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IBM 755CE
Laptop Computer
by Rick Smith (October 1998)

My main laptop (not my PDA, or pen convertible or even pen computer), but my main LAPTOP is an IBM 755CE. I guess I've been impressed with these models since I first saw them. I bought mine fairly late in this model's history (mid-1997). I bought it because it was the fastest 486 Thinkpad IBM made, it had an active matrix screen, a 3 year warranty (which I extended to 4) and the price was quite reasonable (warehouse sale). I needed a system that would also work well with the Etak SkyMapper and that meant an active matrix screen with PCMCIA port. In fact, I felt I would like this so much, I bought a second unit for my father to use at the same time.

After about a year, I really like this laptop and I have added many peripherals to it. In fact, I have added every peripheral I can think of. On the Internet, I have found:

Dock I - a small portable docking station that has space for an IBM CD-ROM drive and a full length ISA slot. It has an audio amplifier, built-in stereo speakers, a SCSI port for an optional, internal CD-ROM along with an external connector. An internal 3.5" IDE drive can be installed (if you don't have the CD-ROM installed) with a cable/mounting kit. It also describes another mounting bracket for mounting a removable IBM Thinkpad hard disk drive inside the unit. I have failed to locate either of these options (and I still am interested in buying these options at a reasonable price).

Dock II - a desktop docking station that includes space for 3 full length ISA slots. It has an audio amplifier, built-in stereo speakers and a SCSI port with internal and external connectors. It has room for a 5 1/4 inch half-height drive and a thin 1" high 5 1/4" drive and supports hot docking. This unit also includes two more PCMCIA slots, so while docked, it appears that you could have four PCMCIA cards attached to the laptop or two PCMCIA hard drives at the same time! (I have not been able to get the docking station PCMCIA slots functioning in Windows 95, but I also haven't worked too hard to solve the problem.) An optional stand allows a monitor to be placed on top of the docking station.
Trackpoint keyboard - Since I have used Thinkpad computers for over two years, previous to the purchase of the two 755 units, I got used to the "trackpoint" mouse (the "eraser head" located between the G, H and B keys). Some people like it and some don't, but because I am so used to it, I had to get a conventional keyboard with this feature. This unit is a great keyboard, with a very positive "click", built in the tradition of the high quality IBM XT and AT keyboards. It has an IBM PS/2 mouse port, so a mouse can be attached to this keyboard. Although it is not a curved ergonomic keyboard or is a light "touch" keyboard, I really like it and want to get several others to attach to my desktop computer systems. (The only improvement that could be made to this keyboard would be to have the control key next to the "A" key where God intended it to be!!)

TV Tuner - Yes, there is a TV tuner for this model - it replaces the floppy disk drive. I haven't found one for sale yet (and if I don't hurry, video standards will change to HDTV before I find one), but I would like to have one. I think watching TV on a laptop that at one time retailed for over $4,000 is sheer decadence.

I think the feature that makes this laptop truly powerful is the easily removable hard disk drive. In fact, I like this feature so much that I own over a dozen Thinkpad hard disk drives ranging in size from 170 megabytes to 2.1 gigabytes. These hard drives also work in two of my pen convertibles, the IBM Thinkpad 750P and the IBM Thinkpad 360PE so these removable hard drives are a very useful feature for me.

The most important reason is that I run multiple operating systems. In fact, I have used the following operating systems on my Thinkpads: DOS 6.20, DOS 6.3, DOS 7.0, Windows 3.1 environment, Windows for Pen 1.0, PenDOS, Windows 95, Pen Services 2.0, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0 Workstation AND Server edition, OS/2 Warp, OS/2 Merlin and Pen for OS/2. Let's see someone run these without a removable hard drive!

The "twins" (laptops) have worked very well for me and my father. The units have travelled back and forth to Las Vegas and Atlanta as in-car satellite navigation devices. I have editted many of the articles for Reviews OnLine and a majority of my desk-based computing, in the past year, with this laptop, including the writing of this article It gives me a sense of freedom being able to, within a few minutes, take all my work to a meeting, without worrying about what files to bring on backup media. I got used day-in/day-out laptop use while on the road consulting for a Fortune 500 company. Now I use a similar laptop for commuting between my father's house and my farm 100 miles away.

Copyright 1998 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

   
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