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Change the ThinkPad and It Will Die

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the don't-go-chasing-iWaterfalls dept.

IBM 347

ErichTheRed writes "Here's an interesting editorial piece about the ThinkPad over at CNN. It mirrors what many ThinkPad devotees have been saying since Lenovo started tweaking the classic IBM design to make the ThinkPad more like a MacBook, Sony or other high-end consumer device. I'm a big fan of these bulletproof, decidedly unsexy business notebooks, and would be unhappy if Lenovo decided to sacrifice build quality for coolness. Quoting: 'Before doing anything drastic, Lenovo would be wise to review the spectacular rise and fall of Blackberry-maker Research in Motion. The mobile handset manufacturer tried to take on Apple by launching a number of products aimed at the retail consumer after the launch of the iPhone. It released the devastatingly bad Blackberry Storm as a response to the iPhone and later the Playbook to take on the iPad. The Storm failed because it was hastily put together in a mad dash and lacked the signature Blackberry QWERTY keyboard ... The Playbook failed because the Blackberry ecosystem had at the point of its launched more or less collapsed, making the Playbook just another iPad clone no one wanted. Meanwhile, the original Blackberry was left to wither away as the company focused on chasing Apple and wasn't updated in a meaningful way, making it look just old and tired.'"

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347 comments

These CEOs need to learn about Agile... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525113)

Not the stand up meetings, or scrumaster training, but just the part where your development is an iterative process with constant feedback from end users.

I work in wireless and have many friends who were fans of the original Blackberry's. I could easily have told themt the Storm was a failure out of the gate, and they could have gone back and added their signature keyboard to it and tried again.

If Lenovo wants to "improve" the thinkpad, they should make a few hundred, and give them out as a loaners for peoples' systems that are in for repair, under the condition that they fill out a form at the end that asks whether they'd like to keep the loaner instead of their repaired system. If you don't break 50% on that form, you go back to the drawing board. The Storm wouldn't have broken 10%.

Re:These CEOs need to learn about Agile... (5, Interesting)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year ago | (#42525293)

Agile is a horrible model for hardware design. The whole point is a rapid release cycle to get that constant feedback from users. That only works if you can update your product rapidly, which is a bit hard when it's a complex and highly integrated piece of hardware. Redesigning even a small custom piece of plastic has a huge pipeline to get it designed, prototyped, final mold made, tooled, and built.

The only way hardware like this is remotely affordable or profitable is giant economy of scale (manufacturers routinely spend hundreds of thousands to redesign motherboards just to save a couple dollars each), so making custom batches of 100 laptops would be insanely expensive.

Re:These CEOs need to learn about Agile... (5, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year ago | (#42525395)

Redesigning even a small custom piece of plastic has a huge pipeline to get it designed, prototyped, final mold made, tooled, and built.

True now, but in a few years, 3d printing will be filling this niche even nicer.

Re:These CEOs need to learn about Agile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525659)

More crap quicker. What a wonderful idea

Re:These CEOs need to learn about Agile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525817)

I think you guys missed the gp's point. It's not to get more models out faster so much as to only make improvements on what you've got based on real feedback. If you can do that in smaller sample runs before doing a real release because prototype fab is cheap and reasonably high quality, then great.

In the case of lenovos, don't cheapen them. The Thinkpad Edges are cheap, but they feel like it. The (apple chasing) chicklet keyboard isn't horrible, but people actually buy laptops specifically around the traditional Thinkpad keyboards. They're great, so use those everywhere.

Re:These CEOs need to learn about Agile... (0)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#42525765)

>True now, but in a few years, 3d printing will be filling this niche even nicer.

3D printing layer by layer will never be as fast or as cheap as an injection mold which does dozens of parts in one 5 or 10 second cycle.

Physical bandwidth matters just as much in manufacturing as in shoving data down a fiber does in telecom.

--
BMO

Re:These CEOs need to learn about Agile... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525769)

3D printing has existed for a _very_ long time now. They were originally made to prototype hardware. The 3D printing 'revolution' you are seeing is making 3D printers affordable to buy or make as a private person.

So no, 3D printing won't do shit in a few years that it isn't already doing, not unless we get a breakthrough with something else than "cheap hobby 3D printers".

Re:These CEOs need to learn about Agile... (2)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#42525783)

"making custom batches of 100 laptops would be insanely expensive."

And yet, manufacturer's do something similar all the time, as part of the development process. You've alluded to that with the $100K MB redesign comment. Sure, the plastics may not have the final finish, etc., but (to the OP's point) putting more effort into wider scale customer trials would reap obvious benefits.

They tend not to do that, because the downside is that details inevitably get out to the competition. Still, I believe the benefits outweigh... better to have confirmation from actual customers than to expect legitimate criticism from a design team reviewing their own work.

Re:These CEOs need to learn about Agile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525815)

Well, it's kind of moving to where this is what happens even in some semi-hardware markets.

For example, there was the Samsung Series 9 X3A: http://www.engadget.com/2012/04/09/15-inch-samsung-series-9-review-2012/

It got heavily panned for having the overly slow Intel HD 3000 graphics. That review is from April.

Since then they have released the X3B and X3C with HD 4000 graphics, and I just bought the X3D which I believe has as its only update a less expensive SSD and a more attractive color. That's about one every 2 months.

Re:These CEOs need to learn about Agile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525847)

Agile is a horrible model for hardware design. The whole point is a rapid release cycle to get that constant feedback from users. That only works if you can update your product rapidly, which is a bit hard when it's a complex and highly integrated piece of hardware. Redesigning even a small custom piece of plastic has a huge pipeline to get it designed, prototyped, final mold made, tooled, and built.

