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The ThinkPad Takes On The MacBook Air 433

An anonymous reader writes "Walt Mossberg has an early look at the ThinkPad X300, Lenovo's answer to the MacBook Air. He says the ThinkPad is almost as skinny and light as the Air, but has many of the ports and features lacking on Apple's machine. The biggest downside: it costs much more and will be limited to a paltry 64 gigabytes of storage. 'Unlike the Apple, which can be ordered with a higher-capacity, lower-priced hard disk, the new ThinkPad will only be available with the expensive, limited capacity solid-state drive. So it will start at between $2,500 and $2,800-up to $1,000 more than the Apple's base price.'"
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The ThinkPad Takes On The MacBook Air

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  • Square is Sexy. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by FatSean ( 18753 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @09:43AM (#22419082) Homepage Journal
    Boxy is Beautiful. If you want over-styled machines with a sluggish UI, be my guest. I prefer more a more clean and less cluttered experience.
  • Critics! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iknownuttin ( 1099999 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @09:44AM (#22419092)
    But, unlike the Apple, Lenovo's new skinny ThinkPad comes with a hefty complement of ports and features, some of the very things critics complained Apple left out.

    Maybe, Apple knows what its customers want and builds their machines for what most of their customers and not for the critics? And, well looky there, you can configure the machine to include those features. [] Why does everything have to be built in? And the Thnkpad is making compromises to have those things built in. God!

    Not that I'm a fanboy or anything, it's just that these tech "journalists" piss me off sometimes.

  • by Calinous ( 985536 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @09:44AM (#22419102)
    Like every old Apple design which is now tacky and dated...
  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @09:51AM (#22419172) Homepage
    Ars only tests the speed of those.
    They don't test how much physical abuse the SSHD can take compared to the HDD.
    Which is basically the main reason for wanting SSHD; making sure data survives.
  • by ( 913902 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <srekcik>> on Thursday February 14, 2008 @09:51AM (#22419182) Homepage
    Case [] in [] point. []
  • by Lally Singh ( 3427 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @09:58AM (#22419252) Journal
    There's a certain price range for a laptop of certain build quality. I can't speak to the current Lenovos --- haven't used them. But, I remember some of the older ones being built like tanks. I'd put their build quality up there as high as the old HP calculators.

    The Pro line of apple laptops has been about the same, too (that's what I use). I wouldn't dream of taking the sub-$1000 boxes around with me all day. On the PC line, it'd be a good thinkpad or a well-built toshiba.

    Maybe I'm just old and prejudiced on this. The cheap laptops I've seen out of dell make me afraid to relax my hands on them: they'd literally creak.

    But, that all does really depend on how you use the machine. If it's mostly a desktop, I'm sure that the ~$500 boxes are fine for daily use.
  • Complaints: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by r_jensen11 ( 598210 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:01AM (#22419284)
    Regarding the product:
    The thing has a 13" screen and weighs more than 3 pounds. What niche is this trying to target? Other members of the X-series have 12.1" screens, and one of those has a beginning weight of 2.8lbs. I'd imagine the extra inch of screen would be more of an issue than the half-pound, but still.

    Must purchase an OEM copy of either XP or Vista. R and T Series Thinkpads are being sold with the option of SuSE Enterprise Desktop 10, so why not the X Series?

    Regarding the article:

    ... and will be limited to a paltry 64 gigabytes of storage.
    I'm sorry, but for the applications these laptops are going to be serving, 64GB of internal storage should be plenty. If not, well, there are plenty of external storage needs, whether NAS, thumb/pen drives, or full-fledged external hard drives (which one can choose a "portable" version or a not-so-portable version.)

    No mention of a possible entry in the Reserve Series (and with the base price for the "standard" X300, who wouldn't want to pay $5,000 for a laptop!?)
  • by darjen ( 879890 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:09AM (#22419370)
    I am a complete Thinkpad convert after using them for work exclusively for a year and a half. I used to think Thinkpad's design was ugly myself, but they really grew on me. My personal Asus notebook has pretty glossy coating which is very worn now, and looks like crap. The Thinkpads look much less worn after years of use.
  • Re:Critics! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:11AM (#22419400)
    Why does everything have to be built in?

    On an ultra-portable? Hmm... let me think...
  • by DragonHawk ( 21256 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:12AM (#22419418) Homepage Journal

    And, well looky there, you can configure the machine to include those features.

