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Are Lenovo's ThinkPads Getting Worse?

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the laptop-market-slowly-drying-up dept.

Portables 271

writertype writes "Over the weekend, Lenovo launched the ThinkPad T431s, a ~$950 notebook with chiclet keys, no trackpad buttons, an integrated battery, and Windows 8 but no touchscreen. The T431s is also thinner and lighter than the bulletproof bento boxes we all know and love. The argument ReadWrite makes is that ThinkPads are becoming slowly, but significantly, worse. Do you agree?"

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Selling points (5, Insightful)

discomike (1291084) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218689)

I'd say the lack of touchscreen is a positive feature =)

Re:Selling points (5, Insightful)

writertype (541679) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218743)

I'd say the lack of touchscreen is a positive feature =)

But trying to navigate a tablet interface using a touchpad really isn't.

Re:Selling points (5, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218749)

... which would by why you don't install a touchpad OS on it, or leave that feature disabled if your OS can do both ways.

Re:Selling points (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219383)

Weird things still happen to me in Windows 8 and I'm just using a mouse and keyboard. They seem nearly random and are not obviously reproduced -- today all my other windows minimized as I was dragging one across the desktop.

I'm sure there has to be a document that explains everything that Windows 8's UI implements but I shouldn't feel like my UI is possessed.

Re:Selling points (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219421)

That was added in Windows 7.

Re:Selling points (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219399)

So simply blow out the Useless Touch based OS that comes on it by default and install a REAL Operating system like Linux or Windows 7.

Re:Selling points (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43218897)

Why? The cost, the screen bulk? It seems harmless.

Re:Selling points (1)

xs650 (741277) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219679)

"Features" that you don't have can't fail or cause other failures

Re:Selling points (5, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218927)

February: "Touchscreen notebooks coming whether we want them or not?"
March: "The killer flaw of this notebook is that it has no touchscreen."

Re:Selling points (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219075)

I'd say the lack of touchscreen is a positive feature =)

Especially if it comes with a matte display!

Re:Selling points (1)

ne0n (884282) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219257)

Lack of a poorly done touchscreen is a feature. OTOH the Yoga 13 I have is just fine and a serious upgrade to the old nipple and trackpad nonsense. The main objections - low res, TN panel, crappy responsiveness, AKA usual shitty Win8 touchscreen specs - aren't a problem with Yogas.
Maybe Thinkpads are low-end because the market they're targeting isn't looking for Thinkpads or Inspirons. They're looking for Yogas now. Maybe Lenovo knows exactly what they're doing. I'd wait until the balance sheet is revealed before shedding a tear for the old bricktops.

Yes (2)

sbrown7792 (2027476) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218695)

While we all know about Betteridge's Law [] , the answer here is yes.

Re:Yes (5, Interesting)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218881)

Normally, I'd agree with you about Betteridge... but as a life-long Thinkpad owner, yeah... compared to 5-10 years ago, their quality has gone down the toilet, and they're slowly turning their laptops into cheap shadows of their former glory.

Being a "Thinkpad" used to mean something... it meant you were buying a laptop built to survive Armageddon (well, at least one that's neither wet nor sandy) that you'd feel compelled to hang on to forever as a future family heirloom, because it just seemed morally wrong to ever throw one away. Compaq's high-end laptops used to be the same way, until HP destroyed them & turned them into the same throw-away crap they sell at Walmart (but with enterprise management features added to their BIOS, a TPM module, and drive encryption enabled by default).

It used to be, if your Thinkpad died, it was almost guaranteed to be your fault (or the fault of somebody in your general vicinity, or to whom you made the mistake of temporarily delegating possession or stewardship of it). If you were on board a hijacked jet, you could remove the battery, put it in a pillocase, and go after the boxcutter-wielding hijackers using your battery as a hybrid club-mace, and your beloved Thinkpad as a shield.

I just pray to ${deity} that the Trackpoint IV patents all expire before the dark day that they decide to start eliminating them from even their expensive models in a misguided attempt to shave another $1.17 from the manufacturing cost, and take away my last remaining reason to stick with them instead of trying to hack my own guerrilla lunchbox PC with a microATX mobo, a body-transplanted Model M (with Trackpoint), a suitable 2560x1440 display, and the fruit of a Makerbot & a week or two of printing & gluing-together a new case, one 4x4 inch piece at a time.

Re:Yes (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219425)

"it meant you were buying a laptop built to survive Armageddon (well, at least one that's neither wet nor sandy) "

Those of US that wanted to survive the Outdoors bought a Toughbook. I can use mine in heavy rain, while it is snowing on it, or at the beach laying in the sand, or even buried in it.

My favorite feature is being able to beat someone senseless with it and not worry about damage.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219475)

I bought a thinkpad mid 2012 going off their solid reputation and all I have been is disappointed... its been so buggy and just flawed... apart from the big things like the touchscreen and USB port randomly failing its also the little things, the rubber feet fell off... a rubber lug that holds the screen in place when the laptop is shut, it also fell off! Plus the screen has become really loose and wobbly...

I just sent it back on Monday and am dealing with their customer service now, looking back I should have gotten a Dell or Apple laptop... Dell would have at least come to me to fix the problem, not make me ship it off for all support.

Re:Yes (2)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219135)

My R60 had an option to re-install from recovery, and every piece of crapware (such as the completely worthless think tools and search tools, and outdated browser plugins etc) was a checkbox to choose to install (I chose only the CD burning software), my T400 lacked that option on re-install, and I stopped buying thinkpads from then on.

It's an Ultrabook (tm)... what did you expect? (5, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218725)

It's based on the Ultrabook standard put forth by Intel, Lenovo doesn't get a lot of say on some of those missing features. If you dont like it, dont buy an Ultrabook. They do still make other notebooks, including the T430S which has track-pad buttons etc and should be very familiar to Thinkpad fans.

Re:It's an Ultrabook (tm)... what did you expect? (1)

timeOday (582209) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219049)

How about not having a removable battery, does Intel mandate that? That's just taking advantage of consumers' inability to foresee future pain at the time of purchase IMHO. I suppose the couple of millimeters saved are more defensible in a phone, but not in a laptop.

saves space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219247)

when you make something modular, it takes more real estate. The idea of this model is to make it as thin as possible. If you don't mind something thicker/ heavier, there are other models to suit those needs.h

Re:It's an Ultrabook (tm)... what did you expect? (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219261)

Apparently you are the ghost of iSteve's guilty concious

Re:It's an Ultrabook (tm)... what did you expect? (1)

Optic7 (688717) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219449)

Yeah, from what I've heard, Ultrabook spec does mandate integrated batteries. I don't know about the rest. Anyway, the answer is that they should never have labelled an Ultrabook as a Thinkpad, because it goes against the idea and spirit of Thinkpads.