The only way hardware like this is remotely affordable or profitable is giant economy of scale (manufacturers routinely spend hundreds of thousands to redesign motherboards just to save a couple dollars each), so making custom batches of 100 laptops would be insanely expensive.

My $0.02: Specific to your point about agile not applicable to hardware design, you still find value in applying agile manifesto. Also, "lean principles and kanban process framework" is more applicable than "agile processes like scrum & xp" to domains that are Hardware-centric. Many of the agile principles- other than being iterative & incremental- still apply, with the exception of certain enterprise-class hardware domains.

Re:These CEOs need to learn about Agile... (1)

plover (150551) | about a year ago | (#42525323)

Part of the problem is that they have to spend the entire research budget to bring a new device to the market. Agile works for software development because software is infinitely malleable, and that any mistakes can be discovered fast and fixed for a fairly low cost. Hardware development requires you to do 100% of the engineering to make the machine small, thin, strong, long life, fast, capable, etc., and then to manufacture them. Development costs are generally recouped only after many thousands of units are sold. And as far as making any mistakes, well, recalls and warranty work are very expensive, and liability for incidental damage like fires due to faulty design is even more so.

They could try an iterative approach, but what are they going to tackle in pieces that people are willing to buy? As a loyal customer, would you be cheesed off if they came out with a new model every two months, each with a slight improvement to screen, keyboard, battery, whatever? (I know, Apple's doing it, but their customers aren't all continuing down the path to upgrade to the latest shiny.)

I'm not saying iterative or agile are bad (far from it), only that they are less applicable to hardware than to software.

Re:These CEOs need to learn about Agile... (3, Insightful)

jlehtira (655619) | about a year ago | (#42525459)

Listening to the constant feedback from users was the problem.

Same thing happened with Nokia phones. After iPhone came out, most users switched over. Some still thought their Nokia phones were better suited to them, but majority liked iPhone better. So Nokia started making iPhone-like phones, losing their remaining customers.

Re:These CEOs need to learn about Agile... (2, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#42525591)

No rim slit their own throat by doing really stupid crap.

1 - not adopting android.
2 - hiring a moron from Microsoft.

That's pretty much it.

Re:These CEOs need to learn about Agile... (3, Interesting)

canistel (1103079) | about a year ago | (#42525531)

What is it and North Americans claiming RIM is dead? What a bunch of blind people... RIM is only hurting in North America, in many other markets they are on the top or close enough. They still make money every quarter and are a in transition phase. Nobody is claiming RIM doesn't have an issue or two to work out, but to close your eyes to the rest of the world and blabber like you have any clue what is going on just shows how little you know...

Why I tend to buy lenovos (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525145)

Because I need more than 8GB of ram. I'm not the average joe, but I like more than 8GB. Furthermore, I use the tablet display part of it a lot. Also I like small laptops. 12" is a good size, so the X31 and X220 have been good to me. I would've bought some kind of ultrabook if I could've found one capable of hosting the kind of applications that I use. But I did not.

I care about mobility, robustness, and computational power. I also seem to care about marking up documents in red ink and yelling at people, thus the X220 with tablet is perfect for me. I get 16GB of ram and touch screen where I can tell people how much they have failed me in angry handwriting.

Re:Why I tend to buy lenovos (4, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#42525199)

Trouble is, last lenovo thinkpad I bought...was kinda flimsy and plastic when compared to a real IBM one from a few years ago....that and the docking station was a bit flaky when trying to keep hooked to a DELL u2700...freaking thing brand new if tapped would get out of sync and is a major PITA to get back to normal view.

I think lenovo has already hurt the Thinkpad, it does not look, feel or act like the robust 'tank' of old...

My macbook pro feels more solid than the lenovo which is only about 1 year old now. And I put 16GB into the macbook, so, not that big a deal to load up other laptops with more RAM (I do video work which can get pretty RAM intensive)...

Re:Why I tend to buy lenovos (5, Informative)

gmack (197796) | about a year ago | (#42525405)

A few months back I bought a Lenovo with a wireless card with a glitch so I did the first thing I have done with every other laptop I've ever owned when presented with this problem: I ordered a new wireless card. What happens? I get a post error about an unauthorized wireless card and the Laptop refused to boot until I removed it. Until Lenovo gets it through its head that if I pay for it than it is MY laptop and only I have the right to determine what cards are "authorized" I will not buy another Lenovo product.

Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE! (5, Insightful)

xtal (49134) | about a year ago | (#42525161)

I love technology.

You pick up a blackberry. It feels like a cheap plastic piece of shit.

You pick up a acer. It feels like a cheap plastic piece of shit.

You pick up a HP. It feels like a cheap plastic piece of shit.

You pick up a (insert anything electronic and mass produced that the bean counters got at). It feels like a cheap plastic piece of shit.

This is because.. they are cheap pieces of shit.

Pick up a nice Thinkpad. It does not feel like a cheap piece of shit. Especially the old ones.

Pick up ANYTHING APPLE. It does not feel like a cheap piece of shit.

If you are in charge of decisions at a large company publicly traded and cannot figure out what you do to your product image.. those little cents you save here and there, all turn your products in to cheap feeling plastic pieces of shit. Your brand also turns into a piece of shit. I feel sad for HP. At least SGI died.