    I think you mean "you can configure the box the machine ships in to include those features". Because all those devices are external to the machine.

    Generally speaking, it's safe to assume that anyone wanting a super-mobile computer like an Air or this ThinkPad doesn't want to have wires and dongles they have to carry in their bag and/or hanging off the computer. I know with the Dell's we buy at work, the fact that the Latitude D400 series super-mobile only has an external optical drive is often a deal-breaker for the users. They'd rather a bigger/heavier unit that includes everything in one piece.
  • by dekemoose ( 699264 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:13AM (#22419432)
    Oh for mod points! Nothing is more beautiful in my eyes than a machine which does it's job well day after day. It's simple, it's rugged, it's the best laptop series that was ever produced. This all goes for the IBM ThinkPad line as I have not had an actual Lenovo machine yet, hopefully they haven't mucked it up.
  • by slaker ( 53818 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:13AM (#22419442)
    There is no such thing as a well built Toshiba. There probably were some 10 or 15 years ago, but Toshiba is a company that, like Sony, trades on its name in place of any actual quality. Not that I'm bitter about the shitty laptops I have to support.
    However, speaking to the quality of current Thinkpads... my cat managed to knock my T61 off my desk a couple weeks ago. It fell four feet or so on to a hardwood floor.
    There's a ding on the floor. My Thinkpad is fine.

  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:21AM (#22419534) Journal
    They're solid, performance, business laptops, not balance-on-your-knee make-a-home-video mac commercial laptops.

    Maybe your business doesn't involve travel, but balance-on-your-knee usability is precisely what many of us demand of a business laptop. And, even more so, balance-on-your-coach-section-tray-table usability, where Macs particularly shine over the space-inefficient lid hinges on Thinkpads. (At least the older Thinkpads I've worked with. I have no idea about this model.)

  • Re:Square is Sexy. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:28AM (#22419598) Homepage Journal

    Boxy is Beautiful. If you want over-styled machines with a sluggish UI, be my guest. I prefer more a more clean and less cluttered experience.
    Yeah but we're not talking about Vista here, we're talking about Mac OS? ;)

    I have a Macbook Pro and the interface for MacOS is much cleaner than XP and Vista. I have a dual boot into XP Pro for happier integration into the domain at work, but at home I'm starting to use Mac OS more and more. I like having a proper UNIX derived terminal, and it's great for stuff like watching movies as I can get from being powered down, to the desktop far quicker in MacOS. When it comes to actually viewing media, frontrow is a much more pleasant experience than Windows Media Player - not saying much really, but it is a good interface, especially when combined with the little remote that you get with Macbooks. If you're wondering why I don't just use my DVD player it's because it's set to the UK region code, and the anime that I'm mostly watching at the moment is region-whateverthehecktheUScodeis :p

    I agree that boxy is beautiful when it comes to stuff like car design (old Audis, old Toyota MR2, and the Mistubishi Lancer Evo VI come to mind), but not so much for gadgets.
  • by eldepeche ( 854916 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:32AM (#22419630)
    No wireless, less space than a Nomad.

    When are you guys going to realize that most people care about more than a spec sheet? I think the Air sucks too, but it's for wealthy non-technical people to check their e-mail on the couch. If it was for real work, then they would have put a better battery in it, and it would have been heavier and bigger, and then it would just be a really expensive MacBook.
  • Re:Critics! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Calinous ( 985536 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @10:50AM (#22419852)
    (extra current, not extra voltage)
          Different devices for different people
  • by Spokehedz ( 599285 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:21AM (#22420286)
    ThinkPads have always been 'business class' machines. Or, what they really are, 'VP Class Machines' which means...

    You can throw them in a bag (from being turned on all night working on a presentation) and then check them into your baggage, have the baggage claim people beat the snot out of them, you drag your computer on the ground with some actually luggable luggage and bash them into the back of a cab, up 14 flights of stairs banging it on each step on the way, then throw it down on the expensive mahogany table and open it up and...

    The damn thing still works.

    IBM doesn't make the most cutting edge stuff. They make the most cost-effective, durable, laptops out there. I don't care about that so-called 'rugged' PC from Toshiba. No VP is going to take that ugly pile to a conference. But an IBM with it's matte black exterior and classic looks, not to mention it matches their suit, they will pick over and over again.

