Lenovo Thinkpads

time

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 18, 2002
Messages
4,925
Location
Brisbane, Oz
Threads seeking laptop recommendations usually end up focusing on Lenovo Thinkpads. So here's a general purpose thread to help anyone who is interested.

I've tried to keep an open mind, with the idea that company stars wax and wane over time. Nevertheless, it's hard to ignore the evidence that for most manufacturers, form has not only triumphed over function, but shot it, buried it and ridden off into the sunset.

My daughter is starting an internship as a teacher and has been looking for a laptop. After scouring the demo units on show at various retail chains, she found most of them to have unacceptable keyboards. Note however that she is on a budget. Her first choice was a Toshiba A500 - now well and truly obsolete, but still on display at one store. I suggested she consider Lenovo, but we found consumer retail chains here no longer carry them. I also said Asus was worth considering, while acknowledging that these days they are too expensive.

I spent an hour and a half with a sales guy at one chain. I had fun with several laptops by just twisting them. The flex was amazing, almost like paperback novels. He suggested an MSI at US$650; it included 4GB RAM and a 500GB HDD. Frankly, it wasn't that bad compared to the other, more expensive dross that they had. It was by far the best value if you apply a 'magazine mentality' to your decisions.

But his personal favorite was Asus, of which he had one himself. While telling me how they were now number one in sales, he proudly steered me to a US$1000+ model (don't know which). I pressed a key ... and the keyboard sank at least 3mm. I tried again, and again the keyboard sank as if it was a cardboard cutout. Less pronounced right at the sides, but still a hugely obvious dip every time a finger met a key. I've never seen anything like it, and the sales guy looked a bit sick.

On a more positive note, I saw a relatively cheap S*ny with unslippery keys. At a different store, we'd been impressed with how smooth S*ny believed keys should be. I guess S*ny Vaio goes down a treat with your average octopus.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Messages
20,336
Location
I am omnipresent
Website
s-laker.org
Those same kinds of experiences are a big part of the reason I'm such a cheerleader for Thinkpads. Latitudes aren't bad either, but they're not quite in the same class for durability or industrial design. The people I work for bring me Acers and Toshibas and consumer class HPs, and they're all pretty awful in one or more ways. After seeing enough of them over a period of years, I've become more and more convinced that most of the stuff out there is comfortably in that low quality zone you're referring to in your post, time.
 

time

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 18, 2002
Messages
4,925
Location
Brisbane, Oz
To cut a long story short, we were lucky enough to find four different Lenovo series on display at a specialist business retailer: X, T, L and Edge. Models were X200, T410, T510, Edge 14, Edge 15.6 and L512.

Without preconceptions, my daughter soon spurned the other brands and focused on the Lenovos. The difference in the keyboards was like night and day. The front-running Toshiba was jilted and banished forever.

The classic Thinkpad keyboard is exemplified by the T series. The X200 has the same appearance and some of the feel, but key travel seems a little shorter. Still better than anything else in the shop, let alone any other ultraportable.

The Edge series swaps the abutting keys for 'island' keys. Some people find this to be the best keyboard, with one reviewer achieving 92 wpm. Feel is pretty good, but after several minutes, both of us preferred the T series. Don't get me wrong, no-one would be unhappy with the Edge keyboard. I think it's partly because the classic Thinkpad keyboard is more reminiscent of a desktop keyboard in both key shaping and feel.

And then there's the new L series, which officially replaces the R series. Unofficially, it obviously replaces the SL series, which has not been updated for some time. Appearance is exactly right for its intended role in the "enterprise"; it looks far sleeker and more modern than the T series. In our opinion, it also looks better than the Edge with the latter's silly chrome strip etc.

Rigidity seemed very good indeed and the keyboard is very close to the caliber of the T series. For all I know there is no difference, we didn't have enough time with it to be certain.

The L series provides a DisplayPort socket as well as a dock connector. Unlike the Edge series, there is no ultraportable 13.3" screen DVD-less model. Aspect ratio on all Edge and L-series is exclusively 16:9 / 1366x768.