Rant off.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (4, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#42525187)

People like nice stuff. And Apple is convincing more and more companies that people are willing to pay for nice stuff. Though Apple is exceptionally good at balancing nice and cost.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (3, Funny)

geek (5680) | about a year ago | (#42525425)

Though Apple is exceptionally good at balancing nice and cost.

No, Foxconn is. Sweatshops tend to do that.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (3, Informative)

erice (13380) | about a year ago | (#42525595)

Though Apple is exceptionally good at balancing nice and cost.

No, Foxconn is. Sweatshops tend to do that.

Sweatshops are a tool. At Apple's direction, Foxconn builds nice products at manageable prices. For most other vendors, Foxconn builds cheap pieces of shit. I first heard about Foxconn (long before they became well know as Apple's factory) because they were the ones producing really awful motherboards for Dell.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (3, Interesting)

Nixoloco (675549) | about a year ago | (#42525827)

Though Apple is exceptionally good at balancing nice and cost.

No, Foxconn is. Sweatshops tend to do that.

Foxconn just assembles things that Apple designs and ships the parts to them. They are close to the last step (maybe *the* last step) in a long supply chain. Apple is exceptionally good at designing products that people want and maximizing their profit on those items. Sometimes that means leaving off a few features but it always means very effective management of their supply chain. I don't think there are many companies in the world with Apple's skills in acquiring and locking up its component supplies. It helps having 10's of billions+ of dollars to throw around. Samsung is also pretty good and getting better.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (4, Interesting)

AchilleTalon (540925) | about a year ago | (#42525717)

Not true, I want a cheap piece of plastic that computes fast. Provided a reasonable keyboard and display. These pieces of plastic are used to be changed every 24 months anyway. I was a Thinkpad customer for a long time, it ended up abruptly two years ago when Lenovo managed very bad an important problem with the nVidia chip on its T61p line of products. I did buy these because they were the top end product at that time. I did buy Thinkpad instead of another brand because of the high quality I got in the past and the service. Lenovo just managed to replace the laptops likely to fail before the end of the warranty and made a recall for these serial numbers only. Many of us did have our lovely T61p just die not long after our warranty expired and we were told by Lenovo to go to hell (not in these terms of course) our warranty is expired and they won't do anything for us. Then I started to see if I could buy a replacement board and in Canada they charged over 1500$ for a replacement board while you can buy yourself a new machine for that price. I then decided to drop Lenovo once and forever. Since that time, I am committed to buy cheap pieces of plastic that computes fast instead.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525225)

Clearly your bias is leaking into your posts as I have an HP Elitebook in front of me that feels just as solid as a Thinkpad and my Blackberry Bold feels just as solid as my iPhone 4s.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (1)

xtal (49134) | about a year ago | (#42525259)

If your Blackberry Bold is feeling as solid as an iphone, something else is leaking into your food..

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#42525587)

You're just a blithering fanboy that would drink poison cool-aid if someone at the Genius bar offered it to you.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#42525643)

You HP elite book is a chinsy toy compared to my laptop....

Try a panasonic Toughbook. I can beat someone to death with it and then continue working after I hose off the blood.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#42525655)

You're right in that he was comparing apples and oranges. HP's consumer laptops are cheap crap. Their business laptops (EliteBooks) are quite nice. Dell is much the same way. Lenovo's consumer laptops (Ideapads) are still much better quality than their HP or Dell counterparts.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525251)

I would mostly second this, but it's not just about "feel".

Components quality has gone down ever since Lenovo purchased Thinkpad from IBM. The last iteration is more visible as they touched the keyboard style and other cosmetic aspects, but the trend was already there.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (2)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#42525289)

You can keep your Apple products if you like getting something twice as good for only 4 times the price. For a device I may only use 1-2 years, I don't need it to be rugged, beautiful, sexy, or magical. I need it to be functional and inexpensive.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (-1, Flamebait)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#42525665)

work somewhere where you get paid a real wage and you change your mind.

Burger King employees like you are not the real demographic that any manufacturer is aiming for. Nokia,HTC,Samsung all of their top of the line phones are as expensive as a iPhone.

I'm betting you have no brand loyalty either.... Again not the customer they want.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525299)

T series, for toddler resistant. The only reason to get a thinkpad is because it's toddler resistant. Otherwise, it's overprices. Granted, the work HP laptop is a suitable replacement for a trauma plate in body armor, but it is heavy without being good. However, the thinkpads were built solidly. The quality, unfortunately, is slipping. Lenovo shot themselves in the foot already.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (0)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#42525561)

That's why I bought a motorola defy instead of a samsung-whateveritwasthatwasthesamepriceatthetime. I have a toddler. They drop things and spill things. I plan to procreate more and babies dribble and chew on anything within mouths reach.

I know this is about laptops and not phones but there is value in a product that's life-resistant. Things get a bit wet some times. Sometimes things fall off the table.
I'm not saying a laptop should survive a 2 metre fall on to concrete or 10 metres under water, but it should handle a glass of coke being spilled on it and a 1 metre fall on to a carpeted floor with some dignity.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (2)

hrvatska (790627) | about a year ago | (#42525573)

Not just toddler resistant. They're college student resistant, too. My daughter's Thinkpad lasted through five years of college. She claims her T60P lasted longer than any of her friends' laptops at college. What did she want for a graduation present? Another Thinkpad. She wanted something that would get her through grad school without a problem.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (5, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42525345)

Pick up ANYTHING APPLE. It does not feel like a cheap piece of shit.

