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When Technology Sneaks Up on You

Rob McNelly gets a new laptop and relearns an important lesson: While you'd expect technology to progress, it's still worth noticing.

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I've been using ThinkPad laptops for more than 20 years, and each generation is an improvement upon the previous one. While you'd expect that sort of progression, it's still worth noticing.
 
Honestly, I wasn't planning to get a new laptop. My old one was running great and I just got it—or so I thought. It took an email reminder from the corporate help desk to make me realize that I'd had my previous laptop for three years. It actually was time for a refresh.
 
We all intuitively understand that technology advances significantly over the course of three years, but it's easier to appreciate when you get your hands on something new. So how much better is a new Lenovo T490 than an old T460?
 
For starters, the drive capacity is better. The battery life is better. It's a bit slimmer, which is also better. The CPU is a quad core rather than a dual core. It has a larger maximum memory capacity and a faster memory controller, and it uses DDR4 memory.
 
An interesting change is the drive and how it's attached. In the old days with smaller capacity drives, I could carve out extra storage on my ThinkPad by putting a second drive into an adapter. Then I'd put that adapter into the DVD-ROM slot. My new hardware doesn't support DVD-ROM, but of course I don't need it now; there's plenty of space.
 
I'd been accustomed to SSD drives connecting via SATA, but now the drive is an NVMe SSD. That's a completely different form factor.
 
On the previous version, the docking station had VGA output. On the new one the video uses DisplayPort, so I need different cables and adapters to connect external monitors. (Luckily, my Model M still works.)

My verdict? This new machine screams. The T490 runs circles around the previous version, and is leaps and bounds better than the one I had before that. It's funny. I was perfectly happy with the old laptop. Those three years flew by. But in an instant with the latest and greatest I could see the benefits of moving forward.
 
So maybe you need a new laptop. Or maybe it's time to look at your infrastructure and consider upgrading your hardware and software. Again, I was fine chugging along as I was, but now with the snappier performance, I realize what I was missing out on. I also can't count the number of times I've seen IBM Power SystemsTM users react similarly to the performance of new hardware. Yes, everyone has budgets, but what is it worth to your organization when response times are better, jobs complete faster and more work is being done with fewer cores?
 
It's not easy to quantify the value of faster boot times or faster-running applications, but I believe those small improvements add up.
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