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Rethinking the Thinkpad 268

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the if-it-aint-broke dept.
Octiaviane writes to tell us that XYZComputing has a review of Lenovo's Thinkpad X60 with a look at not only the current specs but the evolution of the Thinkpad line. From the article: "One constant which has remained throughout the evolution of the notebook computer is the Thinkpad. Processors and operating systems have changed, designs have been updated, and ownership has changed hands, but the Thinkpad remains. This product has never stopped being a top choice for demanding consumers and corporate buyers, whether they are looking for size, power, or features."
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Rethinking the Thinkpad

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  • IBM Ugly (Score:5, Funny)

    by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @06:35AM (#16032181) Homepage
    Thankfully they don't seem to have changed the apparance yet. IBM Ugly doesn't get many plaudits, but it definatly says "this is a laptop with which I could beat you to death for your stupidity and using your rubbish little Acer as a shield isn't going to help you one bit".
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by LiquidCoooled (634315)
      Your thinkpad cannot hurt me, my wings are like a shield of IBM Model M keyboards.
    • by Zarhan (415465)
      The Z60 series was, for a short while, available with silver cover instead of IBM black as well. Too bad I only good get the black Z60m (they ran out of the metal-cover versions just as I got the go-ahead from my boss to place an order for a new laptop...)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by adam1101 (805240)
      No kidding: ThinkPad anno 1992 [aichi.to].
      ThinkPad anno 1997 [aichi.to].
      ThinkPad anno 2002 [aichi.to].
      ThinkPad anno 2006 [aichi.to].
    • by fm6 (162816)

      That explains why they still have that stupid IBM-in-RGB logo, even though the product is no longer made by IBM.

      My department recently bought an Acer 64-bit "Ferrari" for our collective use. God, what nightmare!

  • Bias? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Filik (578890) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @06:38AM (#16032186)
    That excerpt from the review made me not click on the link. The reviewer blatantly admits bias to the whole line of laptops instead of concentrating on reviewing the latest model...
    • by masklinn (823351)

      And you, sir, did well not to read it. The article started with "Squee Thinkpads are the best things since sliced bread and have always been, let's see that the x60s is the bestest bestest thing since hot water!"

      AND you had to go through 6 pages to be told repeatedly that the x60s is the best thing ever, without any objective comparison against the competition though, because that may have required actual work.>/p>

  • Ouch (Score:5, Funny)

    by Can (21457) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @06:39AM (#16032187)
    That was one of the most painful articles I've read in a while. It's hard to take a review seriously when there's a typo or missing word in almost every single paragraph. It was almost like I was reading slashdot...
  • by svunt (916464) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @06:40AM (#16032188) Homepage Journal
    The current Lenovo ThinkPad ads in Melbourne have either a man saying something about how he wants to change the world, not back up his data all day, or a female, staring vacuously into camera with a smile that could start drooling any second, saying "I don't care how it works, as long as it works". If my pee-pee was a woo-woo, I'd be hunting down their marketing department with a sledgehammer in each fist. How fucking patronising.
    • Gotta fight fire with fire. Here in the US we have Apple commercials featuring a patronising hipster making all sorts of vacuous claims about how Windows computers can't do anything besides produce black and white pie charts, whereas Macs are fun. Oh, and that Macs run Windows too (sold separately) (not supported) (support is currently beta).
      • Here in the US we have Apple commercials featuring a patronising hipster making all sorts of vacuous claims about how Windows computers can't do anything besides produce black and white pie charts, whereas Macs are fun.

        Well, at least if he's wrong on the latter, he's right on the former. Gotta give him credit for that.
  • by cheros (223479) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @06:48AM (#16032198)
    .. I'd use to put my jack on if I ever got stuck in a muddy field. It would survive - they are seriously robust pieces of kit. Having said that, I'm happy with my dual core VIAO now, about the only thing I miss is the keyboard LED.

    At least it finally has a Windows key..
    • That it finally has a Windows key is the reason why it's 50% less usable for me. I hope to hold on to pre-60 series Thinkpads as long as possible.

      Try typing in a non-English language, where the diacritical marks are accessible via the right Alt key. The previous Thinkpads - including the T43 I am typing this on - were the last holdout laptops which had the full size Alt keys, making touch typing possible.

      I view it as the start of the inevitable decline of the Thinkpad, which was bound to have started someti
      • by fm6 (162816)

        Indeed, both the keys that Microsloth made everybody add to their keyboards, the Windows key and the context menu key, are pretty useless. They have great potential, but MS's own UI designer seem to have forgotten that they're there.

