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Apple Sucks Now, Here’s a ThinkPad Buyer’s Guide (hackaday.com)
238 points by dragonbonheur 210 days ago | hide | past | web | 223 comments | favorite

"Here are the names Apple still uses for their laptops (and yes, these are the actual model names):

13-inch MacBook Pro with 2.0GHz Processor and 256GB Storage 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID, 2.9 GHz Processor and 256GB Storage 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID, 2.9GHz Processor and 512GB Storage

The ThinkPad naming convention makes marketing easier, product differentiation simpler, and by comparison shows us Apple without Jobs the first time was better than Apple without Jobs the second time."

Uh, no, those names tell you exactly what the product is. Nobody except extreme aficionados could tell you the significance of 300/500/700 off the top of their head.

Except that you still don't know which generation of processor the MBP has- I still see tons of deceptive Craigslist ads for MBPs that have a "2.0Ghz" processor, with no indication that it's a model from 2011, which is not at all comparable with a "2.0Ghz" processor from 2015.

This is probably offtopic, but I hate, hate, hate Intel's CPU naming strategy for the Core i line.

An i7 (U,M) in an ultrabook is vastly different from the i7 (MQ, HQ) in a gaming laptop.

A lot of people don't realize that, they just assume that i7 means "fastest intel processor".

It also doesn't help when computer manufacturers say "#th generation Intel processor". Unless you're keeping up with that stuff, how does a consumer buying a computer even make sense of that stuff?

What's worse is that even if you know the exact CPU and it's performance intel has a new program to arbitrarily throttle CPUs to fit a particular power/cooling envelope.

So vendors can cheap out on cooling, cripple the cpu, and there's no way to tell until you buy it and check yourself.

Yah, and then consider the m3/m5/m7, x3/x5/x7, Pentium and celeron brands are all still available.

Its the same with the xeon line, where you really have to dig into the details to know what the difference is between a E5-46xx and a E7-48xx. Early on it seemed like intel was going to use E3=1 socket, E5=2 socket, E7>2 socket, but then they started bluring the lines. And then there are all the secondary features like extended availability of a SKU which isn't even broken down on the ARK matrix.

Then of course it changes every month or so when they add a couple new ones and remove a couple old ones. No wonder everyone is confused, half us here are computer geeks, and we need the internet to determine the difference between most of the part numbers. To average users, its complete crap. Worse, since so many of them are similar, you have to look at heaps of benchmarks to determine if some random i7 is actually faster than some random i5/whatever..

Basically, it seems to me that intel has far to many people in product segmentation/marketing and they could use some serious housecleaning. Do we really need 500 (probably worse that that) SKU's varying in one feature or another? They could rip out every other clock rate stepping and no one would really notice, heck they could rip out 1/2 the core count ones too.

And now they have the x5 and x7 atoms (formerly Cherry Trail) with things like the Z series for tablets: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/processors/atom/atom-...

I agree. The intel naming convention has sucked since they switched to the Core iX names a few years back. Why are they still selling Core i5 computers in 2016 when they were available in 2012? It's like they don't want consumers to know there is a new processor out.

No wonder PC sales are so bad these days.

Because i5 and i7 processors are exactly the same silicon. It's just for i7 they turn on hyper-threading.

The important part is the generation, which, to your point, is rarely mentioned. The generation is in the name, e.g. Core i7-7xxxx parts are the newest Kaby Lake, 6xxx are Skylake, etc, but I agree that it's still confusing and requires a visit to Ark to see if it's junk or not, and only people who spend hours reading about this stuff can readily identify the differences and families.

2xxx,3xxx,4xxx,5xxx,6xxx,7xxx I do not see a problem with this naming convention.

Each generation have code name like Caby Lake etc.. but also corresponding number. You know that if computer have i7 6700 it is roughly 5-15% faster than previous generation i7 5700.

Just because Apple tend to hide this detail it is not Intel to blame.

Ok, just grabbing some scores off Passmark [1]

Intel Core i5 6440HQ -- 6390 Intel Core i5 7200U -- 4856 Intel Core i7 6650U -- 4857 Intel Core i7 6700HQ -- 8023

By looking at the numbers in the name alone, there's a wide variability in how fast they are. That's pretty confusing to someone who doesn't keep track of CPUs.

[1] http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_list.php

Yeah if you compare 2 core vs 4 core you will have these results. You keep comparing different models. Sure there low voltage or mobile versions but core tech is the same in all models from given generation.

Intel Core i5-7200U vs.Intel Core i5-6200U difference is what you will expect - 10-15% in most benchmarks

There is some variation but naming convention is better than Qualcomm where 820 vs 821 do not give you any information. AMD naming conventions is also useless when they release the same chip multiple times. nVidia sometimes release new generation of chips where low end models are in fact previous generation with different names. ARM naming convention is useless as well... Intel compared to rest in industry have in fact good naming conventions.

I am not Intel fanboy, they cut huge premium on theirs chips, still have crappy drivers in Linux and release buggy chips.

I get that but I'm speaking in terms of --consumer-- perception. I can't tell you how many people tell me they think an ultrabook with an i7 must be super fast just because the ad says i7.

Same goes for NVMe vs. SATA 256 GB SSD, or the 13" 1280x720 TN panel LCD on an 8 year old laptop versus a 13" 4K IPS display today.

What are you doing that you would even notice? Honest question. I can't recall a single instance where my 2012 rMBP slowed down due to its age. I mainly code, open tons of browser tabs, and listen to Spotify. Once I got a laptop with built-in SSD, everything just seemed to run at the speed of thought. That has not changed in four years or three operating systems.

Not everyone is a webdeveloper that has to link some pngs into some text file and MAYBE batch process some images. There's people with heavy workloads who notice. I really don't understand that attitude. "Because I don't need it, nobody would need it."

I do compute heavy stuff but from time to time but it's the sort of thing that would slow down the new chips just as easily as the old. But on average, a laptop from four years ago handles everything I can throw at it easily. If you purchased computer hardware at any point during the 90s or early 2000s, that's amazing.

I sometimes render video. I've seen more than 4 times increase in rendering times Jumping from my 2012 highend XPS to a late 2015 XPS. That means i can render the same video 8 times a day instead of two times. This gives me more correction options and its feasible to just Play around more with Codec settings...

So many people here Talk like Moores law suddenly stopped at all in the early 2010s...

You know the vast majority of consumers need less resources than a developer though.

So what's with the "because I need it, everyone would need it" attitude?

> So what's with the "because I need it, everyone would need it" attitude?

The problem with Apple (well, a problem with Apple; they've more than one) is that if you need more then you are completely and totally out of luck.

So it becomes 'since not enough people need it, I can't have it.'

