I run Arch Linux and the i3 window manager on mine and it's just perfect.
Easily repairable or upgrade-able by the end user, thin and light...
Lenovo has the most amazing website that tells you, step-by-step, how to fix almost every component of their products. For those that are considering one of their products, you have to check this out: https://www.lenovoservicetraining.com
Instead of 3 options for the TrackPoint nipple, there's only one, and I was a Soft Rim user.
I've had 3 different Thinkpads over the last decade and I don't recall there every being a selection of nipples in the box but they've always been removable and replaceable.
Apart from that, it's silent, usable and reliable, and still not too hard to replace some of its components. I'd consider getting other one from the T4xxs line if it broke.
I've got a T41 (I think) from the IBM time lying around. That thing is built like a tank; I wouldn't step on my T440s, but I'm reasonably convinced that old machine could take that sort of abuse. Great keyboard, but atrocious screen (like most old Thinkpads).
be careful when getting one, most that are sold online (like amazon) are "generic" or "compatible" and not the genuine panels.
One of the reasons the guy stopped selling the adapter boards was the huge proliferation of "fake" screens being sold as specific models.
It's mostly a great machine, my model has 14"-fullHD-mat / i7 / 12Gb RAM / 256Gb SSD / 512GbHDD.
The only real caveat I can think of is the clickpad (no physical mouse buttons). That was a bad, bad decision. This piece of hardware has 0% usability, and under linux you need to tweak xorg.conf in order to get sensible defaults. Next generations of T4xx got it right however, trackpads with physicals mouse buttons have made their glorious comeback. Luckily I was already used to external keyboard/mouse, so that doesn't hurt as much as it could have been.
Question for whoever inside Lenovo knows the real story: what was the rational behind that whole clickpad thing?
And then the rationale was "holy shit literally everyone who uses this hates it".
But Lenovo won't let you get a high res screen on the thicker models.
It's like they take pride in making their loyal customers being forced to decide which pointless compromises they're going to take this generation.
Once you make those easy changes, the battery life becomes excellent like you would expect and is very quiet.
I agree with you on the HiDPI screen availability. As best as I can tell, Lenovo (like everyone else) has trouble buying the panels at quantity due to yield issues and only makes them available in their most high-end laptops where people are most likely to buy them. That's probably business folks, who generally want a thin laptop.
I had my employer buy me a P50 in an attempt to get a powerful laptop with lots of RAM and a good CPU and the big screen. That turned out to be a disaster, though. It's absurdly heavy and I never could get used to the offset keyboard. I use my personal T470s exclusively now.
Wouldn't TLP take care of all that?
The T570 is available with 4k display.
(Plus no USB-C or Thunderbolt 3, just to make customers make more decisions.)
That's not really true. The T series is their defacto business laptop. They're everywhere. The s at the end is the 'slim' model which makes it closer to an ultrabook than an old school brick thinkpad. Like you wrote, its no X1, but it doesn't have the compromises the X1 has: soldered components, minimal connectors, hefty price, etc.
They're great little machines and the primary complaint is that the trackpads get redesigned every so often with some designs being duds. Lenovo has shipped a decent trackpad the past couple years so its 'safe' to buy them again.
However most other things feel worse compared to my 2015 13" MBP.
The touchpad at least supports Win10 multitouch gestures, but otherwise is not very good - I use the MBP always without a mouse, and the T470s mostly with one.
The T470s feels slower (haven't exactly compared compilation times, but I'm pretty sure it is quite a bit slower).
And maybe the worst thing: It's just not stable. I guess I had a frozen machine or bluescreen at least every two weeks. Errors partly look like memory errors, but memtest says everything is fine.
The docking station also makes problems, docking/undocking sometimes fails and my external hidpiscreen (dell 4k 27") often flickers like crazy on the docking stations displayport connector.
I don't think the stability issues are general windows 10 issues, I have windows machines which are rock solid (no issues since over years).
The docking station thing however seems to be more of a real hardware issue to me. The display dropouts are so short that it looks like some synchronization loss due to signal integrity problem.
For me this is the killer feature in a working machine. I was one of the early adopters of x220, and its fan was annoying. Everything else (aside from the trackpad) was perfect.
This is something Apple gets right. They use big fans at low revs, which are inaudible. Even Linus himself was using a MacBook Air for long time due to this reason .
Nowadays, a similarly silent machine (actually fanless) which is also quite cheap, Linux friendly and good quality is Xiaomi Mi Air 12.5 inch.
I haven't gotten around to tweaking up the power saving, though..
I don't suppose you have a dotfiles repo or something?
The display isn't great (1366x768), and video screen-splits a bit, but I love it.