        Then again, I sometime want to access the Start menu from keyboard — it's easier than fiddling with the pointing stick. But the fact that my old Thinkpad doesn't have a Windows key is not a problem: I just hit Ctrl-Escape.

        Which reminds me of the following issues from t

        • by skiflyer (716312)
          That third mouse button is a complete mystery to me. It's very hard to use, and doesn't do anything you can't do with page-up and page-down. Now if there were a wheel....

          Completely disagree here... I've remapped mine to be "middle click" (an option in the setup, nothing fancy) as opposed to scrolling and it's great. I can cut'n'paste using emacs properly again, I can middle click to open in a tab, it still works for scrolling in firefox combined with the trackpoint (tho it's brutal in Opera).

          For me t
          • by fm6 (162816)
            Well, if you actually have an application that uses a three-button mouse, than yeah, that third button is nice. But there aren't a lot of those, and anyway it's not what IBM/Lenovo had in mind when they invented the thing.
  • by lonesometrainer (138112) <`vanlil' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Sunday September 03, 2006 @07:11AM (#16032229)
    I'm a road warrior and I've been using Thinkpads only since '99 and never looked back. A-series, T-series and now a Z-series thinkpad. Even though my current thinkpad is one of the first models designed and produced by Lenovo it's still a real thinkpad.

    Why I love them:

    [1] High mechanical quality, e.g. look at the hinges holding the display, that's solid metal! My last one, a T41p looked like brand new after 18 months and I used it every day for at least 8 hours, look at a typical Sony/Dell/HP after that timeframe!
    [2] best keyboard in the industry, actually I even prefer my Thinkpad keyboard over Cherry keyboards
    [3] the thinkpad light above the display (I love it), the docking solutions are very advanced, support is great

    I personally don't care whether it has the latest GPU, fastest harddrive, etc. - and - I'm not gonna buy a glossy screen either.

    BUT _please_ give me a new thinkpad X-series tablet! I absolutely need a higher resolution than 1024x768. I would immediately (tomorrow morning, before breakfast and shower) buy a X61s tablet with resolution > 1024x768, core 2 duo and 3rd generation mobile data service (e.g. HSDPA).

    But, as far as I know, it's not gonna happen. The x60/x61 tablet will still have 1024x768 :-(

  • reduced market (Score:2, Informative)

    by TexNex (513254)
    IBM made some great machines and it seems that Lenovo has continued to support quality over looks. Unfortuneatly, Lenovo will have less oportunity than other brands due to the US govenrment outlawing them (the purchase that is) in Federal facilities.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TerranFury (726743)

      ...which is funny -- because, before IBM sold the brand name to Lenovo, guess where the laptops were made?

      (Hint: Not Ohio.)

      This is just politics, pure, xenophobic, and simple.

      It's true that you need to watch your back when doing business in China. I've had too many Chinese friends, with too many frightening my-dad-the-doctor-was-approached-to-sell-organs-on -the-black-market type stories to be naive about that. There are plenty of good people, but Communism, poverty, and the greedy allure of soul-c

  • People mistake my laptop for a ThinkPad when they don't see it up close. It's obviously not a Thinkpad, and it's lacking some of the ThinkPad features. But it's built pretty well. It's got an excellent 14.1" WXGA screen that's surprisingly about as bright or brighter than my desktop LCD panels. It's got the ambient light sensor and hard drive accelerometer. It actually has *more* battery options that the equivalent ThinkPad model -- there's a 12-cell addon available that brings total estimated capacit
  • The perfect laptop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by interstellar_donkey (200782) <(pathighgate) (at) (hotmail.com)> on Sunday September 03, 2006 @07:22AM (#16032247) Homepage Journal
    Forgive me for being slightly off topic, but the discussion regarding the thinkpad has got me to thinking. The thinkpad has come in iterations that are physically robust and sturdy, but still are (to me) a little too fragile. Most laptops are far worse, and it's always a little nerve racking to carry around a $1k piece of equipment which appears as if it would shatter if dropped from more then four feet.

    I've never had a laptop where I didn't wear out the keyboard in less then a year. Screens go bad too easily (and I'm scared to death to let anything touch them). Batteries, while they have improved over the last decade, still have far too little life in them.

    Yet, with improving technology and manufacturing, the focus seems to be on faster processors and high performance graphics chips (which in turn eat up more power). How is it that there is no market out there for a good, cheap notebook that does the essentials (runs a browser and an office suite) that's as durable as a, well, an actual traditional paper notebook?

