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IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

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atagunov
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IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#1 Post by atagunov » Tue Nov 03, 2020 5:43 pm

Admin note: this was split off from Marketplace thread

manmanmanman wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 1:04 pm
with the fabled and rare numpad unit
Hugely interesting what diversity of Thinkpad gear used to exist :) First time seeing a photo of this
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Re: WTS: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and A31p parts)

#2 Post by MikalE » Tue Nov 03, 2020 7:44 pm

I thought the top-end model came with 2GB of ram like mine has. Or was that not offered at the time due to manufacturing considerations?
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Re: WTS: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and A31p parts)

#3 Post by ajkula66 » Tue Nov 03, 2020 7:48 pm

MikalE wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 7:44 pm
I thought the top-end model came with 2GB of ram like mine has. Or was that not offered at the time due to manufacturing considerations?
Nope. Official IBM RAM limit for A31/p - and T30, R40 plus some others - was 1GB since 512MB was the biggest DIMM available at the time of introduction. That was an upgrade at the time though, stock was 256/512MB. Ask me how I know.... :D

Wi-fi and BT are/were the deciding factor(s).
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

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Re: WTS: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and A31p parts)

#4 Post by kfzhu1229 » Tue Nov 03, 2020 8:58 pm

ajkula66 wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 2:03 pm
That was a top-end model at the time...
Did A31p never come with 2.2Ghz CPU models out of the box? That's kinda disappointing as 2 out of my 3 Latitude C840 came with 2.2Ghz Pentium 4-M! Replaced one with a rare 2.5Ghz CPU, and well I don't think that extra heat output is really worth it. It runs quite a bit hotter than a 2.2Ghz model. The fan has to spin by the time Windows finishes booting, while on the 2.2Ghz one you then have to fire up a browser to make the fan spin!
And well yes you can upgrade beyond the official limits to 2GB easily, but I personally found 1GB DDR sticks to heat up a LOT (especially if you go for off brand ones), and that's just gonna accelerate the failure of the RAM slots.
manmanmanman wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 1:04 pm
The specs on the A31p are as follows (machine type: 2653-R9G)
- Pentium M CPU @2GHz (the fastest available in these),
- 1600x1200 UXGA FlexView panel (a bit dim on the sides but still more than usable),
- 512mb RAM, can bump it up to 1GB if I find my DDR stash,
- ATI FireGL 7800,
- CD reader in the left Ultrabay.
I think you meant Pentium 4-M lol. Big difference here. Putting a Pentium M inside is basically death sentence to the motherboard :oops:
Have the Flexview panel not suffered from backlight failure just yet? That's kinda rare in my opinion. I've stumbled across 4 of these panels before and every single one of them have a dead backlight that I had to replace.
Last edited by kfzhu1229 on Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WTS: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and A31p parts)

#5 Post by ajkula66 » Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:02 pm

kfzhu1229 wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 8:58 pm

Did A31p never come with 2.2Ghz CPU models out of the box?
No. T30 did, and R40 even had a 2.4

Mods may want to split this thread...
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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#6 Post by rkawakami » Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:09 pm

Done :) .
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X22 X24 X31 X41 X41T X60 X60s X61 X61s X200 X200s X300 X301 Z60m Z61t Z61p 560 560Z 600 600E 600X T21 T22 T23 T41 T60p T410 T420 T520 W500 W520 R50 A21p A22p A31 A31p
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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#7 Post by ajkula66 » Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:14 pm

rkawakami wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:09 pm
Done :) .
Thank you kind sir... :thumbs-UP:

BTW the A31p that you sold me some years ago is still alive, albeit mostly retired. Whenever I turn it on I want to put a fist through my T520's (coveted AUO FHD) screen, so I don't do it often... :lol:
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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#8 Post by rkawakami » Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:22 pm

That's nice to hear. I've still got a couple of A31p systems waiting for a backlight refresh. Now that I'm retired and with COVID still around, I've got some free time to possibly try this repair; one CCFL is in a box up on my shelf. I've (partially) cleaned up my office but still need more clear desk space for ripping a system apart. Maybe one of these days....

That said, the A31p that I was keeping on 24/7 is still running, albeit without a functional display. I'm using the Remote Desktop program to log into it with my W520 and put the A31p desktop up on my ThinkVision T23d-10 (love that model number!). A second T23d-10 monitor is sitting in its box, along with the 2-arm articulating stand that needs to be mounted on my desk. More stuff on my to-do list.
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Re: WTS: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and A31p parts)

#9 Post by MikalE » Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:30 pm

ajkula66 wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 7:48 pm
MikalE wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 7:44 pm
I thought the top-end model came with 2GB of ram like mine has. Or was that not offered at the time due to manufacturing considerations?
Nope. Official IBM RAM limit for A31/p - and T30, R40 plus some others - was 1GB since 512MB was the biggest DIMM available at the time of introduction. That was an upgrade at the time though, stock was 256/512MB. Ask me how I know.... :D

Wi-fi and BT are/were the deciding factor(s).
Miine has both of those too as well as the 1600x1200 UXGA FlexView panel, and the ATI FireGL 7800.

