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IBM Thinkpad T23 2647-4PG
© Frank Vos, 2003/10/02

Overall rating:

Price: approx.€ 1700,-

1. Introduction

I started with OS/2 version 2.1 in 1993, on a 386SX 16 MHz computer. I could do things with it we now take for granted, like using WordPerfect while my modem picked up my mail from the Fido network. I have to use Windows NT during the day at work, but that desktop (if you can call it a desktop) is not as comfortable to me as is OS/2's WorkPlace Shell.
Before this T23 I used a Dell Inspiron 3200 notebook, after some time I was able to get everything working under OS/2 4 Warp. I used it for about two year until I had to replace it because of an accident. After this I bought a Thinkpad R30, this was a mistake because this notebook was not suitable for OS/2. There were no drivers for the audio and video (it run in a non-accelerated VESA mode) and I had a hard time getting OS/2 installed on it in the first place. It did not work correctly, so I decided to sell it and buy another laptop.

1.1. Versions

As usual, IBM offers its clients a broad range of choices concerning ThinkPads. The T23 comes in different models, and can even be ordered with OS/2 Warp V4 pre-installed. The T23 comes in different models.
All models have a diskette drive, internal microphone, are RFID-enabled, have Port Replicator / Dock support, ergonomic keyboard with palm rest, TrackPoint pointing device, 2 Type II or 1 Type III PC Card (TI Solution), 2 USB Ports, Serial, Parallel and UltraPort connectors, S-Video out, IR, audio, headphone, line out, AC adapter, RJ-11 and RJ-45 adapters.
All are shipped with the S3 Graphics SuperSavage IXc with 16MB SDRAM. Different CPU speeds vary upon a specific model. The 2647 model (9SU, 5SU, 9RU, 5RU) have an extra display resolution up to 1400*1050, whereas all others only have a maximum resolution of 1024*768. Hard disk capacity also varies from the model, and can even be modified to suite better your personal needs. Models 6GU, 2GU, 8SU, 4SU, 8RU, 4RU, 9SU, 5SU,9RU, 5RU come with 256 MB of 133MHz SDRAM, other only with a disappointing 128MB. All models (except 2647 6RU and 5RU) come with CD-RW/DVD combo drive. All versions ship with an on-board Lucent 56K modem, and an Intel on-board 10/100Mbps NIC, and 9SU, 5SU, 8SU, 4SU also have a wireless IEEE802.11b solution on-board. As usual different batteries and accessories are available (as options).

2. The Ordering Experience

After looking around, I decided to buy an already older model. Not only was the T23 affordable, compared to the newer models, but there was also official OS/2 support from IBM. I ordered the system, together with an extended warranty, in the beginning of 2003 from Bluelink, an IBM dealer in The Netherlands.

3. Specifications

IBM Thinkpad T23 2647-4PG
Intel Pentium III-M 1.13 GHz (Enhanced Speedstep), 133 MHz frontside bus, L2 cache 512 KB on the die (at processor speed) / DCC
Memory 256 MB (1 GB max.) / SDRAM non-parity / PC 133 compliant / 2 sockets
Intel 830 MP chipset
One Ultrabay 2000 with a 8x DVD drive
30 GB (4200 rpm) Hard Disk Drive
Ultrabay 2000 Floppy Disk Drive
14.1 inch TFT display, 1024 x 768 maximum resolution, 16M maximum colors
1600 x 1200 maximum resolution on external display (supports simultaneous external display)
S3 Super Graphics SuperSavage, AGP 4x, 16 MB SDRAM
Keyboard 85-keys with Trackpoint. Thinkpad, volume up, volume down and mute buttons
Intel AC'97 Audio Controller, CS4229 AC97 codex
4 Mbps infrared port (works fine with IBM's latest IR drivers)
10/100 Ethernet card with Intel 82562ET chipset
Internal 56K V.92 Fax/Modem
Lithium-Ion battery
Additional ports: Parallel, Serial, S-Video out, AC adapter, PS2-port,Docking/Port Replicator, External VGA Display, Headphone/Line out, Line in, Microphone, 2x USB 1.1, RJ-11 (modem) and RJ-45 (Ethernet)
PC Card Support: 2 Type II or 1 Type III, PCMCIA 2.1

Click here to download pci.exe's output while running on IBM Thinkpad T23 2647-4PG.
Click here to download scanpci.exe's output while running on IBM Thinkpad T23 2647-4PG.

4. System Set-Up and Installing eComStation

4.1. General

The system had Windows 2000 installed on one large FAT32 partition and a recovery partition of about 700MB. I deleted the recovery partition (after backing it up with DriveImage) and shrunk the C-partition with Partition Magic to about 7 GB. In order to get OS/2 installed quickly I restored my R30 backup of eComStation 1.0 on a 5 GB partition. I only had to install the audio drivers and use another driver for the PCMCIA-support. After that I created a HPFS-partition for data and one FAT32 for my 10GB collection of MP3-files. In Windows 2000 I installed the NT HPFS-driver to be able to share data.
When I received my copy of eComStation 1.1, I decided to choose a clean install (after I made a backup of my 1.0 installation). In about a half hour I had a working system, the only thing I had to install myself were the audio drivers.

4.2. Installing Device Drivers

For those of you who want to install Warp 4 on the T23 you can download the following drivers:

4.3. Sound

The T23 has an Intel AC'97 Audio Chipset (CS4229 AC97 codec), for this chipset are two drivers available. One provided by IBM and the other ported from the Linux ALSA driver. I only tried the driver from IBM, it works fine but lacks MIDI support. The sound quality in VPC is poor, maybe I should try the UNIAUD driver to see if this works better, I was told this driver would offer better performance and effectively includes MIDI support.