    I'd love something that I can throw in a backpack or satchel and not have to worry if it's going to get broken by other books, or scratched to heck, or have the screen go bad from being crushed. Something that can last 15-20 hours between charging, so I don't have to always be looking for a power port. I don't need it to play games or do any high end video work. A decent, durable display that'll do 1024x768 would be fine. I don't need excessive power; a 1.6ghz processor with 128m of ram and a 50gig hdd would be more then enough. Finally, put in a keyboard that is indestructible.

    I guess what I'm getting at is that I'd be more then willing to sacrifice performance for durability. Am I the only one who thinks this way? Or are there laptop manufacturers out there who make decent, cheap machines that are built like tanks, but don't necessarily have a higher end hardware inside?
    • by Zarhan (415465) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @07:55AM (#16032291)
      I guess what I'm getting at is that I'd be more then willing to sacrifice performance for durability. Am I the only one who thinks this way? Or are there laptop manufacturers out there who make decent, cheap machines that are built like tanks, but don't necessarily have a higher end hardware inside?

          Cheap, not. But you can try Panasonic Toughbook [panasonic.com] or even beyond, check out Itronix [itronix.com].
    • Cheap or Durable.

      Pick one.

      Personally I think laptops are cheap enough now where it's not worth worrying about how long it will last. A $500 laptop should last a few years and by the time it breaks the machine will be obsolete any way.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Actually, I see it as a choice between Cheep, Durible and Performance. You won't get all three, but I don't think it's a reach to expect you get two of them.

        A $500 laptop will last a few years if it's handled carefully. You still wouldn't throw one in your backpack full of books and other assorted hard objects.
    • by rah1420 (234198)
      I've had my T23 [Thinkpad] for years; carried it everywhere, replaced the keyboard once already, and (as mentioned earlier in the comments) need to worry now about the fluorescent lamp as my screen is dying from red tint. I count things like lamps and keyboards as "FRUs" to use IBM-speak, even in a laptop. Lamps have a service life, keyboards are a moving part... while I sympathize with your desire for a ruggedized laptop, I wonder whether a high-end Thinkpad would fill the bill if you simply acknowle
    • There are plenty of places offering refurbished Thinkpads at bargain prices. I got both my T22 and T30 via that route, and they've been solid performers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by beaverfever (584714)
      Is this the mandatory apple post? Perhaps, but I don't think of myself as a shill.

      Having said that, I bought a 12" powerbook three years ago (almost to the day) and it has been solid from a hardware POV (well, software too). What has impressed me most is the keyboard - it is very nice for a portable. Personally, I suspect all the negative publicity apple got recently over hardware problems in portables was blown out of proportion.

      I haven't dropped the machine except when in my well-padded bag (and then only
      • I also bought a 12" Powerbook. The thing is made from aluminum, one of the most malleable materials you can get. (Only the forthcoming MacBook Gold is softer among notebooks.) I toted it around in my bag every day until I noticed that the contacts around the power cable got bent. Five minutes with a capped pen brought it back somewhere near normalcy, but it just reinforced my belief that this thing is incredibly delicate.

        Reminds me of the first TiBooks. Remember how everyone drank Steve's Kool-Aid when
    • You can get an ultralight notebook that should last for about seven hours on batteries. That would currently max out at about 1.2GHz. They use ultra low voltage chips. Intel marks them with a "U" in front of the model number, such as U2400. The L series will still get you better than average battery life and 1.66GHz Core Duo.

      I have a couple old ordinary business class notebooks, four and five years old and they still work fine, so I don't understand what your durability issues are. I would suggest tha
    • Aside from the 15-20 hours of battery life - you're smoking something good there - the Panasonic toughbooks seem to be what you want. Expensive and not top-of-the-mark performance but rugged.

  • a feature... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fanther (949376)
    This product has never stopped being a top choice for demanding consumers and corporate buyers, whether they are looking for size, power, or features.

    Or just a single feature - like the TrackPoint... Few other brands have them nowadays.

    Multi Search [friskr.com]
    • From the artice: Rather than having a trackpad the X60s uses a one of IBM's signature red pointing sticks. This choice may be a bit disappointing to some people, but I have to say that I very much prefer it to a trackpad.