Re:It's an Ultrabook (tm)... what did you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219583)

that is simply incorrect. There are a few ultrabooks with removable batteries, it is a design choice by the manufacturer, it is certainly a lot tougher to keep it as thin and light with a removable battery but some have done it.

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43218731)

I've used A31p, T43p and I'm typing this on my W500. I'm buying a new one pretty soon. I'm looking at either a W520 or a T520 but I don't really like either of them (keyboard). Fuck.

Re:Yes (4, Informative)

jesseck (942036) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218823)

We started with the T61p, then W500, W510, W520, and now W530 at work, and that line has done well for us. The switchable graphics in the W500 sucked- we ended up giving that to an office worker, and used the T61ps for engineers. We also deployed a T530 recently, and it was still built in the "traditional" style. We purposely avoid the "consumer" style ThinkPads, and the clit mouse is a must.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219389)

T530 is about the end of the line. We pay for them to be built tough for road warriors and parents telecommuting (toddlers are hell on laptops). We anticipate that the next generation will be shitty enough that we'll go with "cheap and disposable" instead of "bulletproof and compatible" since the Thinkpad line was really the standout. in that line. However, with the shitty resolution and toughness gone, I can't justify the thinkpad price for just the clit mouse, which only a fraction of our folks are passionate about.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219683)

I just did a google image search for 'clit mouse', and the results are hilarious, I had no idea these existed. :-)

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219705)

Fully maximized T61p, almost 6 years old. Going to keep it until it decides to take retirement. W7/64, W8/64, Solaris 11.1 and NetBSD-Current all boot from bare metal, everything works as expected. The only trouble is that the T7500 CPU does not have SLAT, so no Hyper-V role under W8... which would have been useful for some stuff in the office. The second disk (on the tray) does not reset properly every time, sometimes I have to take it out for a few seconds, then it is OK.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43218981)

I have a W500 too that I bought in 2009. I was looking at getting a newer one, but they changed the keyboard, so I got a 1920x1200 display ($100) and installed it myself and a new SSD ($120) and it's good as new, minus a thousand or so bucks. I already have 8g of memory in it. It compiles my code plenty fast, so I don't see any compelling reason to upgrade just for a processor.

Great thing is I'm so OCD about keyboards, looks like I won't be spending much money on new laptop toys for a long time. Good thing, I used to buy one every couple of years or so.

Now if I can just stay away from the Mac Retina 15", I'll be good.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219641)

I'm the parent poster. I'd stick with my W500 a year or two more if the left hinge wasn't dead. The other day a piece of the metal hinge cam loose (the metal part actually broke in two pieces). I need to check if it's possible to get a replacement part.

The display (1920x1200) and the keyboard are the two things I love the most with this thing. I've never used switchable graphics even though it's there.

Re:Yes, just avoid CPU's with a TDP of 45-watts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219437)

It'll fry all internal components sooner; INTEL's{profits rise}, consumer confidence in {W530, W520 lowers}.

T530 Keyboard (1)

MarcAuslander (517215) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218751)

This was the beginning - the "new" keyboard on the T530 and brothers. It's OK - but not the wonder that my ancient T40 had. I simply make more typing errors, for a bunch of subtle reasons.

Re:T530 Keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43218813)

As someone who supports a large number of T series Thinkpads, I can confirm that the old keyboard was the biggest problem on pre-T430 laptops. I love my T410 and my T61 but the keyboard failure rate is high in the hands of the common man.

Re:T530 Keyboard (1)

Deathlizard (115856) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219479)

While I'm not a big fan of the new keyboards per se, I will say one thing about them vs the older keyboards.

The Keys on them are rugged.

We were constantly replacing keys on the older style keyboards. They were constantly falling off, or people would accidently pop them off if they had long fingernails. When we replaced some of our systems with Thinkpad Edges, the keyboard issues were gone. The only issue we ever saw with them was when someone spilled something on them.

Although I will say that not much else fared better on the Edge systems. They were obviously consumer laptops with a Thinkpad logo on them. They had shiny top covers that looked dull after only a month. Most of them after a year you could crash simply by flexing the case too much, and they had Hard drive failure after hard drive failure because they didn't have any sort of shock absorption except for the airbag protection that the older Thinkpads had.

Re:T530 Keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219585)

I had a key on my T530 break within hours of opening the original box. It looked like the key snapped onto the keyboard with very tiny (and seemingly brittle) plastic clips.

Forward-thinking, it is. (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218757)

Well, if my company forces one of these on me, I'll worry about it...when they get to it 3 years from now.

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43218763)

Fair warning: I haven't laid hands on the new ThinkPad.

Yeah, this guy has lots of credibility.

W series is the last line? (1)

mtmra70 (964928) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218769)

Having owned multiple Thinkpads, starting with the 600e, the new T431 is very disheartening. I have a W520 and I am hoping they leave the W line alone.

I absolutely LOVE the grouped F-keys, beveled keys, dual "mouse buttons" and dual pointer control. I just hope they don't cheap out and turn the chassis into a piece of fragile plastic.

Re:W series is the last line? (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219095)

The limiting factor of the W line will be the power supply. It's been growing exponentially. The one for my W520 packs 170W, is brick sized and could be used to crack open coconuts in a pinch. If it continues at the current rate, the power supply will soon be bigger and heavier than the SchtinkPad . . . about around the time when the W590 is released. With a cool 1TB of RAM and a wattage of a wind tunnel!

But don't even think about trying to take my W520 away . . . I get all NRAish about it. I'll whack any would-be thieves over the head with the power supply.

Yes (4, Interesting)

armanox (826486) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218771)

They just don't hold up like they used to. We've got at work several 2009-2010 aged Thinkpads that are about done, while older ones (2007 era) are still showing no trouble aside from user error (dropped, etc). I've even got really old Thinkpad 600e (Pentium II, 96MB RAM) that won't die. I'd rather work off of the 600e then deal with the chicklet keyboards on the new ones (purchased a few T and W series laptops at the beginning of the year, they all suffer from it).

Totally agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43218777)

The IBM ThinkPad DNA is totally lost... They managed to kill the last drop of it and the build quality took a deep dive too.

Why the trackpad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43218779)

If they only could get rid of the trackpad entirely and and clitmouse buttons.

Re:Why the trackpad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219527)

totally agree. Trackpad is a total waste of space, Lenovo should offer a keyboard without trackpad and non-chicklet style. I plan to hold on to my W500 for at least another five years. I'll wait for the third-generation of haskel which might have a TDP of under 25-watts.