Mine also has S-video in and out.
A31p P-IV 2Ghz, 2MB, 2653-R6U
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Re: WTS: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and A31p parts)

#10 Post by ajkula66 » Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:46 pm

MikalE wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:30 pm
Miine has both of those too as well as the 1600x1200 UXGA FlexView panel, and the ATI FireGL 7800.

Mine also has S-video in and out.
ALL of them do. That's what makes it a "p" as opposed to a high-end A31
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#11 Post by kfzhu1229 » Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:49 pm

Also I have been seeing mixed bags in terms of the inclusion of the firewire ports on these A3x machines. For example my A30p actually has the firewire port but it's blocked off by the case plastics. The 2 A31p's that I had my hands on both have the port exposed. Why is that?
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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#12 Post by ajkula66 » Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:51 pm

kfzhu1229 wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:49 pm
Also I have been seeing mixed bags in terms of the inclusion of the firewire ports on these A3x machines. For example my A30p actually has the firewire port but it's blocked off by the case plastics. Why is that?
Someone flipped the case/shell? Firewire was standard on the "p" version, not on the standard units.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

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Re: WTS: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and A31p parts)

#13 Post by MikalE » Tue Nov 03, 2020 11:41 pm

ajkula66 wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:46 pm
MikalE wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:30 pm
Miine has both of those too as well as the 1600x1200 UXGA FlexView panel, and the ATI FireGL 7800.

Mine also has S-video in and out.
ALL of them do. That's what makes it a "p" as opposed to a high-end A31
They all have in and out?
A31p P-IV 2Ghz, 2MB, 2653-R6U
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Re: WTS: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and A31p parts)

#14 Post by ajkula66 » Wed Nov 04, 2020 12:16 am

MikalE wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 11:41 pm
ajkula66 wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:46 pm


ALL of them do. That's what makes it a "p" as opposed to a high-end A31
They all have in and out?
Yes.

The differences between A31p units come down to:

a) Gen I vs. Gen II - different BIOS

b) Presence or absence of integrated wireless and BT

c) CPU speed - somewhat tied to G1 vs. G2

d) Secure chip or lack thereof.
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

FlexView AARP club members:A31p, T43pSF

Abused daily: T520, X200s


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Re: WTS: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and A31p parts)

#15 Post by manmanmanman » Wed Nov 04, 2020 6:21 am

kfzhu1229 wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 8:58 pm
ajkula66 wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 2:03 pm
That was a top-end model at the time...
Did A31p never come with 2.2Ghz CPU models out of the box? That's kinda disappointing as 2 out of my 3 Latitude C840 came with 2.2Ghz Pentium 4-M! Replaced one with a rare 2.5Ghz CPU, and well I don't think that extra heat output is really worth it. It runs quite a bit hotter than a 2.2Ghz model. The fan has to spin by the time Windows finishes booting, while on the 2.2Ghz one you then have to fire up a browser to make the fan spin!
And well yes you can upgrade beyond the official limits to 2GB easily, but I personally found 1GB DDR sticks to heat up a LOT (especially if you go for off brand ones), and that's just gonna accelerate the failure of the RAM slots.
manmanmanman wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 1:04 pm
The specs on the A31p are as follows (machine type: 2653-R9G)
- Pentium M CPU @2GHz (the fastest available in these),
- 1600x1200 UXGA FlexView panel (a bit dim on the sides but still more than usable),
- 512mb RAM, can bump it up to 1GB if I find my DDR stash,
- ATI FireGL 7800,
- CD reader in the left Ultrabay.
I think you meant Pentium 4-M lol. Big difference here. Putting a Pentium M inside is basically death sentence to the motherboard :oops:
Have the Flexview panel not suffered from backlight failure just yet? That's kinda rare in my opinion. I've stumbled across 4 of these panels before and every single one of them have a dead backlight that I had to replace.
Oops, edited that, my mistake :oops:

Its not a T40 now, is it :P

As for the displays, out of the 5 or so A31ps I've had, only 1 had a bad backlight, a much bigger issue for me was motherboard flex sadly :(
X60 | X200s | X230t | T42p | A31p with numpad | i1400 | T40, T41, T42 | A31

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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#16 Post by atagunov » Wed Nov 04, 2020 6:35 am

