1.6 Battery runtime
I've very thoroughly tested (running multi-hour tests in a controlled environment: 0% CPU usage, lowest backlight level) the impact on the battery life of switching from XP to W7 on both my Thinkpad t42p and HP TC1100. The results are stellar: W7 in no way consumes more battery than XP under exactly the same circumstances (again, assuming 0% CPU load – active usage of Aero and, consequently, the graphic processor, may have had an adverse effect on battery life). The battery meter and the "remaining time" are pretty dependable. The real runtime I've measured on the TC1100 was somewhat (about 9%) lower than predicted with hight charge levels; however, this may have been a result of using a third-party, comparatively cheap battery (with the wear level of about 15%) in the TC1100, while I run a brand new (wear level 0%), factory battery in my t42p.
Note that if you have a notebook with a touchpad, it's possible you'll see two EXE files starting by SynTP (one of them is SynTPenh.exe) in the process list of Windows, consuming 1-2% CPU time (measured at 600 MHz) all the time. You can safely kill these processes; unlike what's stated HERE, the touchpad (and the pointing stick / USB mice) will still work.
That is, while some people state Vista has worse battery consumption than XP (see for example Finnish Tietokone's 1/2009 article in the printed mag), this certainly doesn't seem to be the case. (Also note that other people state the opposite – see THIS.) I also recommend THIS article on the additional power usage of Aero and THIS on Microsoft's promising 11-15% better battery life under W7 than under XP.
2. A thorough report on installing W7 on my notebooks
In the following sections, I explain how I installed W7 on my notebooks, what my experience is and what you should pay attention to. Note that while I "only" discuss three models, most of the stuff I state can be generalized. For example, you'll need to use exactly the same apps and drivers (Hotkey fix etc.) on most other Thinkpads and the same Wacom driver on your Tablet PC if it has Wacom hardware but the factory driver doesn't support pressure sensitivity (as is the case with the TC1100).
2.1 HP TC1100 Tablet PC
This was a pretty hard nut to crack. First, the VGA support. By default, a generic VGA driver is installed, which doesn't even support screen rotation (orientation change). That is, the first thing you do should be installing the video driver (THIS file [linked from HERE]) and disabling D3D to avoid crashes.
After connecting to the Net and right-clicking all the unknwon devices and letting them to automatically update, the only "Unknown device" remains will be the buttons – everything else will be found online after install. This means you'll only need to install the video driver (again, don't forget to disable acceleration to at least D3D levels!), Q Menu (THIS file) and the button drivers (THIS file) of the official HP drivers – nothing else. And, of course, the Wacom driver from the Wacom folks (and NOT the HP ones – the one automatically installed), should you need pressure sensitivity.
You might also want to check out THIS for an excellent writeup on the TC1100. BTW, speaking of the same thread, you might also want to have a look at THIS
Some additional remarks:
2.1.1 SD card support
In a nuthsell, it doesn't work – at least for the time being.
184.108.40.206 Auto-installed driver
If you let it auto-install the driver when you insert a <= (smaller or equal than) 1 GB card, it'll only work until you reboot your machine. After you do reboot the TC1100, it won't work even with <=1 GB cards – inserting them will result in an immediate crash. The same will happen if you insert >1GB card in the slot even before the first reboot – they'll freeze the TC1100 for the time the cards are in (but not later – unlike after reboots).
I've played quite a bit with trying to find and remove the driver, TI UltraMedia_sd, from the system – in vain. There's no such driver in Device Manager; removing the similar-named System Devices / TI UltraMedia Firmware Loader Device didn't help; neither did PCMCIA Adapters/Texas Instruments PCI-1620…. I've even run some very thorough searches in the file system under \Windows to find the driver that is installed and needs to be removed so that the subsequent card insertion can trigger the automatic reinstall (and working of the card until the next reboot) but in vain. I've even run searches for .inf files with ‘UltraMedia' – no success. All I've found was references to the above-mentioned System Devices / TI UltraMedia Firmware Loader Device. Removing the instance that could be removed (that is, not the one in the driver repository) didn't help.