This is true, and an obvious business decision. I assume if they offered more options (CPU, ram, etc) consumers would certainly buy them. I also assume that each permutation of the product will compound the logistics around manufacturing, marketing and so on.

The vast majority of consumers don't buy a high-end laptop like a rMBP.

Not sure why you're being downvoted for asking a question..

I care about CPU performance for compiling large projects. If I ever end up having time outside of work, I would like to try my hand at GHC development. I have made an attempt at it in the past and builds could take hours on my 2011 MBP.

I don't use an IDE by choice but back when I had to use Android Studio, I definitely would have appreciated a faster CPU as well. I'm not sure if this is still an issue.

Even if you aren't doing anything CPU intensive, I think it's nice to know just because you want to know what you're paying for.

What kind of code? I live in C and C++. Processor speed matters when compiling. Of course it doesn't matter if you're writing e.g. js...

Many webdev environments I've seen are resource hogs.

Yeah at least my software is fast and lean once it's finally running.

A 2012 CPU is very different from 2016. Power efficiency in particular but also features, like wireless display, do they even have USB 3.0?

My first car was a 1986 Toyota MR2.

It was not a Beige Toyota Sports Car with 1.6L 4 cylinder gasoline engine and 5-speed manual transmission, 14" wheels, sunroof, and cassette player

The second label is more useful and informative. You gave me information about the thing, rather than an arbitrary label that I have to go resolve manually.

It's not a name, it's not a label. It's a description.

The second item isn't a label. Renaming "Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy" to "Book regarding intergalactic travel with british humour" wouldn't be better.

That's a different class of thing. Both cars and computers are built around base models that are differentiated by additional features. You can either tell me what those features are up front or make me look them up.

You spent more time participating in this argument than you would have looking up the specs on a properly named macbook.

Yes, and? I we labeled things my way, I wouldn't have to look anything up at all.

It actually might be better for a Vogon audience.

In addition to Lenovo, consider the XPS 13 and 15. While Dell's quality has been somewhat inconsistent as they launched the line, they stepped up and took care of the problem I encoutered with my XPS 13 and it's quickly become my favorite laptop ever.

Great battery life, super portable, an external battery for long flights and an AMAZING screen. It even supports touch, which I don't use all the time, but find nice to have.

With either the Lenovo or Dell, make certain to add multi-year same or next day service. With Dell, it's easier to do that from their small business sections than from the home section. If you forget, just call and buy separately. I got my laptop from MS Store due to a sale then called and added 4 years to the warranty. While many rave about the genius bar, I find the "come to my home or office and fix this" experience far preferable.

Make sure you replace the worthless Broadcom wifi chip with an Intel. It's puzzling that Dell would cheap out on an otherwise excellent machine.

At least swapping them out is an easy job.

The Linux version has the Intel wifi by default. Only Windows version has the Broadcom.

Is that still true? I thought they'd changed that. I would have the developer edition myself, but I live in Australia and it's not available here.

The Broadcom chip is equally as bad in either windows or Linux in my experience.

The latest one (4th gen, late 2016, Kaby Lake) uses Killer Wireless (ath10k) for both Windows and Linux versions.

Under Linux it works, but from what I hear, it's very slow.

Fwiw, the broadcom chip is supported and works fine with Linux on my XPS 15. No extra work required.

It works, but "works fine" is a long stretch. Takes a long time to connect, particularly after suspend, sometimes several minutes or longer. This is true of both windows and Linux.

I've got the broadcom wireless in my 9343. Never experienced this issue. Guess I'm lucky.

You could also consider the Precision 5510 [1] if a Quadro GPU works for you. Essentially an XPS 15 but it includes Intel wifi. Recently got one from work and I've been pretty happy with it.

[1] http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/precision-m5510-workstatio...

At least the Broadcom chipsets can do soft-AP mode on Linux, something that IIRC even the top-notch Intel chipsets can't.

Are you sure about that? In the past, I've used Centrino N6205 in AP mode to share internet connection of the Thinkpads T430s 3G modem.

iw info also says, that it supports AP mode.

> ... it's easier to do that from their small business sections ...

For the last few years, I've recommended to anyone buying a "personal" laptop to order it from the "small business" portals/sites instead of the normal "consumer/home" ones.

You usually get better support (or better support options), including US-based phone tech support (personally, that doesn't really matter to me as long as I can understand the support agent but, honestly, it does matter to a lot of people) and sometimes better warranties as well. It may cost a few bucks extra but it's well worth it when the time comes that you need it.

How's linux support in the XPS 15?

I'm currently running Ubuntu 16.04 on it, and everything I've tried works. But it has taken some fiddling. (I have swapped the wireless for [1] on the advice of a coworker that didn't even like the way the stock one worked on Windows.) I can't vouch for the USB3, Thunderbolt, or Bluetooth because I haven't tried it. Also stock Ubuntu can't control the backlight brightness but xbacklight can, so it seems to be an Ubuntu issue rather than Linux.

It also installed next to Windows pretty well, once I turned off Secure Boot in the Bios. Grub worked without hassle. You may also have some fiddling with the AHCI vs. RAID sections in the BIOS; google around for info on that. You may also need to reinstall Windows 10 from scratch to avoid issues with "locked blocks" on the main hard drive so you can shrink partitions, and to deal with the switch from "RAID" to "AHCI" (not strictly necessary but if you're going to reinstall anyhow it works). Depends on the line up.

I do recommend that if you get one, you figure out whether you're going to dual-boot immediately, before you "move into" Windows. It's much easier to put together a dual-boot setup with a fresh install of Windows 10, I found. (And it's actually Window's fault, not Linux's, for refusing to evacuate enough of the drive.) If you do plan to reinstall windows, go to the Dell driver page, grab all the relevant ones, and stick them on the Windows 10 installation USB stick you make. (There's a tool from Microsoft that just lets you download the Windows 10 install media, then picks up the license off the motherboard.)

Also, I found you will have to install a particular BIOS to make sure you don't get this weird and very annoying screen flicker where it dims for a couple of frames every ten seconds or so; A06 I think from the BIOS page.

It has not been the smoothest trip. But then, getting Linux running on a laptop perfectly never is. But I have ended up with a satisfactory primarily-Linux system. (I boot into Windows for games. Dual-boot is less frustrating when booting is so fast; I counted 32 seconds to hibernate Linux, reboot into Windows, and have Steam up and functioning. It's actually faster for me to do that from Linux than to start up my PS3 and be playing a game from a cold AV system start.)

[1]: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0167N9R8E/ref=oh_aui_sear...

Is it really necessary to disable Secure Boot?

I've got one T430s that dual boots between Windows and Fedora, and Fedora is fine with the Secure Boot on (if you use your custom kernel modules, you will have to sign them, though). Windows, on the other hand, can be annoying when the Secure Boot is off.