Guys for the benefit of an uninitated, am I reading it correctly once there co-existed A, T and R lines? Of which A was the first to go extinct?
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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#17 Post by manmanmanman » Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:25 am

atagunov wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 6:35 am
Guys for the benefit of an uninitated, am I reading it correctly once there co-existed A, T and R lines? Of which A was the first to go extinct?
You would be correct, the R line continued into the xx00 series (R500, R400), while the last of the A series was the A31p (later "revived" with the A475, AMD version of the T470).
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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#18 Post by atagunov » Wed Nov 04, 2020 8:27 am

So how did R/T/A stack up against each other while they co-existed? Okay R I guess was the more budget variant: heavier, less premium materials, less advanced feature-set. Adding a "p" to any model makes it more advanced (like W530 vs T530). But how did T and A stack against each other? How did IBM divide the market niches then?
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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#19 Post by MikalE » Wed Nov 04, 2020 9:30 am

I believe during its time the A series was IBM's flagship line of business laptops. They were workstations designed to replace a desktop for those that needed a mobile solution to a stationary problem.

Their features and price reflect that fact.
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Re: WTS: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and A31p parts)

#20 Post by kfzhu1229 » Wed Nov 04, 2020 10:22 am

manmanmanman wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 6:21 am
a much bigger issue for me was motherboard flex sadly :(
Well I guess here I have a different experience yet again... It seems like I didn't exactly have any motherboard flex with my A30p and A31p laptops.
But what I do see as problems are the graphics faults, RAM faults, and in my cases, dying VRM. I have two A31p motherboard where the caps have degraded that it takes 2-3 presses of the power button to fire up, and one of the boards have developed a short somewhere that the northbridge and southbridge get mad hot.
Well it's also one of the reasons why I prefer my Dell Latitude C840 over this A31p now. It has heatsink on the graphics chip and the graphics module is modular should it actually fail. And besides the graphics on that thing is night and day better in gaming, even when it lacks in driver support.
Dell Lat CP MMX-233 64mb 40gb W2k
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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#21 Post by ajkula66 » Wed Nov 04, 2020 5:23 pm

MikalE wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 9:30 am
I believe during its time the A series was IBM's flagship line of business laptops. They were workstations designed to replace a desktop for those that needed a mobile solution to a stationary problem.

Their features and price reflect that fact.
Only the "p" models were considered workstations. They always sported higher-end screens - even before FlexView was introduced on A30p - and better graphic chips.

The rest of A range was a mix and match with a lot of low-end Celeron powered systems, some of them with 800x600 LCDs. A22m was one of the first - if not the very first - ThinkPads to offer integrated wireless as an option on very few select configurations. For the most part they were heavy and bulky and mid-spec'd models were priced lower than their T2x counterparts. But the "p" units were cream of the IBM crop, no questions asked.
atagunov wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 8:27 am
So how did R/T/A stack up against each other while they co-existed?
T series replaced 600 as "bread and butter" business laptop that was considered to be the industry standard. Back in the day if you walked into a serious business of any kind T2x machines were everywhere.

Early R series were built by Acer and were absolutely nothing to write home about, although I do have a soft spot for some of the higher-end R40 P4M models.
Last edited by ajkula66 on Wed Nov 04, 2020 6:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Abused daily: T520, X200s


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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#22 Post by atagunov » Wed Nov 04, 2020 6:05 pm

Mucho gracias, very educative :)

I really miss some kind of "thanks" button on the posts. At other times I miss "agree" or "+1" button. Would have helped avoid posts like this..
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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#23 Post by kfzhu1229 » Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:12 pm

ajkula66 wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 5:23 pm
The rest of A range was a mix and match with a lot of low-end Celeron powered systems, some of them with 800x600 LCDs. A22m was one of the first - if not the very first - ThinkPads to offer integrated wireless as an option on very few select configurations. For the most part they were heavy and bulky and mid-spec'd models were priced lower than their T2x counterparts. But the "p" units were cream of the IBM crop, no questions asked.
How interchangable were the m models to the p models in terms of parts?
For example, on my A30p, it was actually me who have upgraded a low end A30 system with a 14.1" XGA, 1Ghz PIII-M, A30 motherboard to an A30p with the swap of the lid assembly (to get antennae as well), CPU and motherboard, while I kept everything else. The firewire port is present on the PCMCIA assembly but as I said before, blocked off by the case plastics, so it leads me to believe that regular A30 systems have purposely disabled that port. I don't wanna replace the casing because it's in such pristine condition.
And well for the e and m models, it's nothing unheard of really. It's not nearly as cheap looking as something like a Dell Inspiron 2500 (which is like an A21e), where they took the same casing from a high end Inspiron 8000, fit a 12.1" SVGA display, a crap motherboard with 80% of the I/O removed (and thus looks real ugly), and a much cheaper and flimsy feeling keyboard with pointing stick removed. As a result, it looks and feels like almost a fake Dell laptop. That was the very machine that Steve jobs mocked about in their iBook introduction (after he purposely put the price tag of the higher end 8000 instead of course)
Dell Lat CP MMX-233 64mb 40gb W2k
600 PII-266 416mb 40gb WXP
T23 PIII 1.13ghz 1gb W7
Precision M4300 X9000 8gb 160gb WUXGA Ultrasharp fp W10
T530i 15.6" i7 16gb fp W10
UXGA:
A30p PIII 1.2 1gb W7 (IDTech)
T43p 2.26 2gb fp W10 (Sharp)
Lat C840 P4-2.5 2gb 60gb W7 (Ultrasharp)