220.127.116.11 The XP SD driver
The XP SD driver (sp29116.exe) doesn't help – the card remains invisible if you install it, unlike with the driver that is auto-installed first time you insert a compatible card.
2.1.2 Wacom pressure sensitivity support
As with XP, the factory driver available at the official HP download page doesn't support pressure sensitivity. You must download the XP driver from HERE (if the link doesn't work, go HERE and select Tablet PC from the left and Windows XP from the right list). (I've used XP SP2 compatibility mode and installed it as an administrator.) It's the driver that is automatically installed when you right-click the unknown devices in the device manager after installing W7 and force a driver update.
I've tested it work with Corel Painter X, in Edit / Preferences / Bush Tracking. With a non- pressure sensitive (HP) driver, the lowermost two sliders will remain the same, no matter how much hard you press the pen on the screen on the scrap field; with the Wacom driver, they'll move just like the uppermost sliders. (Photoshop users should take a look at THIS, should they not know how pressure sensitivity can be utilized. A not that interesting video is HERE)
2.1.3 I've tried to hack the following video drivers…
I present you a detailed explanation of what video drivers I've tried to hack to gain both orientation change support (which, again, is supported by the stock HP driver when manually installed) and full video acceleration. So far, I had absolutely no success. Hope the TC1100 folks I've posted my premilinary results to (see THIS and THIS threads) will have more success than me.
18.104.22.168 The laptopvideo2go driver hack
I've thoroughly tested the laptopvideo2go driver hack mentioned at http://www.tabletpcbuzz.com/showthre...t=36154&page=2 and explained at http://www.laptopvideo2go.com/forum/...showtopic=9547 . I've downloaded 84.43 from http://www.driverheavendownloads.net...2k_english.zip ( linked from http://www.driverheavendownloads.net/nvidia.htm ) and let it decompress itself to under c:\NVIDIA (of course, it couldn't install as it's incompatible with the system). I've replaced the INF file (after changing the two (!) occurrences of Rotateflag in the file from 4 to 0x40) and, after renaming, I've copied the DLL file to the same directory. After this, I've run setup.exe in the same c:\NVIDIA\some subdirectory as an administrator.
It didn't really work – I couldn't find any difference from the stock HP driver (also installed as Administrator, in XP SP2 compatibility mode). While it does support rotation (unlike the standard, stock driver installed by Win7 by default), it also crashes on D3D / movie playback with a nv4_mini.sys BSOD (page fault in nonpaged area).
22.214.171.124 Mobility Modder hack attempts
Also tested with the latest Vista driver (178.24_geforce_winvista_32bit_english_whql.zip) with the driverheaven.net "Mobility Modder" hack. A no go - not even orientation changing is supported.
I've done the same to ForceWare 93.71 WHQL as it's the last driver to support the GeForce 4 MX series, according to the page HERE) – a no-go either.
Note that I haven't tested GeForce Release 179 for Notebooks (see THIS). Dunno if they would work.
2.1.4 Sleep problems
W7 seems to have major sleep problems (note that hibernation is working just great). In many cases, when you resume the notebook from sleeping, it just won't display anything and you'll end up having to restart the entire device by long-holding the Power slider.
That is, don't use Sleep mode for the time being. Also make sure you disable automatic sleep timeouts. Always use hibernation instead.
2.2 IBM ThinkPad t42p
Unlike with the TC1100, I had absolutely no problems with the t42p (and don't have since then, except for some file integration problems. I will keep my eyes open to
The Windows Experience Index (WEI) isn't at all bad, given that it's a 2004 model:
Everything is working (including the volume / ThinkLight / backlight buttons and hibernation / sleeping), except for the additional, IBM-specific functionality like Fn +Space (to quickly switch between the UXGA (1600*1200) and SVGA (800*600) resolution) or Fn + F3 (to dim the screen). There're no on-screen controls for the volume / backlight buttons either.