True perfection comes with NixOS and XMonad, though. ;)
It's hilariously chunky though, but I don't mind.
I mostly love my T560, but really miss the good old keyboard.
Also, who decided that it would be good idea to ship "professional" device like this with F-keys set to what should have been an Fn-called functions (volume and brightness control, etc...)
Meanwhile the Retro Thinkpad, made by Lenovo, seems to be quite a disappointment by just having an old keyboard put on a new thinkpad.
I'm on a x201s since years because I honestly can't find a better machine on the market today (trackpoint, 16/10, great keyboard, matte screen with decent resolution to work, solid as rock, easy to maintain).
Anytime a friend asks me for a cheap laptop buying advice, I tell them to get a used thinkpad. Just add some RAM, SSD and battery if necessary and voila, you have a solid machine that will last you years for less than 400€ total.
I guess I got my expectations too high when Lenovo put out surveys asking about screen ratio, status led, thinklights, etc. a couple years ago.
When I bought mine early last year, I had the luck that both the XPS 13 and the Thinkpad Carbon was in store so I could test it "hands-on". While the keyboard certainly was more elaborate, had more keytravel and all, it wasn't really subjectively better than the XPS's. The display on the Carbon, though, was really a POS compared to the XPS's. I'm guessing it was the TN display; it was just awful and not something I would tolerate on a notebook for the kind of money they're asking.
I have a T420s hacked to full HD (someone else did the hacking) and frankly, it's fine to this day, six years in. Looking into the far future, it won't be enough because the 16GB RAM will limit and it would be awfully nice to have Thunderbolt 3 so that I can play the occasional game or two. I really hope Mantiz will actually succeed in launching their MXM based external GPU, would be superb.
But the disappointment is understandable. Check the word cloud on http://blog.lenovo.com/en/blog/retro-thinkpad-survey-keyboar... -- two years ago would be consumers of Lenovo (and surely past consumers too) have literally begged for a thinkpad with ... keyboard and ... screen. Now I hear on various forums from Lenovo apologists that a custom panel, status LEDs etc would've been expensive but really, if it is expensive, why not run a crowdfunding campaign to see whether there's interest? They might have been positively surprised.
But oh well. As I posted elsewhere, the keyboard winter has been upon us since 2012 and I am grateful for any little thaw. The last laptop with a usable keyboard layout was the 2011 ThinkPad generation with Sandy Bridge CPU , the last usable phone was the Droid 4. Late October this year we are getting the ThinkPad Anniversary 25 and a proper looking keyboard mod for the Moto Z. This is our last hurrah. The curtain has dropped, this is the last encore and then this era is over. I am sad, but it is what it is. I will get at least five years out of the Anniversary 25 (that's the longest warranty I can buy) but I hope for ten and if I am lucky then the Moto keyboard will last five years too. Maybe eye tracking grows up by then? Voice takes over? Let's hope.
My point of reference for what a keyboard can be is the Model M keyboard (no less!) I had the pleasure of using early to mid 90's. Compared to that experience the difference between a ThinkPad (any generation) and a good non-ThinkPad keyboard is gradual at best.
I do not see dedicated Home - End - PgUp - PgDn buttons either. It's vital. Look at my chosen desktop keyboard https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61gEPhEChqL... see something next to the arrows? Matias Ergo Pro , mounted vertically.
If you start using 2 columns the advantage of a 4:3 is less apparent in my opinion
Apple just doesn't seem to care about build quality beyond the cosmetics of their Mac lineup. A great example of this is how they have dual connections from the keyboard & trackpad to the mainboard (USB and SPI), while the UEFI and Linux have drivers to support the keyboard fully, macOS has no driver for the built-in USB connection.
What this means is when your coffee spills on your Mac, the keyboard won't work in macOS.
Louis Rossman did a video demonstrating Apple's lack of drivers for their own hardware: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geGmC1xI4zo
Well, it's complicated.
In the past mobile Macs used USB to connect the input devices like most other notebooks do. At a certain point Apple decided that it would be a good idea to switch to SPI for power consumption reasons.
Following that decision there were certain models which had wired both, e.g. the MacBook Pro 2015. While Apple switched already to use SPI there, Linux still used USB, as there was simply no driver support.
The Retina MacBook in 2015 was the first mobile Mac which didn't support USB for input devices anymore. The MacBook Pro followed in late 2016.
That left Linux without a working driver for the input devices. A year ago somebody started to reverse engineer the SPI protocol to get a working driver: https://github.com/cb22/macbook12-spi-driver/
The release of the SPI-only MacBook Pros end of last year sparked the further development of this driver, so it's slowly reaching a state were everything is just working (maybe except for advanced Touchpad features).