Ubuntu nags you to do it so it can run 3rd party drivers. It's never really explained what the drivers were and I haven't noticed any difference with it disabled or not

Fedora and RHEL won't load any unsigned kernel module (yes, found out the hard way: I was wondering why VirtualBox doesn't run, even if it successfully builds it's own modules). However, you can enroll a MOK (Machine Owner Key) and sign whatever you want.

I was under impression, that Ubuntu does not enforce signing kernel modules even with Secure Boot on.

I don't know. I didn't try not to. I generally expect that the things that Secure Boot protect against are things unlikely to affect me.

Go for the Linux specific version "Developer" version for two reasons. First, the components it uses are identified by Dell to work with Linux well. Second, Dell pays the Linux vendor (Ubuntu in this case) to make the hardware work well: that's the only way to get good software support for PC hardware.

It was rough when it first came out, but works well now. The thunderbolt dock is also working now.

If you go with Dell, go with either Developer Edition or Windows Signature Edition. I too had an issue with my Dell XPS 9343 (128GB/8GB/"4K" Touch) and a Dell rep came to my house and fixed it. I have two of these now, one for work (FHD) and one for personal (Touch).

Dell claims the 3200x1800 screen takes the battery life of the new XP13 from 22 hours to 12. Have you noticed similar?

I'm running the Skylake version, not Kaby Lake, but yes the battery life is significantly less (8 hours vs about 12, Touch vs FHD). If battery life is your concern, definitely go with the FHD Kaby Lake. It has a matte screen that is absolutely beautiful in 1080p. I had issues with a loose trackpad on the Touch but not the 1080p.

Edit - never mind, found it. Dell has some dead links.

I've been keeping an eye on the XPS 13, but it looks like the "Developer Edition" has gone away. Do you know what the current equivalent is?

For others: The XPS 13 "Developer Edition" has been rolled into the mainline XPS 13, and only appears under the "Shop for Work" facet of their online store.

For folks in the US, visit http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/xps-13-9360-laptop/pd and filter by Operating System -> Ubuntu

Huh. Looks like you still have to get the touchscreen model to get a configuration with 16gb ram. I was hoping they would allow that by now, but it still looks like 8gb soldered in ram is the only option for the FHD (non-touch) display.

Be warned that all the kaby lake XPS13 have MUCH slower GPUs then the previous edition with the IRIS 540 graphics.

Why, will this affect other models and OEMs?

And if you want an ethernet port, the lattitude E7470. Just don't bother with the fingerprint reader which is pretty much useless.

+1 for XPS 13. I installed Archlinux on it, just to get rid of those Windows bloatware.

That's a heck of a sales pitch out of nowhere, extended warranty and everything!

I was very disappointed too, however I've seen similar disappointments when Apple dropped CDROM, usb, audio jacks etc. Eventually everyone gets used to it, and admittedly they are trying to simplify the keyboard IMHO. I'm super happy to have bought a maxed out mbp15 before not too long ago, so I won't have to deal with the devices/adaptors market catching up to Apple. And BTW, looks like the disappointment is all around the keyboard. FWIW I use an external KB most of the time so I wouldn't care even if I upgraded and lose my Fx keys. Anyway Linux is not ready to replace MacOS simply because it lacks many apps, Windows...well that's a joke for your battery and its Bash implementation is still too young, let's see in 3 years from now. My 2 cents, ymmv

Yeah I've really yet to see a credible iTerm 2 like alternative on W10 even if WSL works out.

Assuming WSL works out, what do you find lacking?

Mostly agree, but MagSafe was amazing and USB is what everyone in the world uses... we will just have to get a hub... it's not like when they killed floppies or CDs or Ethernet Ports and I hadn't used those in years anyway... This stings. I still like HDMI... literally all the ports on my 2013 MBP I think are perfect. Except the card reader... that's dumb and can go away.

Ugh, I don't care about plugging in dual 5k monitors, I use my laptop monitor when I use my laptop -- I only care about HDMI for conference room sharing since everyone has that. I'm sure in a year I won't care once I buy a hub and new adapters... I apppreviate pushing the envelope but I like more "standard things" like USB and HDMI.

Perhaps the reason Apple didn't include an HDMI port is because Skylake CPUs only support [1] HDMI 1.4 which means you can't output anything at 4K @ 60 Hz. They could have used an LS-Pcon to convert DP 1.2 into HDMI 2.0, but that's not ideal.

Personally I think Apple made the right decision by dropping the HDMI port since the Thunderbolt 3 ports are far more flexible.

[1] http://www.anandtech.com/show/9483/intel-skylake-review-6700...

No word on the invisibly-killed-off and yet so sexy Mac Pro, I guess :P

But can it run Desert Combat? :)

HEY! YOU! ;) What's up? Playing Overwatch these days, at least until I can actually play Battlefield 1 (waiting on some cash for new hardware)

I've been disappointed by the lack of true MacBook Pro 15 alternatives, and it doesn't seem like Lenovo offers one in the ThinkPad line, either.

What I want: Quad-core CPU, decent-ish discrete graphics, a great screen, a somewhat compact case that doesn't weight a ton.

What I get: An endless supply of 13" ultrabooks, 6+ lb. gaming laptops with 2 hour batteries that sound like an airline taking off on startup, sub-$800 junkers, and the "mobile workstation" that still has an optical drive.

Afaik, only the XPS 15 and Razor Blade (14") really come close to the sweet spot. The XPS 15 is still awaiting its Skylake update, and the Razor, while nice, is a bit too gamey for me.

Of course, I'd want to run Linux and with the mishmash that is the current state of linux HiDPI support and uncertain future of Weyland nvidia and ati drivers, I'm not really sure where that leaves me.

There are many good hardware choices at this point in order to replace a Macbook. What is entirely not clear is what software to use to replace a Macbook.

This is why I'm probably going to opt for a maxed out 2015 Macbook Pro. Yes, I know I'm paying for "old" hardware but I don't use VMs or compile anything heavy so it should last me a while. After selling my current one it should come out to about $1000 so not too bad.

I'm just too invested in macOS in terms of apps, comfortableness, muscle memory, etc. I actually really like it as well.

I made the switch to Windows, and while it did require some research to ensure that my workflows stayed pretty much the same, it didn't take long at all (days, not weeks) to develop new muscle memory. I struggle using a Mac now.

Your real switching cost, however, is in your apps. If you're dependent on something that is Mac only, it is really, really hard to switch.

Most of my core apps are multiplatform (Sublime, Slack, 1Password, Evernote etc.) but I was concerned about Terminal and Aperture. Terminal was easily addressed by Cmder (and now you can use Window's Linux shell instead), and Apple EOL'ed Aperture, which meant I had to find a new RAW tool (I use DxO Optics Pro now, which is cross platform).

