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Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

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dr_st
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Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#1 Post by dr_st » Fri Nov 04, 2011 1:12 pm

Time for another round of my hobby - taking pictures of Thinkpads and talking about them! :lol:

This time - two classic (almost vintage) Thinkpads:

A31p (2002 model)
X32 (2005 model)

I've been fancying these two particular models for quite some time, and this year finally took advantage of a few unique opportunities to add interesting custom-modded specimens of these two beauties to my collection. :wink:

In the next few posts, I will take you through a picture tour, mentioning some interesting features, as well as the history of these models and of the specific units in m possession.

In many cases the pictures can be clicked for larger versions.

Stay tuned as I prepare the tour. :D
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X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#2 Post by dr_st » Fri Nov 04, 2011 2:06 pm

The first featured machine today is the A31p (view from the front):
Image

The A31p was the last of the IBM A-series workstation models. The A series were designed by IBM as High-performance desktop alternatives with exceptional versatility (direct quote from the Tawbook), and they fully stand up to this description: large, usually high-resolution screens, a plethora of expansion / connectivity option, unrivaled by machines of that time, and three integrated spindles (that is, a place for 3 internal disk drives, a rarity in laptops of any era). Moreover, where the A2x machines had a fixed floppy drive, a fixed hard drive, and only one expansion bay, the A3x featured two separate bays (Ultrabay 2000 / Ultrabay Plus), allowing for various combinations of expansion accessories (floppy / optical drive / extra hard-drive / extra battery etc.)

Among these, the A31p was top of the line, featuring Pentium 4-M CPUs, FireGL 7800 GPUs and an exceptionally high number of connectivity options (which I'll address in the pictures that follow). And the best part - 15" UXGA (1600x1200) IPS screens. The price, naturally, was the weight - way over 3kg - very heavy even by the decade old standards.

Why did I want one?
I would say the desire was a combination of owning a piece of Thinkpad history (which many Thinkpadders are very fond of), and getting to use a UXGA IPS screen (up until now all my IPS Thinkpads were limited to SXGA+). At the same time, I had no need of another modern/powerful machine. The A31p is old enough to be reasonably cheap, and at the same time still sufficiently powerful to be somewhat usable at basic tasks, and not just on a museum stand.

History of this particular unit:
The A31p in my possession was, as the saying goes, "assembled in the U.S. from U.S. and non-U.S. parts" by my good friend George (ajkula66), the undisputed A31p guru on the forums. ;), custom-built with one or two interesting upgrades. I purchased the machine from him during our encounter in NYC last June.

The basic specifications:
  • Pentium 4-M 2GHz
  • 1GB RAM
  • 60GB 5400RPM HD
  • 15" UXGA IPS
  • DVD/CD-RW
  • 10/100 Ethernet CDC
  • Bluetooth CDC
  • 802.11g Wifi miniPCI (Originally these machines only had 802.11b option, but they are compatible with newer 802.11g variants; The Intel 2200BG was installed in this unit, which I later changed to a Thinkpad-branded Atheros ABG)
  • Ultrabay Numeric Keypad
  • PCMCIA to USB2.0 adapter (Intel ICH3-M chipset on these models is limited to USB1.1 speeds)
Pictures and discussion coming up in next post!
Last edited by dr_st on Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#3 Post by dr_st » Fri Nov 04, 2011 3:44 pm

The A31p show is on the way. :)

First, pictures from all sides, to see the plethora of connectivity options (order: Front-Back-Left-Right-Top-Bottom, click for large images):