That driver is still not included in any major Linux distribution, as it's still pretty experimental and also required patching the Linux kernel for quite some time, because Apple does some ACPI-related stuff different than the PC-world. Thankfully support for Apples way will land in the upcoming Linux 4.14 (https://github.com/torvalds/linux/commit/53ac64aac9af8cd0e54...) making some code in the driver redundant (https://github.com/cb22/macbook12-spi-driver/pull/46).
So I would say that whole topic isn't about not to care about build quality, but about to care about power consumption. Still having USB on some generations of Macs in addition to SPI was probably simply to ease the migration by unbundling the hardware changes from the software changes.
Apple also provide firmware updates far longer than most manufacturers (there was a recent-ish CCC? talk highlighting this).
Huh? Supporting hardware with drivers is purely a software decision, its not as though software adds noteworthy weight to a device.
> Apple also provide firmware updates far longer than most manufacturers
Only for iPhones, on Mac they leave your iCloud email in in plaintext on the UEFI after the computer is wiped. For computers, expect 6 to 7 years of macOS updates at most, meanwhile Windows & Linux offer support to ancient i386 systems still.
You are probably referring to the "Find My Mac" token that's stored in the NVRAM. It's fairly easy to wipe it with one of these commands/procedures:
- sudo nvram -d fmm-mobileme-token-FMM
- sudo nvram -c # this one will wipe the entire NVRAM, use with care!
High Sierra can be installed on "Late 2009 iMacs", that right there is 8 years of security and feature updates. Those models will get security and point updates, at the very least, until the next version of macOS, for a total of 9 years (if not more, we'll see).
But writing drivers still takes engineering time and costs money. Why bother writing two different drivers for two different interfaces when they do the same thing?
Reliability and quality, the hardware is already there, why would you hamstring the product's reliability?
Go follow that link in my original post. Its a fairly common water damage issue for Macbooks where the SPI bus will be damaged, but the USB connection will be fine.
> come up with some logic that determines if one has failed and use the other instead.
Once again, go follow that link. Apple already built the logic, just instead of switching to USB, it begs you to pair a bluetooth keyboard!
Since Windows 8 the NX bit is required, making it require relatively modern CPU's, mostly x86_64, allthough a few x86 has it as well.
So for example, you can run the 32bit version of win 10 on the 32bit Core Duo (it has nx), while OSX with its 64bit requirement needs a Core 2 Duo.
Newer OSX require a graphics card of DX10 level, Windows 10 require DX9 level.
Same deal with the lack of keyboard texturing on Macs, providing a flat surface for bacteria, oils and dirt to collect on your laptop's keyboard. Other manufacturers commonly add an anti-microbial texture to their keyboards, which also wards off most of the grease you see on Mac keyboards.
Personally, I don't remember owning a battery removable Mac notebook between the PowerBook G4 to the MacBook Pro that couldn't function without a battery while plugged in.
Never seen significant puffage in the used/broken Li-Ion battery packs I've rebuilt either, so presumably that is moderately unique to Apple?
So, that's drivers, batteries, and keyboard-coatings; what's next?
Never said that battery failure was something that only occurred with Apple, just the way they fail (puffing up) was something that has happened to myself and two of my friends, meanwhile these 5+ year old battery packs from HPs and Dells that I've been pulling apart had a cell or two fail to retain a charge, but they don't significantly expand in size usually.
sudo nvram -d fmm-mobileme-token-FMM
Clean your keyboard more regularly.
Just touching an Apple keyboard gives it a slight grease, despite regular cleaning. You don't get that on other keyboards, as they are textured slightly to prevent it.
I'm nearly certain this is wrong
Similarly X220/230 will throttle to half the speed (~1GHz) when using 65W charger (instead of recommended 90W) and no/empty battery.
Edit: did some research, I will admit it is possible that newer MacBook pros with an embedded battery may not power on if it is not connected (not sure about this). But I know my 2010 15-inch MacBook Pro does power on and run without a battery connceted (I use it as a media server), and I'm pretty sure most MacBook airs would run without a battery connected as well.
I wish there were more laptops out there with the old style ThinkPad keyboard on them :(
I'm not sure what to do apart from not using the laptop keyboards (both 2013 style and 2016 style)
Mechanical solved this for me instantly.
Avoiding mechanical keyboards all my life and never got one of these typical programmer health issues.
But seriously, I never understood the craze for these clunky things. Almost all devs I know use them and most of them have issues with their arms/hands.
Other reasons people like them usually are about customizability. If you think of it as being roughly similar to how some people can be about noodling with cars, you won't be too far off-base.