I really hope the Windows Subsystem for Linux continues being expanded; having Linux natively on Windows approaches the best of both worlds.

"This is why I'm probably going to opt for a maxed out 2015 Macbook Pro. Yes, I know I'm paying for "old" hardware but I don't use VMs or compile anything heavy so it should last me a while. After selling my current one it should come out to about $1000 so not too bad."

I just did this.

I currently use a second-from-last generation 11" Macbook air and it works perfectly and I expect it to last another 2-3 years.

However, I just purchased a refurbished latest-generation 11" macbook air, with maximum specs, to keep on reserve.

Now I can put off these decisions for 5 or more years.

A friend of mine told me tonight that maybe the 2013 model was better. The 2015 one is barely faster but it runs hotter and the fan spins more often.

Maybe so, but the 2015 is available new from non-Apple retailers while the 2013 is only available used so you're rolling the dice.

A quick note to anyone looking to buy these. I bought my 2015 MBP for a really good price from Adorama Tax Free. (outside NY)

> I'm just too invested in macOS in terms of apps, comfortableness, muscle memory, etc. I actually really like it as well.

I never thought I'd compare new Apple hardware versus Thinkpads to a presidential election, but here we are.

Not sure what you mean? I really hate the new Macbooks but I do like macOS and I'm quite productive and happy with it.

Aside from a Hackintosh my only choice is a maxed out 2015 one that should last me about five years, if not more, with my current usage. It's not the choice I wanted to make but I'm not getting a $2000+ laptop without any ports I can use without adapters.

Debian Testing (Stretch) with all its defaults, including its default desktop environment (Gnome 3).

I admit it's a few years at this point I don't use a Linux box as my desktop. Is it at a point where, to do all the obvious things like, use Skype, configure a printer, have a decent presentation or video editing software, update my system without hacking with the drivers, I can just have it? My fear is that I'll not be able to do everything I do with my Mac now. A solution could be to install Windows 10 in dual boot maybe, to use commercial software (for video editing, just to make an example, but others may want to do gaming). Trivia: I used only Linux for more than a decade, but I quit and went to macbook because it was a bit like fighting with the system to do basic stuff.

Skype on linux works well, last I checked.

Configuring a printer is pretty good, actually: for the most part, you plug it in, and it Just Works™. Networked printers are another matter, but by no meand impossible.

Presentation on Linux can be handled by LibreOffice, Google Slides, or Reveal.js (which has become increasingly popular with developers of late)

I've never had trouble with updating my system, and I'm on ArchLinux. The one thing you may have trouble with is wifi, but if your wifi chip's supported, the rest is most likely good. However, it does depend on your setup.

Really, the only thing you might have trouble with is video editing, and even that's not so bad anymore: OpenShot is as good as WMM ever was, and Lightworks, the NLE of choice for many professionals, has a Linux version.

As for gaming, I've been gaming on linux since 2011, when Steam on Linux was but a madman's dream. It was possible to play many exellent games (some through wine, some native), and with the dawn of Steam on Linux, that's never been more true.

Skype on Linux is currently abandonware and can't do multi party video calls, but MS is writing a new client which is alpha now. Still, the current client keeps working for multi party audio calls and one to one video calls and screen sharing, doesn't have ads. More important, it can be configured not to have all that white space around the messages. I can see two or three times as much messages than the Windows version. Sadly the new version seems to be like the windows and macos ones.

Ah. I haven't used Skype in a while, and was unaware of the new situation.

Thanks, looks like things are better than 7/8 years ago.

They really don't though. Right now I have these apps open on my Mac. I don't want to settle for sub-par alternatives. I want these specific apps:

Spotify, Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator, iMessage, Apple Numbers (I'd settle for Excel), Keynote (far superior to Powerpoint), Hearthstone, Apple Calendar, Apple Mail, Apple Maps, Apple Photos

For nearly every one of those apps I'd have to settle for an inferior user experience on Linux. It would be significantly more bearable on Windows, but still would be a UX compromise compared to my experience on the Mac today.

In your case the problem I see is that you are using a lot products from Apple. In my case is just Keynote, otherwise I'm using just the OS itself, and I even have an Android phone, so the switch could be simpler. Unfortunately I think you'll require to do researches for each single software in order to potentially migrate to something else. The good thing is that for almost everything there is some indie solution that is great, but the bad thing is that it's not as simple as just sitting and letting Apple provide good integrated solutions. For iMessage however I would go towards Whatsapp, it's going to happen anyway world-wide IMHO, it's just North America that is using Apple messaging mostly. I totally agree it is significantly simpler to switch to Windows + VM or Windows in dual boot than bare Linux.

Photoshop, Illustrator, Spotify, Excel, and Hearthstone (more or less) work well through Wine. I've never heard of Sketch, so I wouldn't know about that.

iMessage and Apple Maps are accessible from your phone (as is Hearthstone, for that matter), and probably more convenient there, although iMessage might be useful on the desktop as well. Google Maps, however, is a thing, and probably better.

I've heard good things about Shotwell for photos. Have you tried it, or did you dismiss it out of hand?

Mail and Calendar can be replaced by Thunderbird, or any number of other email clients if Thunderbird concerns you. None of them, AFAICT, are worse than Apple's mail and calendar apps, which are pretty "meh" IMHO.

So of the apps you listed, only iMessage, Keynote, and Sketch don't work on Linux, and don't have viable alternatives.

> Skype on linux works well, last I checked.

Nope. They (Skype/Microsoft) have not updated skype in years. It's still version 4.3, and recently on Linux Groupcall is problematic as all the other Skype clients got upgrades.

Though digging around for a known workaround to that last problem it appears there is a new alpha-grade update for Skype-on-Linux: https://community.skype.com/t5/Linux/Skype-for-Linux-Alpha-a...

Alpha do not work very well. You still can install old 4.3 version, work better than new version under Win 10.

Skype need to be some kind of amazing mismanagement where with such simple product they keep losing quality. To compare Curse/Discord for games work and look way better.

...Or even Mumble.

As for video editing software: this may sound strange, but I've seen several people, some of them VFX professionals, recommend Blender as a very good tool. (Perhaps it's not so surprising when you consider it's been used for editing several feature-length movies.)

For presentation software: personally I've completely switched to HTML5 based presentations (with reveal.js generated from markdown with pandoc), because even in 2016 I still see professionals at big conferences fail at playing back videos, or just plain hanging their Windows computers, when using PowerPoint. But when was the last time a video failed to play in your browser?

My current setup is Windows 10 on a Thinkpad Helix 2, with full-screen cygwin X11 for ssh-ing into other systems from an environment where I can use fvwm2 to manage my xterms, and a FreeBSD VM running under Hyper-V for when I need a real unix locally.