(Note that the situation is exactly the same on the a31p.)
2.2.1 Emulating the Windows key
As you probably know, Windows 7 uses a lot of keyboard shortcuts to access some advanced functionality. With Windows Aero, one of them is Flip 3D, requiring you to use Win+Tab.
To map an existing button to the Windows button, use THIS utility. It worked flawlessly on my t42p (as usual, installed in XP SP2 compatibility mode and as an administrator). After installing and restarting your PC, go to All Programs / ThinkVantage / Keyboard Customizer Utility, check the Enable key assignments checkbox and select a button to map to the Windows key (uppermost drop-down list):
After this, among other things, Flip 3D will work just fine:
(click the image for a full-sized version)
(Incidentally, if you have a PC with a comparatively good video card but Aero still isn't enabled, you can give a try to the Aero-enabling hack described in the article Hack to Force Enable Aero in Windows 7)
2.2.2 Other stuff to install
You'll want to install the two files (Hotkey Driver and System Interface Driver) also linked from the first post HERE. Note that, as has also been explained in the post, you'll need to execute c:\DRIVERS\WIN\HOTKEY\SETUP.exe and c:\DRIVERS\WIN\SMIIF\SETUP.EXE – that is, simply downloading and executing the two installers won't suffice as all they do is decompressing their content. After this, not only the standard (sleep / hibernation / backlight / volume / Fn + F7 [switching between internal and external monitors]) hotkeys will work (or, on the A3x-series like the a31p, the app buttons on the left), but also for example zooming (Fn – Space; it's also used as sending the current window to the other desktop.) Also note that, during install, Hotkey Driver may display an error message. (This happened on my t42p but, interestingly, it didn't do the same on my a31p.
Incidentally, external monitors will work just fine. I've tested this with an external Viewsonic monitor with the native resolution of 1680*1050 (WSXGA+). When duplicating the built-in display's content, UXGA was used on both (the built-in and external) monitors (meaning a bit suboptimal, but still pretty good rendition on the external one); when extending the desktop, both LCD's were driven at their native resolution (UXGA for the built-in and WSXGA+ for the external one):
You'll also want to download and install ThinkVantage Active Protection so that your hard disk will be protected.
Also, you may also want to install ThinkVantage System Update. It will install the following recommended updates:
Note that it doesn't install for example the Hotkey Driver needed for additional hotkeys. The most interesting app it installed was Lenovo Services' Lenovo System Toolbox (also available as a separate download HERE; see for example THIS for more info), which is pretty nice:
Note that it can also be installed on the a31p; a screenshot showing it running on mine:
Finally, if you have an IBM Thinkpad notebook, don't forget there's a dedicated forum to them at Thinkpads.com - make sure you check it out!
2.3 IBM Thinkpad a31p
I've also installed W7 on my aging, but, because of the UXGA IPS screen, still pretty cool a31p. It works OK, except for the lack of D3D.
I've tried to hack the driver with Mobility Modder (see my dedicated thread HERE); so far, without any success.
For some reason, it's not possible to run WEI on the a31p, unlike on my TC1100 or t42p. At the end, it always reports an error (note that D3D is disabled):
Note that, while the Hotkey driver (one of the two apps needed to be able to see the on-screen feedback of the volume / backlight etc. messages; the other is the System Interface Driver) isn't stated to be compatible with the a31p, it's working just great on the a31p.
Also note that you won't want to install ThinkVantage System Update as, unlike with newer models, it won't offer to install anything.
3. Verdict - is it worth giving it a try?
Definitely. If you wanted the niceties of Vista, particularly if you're a Tablet PC user, but without the snail-alike speed and major compatibility problems, installing Windows 7 is a must. You won't be disappointed, particularly not if you don't have any kind of driver compatibility issues (most importantly, graphics acceleration problems.) Believe me: Windows 7 is orders of magnitude cleaner, better and faster than Vista.