Digital Geography

19. June 2012

the best laptop for earth scientists. a personal review.

Once in 2008 I was searching for a reliable and powerful notebook for my work at the University and for my field-campaigns in Central Mongolia.
So my thaughts on that were:

  • get a high-end CPU
  • small screensize for weight and long lasting battery power
  • easy to open and enhance
  • WWAN Module for Internet access everywhere
  • robustness for field work

Looking at this list the one and only laptop for my purpose was the IBM Lenovo Thinkpad X200:

All the years this laptop was my best companion. The battery was lasting very long but after a while I bought a 9-cell battery for working in the field without any interuptions. And one more thing was changed after a while: running in an old UAZ Jeep in the steppe of Mongolia was not that good for working with a common HDD. The HDD-protection system was stopping the HDD every second due to some potholes and jumps i the car. Starting ArcGIS under this conditions was hard.

X200 in Mongolia on an UAZ (click to enlarge)

Back in Germany I bought an Intel SSD with 160GB storage and it works like a charm until now! The update on 8GB of RAM was very easy and so I got no more “System Out of memory” problems in Matlab 😉
One great feature was the usage of the GPS module together with ArcGIS which made it very easy to navigate and work in the steppe. And after a month with sandstorms, dust and rain in the field it was easy to open it up and clean it up a little:

X200 from inside (click to enlarge)

So the next laptop will be a Lenovo Thinkpad as well. but in the moment I am not sure, whether to change only to the new X230 (review), a new T430s which has Thunderbolt available (unboxing) or to wait till August when the new X1 Carbon will hit the stores.
So you can imagine: I will stick with Lenovo.