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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#24 Post by ajkula66 » Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:30 pm

kfzhu1229 wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:12 pm

How interchangable were the m models to the p models in terms of parts?
It's been many years since I've last touched an A22m but my recollection is that as long as you were in the same frame (12" vs. 14" vs. 15") things worked out OK.

A20p-21p-22p were packed in the standard 15" A2x housing, I don't recall any major physical differences.

But as I said...it's been a long time and today has been a long day... :D
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

FlexView AARP club members:A31p, T43pSF

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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#25 Post by kfzhu1229 » Wed Nov 04, 2020 11:19 pm

ajkula66 wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:30 pm
It's been many years since I've last touched an A22m but my recollection is that as long as you were in the same frame (12" vs. 14" vs. 15") things worked out OK.
If you remember, you mean that you cannot swap the motherboard on a 12.1" A2xm for example for an A2xp one, or to replace the lid assembly with a 15" one?
I guess that's kinda disappointing because on a A3x, you can reuse the lid cover and the hinges to upgrade a 14.1" XGA to 15" UXGA. In fact, you can even use a 15" SXGA+ cable and mount a 14.1" SXGA+ panel from a T4x and it will work just fine if you move the LCD cable strain relief out of the way (cable length issue)! The 14.1" models on those just merely have an extension bracket on either side of the screen to extend the 14.1" screen to the hinges.
ajkula66 wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 7:30 pm
But as I said...it's been a long time and today has been a long day... :D
By long day you meant the election chaos inside a swing state like PA? :roll:
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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#26 Post by ajkula66 » Thu Nov 05, 2020 6:21 pm

kfzhu1229 wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 11:19 pm

By long day you meant the election chaos inside a swing state like PA? :roll:
No sir.

I mean getting up at 5.30am, driving 100 miles (160km) to work, putting in a full day then driving back. And I'm getting old. Too old for doing this five days a week, regardless of any election or lack thereof.
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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#27 Post by Saucey » Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:27 pm

Was there ever a competitor to the UltraBay NumPad?
I would think something might of been made during the 90's by a competitor.

My only misfortune with the numpad is that I couldn't figure out how to configure the system to work "automatically" under Linux Mint when I got my numpad years back. I would have to enable the numberpad keys, but that would enable the ones on the keyboard as well. Otherwise it would use the directional buttons & page up/down fuctions.

Went back to install XP Black Edition to get the numpad to "work again".
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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#28 Post by dr_st » Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:46 pm

Saucey wrote:
Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:27 pm
My only misfortune with the numpad is that I couldn't figure out how to configure the system to work "automatically" under Linux Mint when I got my numpad years back. I would have to enable the numberpad keys, but that would enable the ones on the keyboard as well. Otherwise it would use the directional buttons & page up/down fuctions.

Went back to install XP Black Edition to get the numpad to "work again".
How did you get it to work independently under XP? In my memory it would also enable the numpad on the keyboard.
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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#29 Post by Saucey » Wed Nov 11, 2020 12:31 pm

dr_st wrote:
Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:46 pm
How did you get it to work independently under XP? In my memory it would also enable the numpad on the keyboard.
It's been so long I've forgotten. I think it worked out of the box, which is why I was frustrated with Linux.
I think it would have some problem where calculator would run, but I feel it just worked otherwise.
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Re: IBM ThinkPad A31p with Numpad Unit (and some history)

#30 Post by Screamer » Wed Nov 11, 2020 12:55 pm

Saucey wrote:
Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:27 pm
Was there ever a competitor to the UltraBay NumPad?
I would think something might of been made during the 90's by a competitor.
Doubt it. The numeric keypad was an extremely niche product from what I can see, so I don't quite see a reason for others to follow.

Unless you consider the dumb Bay Projector (Fujitsu LifeBook S761/P771), or the stupid Bridge Media Adapter (Toshiba Satellite 5200/5205), or the actually useful USB 3.0 Expansion Module (Dell Latitude E6320/E6420/E6520) to be indirect competitors from other companies.

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