Re:Why the trackpad? New-speak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219581)

Your new-speak made me screw up my post you A-Hole. It's called Track-Point the little red eraser-like input, Touch-pad is used for tracking finger motion across its surface. And it's the Touch-pad which should go the way of the dodo.

Yes, The Driver Archive Is Disappearing Too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43218783)

I'm buying up a small arsenal of parts off ebay to keep my fleet of good ones alive for awhile to come, but I've noticed that the driver archive, which used to be excellent, is also vanishing. Seeing that division sold off was a sorry, crying shame. :(

Pieces of junk (4, Informative)

colinRTM (1333069) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218821)

I bought a then-still-IBM Thinkpad in 2005. It was a T42, I think. Over the next five years it did over 700,000 miles of flying with me, was dropped (in and out of its case), stood on, had coffee spilled on it and was generally abused. By the time I replaced it in 2010 the CDROM had packed in and the letters on the keys were mostly worn out. That's it. I gave it to my mother as her first laptop and it's still going strong, three years later. So 8+ years uninterrupted service.

Obviously I was immensely impressed with that, and contrived to immediately buy a new Thinkpad. "They can't be all that different" I thought. I could not have been more wrong.

Its replacement (I forget the model right now) was DOA. The replacement lasted three weeks before suffering a terminal mainboard failure. Lenovo, declining to replace it, took almost three months to return it to me.

Over the next year it progressively disintegrated. The DVDROM died, the keyboard had to be replaced, the hinges needed constant tightening and the hard drive was replaced twice and it developed cracks in the lid, and the battery was almost useless after a few months. The power adaptor socket also broke. It looked cheap, it felt cheap, and it was anything but cheap. Lenovo could not give a fuck.

I will never buy another Lenovo product, Thinkpad or not.

Re:Pieces of junk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43218959)

I have the same problem with ASUS Zenbook Prime UX32VD with NVidia graphics and 1080p. Ultrabook lasted less than 3 months and ASUS decided not to honor their warranty, so I am forced to sue them. For me it's "I will never buy another ASUS product" and looked at ThinkPads as a possible more stable replacement. You just ruined that... ;-) I was forced to get a MacBook Pro Retina, but would love to see something adequate for my Linux and Win7 needs too.

Well, is there still any good notebook/ultrabook manufacturer left? I can pay premium, but don't like to be screwed like by ASUS.

A very decent chiclet keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43218827)

This is not the first T4## series with the chiclet keyboard. It is not as good as the previous design which I truly loved, best laptop keyboard I have ever used. Still it is the best chiclet keyboard I've found, it has a nice travel and feels firm enough.

Yes! They've become pointless (5, Insightful)

stemarcoh (2110284) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218829)

They used to be known for the keyboards - precise and firm with Insert/Delete/Home/End/PgUp/PgDown keys in a 3x2 layout. They used to have good trackpad button that worked perfectly with the red nav stylist thingy. The need to be distinct. They need to be the best. They need higher resolution; 1440x900 is an absolute minimum in my book. They need a solid keyboard. They need the 3x2 layout. They need a differentiating, defensible position. They've lost it. Sad.

Re:Yes! They've become pointless (1)

Rossman (593924) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219501)

Every once in awhile these Thinkpad stories come up, and I generally read all of them. This is possibly the best comment I've read on the subject.

Someone at the top of the Thinkpad product division should read it.

Did the EFI implementations get better? (1)

tstrunk (2562139) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218845)

Last Lenovo I had was an IdeaPad S205. EFI was crap. Windows didn't boot in EFI mode, Linux had problems with Wireless, reboot, everything ACPI related in EFI mode. There are still problems with either working card reader OR working USB ports (arguably a kernel problem) also in BIOS mode.

Do the Thinkpads work in EFI mode?

Re:Did the EFI implementations get better? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43218949)

Who cares about Linux? It's just a faggots' OS.

No. (1)

briancox2 (2417470) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218855)

It's a headline with a question. So the answer is no.

X1 Carbon (5, Informative)

mederbil (1756400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218863)

Having just purchased a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon I am finding it to be fantastic. It still feels solid like my ol' T42 and it was considerably less expensive than most (but not all) ultrabooks on the market with comparable specifications.

It has an incredible keyboard (in my humble opinion) and does not look flashy which I consider to be a huge plus.

I'd say the ThinkPad series hasn't changed one bit.

Oh yeah, and they've still got a clit mouse!

Re:X1 Carbon (1)

ElementOfDestruction (2024308) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219113)

... clit mouse? I'm going to have to google this.

FYI It was an obligatory XKCD (1)

ElementOfDestruction (2024308) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219129)

For all those interestd...

Re:X1 Carbon (2)

V-similitude (2186590) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219533)

Agreed. I recently got an X1 Carbon to replace my old X61s. While there's still something nice about the x61s's form factor (oh 4:3 screens, how I miss thee), the thinner, lighter x1c is incredible to me. It's sleek, light, and comfortable. It's also far more feature-full: the hard mute button with an indicator light is a lifesaver for me when turning the computer on when I don't know if it's muted or not (and need it to be); the fingerprint reader that's always-on so you can swipe your finger from full-off and it turns on and logs in automatically is a great time-saver (don't have to wait for it to turn on, then swipe, then wait for windows to login); backlit & chiclet keyboard, quick-charge, better battery management, etc. etc. Not to mention all the general laptop improvements (RAM/CPU/SSD/etc.). Overall, I think it's a huge improvement over old thinkpads. Only thing I really don't like is how wide it is. I'd much much rather a 4:3 13" than a 16:9 14". I guess the integrated battery is a bit of a negative, but for my use, it's a good tradeoff for the thinner/lighter build. Ultimately though, it's all about the trackpoint (aka nub) for me. I simply cannot STAND touchpads for most control (though I like having the option now), so as long as thinkpad keeps making reasonably attractive thinkpads with trackpoint mice, I'll keep buying. Though, I will say, the T431s's lack of trackpoint buttons would seriously irk me.

Re:X1 Carbon (1)

V-similitude (2186590) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219539)

Egh. Sorry for the lack of spacing. I forgot I was on slashdot...

Without a doubt, Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43218873)

We have 100+ T410, T420, X2xx series laptops out there. The X230's (5) that have come in have all been sent back for bad motherboards. We're not too pleased at the moment.

X! Carbon (1)

redmid17 (1217076) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218875)

I've had this for a couple of months. I don't prefer the keyboard more than the larger T520 ones and the touchpad is ass, but I love the laptop as a whole. It's light, powerful, and the touchpad is a non-factor because I use a bluetooth mouse.