Image Image Image Image Image Image

Front: You can see the two latches (this was before the switch to the modern and easier single-latch mechanism) and the speakers at the bottom. The curious gray-colored thing in the middle is actually the cover for the Ultraport, a proprietary USB-based interface, which can be used to connect a few interesting devices.
Back: All the richness of the ports is here: Serial, S-video in/out (the "in" port is another thing exclusive to A3xp series), modem/network, VGA, Parallel, 2xUSB1.1 and power jack. The A31p along with other contemporary Thinkpads has a design which hosts most of the ports in the back, and the battery at the front. In most modern Thinkpad designs the battery is at the back, so very few ports, if at all, actually fit there.
Left: Ultrabay 2000 hosting a DVD/CD-RW drive, audio jack (including separate line-in/mic-in, a trend which was discontinued on most later models). Also notice the massive vents and the Kensington lock slot.
Right: Ultrabay Plus hosting the numpad, two PCMCIA slots (one hosting the 2xUSB2.0 adapter), Firewire (exclusive to A3xp and missing from regular A3x models).
Top: Classic Thinkpad design. The lid is ABS plastic, not titanium/magnesium reinforced like T/X series, but very thick and strong. And as you probably understand, these machines were not intended to be carried around much, nor take lot of beating.
Bottom: You can see the front-mounted battery and the docking connector (back). These machines are indeed quite easy to work on. A single screw for the hard drive, two screws to remove the cover for the 2 DIMM slots, 2 screws to remove the cover for the miniPCI slot and both CDC (communication daughter card slots), 2 screws to remove the keyboard.

Some close-up shots:

Image
The screen shows some traditional elements of contemporary (A3x/R3x/T30/X3x) design - the peculiar angled cut at the left bottom/back corner, the thin metal hinges (previous generations used black plastic hinges, if I am not mistaken).

Image
The keyboard of the A3x is the classic Thinkpad keyboard, with the interesting addition of the browser navigation key column on the left. Interestingly, no other Thinkpad series followed the trend, probably because it actually requires a 15" chassis to accommodate, which at the time was only available on the A series. (Interestingly, the 14" LCD A-series models used the 15" chassis).
No touchpad, but the trackpoint is nice and modern, and supports 3 buttons with middle button scrolling. The positioning of the middle button is also convenient (unlike the outdated A2x/T2x design where it was below the two main buttons). Originally these machines came with the classic dome cap, but it supports all cap styles used by current Thinkpads (I put a soft rim there, which is my favorite).
The slant of the palmrest is quite important for typing comfort considering the thickness of the machine.

Image
The strip containing the power button, most of the LED indicators (future generations will move them to the clearplate), volume and Thinkpad buttons. Also notice there is no Wifi indicator on the clearplate, but there is a Bluetooth one, and right next to it is the Bluetooth hardware switch). It is therefore possible to turn bluetooth off to save power, but the same cannot be done for Wifi (no Fn+F5 support on A3x series). There is also no option to disable the Wireless radio in the BIOS. The only way to do so is through the device manager of the operating system.

Image
The Ultrabay Numeric Keypad is one of the most interesting additions to this machine. :) The device is actually two parts. One is the Device Carrier, which sits inside the ultrabay, provides the USB interface and the mechanical ejection/retraction interface, and the other is the keypad itself which connects to it. Apparently only one other device was manufactured to be compatible with this carrier - the Workpad Cradle.
The numpad itself provides good feedback as you press on the keys and feels solid, despite being suspended in the air. My only qualm with it - it shares Numlock settings with the keyboard, which means that if you turn Numlock on to input numbers on it, the right side of the keyboard immediately (U,I,O keys etc) will also start inputting numbers, which partially defeats the purpose. I did not find a way to make these settings independent, although maybe I missed something. :(

Some more pictures of the keyboard (left - closeup on the browser navigation keys, right - full keyboard view with the numpad):
Image Image
Last edited by dr_st on Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:49 am, edited 2 times in total.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#4 Post by dr_st » Fri Nov 04, 2011 4:05 pm

I obtained this cute little Port Replicator, which I can use with the A31p. It essentially provides the same expansion ports as the Port Replicator II, except it is much smaller and more compact. It does not support the T4x/R5x, which have the docking connector further towards the center of the machine, so they would not physically fit.

The Port Replicator:
Image

Back view of the A31p connected:
Image
The port replicator adds PS/2 for keyboard/mouse, a DVI connector (though I have yet to verify it works, Thinkwiki seems to have doubts), an external floppy connector, and pass-through for VGA, RJ11, RJ45, COM, LPT and one USB. However, it blocks one of the existing USB ports on the A31p, as well as the S-Video ports. Seems like a small omission on IBM's part - you have to give up S-Video connectivity to use the docking connector of the A3x. :?