You're right, it feels like an incredibly overpriced piece of shit.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (3, Insightful)

DriveDog (822962) | about a year ago | (#42525411)

But then you put it down anything less than extremely softly, and the screen breaks. For Apple prices, they should come with Gorilla Glass.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (3, Informative)

nogginthenog (582552) | about a year ago | (#42525485)

The number of Apple phones I see on my daily commute with a cracked screen is crazy.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (2, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#42525681)

mostly from morons that keep it in their back pocket. What complete idiots think that is the right place for a phone? I was told by one chick that the NExus 4 was junk because she cracked 4 of them. She kept sitting on the freaking phone because she puts it in her back pocket.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about a year ago | (#42525539)

Gorilla Glass? I don't think Apple would do that. A broken screen just gives the tekkiddies an excuse to buy the latest iteration.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (5, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year ago | (#42525801)

Gorilla Glass' primary feature is scratch-resistance, not shatter-proofing. Apple already uses Gorilla Glass. To me, it seems like their devices shatter so easily for three reasons:
- The "glass sandwich" design (double the chance of shattering)
- Flat flush face (my Nexus S has a slight curve to the face, which means when I drop it, none of the screen actually impacts the ground)
- Aluminium instead of plastic (it increases the phone's weight unnecessarily, meaning more damage when it drops)

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (5, Insightful)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about a year ago | (#42525389)

Rant off.

I'll take you up on that offer. Why are people so concerned with how things "feel"? It's a phone. It doesn't "feel" like anything. You feel. The device is.

Which leads to the second part: it doesn't "feel plasticky", nor does it "feel cheap". It is plasticky and you think it's cheap because you have equated plastic to inferiority. Which isn't necessarily true. If you have a mobile device that tends to get dropped (or even flung) quite often, guess what sort of body will be better at absorbing shocks: plastic or aluminum.

Plastic can be a wise decision, and because of fashion or just plain wrong generalizations (plastic is - historically, even - often used as a cheaper alternative to better materials) it's apparently now acceptable to "feel" something as "cheap", and that's it. Review sites do it all the time. No further investigation needed; it "feels", therefore it is, in a bizarre twist of Descartes. Give me data, not worthless subjective assumptions. They feel stupid.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (1)

Trilkin (2042026) | about a year ago | (#42525571)

Case in point:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ac/Glock_26.JPG [wikimedia.org]

^ Plastic. Feels plastic. Not a cheap piece of shit.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (3, Informative)

raydobbs (99133) | about a year ago | (#42525771)

Nothing terribly revolutionary about a gun that uses ABS plastics for the lower portions - magazine well, trigger assembly, pistol grip, etc. This lightens the weapon and makes it easier to carry, draw, and aim - though it does increases the effect of recoil when the weapon is discharged (due to the lack of stabilizing mass). The REAL parts of the gun are still forged steel though, despite quibbling internet memes and crazy anti-gunners screaming the 'ceramic' lie - Glock achieves the 'ceramic' feel through a process called 'Parkerizing [wikipedia.org] '

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525445)

Pick up ANYTHING APPLE. It does not feel like a cheap piece of shit.

Debatable.

iPhone - pretty solid, IMO. Some people manage to crack the screens, but otherwise they hold up well in my experiences.
MacBook - plastic junk
MacBookPro - Pretty, but the aluminum dents very easily. Most well-traveled MBP's I've encountered have dents in them from the rigors of travel and use.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (2)

Urza9814 (883915) | about a year ago | (#42525563)

I dunno about that, although I suppose 'feels' is fairly subjective. We use Thinkpads at work...probably newer models, I don't know, mine's a T400...but it definitely feels like a cheap piece of shit to me. I know from the travel I've done with it already that it's fairly sturdy...but it _feels_ far inferior to my newer personal laptop, which is an HP dv6t (though about on par with my old Dell -- which was from their business line, a Vostro 1000.) If I squeeze my HP, it's fairly solid; if I squeeze the Thinkpad, it bends visibly and feels like it's going to crack. I'm actually somewhat astonished the plastic hasn't cracked already (and I've only had the thing a couple months.)

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#42525625)

The Google Spec Nexus devices dont geel like cheap crap...

Except the Nexus HSPA+ that did feel like a really really cheap toy, even though it was better than anything made by HTC or the other phone companies up to that date.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525697)

I love technology.

You pick up a blackberry. It feels like a cheap plastic piece of shit.

You pick up a acer. It feels like a cheap plastic piece of shit.

You pick up a HP. It feels like a cheap plastic piece of shit.

You pick up a (insert anything electronic and mass produced that the bean counters got at). It feels like a cheap plastic piece of shit.

This is because.. they are cheap pieces of shit.

Pick up a nice Thinkpad. It does not feel like a cheap piece of shit. Especially the old ones.

Pick up ANYTHING APPLE. It does not feel like a cheap piece of shit.

If you are in charge of decisions at a large company publicly traded and cannot figure out what you do to your product image.. those little cents you save here and there, all turn your products in to cheap feeling plastic pieces of shit. Your brand also turns into a piece of shit. I feel sad for HP. At least SGI died.

Rant off.

I don't understand how people can say that ThinkPad's are well built. Every ThinkPad I've had the displeasure of using the for last 15 years has had major fundamental build issues. The most common issues have been (but not limited too):

-Keyboard keys hitting the fan blades over the CPU
-The hard drive tray being poorly manufatured causing vibration, at one company I worked at that standardized on a few thinkpad models with this issue they had an average hard drive life per laptop of 6 months
-Overheating
-Screen burn out

In short ThinkPad's have always been about one thing and one thing only, cost. They have *NEVER* been about build quality.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525753)

This may be correct, however:

1. The Blackberry Playbook does NOT feel like a cheap plastic piece of shit. I bought one for that very reason. That has not translated into ipad killing sales. There are many valid reasons for this but it goes to show that hardware quality is not the be all and end all.

