Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

New Fad, Vertical USB Ports

New Fad, Vertical USB Ports

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It’s pretty apparent to me the design engineers for some of the coming laptops have never used a USB cell phone data card.  I see a number of new machines coming out and they’ve decided to turn the USB ports so that they are no longer horizontal. 

Lenovo has certainly done this with the soon to be released ThinkPad T500.  See http://shop.lenovo.com/ISS_Static/merchandising/US/PDFs/t400_and_t500_datasheet.pdf.  This is no big deal for the typical wired mouse, but what about the cell sticks, memory sticks, etc?  Lots of those devices aren’t going to work with the USB port in a vertical orientation.

There are a couple of other things I dislike already (on paper) about the new ThinkPad T500.  They switched back to ATI for the video chipset.  What the heck is going on?  They change the chipset maker every model year.  I don’t like that.

And then there’s the Intel Active Management Technology (iAMT) stuff.  I don’t want any “active” management taking place.  I want to set the darn thing on full performance with injected nitrous. 

Oh well, I’m sure it’s a killer machine in person.  I wonder if they’ll send me an eval unit in the next few weeks.  Lenovo, if you have a 17” model coming, please send me one.  I would assume the model would be a ThinkPad T700 or something.

Anyone notice in the specs is says, “Memory - Up to 8GB of PC2-8500 1066MHz DDR3” ???  Ok, that’s pretty cool.  HDMI is cool. And I would imagine a nice 17” backlit LCD at 1920x1200 would be kewl.  We’ll see.

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  • My first comment on a Blog ever :)

    I really agree with the USB port, but i have to argue the Ati card issue and AMT

    First up (im no fan boy) but Ati cards are better for 2D and HD reproduction, and depending on class and time up to par or faster in 3D then competition.

    Another reason for Ati can also be recent nVidia scandal with their laptop chips and the faliure rates

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/pcworld/20080703/tc_pcworld/147911

    AMT has nothing to do with performance it is management option. It is acctualy really cool, you can turn on the computer, reset, map virtual drives, go into bios and alot of other cool stuff all remotley and totaly independant of the OS, you could actualy even install the OS with it and the laptop can be somwhere remote. it is also known as vPro, although yes it is more for servers and workstations but it can be cool to have even on a laptop. But it is just a bios option anyway and can be turned on or off

    ps: love the Blahg, one of the rare ones im suscribed too

  • Thanks for the compliment Milan.  Glad you like my style.

    Regarding the AMT stuff, I was aware of the remote admin stuff, but it looked like they may have extended it's reach into the CPU performance controls.  As long as I get overrides to set the performance how I want it, when I want it, then I'm good.

    I normally run a balanced style profile in Windows Vista when just doing email, web surfing and such.  But when I am running virtual machines, I like the high performance settings to be flippped on.

    ATI versus NVIDIA.  What can I say?  I've used both on laptops for years.  ATI more than NVIDIA.  But I've used NVIDIA in desktops more than ATI.  I guess I really don't care, as long as it works.  I just don't like them flip flopping every year.

  • Get a short USB extension cable, 3 or 6 inches long, like this http://www.amazon.com/Inch-Fully-Rated-Extension-Cable/dp/B000E5CYW8 to handle the difficult usb location...

  • I have two of the cables.  But I really don't like my cell phone card flopped over lying on the desk.  I would rather have it standing at attention.

    Oh well, I'll get over it.  

    Thought some of you might like to know changes are coming.  

    One thing I am extremely interested in is the power management technology that is coming in the new wave of laptops.  Not only should they consume less electricity, but they should also run much cooler.  That will be a welcome change for some of the OEM's.  Lenovo already does a pretty good job, but Apple fans could use some relief.

  • What's wrong with the USB ports being vertical?  Don't see the difference to having two vertical side by side or two stacked one above the other. It is the same physical issue of plugging devices in if they are close together. And why won't USB devices work correctly if plugged in sideways? Nothing I have is fitted with motion sensors to prevent it working, the electrons don't fall out and not many 3G sticks have aerials these days.

  • Bren,

    Have you tried one of these?  See http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/cell-phone-details/?device=AT%26T+USBConnect+881&q_sku=sku2640240

    I have one.

  • Keith, ouch!  Thats a beast

    I guess we must be lucky over here in the UK. Our choice of 3G USB sticks are not only much smaller and neater, but significantly cheaper tariffs.  

    Even sideways on, that must block any adjoining ports? So the problem really is the USB device maker assuming the physical space available around the port.  I have some memory sticks that block adjoining ports from being used and now carry a mini 4 port hub just in case.

    Are you stuck with that specific hardware or can you put the AT&T sim in other devices?  

    I upgraded to built in 3g last time round to avoid having to carry and plug in any dongles, not an option for everyone - the fun of mobile computing!

    Bren

  • Yea, now you are getting it. Yes, the USB device makers are assuming a lot.  One of the things they assume is a horizontal orientation of the USB port and can get away with a fat top end device.  When the USB port is turned sideways or vertical, the problem is introduced.

    The 881 is a SIM based device and you can rest assured it will be replaced when the time comes.

    I'm just highlighting the changes coming.  Some people will like them.

  • Vertical or horizontal. I've had problems either way. Especially when I've tried to plug something in vertically that was supposed to be plugged in horizontally :-)

    I've never figured out that Active Management thing. Do you need extra software to really make use of it? What does "Active" mean?

    That AT&T thing you have looks huge though. Is that your only choice?

  • They look pretty nice to me; I love Thinkpads; I've have had great luck w prior models T22/T42/T61p (current). 8GB of mobile DDR3 can't be cheap :-)

  • And soon it will be Wireless USB http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_USB Let's hope it takes off better than Bluetooth.

  • At ease gentlemen,

    Verticle ports agreed, AMT - fine right up until there is an exploit for it, video - not a gamer so don't care.  

    Something you didn't mention at least in this post that I found interesting in the specs you linked to is that they continue to offer a solid state disk option.  I call that the 'criminals hard drive' since Guidance software (eNcase - used by law enforcement) can't do a damn thing once files are properly deleted on a solid state disk.  So much for the whole electronic evidence discovery industry.  No moving parts, no wiggle, no data recovery.  Or, no need to rewrite every sector however many times to meet the DOD standard, which is probably what the savvy crooks are doing now.  

    True, it's only 64GB, but how much drive space do you really use on a laptop?  The laptop is light enough you can carry an external USB device for added storage if you really want.