The black boxes you can see in the background are a pair of Motorola cable modems (one providing internet, the other providing a phoneline). :)

I believe this concludes the A31p tour. The X32 will follow, probably tomorrow. :D
Last edited by dr_st on Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#5 Post by dr_st » Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:51 am

After a small delay, here is the X32:
Image

The X32 is another interesting IBM unit. It was almost "not meant to exist". Traditionally, newer series succeed older ones, and even though there is always an overlap in manufacturing and sales periods, it is clear which one is supposed to be the newer, better successor.

The successor for the X31 was originally the X40 series, which introduced a more modern design, a slimmer and lighter machine, and cooler, more efficient low-voltage processors. However, performance-wise, these CPUs often lagged behind the X31, due to lower base clock speeds. Moreover, to allow for the smaller case, the X40 had to use smaller and slower 1.8" 4200RPM drives, and the integrated Intel Extreme 2 graphics were no help either. I daresay that not a few users were left disappointed that the newer series, while offering improved portability, did not bring any tangible performance benefits (and in some cases caused performance degradations).

So out of the blue came the X32. Released in early 2005, way after the early X40s, and simultaneously with the early X41s, it took advantage of Intel's Centrino platform refresh to bring the faster standard voltage Dothan CPUs with 1.6-2GHz frequencies and 2MB cache, blowing away both the Baniases on the X31 and the low-voltage Dothans on the X40/X41. The standard 2.5" 5400RPM drives and the ATI Radeon 16MB graphics put the average X32 ahead in performance ahead of the average X4x machine (and no doubt created a lot of confusion among buyers). The downsides compared to the latter were the somewhat outdated thicker and heavier chassis (continuing the design of the X3x), but at the time it appears it was the only way a standard CPU and hard drive could be integrated without sacrificing cooling abilities.

Essentially, X32 was to X31 what T42 was to T41. However, unlike the T42 that was released as soon as the Dothan CPU became available, the X32 appeared late into the cycle, already at the time when yet another refresh (to T43/R52/X41 and the 533Mhz Dothans / DDR2 RAM) was happening. As a result, the production line was short lived. The latest models were released in October 2005, merely half a year from the earliest once, and all of them were discontinued either during 2005 or 2006. This in itself made the X32 in a way a rarity, with far fewer units to go around and a compared to the popular X31, reflected in the higher sales price on the used market, even compared to the X4x units.

Why did I want one?
I first saw an X32 at my girlfriend's (now wife) possession and liked the fact that it seemed to offer almost everything in my T42, but in a smaller and far more portable package. Eventually, we upgraded her laptop to an X61, and sold the X32 about 3 years ago. However, it allowed me to compare the units directly and make some interesting observations, some of which actually favored the X32: the standard 6-cell battery offering better battery life than a 4-cell on a X6x, the even chassis width (contrary to the X6x which trick you with a thin front, inadvertently causing palmrest heating due to the Wifi, and are actually thicker at the back).

After a couple of years have passed, the prices of used X32s have dropped enough to justify me buying one as a toy, I started looking for a suitable unit. The only thing that bothered me was the TN screen (spoiled by IPS). Knowing that it is possible to mod the unit to accept an IPS screen from a compatible tablet, but not being sufficiently confident in my abilities to perform such a mod, I was waiting for a suitable opportunity to purchase a pre-modded unit presented itself.

To be continued...
Last edited by dr_st on Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#6 Post by Brian10161 » Sun Nov 06, 2011 8:13 am

Hope you don't mind me popping in a little message here. Just wanted to say your pictures are great and getting a little bit of history out of these notebooks is cool. I love the design of the X3x series. The A31p was a pretty recognizable Thinkpad. My school had a few of the A21's I think.

Great post!
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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#7 Post by pianowizard » Sun Nov 06, 2011 8:24 am

I no longer collect Thinkpads or laptops in general because I have been more interested in desktops in the past couple years. But when I was a collector, there were two Thinkpads on my wishlist that I somehow never acquired: the 770Z with 1280x1024, and the X32. If I ever become a Thinkpad collector again, I would definitely start with these two, and upgrade the X32 to 1400x1050!