Which brings me to the only obvious weakness: the display. We both felt it to be borderline with very narrow viewing angles. It was obvious next to the better T series displays, which coincidentally are 16:10. At least the new panels are still anti-glare.

To sum up, the L series would probably suit 90% of people who would otherwise consider a T series, but would like to save up to half the cost!
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Messages
20,336
Location
I am omnipresent
Website
s-laker.org
I'm shocked that you were able to find any Thinkpads at all. They aren't available to normal electronics retailers in the US at all, as far as I can tell.
 

Santilli

Hairy Aussie
Joined
Jan 27, 2002
Messages
5,077
I have yet to play with a Thinkpad, except once, a long time ago, on Market Street in San Francisco. Had the stupid little eraser for a mouse. Nixed it for me.

I've had a Panasonic CF-51 that I've used for what, 6 years now? 1.6 ghz, cost about 1300 new, with 1.25 gig's of ram. For a full sized, desk replacement it does the job, and, with a new Kingspec SSD in it, it's still fast enough for anything I do with a laptop.

Before that, I had a light weight Panasonic that I used for typing everyday on BART.
Got up to 70 WPM. I sold it, don't remember why. Think I needed a bigger screen, IIRC.

Panasonic does a really good job of striping the Windows install for XP to a minimum, and, it runs really quickly, thanks to the SSD, even in PATA.

The problem with Panasonics is generally the price, and avaliability. Have a go in your part of the world, and see what you find. My CF-51 has a magnesium case, and, it does NOT bend when you try and twist it;-) Maybe when you run over it with a car....
 

sechs

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Feb 1, 2003
Messages
4,703
Location
Left Coast
The new touchpads are multitouch. No sure yet what that gets for you.

I will say that I've never had anyone complain that I convinced them to buy a Thinkpad. Some whine about the price, but once it's in their hands, it becomes totally worth it.

My only complaint is about the techs that get sent out around here.
 

Santilli

Hairy Aussie
Joined
Jan 27, 2002
Messages
5,077
Speaking of laptops, I'm typing this on the CF-51, since our network just went down.
When you call Astound, and get a busy signal, it can't be good.;-)

Anyway, looking through what's out there, overstock.com has a refurbished Panasonic CF-29
1.4 ghz for 329.00, 3 dollars shipping.

They also have a T41, but, for getting beat around in cars, etc. the CF-29 is pretty much unbeatable.

The T410 and T510 from the shareholders store, for 499 look like excellent deals as well.
GS
 

Stereodude

Not really a
Joined
Jan 22, 2002
Messages
10,865
Location
Michigan
I saw it, momentarily considered it, and rapidly reconsidered. I had my fill of Atom like laptop performance with the netbook I tried. Something in that form factor with a ULV Sandy Bridge similar to the CULV Core2Duo stuff some makers offered (ala Acer Timeline 1810T) would be very appealing.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Messages
20,336
Location
I am omnipresent
Website
s-laker.org
I'm looking for a less bulky system for my living room, and I'm curious about the build quality of the unit. If I don't like it, I'll sell it to one of my coworkers, probably for the full purchase price.
 

timwhit

Hairy Aussie
Joined
Jan 23, 2002
Messages
5,278
Location
Chicago, IL
I'm looking for a less bulky system for my living room, and I'm curious about the build quality of the unit. If I don't like it, I'll sell it to one of my coworkers, probably for the full purchase price.
You could probably sell it for more than the purchase price. The best non-Woot price I could find was $508 on Amazon.
 

Pradeep

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 21, 2002
Messages
3,845
Location
Runny glass
How fast is that AMD CPU? Isn't that an Atom-esque product with better / faster graphics?
Faster than Atom, slower than Core2. Faster graphics.