    I have used the new T61 laptops as well--and besides being as heavy as a brick--they are quite the little powerhouses. Ubuntu runs on them just dandy, all the hardware detected upon install.

    Your Air? Yeah. It looks pretty, but I guarantee that thing will break within a day of giving it to a VP. It would maybe last 15 seconds going through ATL on the way to ORD through CLE. The design of the Air--to me--just screams cheap and flimsy. Pretty, but flimsy.
  • by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:35AM (#22420462)

    Nothing is more beautiful in my eyes than a machine which does it's job well day after day. It's simple, it's rugged, it's the best laptop series that was ever produced.
    You bring up a good point: is this ultra-thin ThinkPad still as rugged and indestructible as its lumpier relatives?
  • Let's review (Score:1, Insightful)

    by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @11:39AM (#22420524) Homepage Journal
    It's heavier and bigger. It costs more and it wraps up more features whether you like them or not. That's IBM/Lenovo in spades.

    Why is a removable battery such a big deal? It's really only the corporate owners who keep laptops for 4 years or more; THEN a replaceable battery is a big deal. But ordinary users are more likely to replace (or break) their machines in 4 years. Though to be fair, this is actually the complaint I have with the iTouch: either make the battery replaceable OR make the case waterproof. Not NEITHER, please.

    A problem I have with IBM/Lenovo (And this post is being written on a corporate owned 4 year old T40) is that they have an obsessive need to crank out hundreds of subvariant models. And as a result there's an endless flood of patches, fixes, firmware updates, BIOS updates and on and on and on. Moreover IBM/Lenovo seems to have a poor track record with ALL of their X model TP's - they announce them to great fanfare and then for no clear reason discontinue them soon thereafter. The X21 was a nice albeit low powered micro laptop that IBM rolled out then, since corporate America didn't buy it, they pulled the plug and left that segment of the market. Will this happen again? Or will it become yet another orphan?

    Clearly - since this is a THINKPAD brand and NOT a Lenovo brand the intended market is corporate America, AND given the price it's going to be targeted at executives who want bragging rights in business class. People who user their machines as glorified Blackberries and DVD players.

    Ergo, the built in DVD player.

    So even though I've used nothing but Thinkpads since 1996, I have to say I'm a little underwhelmed by this one.
  • by rbanffy ( 584143 ) on Thursday February 14, 2008 @01:02PM (#22421872) Homepage Journal
    Granpa... What is a floppy disk?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14, 2008 @01:58PM (#22422866)
    people who value their things usually take better care of their things
  • Shh, you'll ruin a Mossberg hatchet job! You're not supposed to notice he compares the price of the hard-drive Air to the SSD Thinkpad. You're not supposed to notice the SSD Air is more expensive than the SSD Thinkpad. You're not supposed to notice the "paltry 64GB of storage" on the SSD Thinkpad is the same "paltry 64GB of storage" on the SSD Air. You're not supposed to notice that an 80GB HDD on a laptop as your "big storage" option is also pretty paltry, especially when it's a 4200 RPM PATA drive (yes, I realize there are benefits to that, but not as far as Mossberg mentions in his hatchet job).

    Shhh... everyone will know. We can't have that!

  • by Saint Fnordius ( 456567 ) on Friday February 15, 2008 @05:33AM (#22432084) Homepage Journal
    No offense taken. ;)

    Why workflow? Well, because in a job like mine (web and print design), you work on sets of processes in a team. Pictures are developed by one, programming by another, writing and copy editing by a third, and so on. Lots of little processes that often mean having 4 or 5 apps open at the same time, and flipping back and forth, and having to keep the hand-offs in mind.

    That's the real advantage of the Mac for many of us: it reduces the time spent in menus and dialog boxes. For a longer process, this savings of a few seconds may not seem important, but when you're doing it about once a minute, it all adds up. Even the Fitt's Law factor of whether the menu bar is on top of the screen or the window plays a role when you have to access formatting commands more often.

    But ultimately, the term "workflow" is older than computers. It's all about the connection of processes, how the work moves from beginning to finished product. Assembly lines are static workflows, where the work flows in a channel. Jobs like mine are more fluid and open, with currents and eddies and so on.

    But the biggest reason for "workflow"? It's a known term that's shorter than "interplay of individual tasks in the job". ;)

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