A shame (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218899)

Lenovo was going to be my go-to recommended machine because Dell has gone downhill. It looks like the HP Elitebooks have improved but they still have shitty keyboards. I guess the MacBook Pros are now the best ones out there. After all, you can run Windows on it.

Ahhhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43218913)

(It scares me to say), but when I was younger (and worked for IBM - 1990's) they were very proud of the fact that their laptops were able to work in extreme environments (whether they actullay tested them, or we believed them, 'cos we knew no better) - shuttle/International Space station (or not)

I still "USE" the keyboard that came with my first PS/2 bought in Hursley Labs (it's connected to a VM ESXi server, but only beause it is the only thing I own with a PS/2 connection).

So in reality, who gives a ****. As long as the h/w does it's job, doesn't fail too early in it's 'life-cycle' - no-one really cares.

On the other-hand...given the choice (and money), I'd buy IBM kit without question, 'cos I know where it has been, how well (it used to be) tested, and the fact that in almost 20 years, my PS/2 keyboard stil works!

Yes (2)

isorox (205688) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218985)

I have a T410S. The spare battery (in place of the CD drive) often falls out, the tiny rivets holding the screen together has failed on both sides -- I've put screws in the lid to fix it. It still has a trackpoint, matt screen, and half decent keyboard though

That said, It's survived the last few years, the two original batteries are still giving me a couple of hours, despite being charged and discharged probably 1500 times, physically (despite the modifications to the screen, which must have been opened over 10,000 times), it's racked up enough miles being flung into overhead lockers in my rucksack (may times while still powered, chunterring away compiling something) on it's travels to get to the moon

Doesn't feel as solid as my 380ED was 15 years ago, but that didn't get half as much punishment.

My 15" macbook (about 18 months old) sits next to it in the rucksack and isn't doing too bad (despite having a coin stuck in the sd slot), but I don't use it half as much as the thinkpad (running ubuntu 10.04)

It's probably nearing time for a new thinkpad, so on my list is
* decent screen
* matt screen
* trackpoint
* keyboard light
* built in 3g card
* extra battery slot
* Large SSD (significantly more than my 128GB one)
* 8GB or more of memory

I'm not convinced by the look of the new keyboards, however there's not exactly a great deal of choice in decent laptops.

For the Love of the Keyboard (1)

dogberto (102257) | about a year and a half ago | (#43218993)

I bought my first Thinkpad (a used T20) in the early 2000's after reading Slashdot reviews. The various reviewers discussed Sony Vaio, Dell Laptops, etc. What eventually sold me was that the Thinkpad was consistently well regarded (durable construction, backwards compatible, etc.) and most importantly had the best keyboard feel of all the brands.

I love the feel of the Thinkpad keyboard and how the layout preserved essential aspects of an extended keyboard (esp. the insert/delete/home/end/PgUp/PgDn keys). The function keys were grouped in 4's which made them easy to find by touch. It made the transition from a full keyboard to the laptop keyboard that much easier.

Lenovo seemed to have started down the slope when they started tweaking the layout by moving the "Insert" key and enlarging the "Delete" key.

The whole point of the Thinkpad line (esp with the T and X series) is that when the time comes to upgrade, one could simply start (/focus on) working as one didn't have to relearn/readjust where keys got moved around to.

For mass market appeal, Lenovo had the IdeaPad line to experiment with. The traditional business laptop series should have remained unchanged. The T series incarnation in this case is nothing special; it's not really a ThinkPad anymore. Hopefully, Lenovo will hear the cries of the T series devotees and revert the design emphasis.

Re:For the Love of the Keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219355)

Fucking liar. Why don't you just admit that you're a Google shill and you love the feeling of cocks in your mouth?

Yes. (1)

ischorr (657205) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219001)

My work-issued T420 is probably comparitively the worst laptop I've ever owned. And I've had 12 from 8 different manufacturers over 18 years.

Re:Yes. (1)

badbart (929284) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219595)

In the 4 months since I was issued my T420s, I've re-imaged twice, replaced *every* part, and still get a random shutdown/reboot/bluescreen at least once per week. The W500 it replaced crashed about twice in 3 years.

There is no decent non-Apple laptop (2, Interesting)

thenextstevejobs (1586847) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219007)

I have written about this on /. before but it's more relevant than ever to me now

A few years ago (late 2009), I bought a ThinkPad and a MacBook Pro around the same time. I used the two machines side by side for awhile, and I really, really wanted to like the ThinkPad. However, the MacBook Pro's screen was brighter, clearer, speakers were better, battery lasted longer, and, of course, the profile was a lot smaller. Power cord was nicer. Touchpad was miles beyond the ThinkPad. Also, power management didn't work perfectly on the ThinkPad (Ubuntu, Debian, FreeBSD, all of them wouldn't suspend to memory on closing the thing and resume properly when opening it. Sometimes it would, sometimes not). ThinkPad fan was noisy.

I'd once again like to buy a laptop, and run Linux/BSD on it. While OSX was giving me a decent dev environment and not pissing me off too much on a daily basis at the time, lately the lack of configurability, Finder being slow as fuck, development environment issues, generally using OSX being not as badass as running something made by the community, Apple's legal positions, etc... I'd really like to get off the Apple stuff.

However, it's obvious that there's no laptop made by anyone else that isn't an ugly piece of shit. ThinkPads used to have that nice weight to them, the look and feeling like you just stepped off the space station with one. Something reasonably classy about them. But if you look at them directly next to the latest Macbook Pro, it is obvious which one is better hardware (OS political issues aside).

Honestly I'm thinking about just not using laptops anymore. The ergonomics of the screen/keyboard placement is obviously terrible, and there just doesn't seem to be any option I'd want to use every day other than handing Apple a huge check for their hardware and running another OS on it.

If anyone has any suggestions about other brands, products, or experiences I'd be happy to hear them. Because I certainly can't seem to find a reasonable alternative

I do think they missed the boat on the touchscreen (2)

aklinux (1318095) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219023)

My previous Thinkpad experience was an A31P. I finally just parted with it, reluctantly, a couple of weeks ago. Newer Thinkpads, up through the X61 were ones I very much wanted, but couldn't justify the price. At that point I do think they started going downhill for a while. This one actually looks to me like it has possibilities again.

I really like the idea of a MIL-SPEC. I do think it would have been better with a replaceable battery, but in trying to keep up with the thinness of the competitions products...

I was leery of chiclet type keyboards, but now that I have gotten used to the ones I got with a couple of Motorola products, I find I prefer them. Keep in mind that one thing I am NOT is a touch typist...