2. Many manufacturers other than Apple make high ending, robust, expensive feeling laptops. These devices are also not massive retail success stories.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525755)

Pick up ANYTHING APPLE. It does not feel like a cheap piece of shit.

How about a MAXiPad [slashdot.org] ?

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (1)

Deathlizard (115856) | about a year ago | (#42525823)

Pick up a nice Thinkpad. It does not feel like a cheap piece of shit. Especially the old ones.

Apparently, You haven't touched a Thinkpad Edge. Think Ideapad with a Thinkpad label. Nowhere Near an R series Replacement. I'm surprised that the E520's haven't been recalled yet for fire damage since the power plugs would break internally and short, causing the power supply and PC to smoke. Seen that three times now.

Although I do agree that the older series Laptops, (anything R61 and earlier), were a hell of a lot better than what they supply now, and i'm not sure about the T's but I'm sure they've been Cost Compromised.

Re:Time to burn some points. HEY MBA STUPID PEOPLE (1)

SignOfZeta (907092) | about a year ago | (#42525839)

Pick up ANYTHING APPLE. It does not feel like a cheap piece of shit.

Well, except for the few remaining white MacBooks. But I do see your point. Apple products aren't typically just a couple plastic housings molded, glued, screwed, or snapped together. They're glass, metal, or whatever else Jony Ive's been playing with lately. When you pick one up, it feels solid, just the right weight... and hopefully, like it's worth the price tag.

Thinkpad already toast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525163)

"Flexbuild", windows keys in HW only and "AMT Mode"... means it lasts only as long as the warranty (if that)... I would not recommend a lenovo of any sort nor any of certain other manufacturers for the same reason.

Yes, it will die (4, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#42525173)

I've had couple of generations, and our current model for my wife's use is an X301. We love its industrial ruggedness (for a non-ruggedized machine) and its very light weight for its size.

But, I've owned Toshibas, Dells, and a Gateway, so I'm not opposed to other brands. When we bought the X301 it came with a free Ideapad S10-2, which is what I have on-hand as a quick-availability machine in the living room. Build Thinkpads like the Ideapads and you'll lose us as a customer. Even though the X301 was very expensive ($1700 if memory serves) I'd still rather buy quality an reliability in a package that looks businesslike and doesn't scream, "steal me!" over most of the stuff out there. If that paradigm changes, I don't need to keep buying.

Re:Yes, it will die (1)

Choad Namath (907723) | about a year ago | (#42525851)

I never thought about the fact that Thinkpads don't scream "steal me!" until my ex-girlfriend's apartment was burglarized about 5 years ago. The idiot thief took a cheap, shiny looking Acer laptop and left behind two X-series Thinkpads that were sitting out in the open on a coffee table.

I like them (1, Insightful)

XaXXon (202882) | about a year ago | (#42525191)

I just saw one of the new thinkpads and I thought it was actually a step in the right direction. Nice keyboard, nicer lines.

I think you can have a good build quality and not make it look like crap. Apple makes the best operating and best looking hardware in the same packages.. so why can't someone else?

Re:I like them (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525335)

I just saw one of the new thinkpads and I thought it was actually a step in the right direction. Nice keyboard, nicer lines.

I think you can have a good build quality and not make it look like crap. Apple makes the best operating and best looking hardware in the same packages.. so why can't someone else?

People who buy Thinkpads don't give a shit what it looks like. It needs to hold up over time and be reliable. Also, many of us prefer the way they feel - a real keyboard feel: it's not like typing on Chiclets.

Re:I like them (4, Informative)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year ago | (#42525465)

Ding ding ding! Typing this from a ThinkPad right now. I picked it from all its competitors because it has a standard IBM layout, with a keypad and all. No chiclet keys here. The mouse trackpad is a solid piece integrated with the case. This laptop has survived dropping once, accidental thumps more times than I can count, frequent airplane trips, and it's never done anything to make me angry - which is more than I can say for any other piece of electronics I've ever owned.

Re:I like them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525593)

Thinkpad X121e with added SSD - best thing I've EVER owned. Silent, real keys, fast - and a decent trackpad / J mouse. Oh, and it works completely under Linux - what else do you need. The old Z61 next to me has a dead battery and has been rather battered but is still very useful, even if I can't afford a brand new battery to rejuvenate it - £130 is more than it's worth now.

Nice summary (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525207)

Headline says Thinkpad, over 50% of summary was railing on RIM. What the fsck am I reading?

Re:Nice summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525597)

No kidding. It would be one thing if it was a cut and dry, obvious comparison, but he goes way out of his way to push an unorthodox rambling explanation for their failure.

should use Lenovo logo (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525223)

since ThinkPad hasn't been an IBM product nor brand since 2005

Re:should use Lenovo logo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525705)

since ThinkPad hasn't been an IBM product nor brand since 2005

But Lenovo bought the name from IBM and IBM now has nothing to do with ThinkPads because Lenovo bought the name from IBM so they can use the name on Lenovo laptops that aren't made by IBM so your point about ThankPad not being an IBM brand and Lenovo using the ThinkPad name is...?

sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525245)

except the Thinkpad could use a few updates itself

better utilities (Access Point is more cumbersome than Windows' own; Power Manager is dated with windows that need scrolling needlessly, etc. etc.)
better trackpad (duh!)
better touchpoint (though I love it, it makes my finger hurt after a while)
better keyboard (I'll get lots of flame for this, but the springs could be lighter)

other than that, I wholeheartedly agree with the OP

Ideapad (2)

markdavis (642305) | about a year ago | (#42525261)

They already have a line of non-Thinkpad notebooks and ultrabooks under the name "Ideapad" and THAT is the line they like to mess with.

