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ThinkPad W700 review

Faced with the prospect of having to leave behind my 'war room' multi-monitor desktop PC setup at home for an extended duration, I set about finding a replacement laptop that would a good fit for the same cases. Primary usage scenarios include photo management and touch-up, e-mail and presentations, and code development. I was looking for a machine that would satisfy a few properties:
  • Plenty of raw horsepower for Lightroom, Photoshop and Visual Studio
  • Redundant hard drives for backup
  • Large, high resolution screen
  • Built-in web cam
  • Size and weight weren't a big deal since this machine would mostly live in one spot, moving rarely

The Lenovo Thinkpad W700 fit the bill neatly. Having taken the scenic route to Seattle, it arrived just a few weeks before our departure but with a couple of 1TB external drives it was easy enough to get my data transferred.

A few observations:

  • The screen is gorgeous. I spent a little extra for the 400 NIT screen and it's well worth it. Brilliant colors from a very wide angle.
  • Snappy and responsive. The specs inside make it a monster but it still runs relatively quietly.
  • The footprint is huge, to the point that it really looks like you're trying to compensate for something. Lots of screen real estate though.
  • It was the first consumer machine I've bought in a while that didn't need to be rebuilt out of the box. A few things to uninstall but it arrived in a decent working state. Big plus.
  • The smartcard reader won't detect my smartcard. Since the card works fine in a couple of other card readers, this probably just needs some investigation.
  • When typing rapidly the machine does beep. I'm not alone on this one, although the fix ('turn off the beep service') doesn't seem to address the underlying issue. I've never run into this with the X60s or T400s so not quite sure what's going on here.
Overall I've been pleased so far.
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Beijing Military Museum

With its bold architecture and many varied pieces of military hardware from tanks to planes to ships, the Beijing Military Museum was a great place to tour on a Sunday morning. I especially liked the building itself with its great hangar-like open spaces, large staircases with marble floors and ample natural light. The limited English signage removes almost all of the guilt of not stopping to read everything and leaves little opportunity to question the different ways of preserving history.

Beijing Military Museum

Chinese tanks

Beijing Military Museum

Full photo slideshow

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Ming City Wall Park

We set off today to explore some of the network of underground tunnels in Beijing. Built in the 1960s to accommodate 40% of the city in the event of nuclear war, they are rumored to expansive, elaborate, and home to shops, hotels, dorms and theaters. Unfortunately the tour book's 'entrance' in Chongwen (on Xidamochang Dajie) was marked as closed. We headed to another reported one on the web (at 44 Xingfu Dajie) but it turned out to be a theater instead. After asking a teenager for some help we attracted quite a crowd of teens who seemed fascinated by the description and idea (which was totally unknown to them) but they too were unable to help. I have a suspicion we have planted the seed of curiosity with them at the least.

As the sun began to set we talked through a city park containing the ruins of the city wall from the Ming Dynasty. With people clapping, walking dogs and flying kites, it was a peaceful stroll.

Ming City Wall Park

Ming City Wall Park

Ming City Wall Park

Ming City Wall Park