      I have used many different pointing devices on laptops over the years and I love the TrackPoint. Sadly the de facto standard is the touch pad due to sloppy TrackPoint implementations from companies like Toshiba and things like the UltraNav [ibm.com] which sacrificed usability for a better sales feat
  • All models retain the "Bambi-On-Ice" TrackPoint. Talk about legacy computing. I know people who have been so inurred to this device that they'll shove aside a mouse or forsake the also-installed-trackpad on some of these to a point-stop-click dance or a two handed (RH point, LH click) dance. Yikes.
    • by Sepodati (746220) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @08:21AM (#16032344) Homepage
      You should teach the idiots how to use the TrackPoint correctly, then. You only need one hand. Index finger is on the TrackPoint and the thumb is on the buttons. You can press any of the three buttons with your thumb and it's easy to hold them down while you're dragging something. The contours on the buttons make it real easy to press, too, not like the sunken buttons on the Dells.

      The first thing I did on my Thinkpads was disable the horrible trackpad thing.

      ---John Holmes...
    • by gsasha (550394)

      Well, there are people who prefer these. I've been downgraded from a Thinkpad to a Dell :(, and I find the touchpad mightily infcomfortable in comparison to IBM's red nipple. So, even if you prefer one way of doing things, remember that there are lots of people out there, and some might actually disagree with you...

      And in any case, a mouse is more convenient than any *pad a laptop can give you. If I had to choose, I'd rather the laptop was supplied with a tiny rechargeable, optical, BT-connected mouse wh

  • They'd make a 16 bit version and call it a Thunkpad.
  • by Mostly a lurker (634878) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @07:52AM (#16032287)
    Thus far, I have been very happy with what I have seen of Lenovo's actions. The newer Thinkpad models are better specified, a little cheaper and the warranty conditions have improved. I am actually more likely to buy Thinkpads now than when IBM was running the show.
  • Seriously, does anybody ever use the card readers that come bundled with laptops now? Isn't this sort of thing obsoleted with USB and thumb drives?
  • by gelfling (6534) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @08:36AM (#16032393) Homepage Journal
    Based on the some of the latest feedback of the problems that people have with the T60's it seems clear that Lenovo's plan is to niche the Thinkpad into the corporate market where it can be supported and doesn't have to handle the media/entertainment features that home users want. On the other hand the Lenovo N series is better suited to home users anyhow. I have Thinkpad T40 and a Lenovo N100 so I feel I'm qualified to have an opinion about this.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      What are the problems with the T60? I think I'm about to get one (to replace my trusty T40). By only beef so far is it isn't available with Core 2 Duo.
      • by timeOday (582209)
        Oh yeah, my other beef is the T60 is thicker than the T40.
      • by gelfling (6534)
        Seems like the biggest problems are in the area of multimedia DRM support, power consumption, NIC driver incompatibility, mulivendor VPN support and microcode difficulties. Moreover most of the corporate experience with Vista is on Thinkpads so we're seeing a lot of problems that we think are directly the result of not having designed Vista for that platform in the first place.
    • How is the 3000 series laptops compared to the Thinkpads? Is the build quality any good, and how hard would it be to run Linux on one?

      If the build quality is good, the only feature I would really miss is the trackpoint, and I could probably live without that. The V100 looks like a really nice smallish laptop, and my T42 is too big to use properly on trains and such (I ride trains about 500-600 kilometres every week).
  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @08:56AM (#16032455)
    The thing I like about the Thinkpads (aside from their ruggedness) is the system software update ability. It's like a Windows Update that is tailored to the software you have on your ThinkPad, and (unlike Windows Update) it works! :)

    I run Windows 2000 on my ThinkPad and the drivers and programs for that OS are still being kept up to date. When I did a reinstall of Windows 2000 a few months ago, I just installed vanilla Windows 2000, loaded the ThinkPad update program from my archive, ran it, and all the drivers necessary to support the ThinkPad hardware features were downloaded and installed.

    Nice, very nice.

  • ThinkPads no more (Score:4, Informative)

    by bfwebster (90513) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:25AM (#16032715) Homepage
    I've also been a dedicated ThinkPad user since 2000 or so. I've owned three, all X-series to cut down on the weight of dragging my laptop around and to allow me to actually get work done in coach class. However, unlike some of the other posters here, I have had some mechanical problems with the ThinkPads; I've had to replace keyboards on two of them, the screen hinges on my current one (#3, have had it 2-3 years at least) are loosening, and the screen frame itself has popped a rivet. Beyond that, I have found in the last year or two that more and more when I travel on business that what I really need is a portable desktop system, i.e., lots of memory, lots of disk space, lots of processor power, and a large screen. This, of course, is mostly the antithesis of the ThinkPad X series. Beyond that, I've just been a little bit leery of how well quality has been maintained in the IBM -> Lenovo transition.