I did own an A31p briefly but didn't like it that much.
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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#8 Post by dr_st » Sun Nov 06, 2011 8:50 am

History of this particular X32 or why I will never again ship a Thinkpad to Israel:

The opportunity presented itself some time this spring to purchase a loaded X32 (2GHz CPU, 2GB RAM, 160GB hard drive and the IPS screen upgrade!) from Dan (plympton). The price was right, even when I considered the shipping and taxes to Israel. Alas, shipping the machine overseas turned out to be a crucial mistake, and one which I will not repeat. It took over two months for the machine to arrive, which I blame entirely on the customs here (this wouldn't be the first time a shipment of electronics was horribly delayed by them). Ironically, I could have picked up the machine in person in the US, if only I had known in advance that I would be visiting.

Unfortunately, the machine only worked for a few days before it started exhibiting hardware failure symptoms, which eventually pointed to the motherboard - the single most expensive and hard-to-replace component, as described in this thread. :cry:

After my few amateur attempts at diagnosing and fixing the problem failed, I was about ready to start looking for a replacement motherboard, and then luck smiled on me :) - an eBay ad for a high-end X32, with the same 2GHz CPU, Wifi and Bluetooth, including a docking station and a combo drive, and for a low price. Why low? Because the screen has a faulty column driver and a permanent vertical stripe. Exactly what I need, since I intended to replace the screen anyways.

The crucial part, though, was that my wife happened to be in the US during that time, which allowed me to ship the machine to her, have her test it and bring it back personally safe and sound. Other than the screen problem, the machine looked pristine. With a great delight I proceeded in what appeared to be a simple lid transplant. Simple? Well, not really...

Don't take it wrong - transplanting the lid was simple enough. I connected the IPS LCD to the new base, fired it on, and - PC is on and booting, LCD backlight is on, but nothing on the screen. Turns out that while I was messing with the original unit, disassembling it to pieces, I accidentally yanked the flimsy ZIF connector at the back of the LCD panel out of its place. :evil: So I had to disassemble the lid, get to the back of the panel, and fix this issue. :|

While on it, I noticed that both "ears" (wireless antenna covers at the sides of the lid) cracked. :( Fortunately, they could easily be separated from the other lid and replaced. :) And of course, the hooks of the LCD front bezel broke in a few places, so it could not be fastened safely to the lid. :banghead:

Eventually, after many days of testing the machine and verifying its stability, I fixed it with a bit of superglue in just the right spot (between the outside rim of the bezel and the top cover). It's not 100%, but it's sealed enough. The side screw covers also would not stay on without glue, but I was OK with that, since there is no reason to take them off (there are no screws there, since the IPS panel is not 100% compatible with the X3x lid, and does not have any screw holes for the original X3x LCD frame).

The results can be seen in the pic below (click for large version). What can I say, it is sloppy indeed :oops: , but most of the mess is localized to the slides of the lid, and as such, does not stare a user in the face. :wink:

Image

The final specifications of the X32 "frankenpad":
  • Pentium M 2GHz w/ 2MB cache
  • 1.5GB RAM (donated 1GB to my sister's T42)
  • 160GB 5400RPM HD
  • 12" XGA IPS/FFS (Hydis)
  • Gigabit Ethernet (LOM)
  • 802.11bg Intel Wifi + Bluetooth
  • 2X Good condition 6cell Panasonic battery :P
  • Ultrabase X3 + DVD/CD-RW
And as a bonus, I now have a few spare parts which may come handy later down the road (heatsink/fan, keyboard, various plastics).

Stay tuned for detailed pics and discussion!
Last edited by dr_st on Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:53 am, edited 2 times in total.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#9 Post by dr_st » Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:13 am

pianowizard wrote:If I ever become a Thinkpad collector again, I would definitely start with these two, and upgrade the X32 to 1400x1050!
I was seriously debating between the XGA and SXGA+ IPS panels. I also find XGA resolution quite limiting. However, I was (and partially still am) afraid that the SXGA+ on 12" would be inconvenient for prolonged periods of time.