I have no idea at all if that would be remotely close to suitable for you, but, y'know, have a random data point in case it turns out to be helpful.

For me Windows is fine as long as I don't have to deal with viruses, anti viruses, malwares that reconfigure your default search, and stuff like that. It's not that I'm particularly in love with MacOS UI, even if I think it's pretty good/consistent, I could adapt to anything else which is stable and works. Thanks.

The only thing that's hit me (so far as I know) in years was an Acrobat Reader 0day that my installed antivirus missed (AVG? I think? years ago) but once I figured out how to sigkill the payload while it was still starting up, Hitman Pro ate it alive in short order. Windows Defender is apparently pretty good but it's never found anything to complain about on my systems except copies of EICAR in a local CPAN mirror.

So, for me, as far as I can tell, "don't use IE" plus "don't install random crap you downloaded from the internet" plus "my mail client is mutt under screen on a server" between them are basically sufficient defense these days. How far that generalises I can't really say.

Skype for Linux has a release that’s up-to-date with the Mac and Windows ones now. Can’t help you with presentation or video editing software, though.

Blender has a surprisingly good general-purpose video editor built in.

Thanks, I think that, while I still have a Macbook that will last a couple of years, I'll install a Linux installation in dual boot so that I can start to understand where I'm headed...

Well, I prefer a tiling WM over Gnome 3, and I prefer Debian Stable over Testing for anything I need to work on, but that's probably good enough for most folks.

I spent two days trying to get Stable (Jessie) to work with Skylake before giving up. Meanwhile Stetch supports Skylake almost perfectly, and is quite stable for professional work; I've seen only one buggy package (ffmpeg), and it was easily rolled back, and ultimately fixed in just a couple weeks.

I do use Jessie with Broadwell, and it runs quite well indeed.

Gnome 3 is a full desktop environment with pretty good tiling functionality built in and enabled by default.

I'm amazingly out of the loop with modern x86 processors (my laptop has a 2008 Core 2 Duo, my desktop has a 2009 Phenom II, and I have not yet felt a need to upgrade) so I gotta ask: what are the issues with supporting a new iteration of an Intel CPU on an OS level? Isn't a generic x86 CPU a generic x86 CPU that runs anything you throw at it anymore?

The newer CPUs include fancy power management features. Operating system participation is needed to make the most of that.

Give up on software, go Chromebook. Give up on files too, give up on being able to browse the LAN, only use things that are a web application of some sort.

That might be too hard, but, if the cloud paradigm is totally unrealistic, then you do get an escape key plus you can run an LTS version of Ubuntu in a browser tab. Here you can run a dev stack, do work in real spreadsheets and run terminal windows for vi. Okay, no Adobe or other professional software but you do have Android apps.

There are two options for Chromebook hardware. Much like how there is 0, 1 and infinity with everything pretty much in-between, for maximum Chromebook chic go for either the ultra high end Pixel or the ultra low end machines that cost less than anything else. Anything in-between is a compromise on minimalist stupidity. The bargain Chromebooks are designed for 9 year old kids and seem not to contain things like CPUs, RAM or other storagey stuff. They are indestructible and the battery lifetime is measured in days when in realistic usage, just charge them overnight once in a while.

With either hardware route you can install a full cornucopia of operating systems in an Ubuntu chroot with Crouton, to have your 'Unity' desktop in a tab. Here there is an escape key for working in vi.

Just for added operating system overhead and complexity you can run virtualbox in your Ubuntu chroot, then you can run Windows 10, Ubuntu and ChromeOS fully side by side. I have no idea if Hackintosh is possible on a Chromebook but that sounds like a bit too far.

The Chromebooks are definitely RAM limited and ports are ancient history. However, if you go high end Chromebook Pixel LS to run the above stack then you do get the finest keyboard, 3:2 screen, aluminium case, sound system and browsing experience going. Nice hardware but a heap of operating system hacks to run useful software.

What I'm concerned about is the three-finger swipe left and right to access various desktops (I've seen that set up on linux, but it doesn't transition, it just pops to the next screen, which doesn't make sense for a scrolling action).

I'm with you here, for me (and probably you) at least, this is by far the best feature of OS X. I mostly use Linux, and bind Windows-key+left/right for switching desktops, in KDE, but whenever I use OS X for even a little bit, I miss it.

Good recommendations? I can't think of any that have the reputation of Apple when it comes to support or build quality, but I also haven't looked beyond apple for almost 10 years.

My only guess is that a mix of Windows 10 and Linux is needed, there are multiple solutions:

1. Run Windows 10 and Linux in multi boot, use Linux normally, Windows when you need stuff that are not available on Linux.

2. Run Windows and use VMs to have a Linux development environment.

3. Run Windows with some Unix-alike layer, like the one introduced in Windows 10 or something.

I think for me it's "1", I don't think I'll be able to use Windows on a daily basis, since I still see people that install things like anti-malware/virus. I can't go back 15 years in computing experience easily.

P.S. Note how people that need to develop for Apple devices, like mobile devs, don't have any way out of the Apple ecosystem, since the SDKs are Macos-only.

Linux? Hackintosh? BSD? Windows? TempleOS?

As long as it has little icons you can click on, things should work out ok?

Feodra is great

Since Lenovo preinstalled spyware/malware they can no longer be trusted.

I can sort of understand this sentiment, which is why I would instead encourage people to support https://minifree.org. Same hardware, but you know the software is under your control.

Want everything Lenovo laptops have to offer, but with software you the user can read and control? I don't have one myself, but I've heard good things, and X200s are not so old as to be unusable, especially with Linux.

>> Since Lenovo preinstalled spyware/malware they can no longer be trusted.

> support https://minifree.org. Same hardware, but you know the software is under your control.

Maybe this is purely my own sentiment, but the manufacturer can install whatever it wants, so long as it's just on the disk. I buy the laptop for the hardware, not the software.

If their behavior in doing this implicates them doing worse things, such as malware on device firmware or in the BIOS, or system management mode code, then one would be right to avoid this.

Exactly that happened on Lenovo laptops. There was BIOS level code that re-installed malware/spyware on your laptop even if you formatted and reinstalled from scratch or used an entirely new hard drive.

Yes because Lenovo is the only major vendor to install spyware, break ssl, or any other things.

Dell has never done that... ohh wait


Then add Dell to the list as well. What is your point?

If I look deep enough I can find where every manufacturer has done this... that is my point.

Dont use OEM Images, or better yet dont use Windows... that is my point

The Dell case at least was a honest mistake. Superfish actually did MITM to show ads and Lenovo was trying to make money from it.

Personally, since I have no plans of running Windows in the first place, Lenovo's spyware has effectively zero effect for me.