    I did buy such a "portable desktop" laptop this week: a Fujitsu Lifebook N6410. Dual core T2400 @ 1.83 GHz, 2GB RAM (upgraded myself from 512KB), 80 GB hard drive + second hard drive bay (uses SATA laptop drives; be warned that it doesn't come with the bracing frame for the 2nd hard drive; I'm still working on that), full size keyboard + numeric pad, 17" display, stereo speakers + subwoofer, 256MB nVidia graphics (128MB dedicated/128MB shared), lots of ports, DVD-write drive, etc. Size of a boat anchor, weighs a ton, only lasts about 2 hours on battery, so it's definitely not my light, lithe ThinkPad X41, but it's right up there with all my desktop systems, and it's definitely easier than packing one of my Shuttles + a flat screen in a suitcase (which I've done before).

    I'll see after a few trips whether and how much I miss my ThinkPad.

    By the way, if you're looking at high-end laptops like this, avoid the Toshiba Satellite P105. I bought one earlier this week from Best Buy (the P105-S9312, w/2GB of RAM and a 200 GB hard drive), got it home, and promptly ran into problems: slow, flaky performance, occasional kernel faults, etc. I let it run all night and in the morning found it had powered itself down. When I powered it up, it went through three different kernel faults during bootup, rebooting each time, then finally got itself into WinXP--only to start reporting problems with previously working software. I tried four (4) times to do a system restore using the system restore disc--and had it fail each time. When I took it back to Best Buy to get my money back, I found that someone else had come in that same morning to exchange the same model. Not a good sign of high quality assurance. YMMV. ..bruce..
  • an eco-terrorist, if not modded into the realms of hell and then back.

    But Lenovos abyssimal behavior [greenpeace.org] regarding their ecological responsibilty renders them a company which just wound up on my eternal shitlist of companies from which I never ever buy anything.

    Lenovo, say hi to the likes of Sony and Air France.

    Slashdot covered this recently [slashdot.org].

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Viceice (462967)
      Personally, any arguement that quotes Greenpeace as a refrence instantly loses all credibility with me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by darkwhite (139802)
      Aside from the fact that Greenpeace is an unreasonable organization to begin with, this study is a measure of how much money the companies on the list put into "green PR", not of how environmentally friendly their manufacturing processes really are. Their measures are really laughable, and most of their information is quite obviously gathered from the manufacturers' and contractors' websites and press materials. Just because a random Chinese company decided to slap a page on their English website about how
      • Aside from the fact that Greenpeace is an unreasonable organization to begin with

        That's certainly a matter of opinion. Could you point out a specific Greenpeace study, which is based on hyperbole, bent statistics and lies? I thought not.

        this study is a measure of how much money the companies on the list put into "green PR"

        You quite obviously didn't read through the studys criteria [greenpeace.org] (you can download the criteria as a pdf via a link on the page). Granted, I'm not a scientist, and the fact how important

    • While the Greenpeace "Guide to Greener Electronics" was swallowed whole by the media, it is actually a sham report with little factual basis. In reality, it presents rankings upside down: Lenovo's higher quality business products are more likely to get recycled (and simply last longer), but because the company didn't have a lot of PR about it on their website, they were ranked last. The report also targeted Apple (3rd from the bottom), which is recognized by the Sierra Club in its top ten list of Green comp
  • What good is a fingerprint reader, when your fingerprints are all over the laptop? Dust, copy, spoof, login.
  • I don't know where people ge their ideas about thinkpads. Must be the commercials. We have been using Thinkpads in our office for years. Blown backlights, flimsy keyboards, quickly degrading batteries, and persistent annoying electronic noises the norm. And IBM/Lenovo's customer support is terrible. Nobody knows the answer to anything, and if it might be possibly software related (there are funny black lines on my monitor once Windows boots, please send me a damn installer CD that will work on this laptop*)
  • Thinkpad repair (Score:2, Interesting)

    I did basic hardware repair on thousands of Thinkpads around '03-'04, mostly T21, T22, T23, T30s, and 40/41s, as well as the X series, 20-30-40, and some of big yet delicate A20s and A30s, as well as some models I've forgotten the names of. My favorites are the old T2x, and the X20's. But I have a hard time viewing them as durable, as all the ones I ever saw were screwed up in some way. All the models have their stress points where the plastic always gives, and none took spill damage well. A lot of it was
  • I mean is that a RETURN or a CAPS LOCK? No, no... one thing TP are king is the keyboard and two keys are king on the keyboard: space and the mighty Return. This wheezy blue thing, pale resemblance of the original IBM keyboard is something for HP laptops, not a TP. They pissed on the jewelry...

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