In the end it was simply a question of availability. The X32 with the specs I wanted for the price I was willing to pay, was offered with the XGA LCD. I am sure that if it was SXGA+, I would take it in a heartbeat still, but I'm fine with it being XGA at this point, since the system is intended for recreational use, in coffee shops and the like.

Should a convenient opportunity to get the SXGA+ IPS present itself, I would not ignore it. :D
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X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#10 Post by lophiomys » Sun Nov 06, 2011 12:07 pm

Thanks thats a brilliant write-up. A pleasure to watch the photos.
If only Lenovo would build that kind quality laptops nowadays.
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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#11 Post by dr_st » Sun Nov 06, 2011 4:00 pm

Time for some more serious photoanalysis of the X32. :D

Top, front and bottom views:
Image Image Image
The lid on the X32 is titanium composite with the rubberized coating. Appearance-wise, despite being a much newer machine, the X32 exhibits the design elements of the older T30/R3x/R40/A3x/X3x series: angled left corner cut, thin metal hinges, and the dual latch, which makes it a bit cumbersome to open. Still, you cannot help but admire the design consistency of IBM across these series (something which Lenovo seems to be finally coming back to with the T/R/Wx20 series).

The bottom view reveals a front-mounted battery, which is a 6-cell. The X32 was the last 12" Thinkpad before X220 which a flush-mounted 6-cell battery (the in-betweens had only 4-cells flush), which improves its standard battery life significantly. 4-5 hours are easily possible on a typical X32 (not on this one, though - the IPS screen is somewhat a juice sucker). The fact that the battery is at the front also distributes the laptop weight better when you lift in in one hand, and makes the weight difference versus an X4x/X6x feel somewhat less noticeable.

Hard drive and memory are easily accessible from the bottom, although for other upgradeable components (miniPCI and CDC) you will have to lift the keyboard, which requires 4 screws.

Towards the back of the machine you can see the docking connector. The X3x series is unique in the realm of X series (again, before the X220 :wink:), in that it can connect both to its own X3 Ultrabase, as well as to all the docking solutions of the contemporary A/T/R series! Alas, DVI is not supported.

Image
Keyboard and palmrest view. The pre-widescreen X-series keyboard is almost full-sized, but just almost. The right column of keys took the biggest cut with a small backspace and tiny backslash. The relative position of other keys is affected by that, and I still find myself hitting incorrect keys from time to time. It's great that they managed to fit all the keys on the keyboard though, except it comes with one other problem - the bezel around the keyboard is very thin as you can see, and many of them break near the CapsLock or Enter keys (two of the three X32 units and one X31 I've seen had broken bezels).

Apparently the front corners are also weak spots on these machines. If you look closely, you can see a small crack on the front left corner. It has developed after I got this machine, but at this point does not affect rigidity, so I'm not replacing the bezel. They can be far worse, though; take a look at this pic.

Image
The keyboard closeup reveals a sign of transition - the X32 (and X31) still have most of the LED indicators on the keyboard, and the old round power button, like the older X30, but the newer design for the volume buttons and "Access IBM" (formerly "Thinkpad") button. There is also a wireless status LED on the clearplate, and the Bluetooth hardware switch present on X30 (and A3x, for instance) is gone; both Bluetooth and Wifi are now controlled through Fn+F5 (and you can see the F5 key marked accordingly).

Introducing the Thinkpad X3 Ultrabase:

Image Image Image
The Ultrabase makes the X32 so much thicker! It also brings the weight close to that of a T-series, but the thickness is probably a bigger deal breaker, as the difference in height between the palmrest and the table makes it somewhat uncomfortable to work. The Ultrabase blocks all the X32 rear ports, and duplicates all of them (power, modem/LAN, VGA, parallel, 1xUSB), and adds PS/2 mouse and serial ports.