That said, I'm quite happy with my Dell Latitude D830 and my PowerBook G4 :)

They didn't do that on Thinkpads, though.

It's the same company though. I have two Thinkpads (I'm typing on a T520 right now) and today I wouldn't buy another.

Even if you want to give them a pass for unethical behavior, Lenovo still installs a lot of extra software that you don't really need. If you do buy a Thinkpad, I recommend reformatting the machine and doing a stock Windows install.

Sadly this is becoming very hard with lenovo ideapad and yoga. I fear this is coming for the thinkpads as well.

They seem to claim performance/battery improvements with their magic single disk "RAID" interface. Doubly dubious because said device just binds with the windows software raid driver.

What is worse is lenovo disables the included AHCI (breaking both Linux and Windows), so you have to use their install media to install the OS. Which of course installs whatever crap the original laptop came with.

>>>If you do buy a Thinkpad, I recommend reformatting the machine and doing a stock Windows install.

that should be done with all computers no matter who you buy it from

Personally, I've found the Thinkpad windows build to work better for me by far than a vanilla one (especially the projector stuff, which generally makes me a very happy bunny at conferences).

However, given there's a recovery partition and you don't wipe it while doing a stock install, "try both and see which you prefer" is clearly an option.

That's good advice.

If you don't want to wipe, you can selectively install and uninstall the Lenovo software. I have a 12.5" Thinkpad Yoga that I've uninstalled lots of stuff and it works great now. Some things, like Lenovo's power management tools, didn't get along very well with the standard Windows tools.

Why not Linux?

Worse battery life. Really though, the applications you need should dictate the OS you use. If Linux works for you, by all means, use it.

I didn't downvote you, but even my Macbook friends were jealous of my 20+ hours on a Thinkpad x250 (9-cell).

The default power settings on Linux are pretty bad, though. Anyone with Linux on their laptop should create a boot service that runs this command:

    powertop --auto-tune
...and observe battery time increase by ~25%.

the problem with this argument is that any manufacturer can be preinstalling spyware in the future and you won't know until it becomes public. Lenovo did but apparently stopped after it got caught. My point is that all OEM's are on the same boat.

Lenovo seems pretty unique and adding ugly hacks to their hardware (like disabling ACHI), and then changing the PCI ID of a "fake raid" chip. So not only does this break linux, but it also breaks the standard release of windows.

So even if you want to install MS Windows from official microsoft media, you can't.

Why would lenovo would disable AHCI (which breaks windows and linux), then mess with a fake RAID (despite having a single storage device).

Seems like Lenovo REALLY doesn't want consumers reinstalling the OS.... makes one wonder.

Wasn't it concluded that it was to reduce power usage, and it was Intel that didn't provide a Linux driver?

Edit: http://lwn.net/Articles/701635/

There's still a pretty big difference between "did install spyware" and "could install spyware". Everyone is a potential criminal; I'm still going to exercise more caution around convicted felons.

Thinkpads definitely get over-recommended on the internet, but I have been really pleased with my X220. I bought a corporate refurb on ebay a year ago for about $200. It has sailed along since then. Any problems I have I am confident I can repair and parts are cheap and plentiful. At one point I replaced the DC jack and WiFI card in an hour or two with a screwdriver and a youtube video (total cost: $25). It runs linux flawlessly with plenty of horsepower despite the 2012 era CPU. RAM is easily upgradeable and it has a 2nd drive bay.

If you are comfortable with putting together your own PC (which I suspect most of the HN audience is), you will get way more mileage out of it than buying a newish chromebook for a similar price. I've heard rumors of a "thinkpad classic" machine in the same form factor with an upgraded CPU, USB 3.0, and high res screen, which I would love.

I have an X201 sitting next to me. It could heat my office or dry my hair when idling. I wish I could just plop in a better cpu and keep the chassis.

I have a similar story with my T430. Ivy Bridge CPU, 8GB, and two internal SSDs (one msata). It's a tank, and worth the $300 or so I paid. Upgraded it to add the msata ssd and add a backlit keyboard, and it's a great beater laptop for when I don't need portability.

Lenvo sucks now too. Their flagship laptop, the T460s, now has a non-removable battery. Their shtick has always been "yes, it's a bit bigger and heavier than a MBP, but it's expandable!" Now the T460s isn't any more expandable than the 13" rMBP, and has a lot less battery life.

You can drop down to the T460, but it's not made of the same premium materials, and also doesn't even come with the high-resolution screen option. People are flipping out about the escape key, but Lenovo won't sell you a 14" laptop that has both a high-res display and a battery big enough to run it!

It is easily removable with a screwdriver and won't void the warranty, replacement batteries are reasonably priced. The MBP battery is glued-in and only replaceable by Apple at vast expense. That's the trade-off that Apple make, which you fail to acknowledge. The T460 and T460p offer more battery capacity.

the T460s is the slim model, the flagship standard T460 still has a removable battery. They should make the S as thin as possible, so they can keep the standard model without compromise.

The s series is the compromised T460 for slimness, cant have it both ways.

The T460s is the flagship. It's built with better materials (https://www.reddit.com/r/thinkpad/comments/466bb9/t460_vs_t4...), and also has the WQHD display option which the T460 does not.

I'm not sure what it was like in older Thinkpads, but for the last few cycles (T450s, T440s), the 's' series has been strictly better: same guts, but lighter and thinner by virtue of a more expensive chassis. The "Carbon" series was always the "super thin and light" option.

The T560, which has an optional 15.x" 3K screen, has both an internal and a removable battery.

My recent experience with Lenovo shunned me away from Thinkpads for the foreseeable future and from Lenovo in general as a customer.

After placing an order for a Thinkpad that I needed urgently, they, without explanation or email canceled the order the next day.

Trying to contact customer service, I found out that their online chat employees have no access to customer order history, because "the functionality isn't there yet". Direct quote from support.

2 months later I got an email from them, asking how I like my purchase (7 weeks into using a Dell laptop)

Not to mention their site being unusable in 3/4 browsers I tried to order.

The level of incompetence from them is just staggering.

Seriously, why is their site such a trash fire? Across 4 computers I've not once seen it work well. I'm thinking about getting a new computer, but even though I loved my old x230 I'm not thinking about getting a lenovo now because I can't research the laptops on lenovos own site!

Yeah, the site is horrible. Everybody I know orders their Lenovos from resellers because of it (added bonus that you can get better/cheaper configurations Lenovo doesn't sell, swap 3G modules for extra SSDs and stuff like that)

The website is indeed horrible. Also, why does every PC maker try to get you to do a survey within five seconds of arriving?

Lenovo lost me when the did the exact same mistake and decided to replace the exceptional Thinkpad keyboard for an inferior one.