Once they come up with the touchscreen version, I may have to look at a Thinkpad again. Now, if it was only available with Linux...

x230 (2)

XXeR (447912) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219039)

I recently purchased an x230. It's light as hell, has an IPS display, quad core, 16GB RAM, 160GB SSD, and displayport. Best of all, ALL HW was detected perfectly by fedora 18.

So not all Lenovo laptops are getting worse..

Re:x230 (1)

alantus (882150) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219215)

I recently purchased an x230. It's light as hell, has an IPS display, quad core, 16GB RAM, 160GB SSD, and displayport. Best of all, ALL HW was detected perfectly by fedora 18.

So not all Lenovo laptops are getting worse..

Really? What is the resolution?
Have you tried replacing the wifi card? You can't unless its blessed by Lenovo, the BIOS prevents the machine from booting artificially if its pci id is not in a whitelist. I will never buy Lenovo again because of this very reason.

Re:x230 (1)

XXeR (447912) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219339)

Really? What is the resolution?
Have you tried replacing the wifi card? You can't unless its blessed by Lenovo, the BIOS prevents the machine from booting artificially if its pci id is not in a whitelist. I will never buy Lenovo again because of this very reason.

Given I upgraded the build to have the exact card I wanted, I can't really see that being a problem for me. They have a couple options IIRC, do you just not like them or something?

Re:x230 (1)

PNutts (199112) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219439)

I liked my work x230 so much I bought an x230 for myself. If it can't do the things you want it's good you didn't buy one, but that doesn't mean it's "worse".

Premium vs Value Marketing (3, Insightful)

ScottCooperDotNet (929575) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219057)

Let's also not forget the bad old days when ThinkPads had twice as many screws and screw lengths as Dell laptops had, making servicing them a major pain. Putting in a too-long screw in the wrong place risked damage to the motherboard.

That being said, PC makers really do a poor job of marketing what their premium offerings are, and what's a value offering. Outside of Apple, which is almost exclusively premium, no one gets this. Dell didn't with Alienware, HP didn't with VoodooPC, and now Lenovo doesn't get it with ThinkPad. While the exact target of each brand is different in these 3 examples, all are upmarket items.

Re:Premium vs Value Marketing (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219229)

How long ago was that? My 7 year old T43 has only a few more screws than my new W520 and many fewer than my wife's 2 year old Acer. And each screw location is labeled "1", "2", or "3" and there is a big sticker that shows which screw length corresponds to which number.

Re:Premium vs Value Marketing (4, Informative)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219305)

Let's also not forget the bad old days when ThinkPads had twice as many screws and screw lengths as Dell laptops had, making servicing them a major pain. Putting in a too-long screw in the wrong place risked damage to the motherboard.

Which is why ThinkPads have always had a freely downloadable hardware service manual, which would include every step of disassembly, including which screws went where!

Build quality (5, Insightful)

Vaer (121548) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219061)

My company purchases several hundred ThinkPads every year that are given to users who use them ~12+ hours per day 7 days a week and who generally abuse them. X series tablets (starting with the X40t up to X230t), T series (T60-T430s), a smattering of W series and a couple X1's. The ThinkPad line is still as bulletproof as ever, with excellent warranty support (we purchase accidental protection on everything).

The new systems we are getting have (so far) been just as robust as the previous systems we've had. Of the various groups who purchase computers where I am at, mine is the only one that is exclusively Lenovo. My group is also the only one that doesn't consistently complain about their vendor of choice.

The new keyboard is a monstrosity compared to the old ThinkPad keyboard, but is still much better than anything else I've tried.

Also, anyone comparing Lenovo's IdeaPad line, to their ThinkPad line should think about them as two separate companies. ThinkPads are built like tanks, the IdeaPads are built like a Kia and the support model is completely different.

Re:Build quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219707)

My company purchases several hundred ThinkPads every year that are given to users who use them ~12+ hours per day 7 days a week and who generally abuse them. X series tablets (starting with the X40t up to X230t), T series (T60-T430s), a smattering of W series and a couple X1's. The ThinkPad line is still as bulletproof as ever, with excellent warranty support (we purchase accidental protection on everything).

The new systems we are getting have (so far) been just as robust as the previous systems we've had. Of the various groups who purchase computers where I am at, mine is the only one that is exclusively Lenovo. My group is also the only one that doesn't consistently complain about their vendor of choice.

The new keyboard is a monstrosity compared to the old ThinkPad keyboard, but is still much better than anything else I've tried.

Also, anyone comparing Lenovo's IdeaPad line, to their ThinkPad line should think about them as two separate companies. ThinkPads are built like tanks, the IdeaPads are built like a Kia and the support model is completely different.

Unfortunately, we can't expect a company in this day to rely on it's "all be it" older clientele to base newer products off of.
Don't get me wrong, I hate seeing the way Lenovo is developing their new devices to a Mac-ish liking, but who isn't?

Yes, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219081)

The older models felt as solid as bricks. I've known family to throw them at walls (anger issues), pick them up after they've landed and continue about their business. The newer models, in comparison (I've used a T410 and T430 extensively), feel like they would shatter. Maybe they wouldn't... I don't know. I'm not going to sacrifice mine.

Some features have been good (backlit keyboard), most haven't (reduced keyboard size), some in are the middle (I don't hate the chiclet keys). Ours have 1600x900 screens (I think that's right...) so that's alright, but their panels could be better for what these things cost.

Yes, they are getting worse, but some of their laptops are still alright. I really liked my x120e, and the T430 is alright, but the build quality just doesn't feel the same. It's like the LOVE wasn't there, man.

Lower-quality, Market-trailing (1)

time961 (618278) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219085)

I've used Thinkpads exclusively since I bought a 560 in late 1996. I'm currently using a 2009-vintage W500 and hoping it doesn't break, because it has more pixels (1920x1200) than any Windows laptop made today. They've always been rugged, functional, and effective tools for getting work done.

What did I want from yesterday's Lenovo announcement? A retina-class (i.e., 2560x1600) display, modern CPU/memory/SSD hardware, and no significant changes elsewhere, because Thinkpads are in fact pretty darn well-engineered (and designed), and remarkably reliable.

What did I get? A paean to how important it is to design for millennials (who apparently need dedicated multimedia buttons), a bunch of important features gone (physical buttons? function keys? replacement battery? indicator LEDs? Thinklight?) and an explanation that the single hardest decision they had to make for the T431 was how to re-orient the logo on the lid. I can't even get a big SSD--their largest is 256GB, unlike the 600GB Intel unit I installed in the W500 18 months ago.

Bah. I'd vote with my feet, except there aren't any alternatives. Why is there no Windows laptop with a high-resolution display? I suppose I can get a Macbook or a Chromebook and run everything in a VM. But then there's no Trackpoint.