I specifically just bought a *THINKPAD* Twist because I wanted the removable "hard drive" (actually SSD, but whatever), a real ethernet port, and other ports, pop-out keyboard for easy service, etc. I was willing to pay more for a Thinkpad over something like their IdeaPad "Yoga" because I wanted those features and the (supposed) better quality and performance options.

I see no reason why Lenovo would need to muck around with the Thinkpad line when they have the Ideapad line. It would be disastrous to tamper with the Thinkpad line too much- I buy them at work for the same reason I wanted one for home.

Lenovo Thinkpads Already Suck (5, Informative)

tapspace (2368622) | about a year ago | (#42525279)

I have a T60 and a T420s (and I've owned a T23, T40 and another T60p). The T420s has an abysmal screen, extraordinarily weak speakers, a lesser keyboard, poor battery life from day 1, terrible bluetooth range (noticeably worse than the T60), and the keyboard damages the screen like so many low quality laptops (I keep a sheet of A4 paper in mine to prevent this). Who cares about the Thinkpad brand? It's effectively dead. They're terrible now.

Re:Lenovo Thinkpads Already Suck (2)

ice3 (1305003) | about a year ago | (#42525367)

You should see their new T430, they replaced the keyboard with a Chiclet style one.
The last good laptops Lenovo has made are the X220 and the T410.

Re:Lenovo Thinkpads Already Suck (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525689)

Have you ever used the new TP keyboard? I mean *used*, not fingered once in a store. I have (I actually bought an X230), and I think it's great. They completely fucked up the layout and hopefully they'll get to their senses and fix it soon, but the chiclet keys are a definite step forward. Yes, every chiclet keyboard you've ever used has been terrible. This one isn't.

This isn't to say there aren't quality issues with the new models (bright spots on IPS screens on X220/X230 comes to mind), but complaining about chiclet keys is bullshit.

Re:Lenovo Thinkpads Already Suck (3, Interesting)

NF6X (725054) | about a year ago | (#42525429)

I've had two T410s at work. I have not been impressed with their quality. Both have wavy, warped case plastic in spots. Both have audible digital hash in the audio at times. One has a docking port that is too unreliable to be usable. I haven't had much experience with pre-Lenovo ThinkPads, but the Lenovo ones I've used do not strike me as having any better build quality than other brands of laptops. They certainly don't hold a candle to my MacBook Air in that area.

Re:Lenovo Thinkpads Already Suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525471)

My X200s is still going strong after, what, getting on for 4 years. Keyboard is great, original (4 cell) battery was a bit crap, but the 9 cell is a winner. Added a SDD and once I've put a bit more RAM in it'll be good for another 4 I'd reckon.

From my cold dead hands ...

Great Products - Stay with the tried and trusted (3, Insightful)

mykepredko (40154) | about a year ago | (#42525285)

I think I can honestly say that I have had Thinkpads for 20 years and I have never had a bad experience on them (other than having a six year old system at one point that could run Cygwin but basically nothing else - the story about how I got the replacement made me a legend at work) - they have travelled literally around the world at least twice and have almost as many frequent flyer miles as I do.

They're great road warrior machines, well built, well thought out (their docking ports are worth every penny) and, amazingly enough, they're probably the only brand that didn't loose their quality when they were bought out/sold (I'm still pissed at what happened to Alienware).

Hopefully they'll keep a few of the old ones around so I can stock up before they try to emulate Apple.

myke

Re:Great Products - Stay with the tried and truste (1)

tibit (1762298) | about a year ago | (#42525495)

If emulating Apple meant replacing the shit plastic case with solid machined aluminum, I'd be all for it. It seems that nobody else is serious about unibodies and lasting design elements. Other products come and go, like the Dell Adamo, while Apple stays true to form on the unibody front.

Re:Great Products - Stay with the tried and truste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525547)

Not quite 20 years here, around 15 with 6 different models.

My latest, a W520, will be my last.

The loss of high-end display options and overall drop in quality was annoying, but the move to the chicklet keyboard (and yes, I HAVE tried them) was the last straw.

Re:Great Products - Stay with the tried and truste (1)

asavage (548758) | about a year ago | (#42525623)

I have had the same experience. They might have some new options that are different but they still have classic Thinkpads. I bought a W520 about 15 months ago and still love it. It is totally solid. 4 slots for RAM (4x8GB possible). mSATA slot so I can use a solid state drive and keep the 2.5" hard drive. Actually high resolution 1920x1080 or 1600x900. The video cards are Nvidia Quadro 3d workstation video cards but still way more powerful than the average laptop video cards and powerful enough to play most games on high settings.

Best keyboards - but alas, no more! (4, Insightful)

stemarcoh (2110284) | about a year ago | (#42525313)

Lenovo was one of the few vendors to retain the standard 2x3 key configuration for the Insert/Delete/Home/End/PgUp/PgDn keys. This made it very easy to feel your way to these keys rather than a very unhelpful linear layout. It seems the newer models no longer retain this intuitive and most basic configuration. That was enough to hold my attention in the past even if it meant less CPU or other features that, in the end, don't matter that much to 95% of users (please don't yell at me, I know there are plenty who want the fastest, biggest, etc) But now, I can get any old laptop. They're all the same.

