imagery of Japanese type robots and such, electrical powered automobiles, and higher automation in our every day lives (we’ve nonetheless obtained an extended method to go). In a means laptops of this era such because the 600X might be stated to have made a small step in that path.

Conclusion:
I keep in mind that as I used to be taking a look at it in 2013, I assumed to myself that the 600X’s aesthetics and construct high quality are (to an extent) superior to many decrease finish comparatively trendy laptops, regardless that it was (then) 13 years previous! So contemplating all issues I consider that the 600X is a superb retro ThinkPad to personal; it has an awesome retro look, nice construct high quality, in addition to hardware highly effective sufficient to make it at the very least considerably helpful (in distinction to many earlier ThinkPad fashions). These are all essential qualities that a retro laptop computer ought to have for my part. For those who’re on the lookout for a retro laptop computer, and until you’d choose a extra trendy (and succesful) retro laptop computer on this measurement akin to a T2* collection mannequin or a T30, it is best to think about getting an IBM ThinkPad 600X.

Thinkpad 600X: A Retrospective Review was final modified: Might 2nd, 2017 by Thinkpad Maniac