- With the right firmware, they are fully customizable - you can remap things how you like, create macros, whatever, and config is stored on the board.
- You can customize the switches - there are a bewildering array of switch options. People also spend lots of time customizing switches in various ways to change how they feel.
- Layouts - keyboard nerds have produced a huge array of different layouts.
- Looks - you can buy your own keycaps. Those, too, come in a wide array of profiles and appearances. Some people make really nice boards out of metal, wood, sometimes odder things (I heard about someone trying to make cases out of Corian at one point). If you like that sort of thing, you can have them covered in blinky LEDs. There's a whole tiny art scene making keycap-sculptures that go for a ton of money, relatively speaking.
And that's before you get to the crazy stuff that leads to people paying $1k+ on a keyboard.
Really, it is like anything else - people do a lot of things as hobbies that look odd from outside.
I just wish someone would make a version of this keyboard with decent key switches for say, 90€ (the 4000 is around 36€ here).
Warning, if you end up getting this keyboard you will need to take some time to learn how to type on it due to non-standard design. I personally think it's worth it but for others that is a non-starter.
If you don't mind non-standard layouts, here are some excellent keyboards that give your thumbs more to do. :)
For people who like to hit their keys hard, I can see it being a problem. For most though, give it a week and you'll be back up to speed and won't want to trade back.
I'm currently living abroad, but ideally I'd be able to bring my Macbook Pro into the Apple store next time I'm in the States and get all the keyboard switches replaced.
Is that possible?
I had the same kind of reaction to the new keyboard (albeit nowhere near as strongly). It's great now though. The small travel, the sound of it, it's quite effortless for typing. It's definitely an improvement over the old one, in my experience.
I only care because I worry the effect the Apple RDF will have on other manufacturers. For example, I can no longer buy a mobile phone without a glued-in battery.
I think it's fair to say that typing style can be worse than the keyboard, but I also suspect that a keyboard where you "never have to even lift your fingers" causes more RSI than one that requires more activity.
I've been using my 2016 MBP TB since near its release and it's my favorite laptop keyboard I've ever used.
In my experience it just creates more hard to clean grooves for bacteria and dirt. Not exactly a challenge for microbes.
Macbooks have reached a point where they are too thin to be good notebooks.
Yes, I know the layout has changes and seems weird at first, but I honestly think it works great, after having used it for a while. And I have a T420 as my personal laptop, the last T-series with the original 7-row keyboard.
I just ordered an old X230 and plan to spruce it up and use as my home PC. Might even try to dualboot MacOS.
Are you expressing sarcasm here? Using the nub mouse is an infuriatingly frustrating exercise in trying to navigate the cursor to a point on the screen with some semblance of speed, and without overshoot. It's minimally five times slower than using a mouse.
Furthermore, middle mouse button + trackpoint scrolls as well, so scrolling really isn't an issue.
My job entails writing emails most of the day, Salesforce, and internal communication tools. I love not having to take my hands of home row. I haven't been able to quantify any speed improvement. But, I feel more focused and in the "zone" more often. Could all be my imagination. It could also be that I find ThinkPad keyboard wonderful to use too.
I do use the Adobe CC Suite for the occasional video, presentation, or mock up. No issue using the trackpoint there either.
I actually only came to it because I was so frustrated with the new Dell XPS 13 my company provided that I went and grabbed an old Lenovo out of storage.
Everyone shits on the E series, but since they got rid of the CD Drive and put the old trackpad back, they have been nice cheap pcs.
But isn't that a good thing? Why would you expect every single Apple product to suite you personally, to the point where if just one device isn't right for you, you won't even look at any of the others?
That said, when I used Lenovo Yoga for a while, I was just surprised how bad a keyboard could be. I love my Latitude.
EDIT: and I miss the TrackPoint, although with a touchscreen it doesn't matter so much.
If we had statistics on what percentages of the time macbook owners are using just the trackpad vs either keyboard or both at the same time, I suspect a large population would primarily use only the trackpad.
This is a good point and there and many people who believe it to be true. Only problem are the Lenovo executives that are not willing to provide such product (see Thinkpad Retro).
If they execute this well, they'll score a lot of points in my book!
I had (and loved) a few Thinkpads, but I wouldn't produce one if I was a Lenovo executive as well, unless I had extremely good indicators from the market. To me it seems one of those ideas that prospective clients think they'll buy, but they won't.
Realistically speaking, a 13.3" old school Thinkpad nowadays would be twice as thick (~3 cm) and weight 40/50% more than renowned competitors like a Dell XPS or a MBP. There's not much to squeeze, as the philosophy of Thinkpads was (also) to allow the user to change parts, which takes space and weight.
