Friday, June 13, 2014

Lenovo ThinkCentre M73 Mini Tower

In the fall of 2011, my old Compaq laptop finally gave up the ghost. I won't touch any Dell hardware (in fact, Dell couldn't give me a laptop for free -- I wouldn't accept it; I used a Dell laptop when I worked at LSI Logic and it always seemed to have one hardware problem after another); and as for HP, well, not only do their laptops run exceedingly hot, one never knows from day to day whether HP will still be in the PC business. So, I had heard good things about Lenovo (a Chinese-based company that had bought the IBM ThinkPad name and division), did some research -- and I ended up purchasing a Lenovo IdeaPad Z575, which I unboxed in this blog post on November 5, 2011.

The Z575 is a beautiful piece of hardware, with its 15.6-inch backlit HD display, and has performed superbly these past two-and-a-half years (knock on wood!). So, when it came time to replace my XP box (now that Microsoft is no longer supporting XP), I looked to Lenovo for that replacement.

Of course, I'm not one to purchase an off-the-shelf box. I had to put this one together, option by option, from the Lenovo website. I checked out the K-series towers, but eventually decided on the M-series. I had initially settled on the M93p tower, and had it completely configured, when I figuratively slapped my hand, realizing that I didn't need that much power. So I settled for the ThinkCentre M73 mini tower instead. But, within that tower, I selected some special goodies.

I placed the order on March 27 with the understanding that delivery could be a minimum of 5 weeks; that's correct: 5 weeks. On April 8 I received a follow-up email that my order has been delayed and will be delivered within 30 days. Unfortunately, I had an open window in my schedule at the end of the 5 weeks, but not within that 30-day-delay window. Finally, on May 2, I received a shipment confirmation email. The box arrived on Friday, May 9, and has been sitting in a back room, still sealed, ever since.

Like I said, I didn't have an open window in my schedule at the end of those additional 30 days. See my recent blog posts on BayCon 2014 (which included the Writers Workshop and meeting with Matt Maxwell, upon my completing work on his novel Blue Highway) and the Kate Elliott "best of" collection (actually the "very best of"!).

But you're probably thinking, Just unpack the box, take out the bloody tower, and hook it up....

Unfortunately, the tower only came with Microsoft Office 2013 and Adobe Acrobat XI. If those were the only applications I needed to do my work, well, then, I could indeed have hooked everything up within a day. But then there were the Windows 7 drivers I had to track down for my Canoscan 4200F scanner. I had to install more than forty additional applications, some from discs (Acronis True Image Premium 2014 [and then create a bootable recovery disc], Epson WorkForce WF-3540 drivers and apps, FileMaker Pro 11, OmniPage Pro 18, and Webroot Personal Security, just to name a few), but most from online sources, too many to list fully, but here are a few: Google Chrome, Google Keep, Mozilla Firefox, 7Zip, Belarc Advisor, Evernote, FileZilla FTP, Greenshot, Homebase 3, Secunia PSI, TeamViewer 9, and five different cloud services. And, as I said, these are just a few.

Not to mention the fact that I've been using Microsoft Office 2003 for more than ten years; Microsoft Office 2010 only occasionally, when I use my ASUS Zenbook (see this blog post), which is typically when I'm traveling. But this new Lenovo box comes with Microsoft Office 2013, and I'm still trying to find the "x" to close just the document in MS Word without having to close the entire app. So, if I'm going to use this new tower for my day-to-day work, then I'm going to need a few days to familiarize myself with all the new apps (Greenshot, for one; since the previous screen capture utility I used doesn't work on Win7) and capabilities.

Which brings me to what's inside the box, which I finally unpacked this weekend, nearly four weeks since it actually arrived:
ThinkCentre M73 - Mini Tower - 10B0CTO1WW

4YR Onsite + Keep Your Drive + Tech Support Warranty
Core i7-4770S 3.1GHz 8M Cache
500GB+8GB_Hybrid HDD_2.5"_SATA HDD Drive
8GBx1_PC3-12800_DDR3_UDIMM Memory
NVIDIA 620_1GB_DP+VGA_FH Graphic Card
DVD Recordable_W7 Optical Drive
Integrated Audio
Integrated_Intel GIGA Ethernet
Wireless Combo N6235_FH
OS Windows 7 Professional 64
Microsoft Office MSOF2013B+AdobeAcrobat XI_NA
With the hybrid drive I'm able to boot up Win7Pro in under 60 seconds, which is nearly as fast as the Zenbook (30 seconds) with its solid state drive.

Now compare this M73 to my first Windows PC, purchased in April 1995, which I blogged about here:
Windows 3.11, a huge 1GB hard drive, and a whopping 8 megs of RAM. And that old 1995 Windows tower was a lot more expensive, too!

My only complaint so far with the M73 is that it is louder than I had anticipated; the fans are very noisy, though this may be due in part to the fact that there are vents on both the front and the left side of the tower, both of which face me when I'm sitting at my desk.

Market Watch currently has an article online entitled "10 things not to buy in 2014." Included in this list, in addition to cable TV and DVD and Blu-ray players, are desktop and laptop computers. Now, maybe the author of this list, AnnaMaria Andriotis, has no need for a desktop, or even a laptop, in order to do her job, but if I'm going to scan in 75,000 words of fiction, and then clean up the formatting and scanning errors in those 8 files, I want to be comfortable doing so -- especially when I'm spending 6-plus hours at a time at this -- with a full keyboard, a 22-inch flat-screen HD display, and all the conveniences a desktop provides, including two stand-alone backup drives for redundancy.

[Update 07/27/2014] I've added an additional 8GB of RAM, for a total now of 16GB. I bought a potentially memory-intensive scanner -- a new, unique style of scanner (to be reviewed fairly soon, hopefully) -- since my existing, still-working scanner no longer works with OmniPage Pro 18 under Windows 7 Pro 64-bit, and I wanted to insure I had sufficient RAM to scan a lengthy book.

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