Not News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219087)

I remember years ago when IBM sold off the Think Pad Brand. IBM had a good product that lots of people loved but wasn't making much money... Lenovo came in to make money on the ThinkPad brand. This just shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

You had me... (1)

ItsJustAPseudonym (1259172) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219101) "Windows 8".

As Microsoft commands (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219107)

Microsoft made the PC market, and MS is going to break it. While those that make PC kit can choose between Intel and AMD, or Nvidia and AMD, for either the CPU or GPU, by definition the PC has to use Windows from Microsoft. Those that makes PCs therefore have to trust MS's choices and commandments.

Think back to when IBM controlled the essential hardware spec of the PC. Clones were clones because they used the same types of components and interconnects as the original. Luckily, when IBM became even more senile (these were the losers behind the dreadful 'token ring' bus, for instance), an industry group of OEMs created new standards for the hardware- standards that ultimately gave Intel most of the control over new bus designs.

Microsoft can, in a sense, be chucked too if Windows is replaced with Linux, but a computer with Linux is NOT a compatible PC. The IBM solution makes no sense here, and that is the issue.

Microsoft is going senile. It no longer has a sense of viable purpose. By some miracle, it survived being last to the Internet (as nonsensical as this will sound, MS supported CDROM in place of the Internet, which is where things like Encarta came from- MS 'geniuses' stated that the Internet could NOT beat the bandwidth advantages of local optical storage, and so should be ignored). Today, MS faces almost too many challenges to be listed, and has an answer to none of them.

The 'ThinkPad' reflects MS saying 'this is how the future of notebooks looks'. Microsoft knows that 'fashion' is the answer, even though we know that MS has NEVER succeeded this way, but by offering (indirectly, of course) serious, value for money, work-horse products with insanely good third-party software support.

How many things has MS copied from Apple over the last couple of years, through blind replication? The top management of MS currently state "if it associated with Apple hardware or software, it is a magic ingredient for success, and therefore we must do the same in exactly the same way." So Microsoft gave us the world's most expensive tablets, with the world's most restrictive software store, and failed once again in the most humiliating way.

Rather than rethink their strategy, MS prefers paying an army of online shills telling us that everything MS does is 'genius', and if we fail to appreciate this we are the idiots. So, suggesting that an ARM based tablet from MS should 1) support full windows (with recompiled apps, of course), and 2) sell for the same price as tablets from Google and Amazon, will get hundreds of 'shill' responses explaining in detail why such a proposal is clearly nonsense.

Here's a question. Why did MS NOT insist all new laptops have touch-screens? The answer, of course, is not a happy one. MS is NOT about choice (a lappy with a touch screen gives the user choices between screen, touchpad or external mouse input). MS is about control. It thinks Apple wins by telling its customers what they may, or may not do. Apple sez a laptop is not a tablet, so MS agrees, at least until that moment Apple laptops commonly include touch-screens.

For years, MS whined on about how its OS and Office suite should be sold as a 'service' with recurring costs. But who was first to making such concepts popular and commercially effective. Why, it was Google with the Chromebook. Where is Microsoft's equivalent to the Chromebook?

As I said, MS has gone senile. No longer will it listen to its users. No longer will it care if its products receive approval from those forced to use them. No longer will it care if the competition is encroaching from a million different directions at once. All Microsoft cares about is that THEY control the PC, and whatever they say goes, no matter how self-destructive.

When Google steps up in the next year or so, and makes Android a true OS for the desktop and notebook, MS is toast. The fact that our CPU is going to change architecture for the first time since the PC spec was created by IBM is the most critical factor. When proper Windows finally goes ARM, we lose compatibility with all our older PC software anyway. Windows advantage disappears overnight, and MS's incompetence becomes the only factor in play.

Lest you think this is all MS bashing, when MS announced Windows on ARM a few years back, I though MS had finally got it, and was ready to take the fight back to Apple and Google. I could have wept when I discovered what the internal war within MS turned the ARM project into. Billions of dollars from Intel was used to help subvert the ARM project into complete hopelessness. For a little more short-term gain, MS doomed itself in the long run.

Slowly, but significantly worse? (1)

Trogre (513942) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219171)

Let's see, just to cherry pick a few points in Lenovo's history:

ThinkPad in 2006: Windows XP
ThinkPad in 2012: Windows 7
ThinkPad in 2013: Windows 8

Yes, I can see a definite decline there.

Re:Slowly, but significantly worse? (1)

El_Oscuro (1022477) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219327)

How about:

Thinkpad [] in 2013: Ubuntu 12.10

Easily the best laptop I have ever owned. I know Unity sucks but the this Thinkpad actually makes it usable.

Old Lenovo's Rock (1)

dragon-file (2241656) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219191)

I have a 15 inch lenovo x60 that i acquired from a contract job back 5 years ago.At the time most my friends were rocking HP G60's and what not. They were confused as to why I even wanted the old laptop with its small screen space and lack of processing power.

Two years down the road when their graphics cards had started to go out and the ribbon cable connecting the screen wore through, my x60 was still going strong... till some jackass stole it out of my car. Anyway...

Laptops nowadays are being made lighter and all around crappier. No buts about it.

Re:Old Lenovo's Rock (1)

dragon-file (2241656) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219199)

Sorry... should have said "had".... I had an x60.

Design of ThinkPad T431s (4, Insightful)

linguae (763922) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219249)

Last night I looked at pictures of the new ThinkPad T431s. While looking at them, I thought to myself, "Hmmmm. How does this laptop look any different from any other high-end PC laptop?" I will be in the market this summer for a new laptop to replace my aging MacBook. I wanted to replace it with a ThinkPad due to the ThinkPad line's reputed reliability and its conservative design. The current ThinkPads, in my opinion, are well designed, and I don't mind the chiclet keys in current-generation ThinkPads such as the ThinkPad T430s and the X230 (although I sympathize with those who prefer traditional-style keys). However, the ThinkPad T431s, in my opinion, doesn't resemble a ThinkPad. Where are the mouse buttons? To me, the design looks like yet-another MacBook Pro clone.

Doesn't Lenovo understand that part of what makes the ThinkPad so desirable is its conservative design, including the keyboard layout? ThinkPads are like HP's calculator line in this regard, which have a similar fan following who likes the calculators' high quality and conservative designs. Older HP calculators from the 1980s and early 1990s such as the 15C, 32S, and 48GX are highly regarded due to their high quality (not to mention their support for RPN input). I have a HP 48S that I bought on eBay six years ago that I like a lot due to its feature set and its quality. However, HP's late-1990s offerings (during the Carly Fiorina era) deviated from the style and quality that were characteristic of HP's older calculators. These offerings were not well-received by HP's customers. HP's older calculators started to sell for very high prices on eBay. Thankfully HP listened to the input of its customers, and HP has recently been making calculators that nearly match the quality of their older models, such as the newer HP 35S and the HP 15c Collector's Edition models. Hopefully Lenovo realizes that they have a special brand with a loyal fan following, and that Lenovo doesn't make the same mistakes that HP made during the Fiorina era.