In such conditions, there is a serious risk that it would appeal only to a very limited audience (which is a serious business risk).
Less extreme modifications to retrofit the classic 7-row Thinkpad keyboard to a more modern T430 chassis wouldn't even rate a mention.
Keyboards are really really important but only a tiny subset, and even if the retro Thinkpad's target market all bought them, that would still dwarf corporate sales where Thinkpads are bought by the thousands, including parts and lucrative service contracts.
As an individual user who will only personally ever own a handful of Thinkpads, I'm never going to be a lucrative service contract.
I cleaned it with water a bunch of times, worked after drying. I even reflowed the motherboard after the housing got a little bit less stiff and random resets and freezes occured.
I think my sister still has it. I should get it back and hang it on the wall or something.
How does one do that? Did you do it in a professional shop, or at home? What is the tooling required? I am interested in all details.
I didn't. I love 4:3 on laptops. I wish more people would rediscover it.
I wanted 4:3, but all that was offered was 16:9 or 16:10.
 The wiki page said it's actually a 1:√2 ratio.
The bottom line: more visibility of source code.
Plus, when anything breaks, parts are cheap and plentiful. I even upgraded a T440 for my SO with a 1080p IPS screen and a few other bits, its an impressively nice machine all specced out!
Over here in Germany you unfortunately pay 100 euro for a T61 and 100-300 euro for a T420. If I could get a T440 for just 100 euro I would buy it in an instant.
How hard was it to install the LED backlight mod?
Regarding the LED? Monty, who makes the kit, is an awesome dude and great resource. I emailed with him regarding installation and he quickly responded. Installation should not be for someone without a history of taking these machines apart. You must have the willingness to dig a little deeper than a RAM install, as you are disassembling the screen bezel and making permanent cuts into the plastic and on an expensive x62 prebuilt, this took serious consideration.
The cuts are easy, and the disassembly is easy. no soldering or real issues I can remember, other than having to do it twice because of dust. Do the whole thing in a clean area without a rug, vacuum everything around first.
I highly recommend the kit. Brightness is on par with brand new machines. Just shield your eyes from the LED kit turning out before it's in the screen. SOO BRIGHT
There are suppliers who will sell refurbished Thinkpads with Libreboot pre-installed at relatively decent prices.
I'll probably keep running this until / if I (a) roll my own, or (b) Lenovo releases their much-anticipated retro ThinkPad.
I want something small with a nice keyboard and durable enough I can throw it in a bag without worry but I just can't seem to find anything better than my current X61 which is getting a little tired.
I'd be interested in going even smaller but netbooks don't seem to be a thing anymore.
Have a look at the gemini palmtop for a potential future arm linux machine.
I have gone trough several newer computers and still lean towards the x220. I actually think the keyboard on the x220 is better... bigger delete key and esc keys.. not backlit but has the night light thingy.
Yeah I miss the 4x3 screen....
Wish it had higher res screen, was a bit thinner and maybe an updated chip set... But
X62 with i5 - 780 USD
X62 with i7-5500U - 980USD
both setups no:ram/hdd/battery , new AFFS panel (1400x1050)
I will better consider buying a new Thinkpad or wait for the retro edition
ps: AMD announced their laptop ryzen based CPUs, I hope nb51 try one board with it.
There are mods that allow installation of an FHD display.
I did the FHD mod on my X230 a while ago and can say it makes a world of difference. Well worth the effort of disassembling most of the machine and soldering the mod.
The 51nb folks have also made some other amazing mods like the X320/X330, an X220/230 fitted with a 13" panel: https://imgur.com/a/0m3a1
I have an X60 with slackware on that just runs and runs and runs. It is the screen that I find the limiting factor as OA mentioned. I might summon up the confidence to have a go at the LED backlight hack...
I'm on my 3rd Thinkpad now and always fight with the screen being too bright. My xbacklight setting is usually around 10%.
1) you have a non x200
2) there were different models and I got the shittiest panel
3) my panel is broken
4) you're a cat
The x260, for instance, can have a 300:1 contrast ratio, 200 candelas screen, or a 700/1, 300 candelas screen.
 Would "model" be the right term then?
I love old-ish laptops, but how is that Core 2 Duo holding up? No touchpad, 1200x800 screen... What do you do with it, if it's not much to ask? I'm truly curious.
I think the only non-Apple display in a laptop I've really enjoyed is the 4k one in my Dell (heavy as all but plays games).
I think might next upgrade might have to be the x62
Great formulation and easy enough to remember, but... is truth ever kind?