Build quality my ass! (0)

Dwedit (232252) | about a year ago | (#42525333)

I'm still using a Thinkpad T60 from 2006, and I'm not that impressed with the build quality.
The CTRL key is in the wrong place, I've adjusted to it, and it screws me up whenever I use a real keyboard.
The CPU cooling fan periodically needs to be re-lubricated, and because it's part of the heatsink assembly, I have to replace the thermal paste every time I oil it, I've had to do it three times now.
I'm about to be on my third touchpad, the buttons keep breaking so easily.
Part of the plastic case cracked and split apart (right in front of the touchpad), and I had to superglue it back together.
I got particles and dirt smudges behind the screen, and can't clean it off.

But at least it has a real middle button.

Electric Typewriter in a Word-Processor World (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525353)

This is pretty much the worst take on the RIM situation I've ever read. If they focused on the traditional blackberry and made it more blackberry than ever they would still be an electric typewriter in a word-processor world. They failed by not putting out a product that provided the seamless highly-flexible high-end experience of an iPhone coupled with legacy application support, drop-from-five-feet-onto concrete ruggedization and enterprise integration. Losing the keyboard reduced my typing speed but gave back much more than it took, that would never have been a problem except to some niche die-hard's. RIM is garbage because they stopped making competitive products, plain and simple. They would have lost customers a lot quicker if it weren't for BES deployments too.

Re:Electric Typewriter in a Word-Processor World (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year ago | (#42525499)

RIM's major mistake was thinking that their "best security" offering would keep business customers locked in. Guess what? Smaller businesses don't give a crap about security, especially the clients I support - medical offices. The doctors just want the latest and greatest shiny thing, security be damned. We finally decommissioned the Blackberry server last year because only one person was still using a Blackberry. His office told him to get an iPhone.

Only one thing I'd change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525401)

Keep it black, but make it slim and light as MacBook Air. I move around a lot on foot when in New York, so lighter is better. Other than that though, change nothing. I like Windows 7 on my thinkpad. I like not-having a touch screen. And feel free to get rid of the internal CD / DVD / BlueRay drive already. This is the year 2013. and its a shame those things don't come as an optional external accessory. I barely use the built-in one ever.

I love my G40. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525403)

Horrendous 3Ghz P4 and all.

It may be about as current as a broken abacus, but try threatening people with a netbook or a Mac and they just laugh. When they see my G40 whistling through the air they fucking run.

Re:I love my G40. (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about a year ago | (#42525515)

... but try threatening people with a netbook or a Mac and they just laugh. When they see my G40 whistling through the air they fucking run.

Hah! Ninja Notebook.

T60 (3, Interesting)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#42525433)

I've had a T60 for 7 years, including all through college. The things are tanks. It spent class after class being thrown around in my backpack and on the ground and kept trucking. After 4 years of abuse, the plastic over the vent cracked a little. And it's missing an arrow key, but that was due to a milkshake incident (which is survived without flinching) and me misplacing the key. I upped the RAM to 2.5GB in 2007, swapped in a 7200rpm HDD in 2008 and put Windows 7 on it in 2009, which runs quite beautifully. The only issue I've had is the battery went from providing nearly 7 hours on a charge (with tweaked settings) when I first got it to less than 30 minutes on a charge two years later. I bought a replacement battery for ~$45 and that's provided a steady 4 hours over the last three years. I eventually had to replace the ac adapter too, which had taken more abuse than the laptop.

This past year, I got my parents a refurbished IdeaPad... not quite as sturdy as the Thinkpads but still leagues ahead of other laptops in the same price range. As long as they keep their basic design, my next laptop will definitely be a Thinkpad.

Re:T60 (1)

Sepodati (746220) | about a year ago | (#42525747)

I'm using a T43p right now that's still chugging along beautifully. It's got a few cracks and the Function key and my red nipple is missing. It survived two years in Iraq and Afghanistan and various other trips. It's getting dated for modern OSs, though. It only runs XP (dual boot) for the Windows world. The latest Ubuntu is running on it, too. I use that primarily, but even that is getting a little slow (the Dash is horribly slow). I probably need to drop back a few versions or getting a lighter Linux running on it.

I had two or three other Thinkpads before this and my wife has a Thinkpad Edge now. I'm not a fan of the chiclet keyboard, but at least it's modern enough to run Windows 8.

If the build quality can be maintained, Thinkpads are my only choice when buying laptops.

IBM Thinkpad =! Lenovo Thinkpad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525439)

I had Thinkpads from IBM and Thinkpads from Lenovo. IBM TP were tanks. Lenovo TP are better than Dell/HP/etc, but nowhere near IBM quality.

Imitating a dominant competitor loses marketshare (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about a year ago | (#42525457)

> ... was left to wither away as the company focused on chasing Apple and wasn't updated in a meaningful way, making it look just old and tired.'"

Which is the same thing Microsoft did chasing Apple, most recently trashing the Windows brand by turning Windows 8 into a tablet clone. It was enough to spook consumers to say 'well why don't I just get a tablet anyway' and Windows developers to wonder since the captain was getting into the lifeboat perhaps they should be doing the same thing? You attract customers by innovating. You lose them by imitating. Yet when faced with a dropping market share the usual practice is to imitate the competition.

BTW Lenovo's Thinkpad Tablet is nice. One reviewer said "If your IT department designed a laptop, it would look like this." It was a backhanded compliment, but it convinced me to give it a go.