Did Lenovo Think when designing the new ThinkPad? (3, Insightful)

Misagon (1135) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219255)

Like all ThinkPad's before it, it has a trackpoint, but how the L did the Lenovo designers think that trackpoint users are going to be able to click with no mouse buttons?

Apparently, you are supposed to click by pressing on the top of the trackpad...
However, there are quite a few users out there who are used to disabling the trackpad in the BIOS because it is too easy to nudge it by mistake. With such a large trackpad (twice as wide than before) and practically no space between the Space Bar and the trackpad this is bound to happen more often.

Maybe worse-but still the best (1)

idunham (2852899) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219259)

I owned a ~1999 600 series Thinkpad (64 MB ram, 550 MHz PIII) once. I bought it used in 2006 with Dapper preinstalled, and it held out 3 more years.
The trackpoint was dying but still better than a mouse, the keyboard was better than any other keyboard that I've used. The trackpoint giving out is what killed it, though.

I currently have an X100e, which once seemed to be the most miserable Thinkpad in more than name (the SL series I don't consider Thinkpads). After two years of use, it seems much better. The keyboard sucks compared to the old style, but it's better than any on machines I could buy (a Precision may be good, but it's out of my budget).
The trackpoint hasn't gotten worse, but having a trackpad is pretty annoying. OTOH, it's a better trackpad than most PC manufacturers make. And I can drop it on the floor without having a reason to worry, or stand on it without a problem.

All told, a little worse than my old one, but
(a) it's a lower-end line than what it replaced (600 series ~= T series, IIRC, and I paid ~$400 for the new one vs the thousands that the old one would have cost new).
(b) it's intended for "portability" and is still pretty durable, so I guess there's some justification for the lighter case.

(c) Lenovo support is still pretty good: BIOS updates as ISO images (for Linux users). Also, call up and tell them on Monday that you have a problem with it booting but no shipping box (not my own experience but a friend's), and they ship you a new box that arrives the next day, you send the laptop back, and get it back working on Thursday.

(d) it's still far better than a comparably priced laptop from another company would be.

Now, if someone were to offer a laptop in that price range that offered what the old Thinkpad did, Lenovo wouldn't have a chance.

Lenovo's after sales service is nonexistent (1)

dan_barrett (259964) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219267)

I don't know about the rest of the world but last year, Lenovo Australia changed their support arrangements. Previously Lenovo support was excellent - now it's abysmal. We had a small form factor desktop power supply fail. Our "onsite next business day" support contract ended up being to a three week wait for parts, along with the engineer coming onsite before the part had arrived, twice. It was a joke.

We couldn't get a firm answer from Lenovo support - eg "the part is on route" or "we're out of stock" or "it's been ordered" were all provided as excuses at various times. A 3 week wait for "next business day" support is inexcusable. We also have HP and Dell desktops with NBD support. They also occasionally fail. They get replaced the next day.
We're not buying anything from Lenovo again.

Price must be wrong (1)

markdavis (642305) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219291)

I am not sure why that machine would START at $950! That is for a low end model!! Let's compare....

In late November I bought a Lenovo Thinkpad Twist for $1100. But that was with twice the memory, an SSD instead of HD, and the fastest mobile core i7 available. And the case looks nearly the same, it has the identical keyboard, and the identical trackpad and I think the same battery. What I bought was a new model, it was not clearance or anything and it is also classified as an "Ultrabook".

The only thing better about this T431s is that it has a much higher res display (the Twist is "only" 1366x768). But the Twist's is a glass touchscreen and can "twist" and turn into a tablet- which is yet another premium feature. Oh, and it works wonderfully under Linux (Fedora 18/KDE at the moment).

Something is not right with the price of the T431.

I've been wondering the same thing (1)

Optic7 (688717) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219387)

I have an old X30 that I bought for about $150 on ebay a few years ago and is still going strong. It's great for travel because it's very small but has full-sized keyboard keys, and I don't have to stress out if it gets stolen or broken.

They're usually great laptops to buy used because they're so tough and they have traditionally only been used by businesses, usually on relatively short leases, and not subject to the same kinds of punishment that personal laptops suffer from mostly home use. I also supported thinkpads in business use a few years ago.

Although I thought it was BS when I first saw it on TV, I eventually came to realize that the old ad where they promoted Thinkpads as being the best and most desirable business laptops was really true.

Anyway, I recently saw a new thinkpad in person and the first thing that struck me was the chiclet keyboard. They had probably the best keyboards in the business and instead chose to kind of imitate Apple, who probably have the worst keyboards. Even though they at least gave the keys some natural curvature (unlike Apple), it still didn't feel right. That right there would probably prevent me from buying a new one.

Another thing that they are apparently imitating Apple on is the integrated battery business. Unforgivable and unacceptable, and again, no sale.

What's next? No ethernet port? Mini display port? Glossy screen? No user replaceable or upgradable parts? Whatever other usability-disabling "feature" Apple decides to push on their willing users?

I just bought an E-430 (1)

Michael Meissner (520083) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219445)

FWIW, I've used a T61p and then a W510/W520 at work. Granted the dual graphics card on the recent W machines is a pain, but once I got past the installation phase, I don't have to worry about it, as I don't run eye-candy that needs all of the 3D stuff. I just pulled the trigger on an E430 for a personal laptop to replace an aging Dell D620. Note, in general, I don't use the system as a laptop but more of a desktop replacement with external monitor, keyboard, and mous, but there are times when I do travel with the system. For traveling, I found I prefer dealing with a 14" screen over a 15.4" screen, let alone a 17" screen. I also wanted the Windows that came pre-installed be Windows 7 instead of 8 for the few times I need to deal with Windows, but have the system with a new enough processor that KVM would work well in the system. I did avoid most of the consumer end of the line when looking at Lenovos and kept more to the business end of things. Hopefully the Edge part of thinkpads is a reasonable machine.

Misleading title (1)

darkfeline (1890882) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219457)

The right title should be, "Are ThinkPads getting worse ever since Lenovo took control from IBM?" And the answer is yes. Pretty much from the point Lenovo took over (along with the new, fat AC connectors), ThinkPads have declined steadily, but surely. You could say maybe it's because IBM is a US company and Lenovo is a Chinese company; all I know is yes, they have indeed gotten worse.