Despite not being as good as the old IBM keyboards, can you name a laptop with a better one? It seems all the manufacturers make terrible keyboards.

The Razer Blade Pro has a mechanical keyboard: http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-systems/razer-blade-pro

That is a seriously nice gaming laptop. Id like a 15" version with the trackpad in the usual place though, id consider that for my main machine.

Are you aware of any third-party keyboards that can replace those in a Lenovo laptop?

it's also 17", has an nvidia 1080 (!) and comes with 32gb of RAM, that is definitely the type of specs that would be nice to have in a development machine... wonder what the battery life will be for it as there are currently no reviews available yet that I could find.

I don't think the machine is out yet, which probably explains the lack of reviews.

Interesting company, terrible website. How are the keyboards on their smaller laptops?

I have used old and new Thinkpad keyboards and in my view the new one is far superior.

I'm a little disappointed that you seem to've been being downvoted for this.

Personally, I liked the key feel of the old installs better but find the new ones perfectly serviceable.

But I think the key point here is that, shockingly enough, people's opinions differ and you probably need to try any given keyboard yourself to make an informed decision.

I came from a T61, and I really don't mind the keyboard on my X230. If I had any disagreement with it, I would have promptly swapped it for one from an X220.

I was thinking of selling my X220. Now, maybe I'll bring it back out.

> Eventually everyone gets used to it, and admittedly they are trying to simplify the keyboard IMHO

No, not everyone. I remember the time Apple "simplified" Final Cut Pro "X". The professional users moved on to other products and never looked back.

This seems rather a generalisation. I wonder how true this really is.

The glory days of the IBM T-series are over and I can't trust Lenovo to not spy on me, so I moved on from Thinkpads. My ASUS Zenbook has been a nice change of pace and I'd recommend it to anyone looking to get away from the Apple ecosystem. Windows has improved a good bit since I last worked in it ~5 years ago and while not nearly perfect, Bash on Windows by Ubuntu or whatever they call it is a pretty solid replacement for Putty :)

"I need to edit video or do other work that is CPU and memory intensive

A laptop is not for you. Here’s PCPartPicker. Build your own desktop. It’s like Lego, but for adults."

Yeah, cool, let me know when I can take a desktop in my hand luggage. There are people who legitimately need a lot of CPU power and lots of ram in a laptop - and there are products for them ( http://www.eurocom.com/ec/configure(2,270,0)ec ) being dismissive is not helpful.

Lenovo laptops suck more than Apple, they not even able to plug Thunderbolt 3 port into the laptop, not a single port. No frame less laptops like Dell XPS or HP Spectre x360 (both have been recently updated to the Kaby Lake CPU). Lenovo is outsider.

Just get a Razer Blade. It's the same weight and form factor as a MBP, but black and with a real GPU.

Run Windows 10 if you just want to get work done, or Debian or something if you need metal Linux (as opposed to VMs)

Also take a look at the razor blade stealth for something cheaper, if you don't need a dedicated graphics card. (although you can hook up a razer core if you need one)

Ugh, wish they did the same thing as apple. Use the previous generation skylake with a decent GPU. qhd (let along 4k) is quite a few pixels for such a weak GPU.

I agree, I use one for game dev and it works great. The build quality is top notch, and the new ones have amazing specs.

Is there a reason why the company spells their name with an "e" instead of an "o"

Googlability? (Like flattr, grindr, etc).

Anyone tried have one of the new razer blade stealths? I'm eyeing one (16gb, kaby lake i7, 500+gb ssd) for 1400, and curious what others experiences are.

I made a fair attempt to work on MacBook Pro a year ago and was underwhelmed.

Glitches aside, i felt like Apple is trying to convert me to their religion and the view of the world through Apple's glasses. After about 6 month of struggle and I am happy Pro Lenovo user.

Having said that - Apple's smartphone offerings are superb and intuitive - exactly how it should be.

> felt like Apple is trying to convert me to their religion and the view of the world through Apple's glasses

I regularly use both macOS and Windows, and I don't see what you mean. Can you elaborate?

Lenovo installs malware by default, so nope.

I said this in another thread. Will say it again.

Whenever your boss comes and asks you "What would you like to be your primary machine?". I bet you will reply "Latest MacBook Pro". Yeah sure it will be kinda hard for you with 16 gigs of RAM, but nonetheless much easier than having a Hackintosh.

>I bet you will reply "Latest MacBook Pro".

My reply was a Razer Stealth, but I was told I had to get an Apple. So, I'm getting a $2800 dual core laptop, because I need F-keys. At least I'll be allowed to install Linux on it.

Lenovo has some nice hardware, I used it for years, but the problem is that their own software is unusable and the OS options are lagging, at least for me.

Yes you can install Linux, but I'm not going to pay a premium price to then spend my time hunting down the correct drivers and in the end still have some hardware not supported.

Either all of the hardware that I paid for is fully supported by some Linux distribution and on top of that I don't have to lift a finger to keep it updated or I'm not buying at that price.

I pay and you solve my problems, not I pay and you deliver me a bunch of new problems that I'll have to tinker with.

That's really why I switched to Mac's. I'm also not terribly convinced by the new touchpad, but maybe it'll grow on me.

+1 on the XPS 15. Windows 10 with "Bash for Windows"/WSL flies and looks amazing. I think Dell's work with any Linux distro as well. Buy from the MS store and you get a clean version of Windows.

Edit: New Surfacebook also looks nice.

Buy from the Microsoft Store and you may get a bios-locked laptop that can only run Windows 10.


If you're going to link that, I would suggest also reading the stickied reply by a moderator of that subreddit[1] that refutes many of the points made by the OP.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/53ri0m/warning_micro...

My mistake. And thanks for the correction! I read of the story when it broke a few weeks back, and honestly it didn't surprise me one bit at the time (were Microsoft have attempted such a maneuver). I quickly posted the link without following up on the story... only to realize the err in my ways. Good looking out. Cheers ;)

This is pretty outdated now Lenovo has released a bios update for the laptop in question.

What does the new BIOS do?

Unlocks the AHCI setting, so it doesn't flip back.

Meanwhile, Intel also made a driver for Linux that recognizes the RAID mode and works with that.

I'm growing so tired and weary of complaining and the continuous cycle of outraged on the internet. The latest example is Apple and the new MacBooks.

Tim, this is why leadership of companies at the top by "committee" doesn't work. You need a strong leader (type A) that is a dictator to silence the masses and guide the company forward. Otherwise, you get a million different voices speaking up thinking they are somehow instantly experts in a field.

These are all entirely fair points. I agree ThinkPads offer better value for the money in terms of hardware.

But I care a lot more about the OS and the software I use than the relative price value of the hardware I'm using.