But my R50e... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525473)

Is the most stable device I've ever had to operate... and I am sad to admit that.

Other than one of the USB ports being physically damaged (by the first owner) this device shows that you can in fact make a portable immune to:
My drinking.
Airports and baggage checks.
China (no WIFI without dongle).
The original executive user's tendancy to spill coffee
My 5-6yr old daughter and assorted misadventures.

And runs Debian absolutely perfectly.

My 4Gs has been repaired numerous times due to most of the above, and I'm pretty sure the old R50e still gets quicker support for serious issues than Apple products (I went there).

Re:But my R50e... (1)

mirix (1649853) | about a year ago | (#42525745)

I always thought the R line was kinda shit. T series were the flagship, toughest and lightest.

The few IBM era T's I have are tanks... Good too, as I'm stuck with them because no one believes in 4:3 anymore.

I gave up on Thinkpads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525507)

I was angry when they followed the trend and changed aspect ratio to 16:10 (or :9). But I guess it was more or less inevitable.

But now when they started to mess with keyboard (chicklet style, only 6 rows!) I just gave up. I don't feel any brand loyalty anymore.

Why can't they do both? (1)

guidryp (702488) | about a year ago | (#42525543)

They can have a new line of faddish skinny machines with chicklet keys.

The can also have a classic line of thicker solid machines with real decent keys.

Trying to walk the line in the middle seems to satisfy neither.

Thinkpads are beatufull on the inside (4, Insightful)

pesho (843750) | about a year ago | (#42525589)

They are still well build and well designed, and that's why they have a loyal following. I bought my thinkpad (I also own a think station) because it was well designed, which allows me to:

1. Service and upgrade it effortlessly. How many laptops do you know where you need to remove just one screw to change the hard drive? They even have the service and repair manuals on their website!

2. Have a good keyboard with that wonderful red cl... mousey thing.

3. Have 16GB of RAM.

The rest of the features are also top quality, without being flashy (back-light keyboard, IPS screens, extra large wifi antennas)

Apple products are well designed, but with a completely different goal in mind. They are trying to prevent you from accessing the hardware (hell you are not allowed even to change the battery). Trying to byte into apple's user base is the stupidest thing they can do. Apple fan's are not going to buy lenovo just because it looks as cool as apple product. On the other hand the people that buy thinkpads for what they are will drop them as a ton of bricks.

I can't imagine cushier job than a thinkpad brand manager: Just sit back and don't do anything, besides making sure that the quality stays the same, the corners are sharp and the color is black. Every year you spend not doing anything only strengthens the brand. So why change a ting?

Re:Thinkpads are beatufull on the inside (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525687)

I've had four generations of Thinkpads now. The last has been a lemon (X220i), and failed so quickly I didn't get a second one as planned for the wife. After repair, it failed again, and was now out of warranty. The next generation has the toy keyboards, and I'm done paying a premium for Thinkpads.

Still Running T42 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525641)

I would _like_ to upgrade, but the latest Thinkpads have those awful Apple-like flat keyboards (anyone remember the PC-jr and the "chicklet" keyboard?) The Thinkpad keyboard was so awesome that Lenovo turned it into a USB keyboard and it sells like crazy. So, obviously, that had to go. The beveled lid was specifically designed to keep object in your briefcase from migrating to between the screen and keyboard; yep. let's ditch that, too!

And for good measure, let's build the whole thing on a SATA bus, but never, ever, ever permit an eSATA port that could be used for an external drive. Let's just stick with USB2.0 so all our competitors are 3x faster at moving data. It's only a business laptop, it's not like I have to move gigs of data around every frelling day!

The Lenovo laptops have turned into a me-too product, with nothing to recommend it over HP or Dell. My company (a Fortune 100 company) ditched _all_ IBM products in favor of HP. And everyone (in Engineering, at least) still misses their
Thinkpads and Thinkvantage servers.

Lenovo, this business is yours to lose. And that's what you're doing.

They're already messing with ThinkPad (4, Insightful)

LaughingRadish (2694765) | about a year ago | (#42525651)

Lenovo has already started to mess with the ThinkPads. It used to be that the keyboard layout was a seven-row deal with the keys sensibly placed and spaced. What they have now is a six-row deal with the function keys squashed together and the keys from the seventh row scattered about seemingly at random. Howls of protest went up about it and the result was this [lenovo.com] condescending blog post from Lenovo telling people to just deal with it. Here's a selection [google.com] of commentary.

What is the relation... (1)

Parker Lewis (999165) | about a year ago | (#42525673)

What is the relation between solid and ugly? I never understood why Thinkpad should be so ugly, and why people associate this with solid product. So, if a Thinkpad got a nice layout, but still a solid piece of hardware, some people will hate it?

its all about people : Those on the inside (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525693)

A new manager comes in... Doesn't really know a product or what it offers... Bam! We are having this discussion.

"Unsexy"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525761)

Why exactly is an angular, matte design so bad? Are rounded corners, chrome or brushed steel and extreme gloss the only acceptable apperance for something to look "modern" and "stylish"?

It's all just opinion regardless, but I think the original design IS "sexy", to borrow the summary's wording. It's good-looking without being gaudy, distracting or prone to wear (e.g. iPod Touch/iPhone backs).

new Coke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42525845)

Blackberry is not a very good comparison. On the other hand, looking outside of tech: Lenovo would do much better by looking at what Coca-Cola went through with "New Coke" - it doesn't matter if its k00ler or tastes better in a blind taste test - please know what they want when all the senses are at play.

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