FlexView's 170 Degrees of Freedom
The A31p features a 15-inch UXGA TFT screen, which uses IBM's FlexView technology with a max resolution of 1600x1200. The incredible thing about this FlexView technology is its 170є horizontal viewing angle. This allows the user to see the panel at almost any horizontal angle, which makes the new ThinkPad superior in presentation situations, where a wide-angle display is a big advantage. However, when traveling on a plane or a train, this could allow the passenger seated next to you to view what is on your screen, which could be a distinct disadvantage. Unfortunately, we found that the vertical viewing angle did not seem to have improved much. IBM claims a 25% to 50% increase in brightness and twice the contrast. It would appear that IBM has put a great deal of time into selecting the correct display for the A31p, and during our testing, we found their selection to be excellent. The image on the screen was crisp and clear. When running in resolutions other than the max resolution of 1600x1200 when scaling and interpolation become an issue, the display was remarkably good. This has been a weakness of many other laptops on the market today. The impressive display panel is fed by ATi's Mobility Fire GL 7800 graphics adapter, which comes with 64 MB of video memory.
As with many other high-end ThinkPads, the A31p includes the ThinkLight, which is a feature that is built into the top of the screen. It allows you to cast light on your keyboard in a dark room, for example, so that you can see the keys on your keyboard. It might seem like a pure gimmick on first sight, but we consider this little Thinklight an extremely useful and intelligent feature.
We were also very impressed with the metal supports used for the hinges on the A31p. We found the lid of the unit to be durable and wellconstructed. The A31p includes a dual integrated antenna system that is built into either side of the display for the 802.11b and Bluetooth. We found the reception of both the 802.11b and Bluetooth to be excellent. When using our Netgear ME102 Access Point, the signal was strong, no matter where we went inside or outside our lab. This is one of the better-integrated antenna designs that we have seen so far, and it worked well during our testing. In fact, for the first time during our testing, we connected to the servers and pulled all of our benchmark testing software across the 802.11b wireless, rather than using a wired connection. Although 802.11b wireless was considerably slower than the 100mbit that we normally use, it was impressive to see how the 802.11b performed when handling a large amount of data.