OS X is a far superior operating system from Windows. Even if Lenovo offered computers twice as fast for half the price I won't switch until the user experience of Windows improves.

Was thinking about Lenovo X series 3 years ago... until I've found out that their IPS display is not that good, it's comparable with a good Macbook Air display (although that is a TN one). For the price of a new X series better get a Macbook Air, it's the more comparable one (also nearly same price region) to Lenovo than the Macbook Pro (this is another league).

What about the razed blade stealth? It seems fantastic but I don't know anyone using it.

wow, the razor blade stealth looks actually incredible from first view. But... my requirement was either Linux or macOS. I don't use Windows for anything (and I'm not a gamer).

I have a W550S that is the best laptop I've ever owned... and I think I've had at least 15 laptops, two of which were Macs

Such a good timing. I've been using Macs for over ten years now, but I bought an x220 for $130 a couple of weeks ago and it's been my favorite laptop yet. Super serviceable and works so well with Ubuntu MATE. The display sucks though (didn't get the UPS version). Just go ahead!

I've been on x220T/x230T for 3 years now. These are wonderful computers!

My dream laptop:

- Remove the function keys, remove escape, and all other ancient stuff like Sys Rq and Pause / Break, remove arrow keys, remove Page Up etc. Swap the places of the trackpad and the keyboard so the keyboard is closer to me and the mouse is farther away. I use the former most of the time, and it's more ergonomical that way.

- No moving parts; have a 64GB SSD disk, a 4-8GB RAM, a decent CPU that supports virtualisation, open-source compatible hardware (i.e. run any Linux and any BSD systems on it, OpenBSD for me, especially), no cam or mic, generally no recording devices, have a decent speaker, USB ports, two jacks, one for the mic one for the earphones.

- Thin, light, 15.6"-13" in size.

- Battery that guarantees me at least 3-4 hrs of time, under load. Weight or thinness can be compromised to achieve that.

Well I guess I finally know who this was made for: http://www.theverge.com/2013/5/31/4380132/acer-aspire-r7-rev...

Thanks a lot! I'll see if it's any good in hardware and if it's possible to swap some things out if need be. I'm curious why home-row-all-the-time people weren't interested in this, as the palm-resting because of the large gap between the closer edge of the laptop and the keyboard is not really ergonomic.

> remove escape, ( ... ) remove arrow keys, remove Page Up etc.

Do you even code bro?

I run an emacs/vtwm/FreeBSD setup and I've done professional coding in the recent past and have very recently gotten two patches into GNU Emacs, though I'm a humanities undergrad nowadays.

> I run an emacs/vtwm/FreeBSD setup

Not sure what that has to do with coding, but go on

> I've done professional coding in the recent past and have very recently gotten two patches into GNU Emacs, though I'm a humanities undergrad nowadays.

Yes exactly, you don't code, that's why you think it's a good idea to remove page up/down.

I often read about happy x220 and x230 users, but the newer x240/x250/x260 are not mentioned as much. Did the build quality decline after Lenovo took over?

Keyboards after the x220 are chiclet, which is sacrilege to most ThinkPad users (me included). x240 really messed up the mouse buttons that you'd use with the TrackPoint: they're touch instead of click and poorly executed. x250 and x260 fix that problem more or less, and the keyboard on the x260 is appreciably better than the x240, but it's still chiclet.

The main draw of the ThinkPad is that it's an unparalleled input system (TrackPoint means never leaving the home row, keyboards are second to none), they're very tough, have great battery life, very serviceable, and you can get amazing deals on eBay or through outlet/refurbishing. If you go with the X series, they're also the only < 13" machines that have replaceable batteries, a full complement of ports, reasonable specs, etc. In other words, they're the perfect dev machine. The cons are pretty bad screens, thickness, and relatively poor trackpads.

X220, X230 are made by Lenovo.

If I get one, I'm installing Linux, FreeBSD, or OpenBSD on it. ME is bad enough, and I don't trust Lenovo after what they did.

I hab an x220. Such a cool machine. EBay has them for 160 euros, i might just get one as a travel system.

Was really interested in reading this until.. "ditches the Escape key for a dedicated emoji bar".

There's a model with a normal keyboard, including esc. Even features a 10% larger battery and saves $200.

It also comes with only 2 USB ports, out of which you need one for charging.

So? Generally you are either at a desk (often with a display, keyboard, and mouse), or you are traveling lighter and don't need to connect many usb devices.

So for each desk get a widget that takes a tb3/usb-c connection and connects to your mouse/monitor/keyboard.

Basically an instant dock. If you really hook up more than one device, travel light, AND need more than 10 hours a day buy a little usb hub.

I suspect over 95% of laptop use is either at a desk or requires less than 2 USB-C/tb3 ports.

Nowadays, TB2 hubs are not cheap (200-300 EUR) and I don't expect TB3 to be cheap either. Just USB3 hub does not cut it, it will be a while until you will be able to connect displays using USB3.

Even today, I'm using two TB2 ports and one USB port (i.e. three ports on the computer) because: 1 x miniDP (no, most displays are not TB2 native and cannot daisy-chain with other TB devices), 1 x ethernet adapter (the Apple one cannot daisy-chain either), and USB hub for the rest.

New (granted not quite shipping) hubs/docks sound like $100 or so. You sit down, connect the tb3/usbc cable and your mouse, keyboard, and display works. Of course your laptop is getting charged as well.

Preorder for $105 http://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2016/10/28/13453274/a...

my goto is used thinkpads—the X220 vs T420 was a tough call. Went with T420; even though X220 is a bit more portable and nicer in a few attributes, just felt the 12.5in panel not ideal for complex app UIs, whereas 14in is pretty comfortable with any work environment I can throw at it.

I really miss the ThinkLight in new Thinkpads. It's so convenient.

Why did they recommend the T400 over the T420?

Due to Intel Management Engine - basically a binary blob, that you don't know what it is doing.

T400 is Core 2 Duo machine and works without IME. T420 is i5/i7 machine and IME is a requirement and you cannot make a BIOS replacement without it.

I didn't know people felt that stongly about arbitrary binary blobs. I know this is hackaday and open hardware and all, but if im going to be worried about binary blobs im going to be worried about a ton of netsec related stuff in other boxes too. Just wonderin' who this is really biting, assuming the intended individual was also already a closed-source, secretive apple fan.

It's not an arbitrary binary blob. It's blob that's running at SMM level. A perfect place for rootkits.

There was an article the other day about a man who lets his children go on the top of his roof. He made a calculation that the probability that harm would occur was low enough to be acceptable. I do a much similar thing; will follow up with you if/when my bios gets rooted.

AFAIK it is not SMM, it is a separate CPU. IMO, the most important lesson everyone should learn however is the laptop anti-theft arms race is horrible too.

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