"In most of our benchmarks the performance advantage over Atom isn't huge, yet using Brazos is much better than using an Atom based machine. It all boils down to one thing: single threaded performance. Atom can make up for its deficiencies by executing a lot of threads in parallel, but when you're bound by the performance of a single thread the E-350 shines. The E-350 is 65% faster than the Atom D510 in the single threaded Cinebench R10 test. It's this performance advantage that makes the E-350 feel so much quicker than Atom."

http://www.anandtech.com/show/4023/the-brazos-performance-preview-amd-e350-benchmarked/3
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Messages
20,336
Location
I am omnipresent
Website
s-laker.org
Funny that this thread is at the top of the list. Now that the UPS man has come for today I have a 12" Edge, a 15" Edge, an L-series, and two SL-series in my office. I like the SLs best.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Messages
20,336
Location
I am omnipresent
Website
s-laker.org
Even with the 9-cell battery, I would have to think the claimed battery life of 11+ hours isn't going to happen.
All claims about battery life are lies.

I can an uninterrupted get 6:45 out of my SSD-equipped T61 if I disable the NICs and Bluetooth, turn the display brightness down to "3" and use both the nine cell and ultrabase batteries.
 

Howell

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Feb 24, 2003
Messages
4,740
Location
Chattanooga, TN
I typically have the brightness set to 10/15 (220 nit) at least 1 VM running and Netflix or a DVD playing but I suspect these are not the conditions you would want tested. If I shutdown the VM and turn off all applications and set brightness to 3 (I think) power manager thinks I will get 4 hrs. After watching 2 hr of video at brightness 10 I had about 2 hrs left.
 

Howell

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Feb 24, 2003
Messages
4,740
Location
Chattanooga, TN
Also, I have the discrete graphics option installed but haven't bothered to figure out how to tell if its switched on. That would affect battery life.
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Messages
20,336
Location
I am omnipresent
Website
s-laker.org
My x100e arrived. It scores a 3.1 in Windows 7's processor benchmark and 3.5 on Graphics. It feels more solid than a 12" Edge and the overall construction is similar to the SL-series, but has an Edge-style chicklet keyboard. It doesn't choke on 1080p Youtube video, which is a good sign.
 

ddrueding

Fixture
Joined
Feb 4, 2002
Messages
19,315
Location
Monterey, CA
I really like my T410. It survived daily use in a construction zone for 6 months with a single error (fan - cleaned it out, no need to replace). Very solid machine.
 

Santilli

Hairy Aussie
Joined
Jan 27, 2002
Messages
5,077
Any suggestions on what is the smallest Thinkpad, and any experience?
Recommendations?
 

ddrueding

Fixture
Joined
Feb 4, 2002
Messages
19,315
Location
Monterey, CA
I have a top-end X201 coming. It is probably as small as you can get and still have decent power. They project that I will receive the unit on the 4th of Feb after ordering it on the 13th of this month. More than two weeks? Is this the 20th century?
 

ddrueding

Fixture
Joined
Feb 4, 2002
Messages
19,315
Location
Monterey, CA
FWIW, our IT people have said the X201 isn't very durable.
I haven't run into a small laptop that was. Actually the Acer netbooks did alright in the field. I think it was because they were light enough that there wasn't much force behind any impacts.
 

Santilli

Hairy Aussie
Joined
Jan 27, 2002
Messages
5,077
Looked at X201's at newegg. 1500 is a bit steep, though it does look like a nice small, laptop.
 

time

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 18, 2002
Messages
4,925
Location
Brisbane, Oz
FWIW, our IT people have said the X201 isn't very durable.
1. Drop 3 times

2. Pour water into it

3. Stand on it

Well, the second and third drops aren't very high, but they are at an angle rather than flat, and the laptop is open, not closed. And running.

So I guess maybe it isn't very durable after all - when compared with the forest product that fills the cranial cavities of your IT people. :salut:
 

Stereodude

Not really a
Joined
Jan 22, 2002
Messages
10,865
Location
Michigan
Well, I stand corrected! Your anecdotal evidence clearly trumps my anecdotal evidence. Clearly the people having to fix them / get them fixed after they're breaking have no idea what they're talking about since there are youtube videos involved. :rolleyes:
 
Top