The Full Tour Of The A31p
One of the first things we noticed about the A31p ThinkPad is that it is a little smaller and lighter than typical desktop replacement notebooks. Checking in at 7.7 pounds in our configuration, the A31p was nearly two pounds lighter than some desktop replacement notebooks that we have seen. While 7.7 pounds is not exactly "light," in the desktop replacement mobile workstation market space, that is a very comparable weight. There will be some people reading this article who will argue that 7.7 pounds is still rather heavy, but it is a reasonable weight when compared to a unit with similar features. As for the A31p's dimensions, it is 13 inches wide by 10.7 inches deep and 1.8 inches thick. The thinness of the unit really surprised us; the innovative design applied to the unit has reduced its girth, making it seem thinner than many other desktop replacement notebook models.
The front of the A31p is angled, while the top of the palm rest area has a gradual slope. In the front of the unit are two speakers. Beyond that, IBM tries to give the A31p a sleeker look by eliminating the assortment of buttons that are typically located on the front of many other desktop replacement units. Although some may find these buttons have a useful purpose, we think the jury is still out on this.
The keyboard of the A31p has a solid key action for typing. The key travel is excellent, as are the size and spacing of the keys. The A31p includes a variety of special function keys. Perhaps the biggest and most interesting feature of this keyboard is the addition of the new, optional Ultrabay Plus Numeric Keypad. The ThinkPad Ultrabay Plus Numeric Keypad fits into an optional ThinkPad Ultrabay Plus device carrier to create a keyboard extension for the A31 Series. IBM did not provide us with a sample of the Ultrabay Plus Numeric Keypad, thus we were unable to test it and cannot provide any feedback about it, but it looks to be an innovative concept, if you have the need for such a device. The A31 Series also offers the three-button TrackPoint pointing device, with the middle button featuring IBM's internet scroll technology. Those wanting a touch pad are going to be disappointed, as a touch pad isn't built in to the A31 Series. It would have nice for IBM to have provided the user with the freedom of choice, such as is provided by several of IBM's competitors in the notebook arena.