Oh come on, this is getting silly now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219587)

It used to be the brand du jour was Dell, then it became HP, then it became Lenovo, then...

It's not just that one brand is surpassing the others - they're actually getting worse. It's getting impossible to work out what machine to buy that's going to last more than 1 year. When did quality control go down the crapper?

Totally depends (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219657)

you can spend a pile of money for a well made think pad, or you can spend practically nothing for a chunk of worthless i3 3gig no keypad, no wifi, so poorly made you have to twist the case so the battery engages, large heavy SHIT that look like 1987 threw up on (but you have 2 mouses)

but is that really different from any other era? Thats why fans always make sure to mention their model numbers, cause some outside sales drone looks at his bottom of the barrel stinkpad and wonders what the hell people are talking about.

Unequivocally Yes (1)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219697)

Fuck Betteridge, the answer is A THOUSAND TIMES YES.

I can't tell you how long I have been waiting for this story.

Yes, ever since Lenovo bought out the ThinkPad line, they have been continually cheapening and degrading it into yet-another-cheap-piece-of-shit consumer laptop. Anyone who has ever owned ThinkPad made by IBM, especially one like the 600x I had, will know exactly what I mean.

First, they degraded the build quality. The battery jiggles in its compartment, the screen is not flush nor tight with the base when closed, the single screen release tab is cheap and flimsy, as are the screen panel hooks.

Then they did away with 4:3 screens in favor of 16:9, despite promising to largely retain 4:3. I think they still use 4:3 on the X series, but that might not even be the case anymore. Now we have this annoying and pointless limitation, plus a laptop that's quite awkward to use on your ... um, lap.

Then they started removing useful features like dedicated indicator LEDs and differently-colored F and enter keys.

Then they degraded the build quality even more. Every iteration and generation of ThinkPad since the takeover has been made of continually cheaper, creakier and flimsier materials.

Now they've committed the absolutely unholy, unforgivable sin of replacing the prefect 7-row ThinkPad keyboard with that 6-row travesty known as the "island keys" keyboard. Then they had the gall to write this condescending and insulting blog post (, basically saying, "we're messing with perfection because fuck you, loyal customers.". You might also notice that the 9-month-old blog post is still accumulating angry comments from once-loyal customers TO THIS DAY.

Every single thing Lenovo has changed has made the ThinkPad worse and every time, they make some horseshit excuse that it's a "cleaner design," but the real, disgustingly obvious reason is that they're letting the bean counters run the show.

Just wait, next they'll bin the titanium screen hinges while they claim that plastic is better and throw in some Jedi hand waving for good measure.

There is no reason -- none -- to buy a ThinkPad anymore.

Under IBM's direction, ThinkPads were synonymous with absolute, no-compromises, no-nonsense quality and professionalism. Under Lenovo, they're just part of the noise.

The question now is: where the hell does the business user, the programmer, the typist go for a real laptop to get shit done?

Enough with the crying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43219721)

Can we suggest to Lenovo that there is probably a market for a line of "Classic Thinkpads". Doesn't have to be an entire range of products but should cover a few sizes/specs. The Classic Line would have all that we love about Thinkpads - conservative and sturdy design, weight and style be darned. I'm sure that they could charge $200-250 more for them and still have us road warriors buying. I'd be the first in line.

How would a person contact Lenovo marketing about this?

Big drop in quality (1)

ebonum (830686) | about a year and a half ago | (#43219729)

I've been using Thinkpads since 1997. I currently have a T420s. The machine cost 2K USD with Windows tax for Win7 Professional and Office Professional. It is 1 1/2 years old. Here is my list of problems:

1. The side USB 2.0 port came off the mother board. I'm super careful, but ports get tugged on from time to time. Last week I opened up the machine, and the connection had been tacked to the mother board with two tiny bits of solder. I used a solder gun and 10 minutes to fix it myself. Ports need strong connections to something solid!
2. Same with the power cable. The connection is bad. I have to pull the power cable wire to the left to get it to keep the power on.
3. The computer doesn't always go to sleep when the lid is closed. If I don't notice, I close the machine, put it in my bag, the machine overheats and then it blue screens.
4. There is 1 USB 3.0 port on the back. I know USB 3.0 was new when the machine came out 1.5 years ago, but it has never worked. USB 2.0 peripherals that work in the other ports don't work in the USB 3.0 port.
5. The machine occasionally freezes/locks up for 5-10 seconds at a time (random timing, but it happens about once ever 30 seconds). Removing the battery, disconnecting the power and letting the machine site for 10-15 minutes seems to fix this problem. I've run the Lenovo diagnostics program. I've watched the diagnostics program freeze and sputter. Then it tells me everything is 100% good to go. I have no idea where the problem is coming from. Mother board, Video, CPU, RAM (I've switch out the RAM, it didn't help). Once the problem goes away, I have about 1 week before it comes back. This started in the last week of the 1 year warranty.
6. "Access Connections" is a train wreck. When it works, it is ok. If you want to delete a location, you highlight it, hit "delete" and it deletes the record above. At this very minute, "Access Connections" shows no connection. I'm running on Win7's network connection. Tomorrow it might be working normally again. What if you are in a new location and mistype the password? If the log in fails, it should ask you if you want to re-enter the password. Instead you have to go modify the record.
7. Battery life is crazy. I run on batteries about 6 times a year. The rest of the time I'm plugged in. Last time I was in an airport, I had 45 minutes until the machine shut down. That is with a dimmed screen. I would rather have 1 light battery for daily use (so I can get from my desk to a conference room) and a heavy battery for travel. When I know I want 6 hours of work time during a flight. Instead I have something in the middle that does both functions poorly.
8. After about a year, the fan got loud. I think the bearings are shot.
9. Track pad went out two months ago. I could care less. I use the little red dot 100% of the time.
10. (design gripe) The screen is 900 pixels from top to bottom. Once you add Window's bars, application boarders, menus, I'm working in this tinsy tiny window. My cell phone has 900 pixels up and down! Left and right I have huge fields of unused white space. Most documents and websites are much taller than they are wide. Therefore Lenovo gives you a screen that is much wider than it is tall. I've been wondering if I can write business plans(or Java) the same way they wrote ancient Chinese - up to down instead of left to right. It would fit the screen much better. Lenovo thinks their business laptops are used for nothing other than watching movies. I think this shows how well they understand their customers these days.

I am their ideal client. I will happily pay a 2-400 USD premium for a "business laptop". I want to run databases, huge Excel spread sheets, occasionally write a little code. If I could pay a little extra for a more reliable machine, it is worth it to me. The cost of unplanned downtime is higher.

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