Image Image
Left: X32 in Ultrabase - left view. All the original ports of the X32 remain accessible - 1xUSB, Audio (last Thinkpad with a separate line-in), CF slot (under the audio jacks), PCMCIA/Cardbus and Firewire. Note that the Ultrabase does not provide its own audio ports - it relies on those on the chassis. This means you cannot use the Ultrabase as a permanent docking station with external speakers - you'll have to plug the speakers into the laptop manually each time - a disadvantage. The Ultrabase does have its own set of stereo speakers, somewhat better than the mono speaker on the laptop itself, and it is possible to use the other docking solution, so I guess it's not a fatal flaw. Still, a flaw, and one which was eventually rectified by Lenovo with the X6 Ultrabase.
Right: X32 in Ultrabase - right view. The bay is a standard Ultrabay Plus, hosting the DVD/CD-RW. Interestingly, an DVD Multi-Burner for the Ultrabay 2000/Plus was made, but never offered standard on any machine (it is still somewhat rare and expensive).

Image
The Ultrabase has some retractable feet which tilt the laptop a bit, so that the palmrest is angled and typing is easier.

And now the most interesting part - the Ultrabase allows a second standard X3x battery to be installed in a special slot, and for both batteries used simultaneously, effectively doubling battery life! It has higher capacity than the Ultrabay 2000 Battery, and leaves the Ultrabay usable for other devices. But of course it makes the whole thing even thicker and heavier, and as such would only be used in rare circumstances. Still, a very interesting concept.

Image Image Image Image
From left to right: Ultrabase bottom view (notice the battery slot and release button) --> X3x 6-cell battery --> Battery installed in Ultrabase --> X32 in Ultrabase with the second battery installed (achieves an angling effect similar to the feet).

When running the X32 with two batteries, the one in the Ultrabase is used first. If running off the battery in the base, do not yank the computer out of the base - it will lose power and turn off. You have to press the little blue button on the front to achieve a "partial undock" which will switch batteries (partial, because it will not disconnect the other Ultrabase ports). Then feel free to undock the laptop.

And although I never tried, it appears that it is impossible to run the X32 with 3 batteries (main, ultrabase bottom and ultrabay). In fact, there is supposed to be some mechanical block in the base which prevents you from even installing the standard battery and the ultrabay battery together.

Yet another part of the tour is concluded, but there is more. :P

Not today though - sleeping time. :jhem:
Last edited by dr_st on Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
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X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#12 Post by dr_st » Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:34 am

Got some pictures of the X32 running...

I decided to install Win7 (32bit naturally, as the CPU does not support 64bit) on it, mostly to see how it would work, and also since I don't have other personal computers in my apartment running Win7 (my main desktop is running Vista, and my corporate laptop is not personal enough) :wink:

It works pretty well. I reduced the taskbar icons to small size to have some more usable space - important, considering the low resolution. The only thing I had issues with out of the box was the ATI Radeon driver. There is not one for Win7 for this outdated video card (remember that it's the original Radeon (M6), not even the 7500!

Without the ATI driver, Windows detected the GPU as "Standard VGA Adapter", which works OK, except that it offers no sleep modes, so I couldn't get the computer to standby. Not acceptable for an ultraportable designed to be carried from place to place.

Luckily, Win7 32bit is pretty permissive when it comes to installing XP drivers. Learning from some other forum users, I got it sort of to work with the Lenovo XP ATI Radeon driver, as described in this post, but then had issues with the Power Manager / Battery Maximizer. So in the end, the Omega drivers solved everything, as described here.

GPU is low-end, so rating is 1.0 (lowest) and Aero does not work, but that's just fine.

Image Image

Below you can see the nice viewing angles of the IPS screen. The image does not wash out when viewed from above as on a typical TN panel, and there is only a minor loss of contrast.

Image
Image
Last edited by dr_st on Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#13 Post by dr_st » Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:14 am

Finishing the tour with a few direct comparison pictures of the A31p and X32.

Image
Similar but different. The X32 looks like the little brother of the A31p. :lol: Note that even the logo size is a bit different (X logo sticker is smaller than A/T/R sticker).

Image Image
Left: X32 on top of the much thicker A31p. Right: X32 in the Ultrabase is actually thicker than the A31p!