4.4. Video

The implemented video chipset is S3's 86C584 SuperSavage/IXC.
I'm using Scitech SNAP Graphics 2.1.3 without any problems at all to drive the S3 video card and the T23's 1024 x 768 @ 16777216 color, 14.1" TFT XGA display. There is also a special device driver (see reference above), however, Scitech delivers much higher performance.

4.5. Modem

Only at the beginning of this year a working driver for the build-in Lucent modem came available, I used it a couple of times and it worked fine. I also have a Psion PCMCIA modem/ISDN adapter. The modem that comes with T23 is the Lucent/Agere LT WinModem 56k.

4.6. Pointing Devices

I don't use the TrackPoint pointing device and touchpad that often, because I prefer a mouse. The mouse I use is an IBM USB scroll mouse. However, there should be no problem using the TrackPoint navigation system with OS/2 Warp's base device drivers.

4.7. Networking

I use the build in Intel 10/100 NIC to access my network (NetBIOS) and the Internet. This model does not have a internal WIFI card, I am using an Artem PCMCIA WIFI card instead. In my CONFIG.SYS I load both drivers and I have two Rexx files to switch from one NIC to the other:

/* turn on the radio
* This command activates the 802.11b interface
* original batch file by Neil Waldhauer
* The wireless NIC should be inserted in the PC Card slot
say "Activating the wireless network card"
' ifconfig lan0 down'
' ifconfig lan0 delete'
'dhcpmon -t'
'route -fh'
'arp -f'
'dhcpstrt -i lan1 -d 10'
say "Wireless networking enabled"
/* turn off the radio
* This command deactivates the 802.11b interface
say "Deactivating the wireless network card"
' ifconfig lan1 down'
' ifconfig lan1 delete'
'dhcpmon -t'
'route -fh'
'arp -f'
'dhcpstrt -i lan0 -d 10'
say "Cable networking enabled"

4.8. PCMCIA Socket Services

The T23 comes with Texas Instruments PCI1420 chipset implemented in the PCMCIA socket services. Normally, this device should work perfectly with IBM's cardbus.exe device driver, downloadable via IBM Device Driver Pack On-Line (with valid SWC or PPA subscription), or with Daniela's patched device driver, and it also works perfectly with APSoft's device driver.

5. Advanced Power Management

5.1. Battery life

If I use the computer in a normal manner, e.g. for word processing while listening to my collection of MP3 music, from the hard disk, then my battery will last for about two and a half hour. I can stretch it more if I reduce the brightness of the screen and listen to a MP3 stream from the Internet instead.

5.2. Standby and Suspend Issues

The Suspend (Fn4) and the Hibernate (Fn12) function work, but not the way they should. I had a couple of times problems with Suspend, the keyboard froze after I resumed the computer and I had to reboot. Hibernate does work without problems.
In order for this to work and to be able to swap the Ultrabay drives I had to change the following in my config.sys:

If you have the DVD/CDRW-combo drive you need instead:

For hibernation to work you need a hibernation file on the first (FAT) partition of the hard disk, you can download the utility disk at: http://www-3.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/MIGR-4PESMK.html?doctype= . A problem with this hibernation utility is that it can't coexist with the OS/2 boot manager, you have to use another boot manager instead, like Air-Boot.
eComStation has two APM settings in the Power object (in the System Setup folder). One is "APM BIOS and OS/2 support enabled" and the other setting is "APM BIOS support enabled" If I use the first setting then my CPU activity will increase to more than 60 % with not many tasks running. So for normal use I need the second setting (I don't want to drain my battery), the CPU activity is then only a couple of percent. However with this setting resuming after a hibernate is not working correct, therefore I have to change the Power settings to "APM BIOS and OS/2 support enabled" before I use hibernation. The only problem I have now after a resume is that I loose my mouse pointer. If I switch to a full screen OS/2 command prompt then my pointer will return. This is not very user-friendly, but I can live with this.
Suspend and hibernation is not possible if I have my SCSI or WIFI PCMCIA card in one of the slots. I have to power down the card and remove it before I can hibernate the machine.

6. Installing Applications

The applications I use the most are Lotus SmartSuite, Mozilla, PMmail, PMInews, PMview, Warpvision, Z!, Acrobat Reader 4, Virtual PC and RSJ (I have SCSI CD-RW).

7. The Bottom Line

I use the ThinkPad T23 as my main OS/2 work horse, I hardly use the windows partition on it. The T23 is more flexible (and faster) than my desktop computer. I can use my system where I like, because of WIFI. The quality of the computer is excellent and the price was good, because the newer T-models replaced the T23. I am not very happy with the power management support, because the "suspend" and the "hibernate" mode don't work as they should. Suspend is possible in most of the time, but there is always the risk of a frozen keyboard. Hibernate is safe. I hope that someone has solved this problem and will me tell how.

     Product Completeness
     Product Availability
     Hardware quality (modern, complete)
     Battery Lifetime
     APM Support
     OS/2 and eCS Compatibility
     Design quality (chock resistance, housing, ...)
     Manufacturer Support
     Overall Price / Quality Ratio


8. References

Copyright Information

Last modified: 2004/08/30, 14:30 | This site is sponsored by Mensys B.V.