Whew! That was a lot of pictures and typing. :mrgreen:
Last edited by dr_st on Sat Nov 04, 2017 7:57 am, edited 2 times in total.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#14 Post by Tasurinchi » Mon Nov 07, 2011 10:26 am

I feel like reading a history article!

Very nice pictures :thumbs-UP: , I'd like to grbn a 2.0Ghz X32 one of these days but they are still very expensive...
IBM Convertible 5140/L40SX/220/240/240X/2*340CSE/360PE/365XD/380D/380E/380XD/380Z/390/560E/560X/2*570/2*600/600E/750Cs/755C/760CD/760EL/760XD/770E
A20p/A22p/A31/i1600/G40/R50p/R61i/S30/SL510/2*T22/4*T4x/11*T6x/6*T40x/6*T5x0/3*W5x0/W700/3*X2x/4*X3x/3*X4x/5*X6x/3*X6xT/12*X2xx/4*X30x/Z60m/3*Z61x

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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#15 Post by edik » Wed Mar 28, 2012 2:53 pm

I hope nobody minds me resurrecting a thread from last year but I found this an excellent read and quite informative.

I have always desired an A31p, rare to get in the UK, and indeed an X32, and luckily in the UK at the moment on eBay, untested X32 base units are going for around £20/$30 including postage. I don't know if they will work but I have just snapped up an X32 base to test (still a few available).

Currently have an X31 which I would argue is the finest machine IBM have ever built, well.. if you exclude the 760XD, 770 series, the 600X, the T30 and the T43p :))))))))))

I might have to stockpile X31/32's soon they are getting so cheap, before the glut turns into a demand cycle when people realize the crap they are being sold nowadays.

2018: T550/16/IPS 3K Touch/72Wh
2007-2018: T450, T520/i7-2760QM/8GB/320GB, WSXGA+, X200s, T500, A31p, A30p, T42p, X60s, X32, X31
Gone but not forgotten 1998-2006: 2006 T43p 2668-H2G (2GB/60), T22 2648-8EG (128/20) 2005 X40, X31 2004 T30 SXGA+, 600X, 2003 770 P233+DVD Card, 760XD 1998 760XL+104MB

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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#16 Post by Puppy » Sun Apr 01, 2012 3:48 am

The X32 with IPS panel is nice :thumbs-UP:
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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#17 Post by ZaZ » Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:45 am

I love the Ultrabay Numpad. I wish I could find one for a reasonable price.
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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#18 Post by dr_st » Tue Jun 26, 2012 1:41 pm

Another update on the X32 for our modders and Frankenpadders community coming up!

The flimsy ZIF connector issue came back to haunt me. One day I turn the computer on, and blam - backlight on, but nothing on the LCD. Knowing immediately what it was I cursed silently, since it's annoying to disassemble the laptop to reach the back of the panel (not to mention the risk of damage).

In fixing it I came to realize the source of the problem. The original modder (plympton) who installed this panel had to flip the LCD cable 180 degrees, because from some reason the connector on the back of the IPS panel is mounted in reverse to the original X3x orientation. As a result, the effective length of the LCD cable is shorter. While on the side of the board it is socketed, the connector on the panel is a fairly flimsy ZIF. With repeated opening/closing of the lid, eventually the cable partially disconnected.

Hoping that I attached it better this time, I secured it with some strong sticky tape (which was present on the back of the panel), verified that I get an image and reassembled the machine. Of course the poor glued bezel did not cope well with it, and after gluing it back it looked really really tacky. I was willing to live with that, until, about 2 months later... same story - fire up the laptop, no LCD image.

At this point I realized that I will not get any permanent solution without drastic means. And since I had to reopen the whole thing yet again, I also decided that it's a good opportunity to replace the whole top lid with an intact one (in addition to the broken bezel hooks, the left lid latch was catching poorly, and sometimes I had to lock it manually when closing the lid to make it stay shut).

After some hunting on eBay I managed to procure a near pristine X31 LCD assembly for very little $$$ as it came with another bad LCD. This time I learned from all my past mistakes and did it properly:

* Carefully disassemble the X32, remove LCD assembly and panel.
* Very carefully disassemble the X31 lid, making sure I don't break the front bezel hooks.
* Put some very strong industrial hot glue on the ZIF connector on the back of the IPS panel.
* Place the wireless antennas inside the new X31 lid (normally these are screwed to the panel, but the non-standard IPS panel has no screw holes in the proper places, so that was not possible.
* Place the IPS panel inside the lid, wire the antenna cables carefully around it. Again, there are no holes on the panel to attach to the side bezel, so it just kind of sits there. Luckily, the bezel is very thin and there is no room for the panel to wiggle.
* Carefully attach the front bezel, make sure all the hooks catch, and close it with screws.
* Transfer the X32 clear plate to the new lid. :wink:

The result of all this is a laptop that (a) works, (b) looks much better than before, with the front bezel actually being intact. However, the problem with the left latch not catching properly remained. It seems that something inside was putting too much friction on the spring for it to unwind back. A friend's suggestion of applying minuscule amounts of WD-40 to the latch mechanism worked wonders, and now the lid shuts just fine.

How long will these repairs hold? Only time will tell. One thing certain - with this X32 in working order, my motivation to purchase an X220 is far lower than without it. :lol:

P.S.I realized this description would be much better with pictures. However, throughout the process I wanted so much to just be done with it and have the machine working again, that I completely forgot to document it. :oops:
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#19 Post by Dragunov » Fri May 24, 2019 10:09 pm

I'm particularly fond of the W540.

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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#20 Post by dr_st » Sat May 25, 2019 1:11 am

Dragunov wrote:
Fri May 24, 2019 10:09 pm
I'm particularly fond of the W540.
Wrong thread, maybe?
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

wujstefan
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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#21 Post by wujstefan » Fri Jun 07, 2019 6:12 am

Ah, those two units are in my personal favourite list of ten (and pretty high too!).

I do have two seriously modded A31p's, but no X32 :( I mean... actually I have one, but lend it to my dad to never get it back - he just refuses to give it back :) still on its best legs with car diagnosis. Generally most of the systems I ows still see some (often heavy) use.

Now I think I will post my WTB post on the Marketplace :D
Too many thinkpads not enough time!
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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#22 Post by priono2000 » Sun Oct 20, 2019 9:13 am

A31p or A31 is very rare unit
Now|T30 XGA|T41 XGA|T43 UXGA|T43p SVGA|T43p UXGA|
T60 XGA|T60 SVGA Flexview|T60p SVGA Flexview|T60p UXGAFlexview|T60pWUXGA
T601 UXGA FrankenPad
T61p WUXGA
W500 FHD|W700 WUXGA
X41t|X60|X60s|X61t|X200t|X220t
Dream|A31p/A30p|X300/X301

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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#23 Post by wujstefan » Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:17 am

priono2000 wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 9:13 am
A31p or A31 is very rare unit
I wouldn't agree with that. A well-shaped unit with Flexview is, but I have a couple of A31s I'd happily sell for low money. A3x are rather obtainable... yet!

EDIT: or maybe it is this way in Europe?
Too many thinkpads not enough time!
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Re: Classic Thinkpad Tour - Featuring: A31p, X32

#24 Post by priono2000 » Tue Oct 22, 2019 9:23 am

wujstefan wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:17 am
priono2000 wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 9:13 am
A31p or A31 is very rare unit
I wouldn't agree with that. A well-shaped unit with Flexview is, but I have a couple of A31s I'd happily sell for low money. A3x are rather obtainable... yet!

EDIT: or maybe it is this way in Europe?
interesting, i will happy received your PM :D :D
Now|T30 XGA|T41 XGA|T43 UXGA|T43p SVGA|T43p UXGA|
T60 XGA|T60 SVGA Flexview|T60p SVGA Flexview|T60p UXGAFlexview|T60pWUXGA
T601 UXGA FrankenPad
T61p WUXGA
W500 FHD|W700 WUXGA
X41t|X60|X60s|X61t|X200t|X220t
Dream|A31p/A30p|X300/X301

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