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IBM Portables

Change the ThinkPad and It Will Die 347

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

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @06:38PM (#42525113)

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

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

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

    • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @06:53PM (#42525293)

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

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

      • by Cryacin ( 657549 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @07:05PM (#42525395)

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

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

        • 3D printing won't likely be able to do complex circuit boards for some time... if you look at say the bridge/motherboards for handheld devices as an example.. you're talking too fine of a size to really just slap together a concept... unless you want your concept handheld to be 1.5" or thicker... which will be hard to sell the point they are "demo" ... There are already efforts in place to create life size mock ups that are 3D printed.. but for a phone or other handheld device, a working example just couldn
        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          It's fantastic for prototypes, short runs and special projects but doesn't scale. I knew this in 2002 when I got to see 3d printing then and the problems of scaling up are still with us.
          Where it has potential is in making things that are not currently possible with existing techniques (eg. huge advances with biological materials - even nerve cells), but things like laptop shells are cheaper and easier to make in other ways.
        • Redesigning even a small custom piece of plastic has a huge pipeline to get it designed, prototyped, final mold made, tooled, and built.

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

          People in the sex toy industry are thinking the EXACT same thing!

        • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

          Well... 3D printers have been used for a while for this sort of thing already. On one project I worked on that used them for prototypes, the cost for a few prototypes of a STB remote control was something like $5000 per unit. In the end the fit wasn't that great, and it was a lot more fragile than the final product (which means there's no way you give it to customers for real world use - just for flashy demos ;) Of course the printed part was just covered the plastic case, not any of the electronics ins

      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        "making custom batches of 100 laptops would be insanely expensive."

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

        They tend not to do that, because the downside is that details inevitably get out to the competition. Still, I believe the benef
      • While this is true its also true that the Apple method of "We tell you what you want, you don't tell us" really only works with high end boutique brands like Apple, Nike Air Jordans, Prada, and the like. For companies like Lenovo (and MSFT but that won't happen as long as the sweaty retard is in the big chair) they can greatly benefit from listening to their customers and giving them what they want. After all you want brand loyalty and giving the customer what they really desire breeds loyalty.

        I have seen

        • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

          I completely agree - and "the customer is always right" is an adage that's been around as long as there have been customers. Would be nice if more companies heeded to it, but plenty do any they don't need "trendy models" like Agile to do it...

          Though when you think about it... one of the biggest tenets of Agile is "iterative design" - which means get a solid base set of features and then add new ones as customers use the product and figure out what else they want. If you think of it that way, Apple may be

    • by plover ( 150551 )

      Part of the problem is that they have to spend the entire research budget to bring a new device to the market. Agile works for software development because software is infinitely malleable, and that any mistakes can be discovered fast and fixed for a fairly low cost. Hardware development requires you to do 100% of the engineering to make the machine small, thin, strong, long life, fast, capable, etc., and then to manufacture them. Development costs are generally recouped only after many thousands of unit

    • by jlehtira ( 655619 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @07:10PM (#42525459) Journal

      Listening to the constant feedback from users was the problem.

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 )

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

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

        That's pretty much it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by canistel ( 1103079 )
      What is it and North Americans claiming RIM is dead? What a bunch of blind people... RIM is only hurting in North America, in many other markets they are on the top or close enough. They still make money every quarter and are a in transition phase. Nobody is claiming RIM doesn't have an issue or two to work out, but to close your eyes to the rest of the world and blabber like you have any clue what is going on just shows how little you know...
    • Meanwhile, the reality of Lenovo on customer design feedback is suck it up, we'll tell you what you want [lenovo.com] It's all the arrogance of Apple without any taste!

  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @06:43PM (#42525161)

    I love technology.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Rant off.

    • by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @06:45PM (#42525187) Homepage

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

      • by geek ( 5680 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @07:07PM (#42525425)

        Though Apple is exceptionally good at balancing nice and cost.

        No, Foxconn is. Sweatshops tend to do that.

        • by erice ( 13380 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @07:24PM (#42525595) Homepage

          Though Apple is exceptionally good at balancing nice and cost.

          No, Foxconn is. Sweatshops tend to do that.

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

        • by Nixoloco ( 675549 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @07:47PM (#42525827)

          Though Apple is exceptionally good at balancing nice and cost.

          No, Foxconn is. Sweatshops tend to do that.

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

      • by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @07:37PM (#42525717) Homepage
        Not true, I want a cheap piece of plastic that computes fast. Provided a reasonable keyboard and display. These pieces of plastic are used to be changed every 24 months anyway. I was a Thinkpad customer for a long time, it ended up abruptly two years ago when Lenovo managed very bad an important problem with the nVidia chip on its T61p line of products. I did buy these because they were the top end product at that time. I did buy Thinkpad instead of another brand because of the high quality I got in the past and the service. Lenovo just managed to replace the laptops likely to fail before the end of the warranty and made a recall for these serial numbers only. Many of us did have our lovely T61p just die not long after our warranty expired and we were told by Lenovo to go to hell (not in these terms of course) our warranty is expired and they won't do anything for us. Then I started to see if I could buy a replacement board and in Canada they charged over 1500$ for a replacement board while you can buy yourself a new machine for that price. I then decided to drop Lenovo once and forever. Since that time, I am committed to buy cheap pieces of plastic that computes fast instead.
        • In good hands, the "cheap piece of plastic" can be made to last. My mother just retired her Dell laptop... it was an Inspiron 1525 that she bought in 2008, and the main reason for replacing it was that the hard drive was failing. The system itself is fine, and with a replacement hard drive it could be convinced to last another few years, but she saw my ultraportable and decided she wanted a new one while she could still get Windows 7 on it.

          $500 once every 5 years is good economy, IMO. It puts the laptop in

    • You can keep your Apple products if you like getting something twice as good for only 4 times the price. For a device I may only use 1-2 years, I don't need it to be rugged, beautiful, sexy, or magical. I need it to be functional and inexpensive.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @07:00PM (#42525345) Journal

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

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

    • by ifiwereasculptor ( 1870574 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @07:05PM (#42525389)

      Rant off.

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

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

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

      • Case in point:

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

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

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by raydobbs ( 99133 )

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

      • by glwtta ( 532858 )
        Is English not your primary language, or are you being difficult on purpose?

        When people use 'feels' in this context they mean 'produces a tactile sensation'. We are concerned with this because that's the best way to determine the build quality of a product.

        The devices mentioned feel (again, words can be tricky, try to follow along here) like cheap pieces of shit, because they are cheap pieces of shit - purposefully built to fall apart withing 1-2 years.

        Physically examining something is pretty much
      • by Guppy ( 12314 )

        I'll take you up on that offer. Why are people so concerned with how things "feel"?

        Since we began by talking about Thinkpads, let me bring up a case in point -- the Thinkpad keyboard found on their older models. As a tactile input device, the "feel" of a keyboard is tantamount to its quality.

        Which leads to the second part: it doesn't "feel plasticky", nor does it "feel cheap". It is plasticky and you think it's cheap because you have equated plastic to inferiority. Which isn't necessarily true

        My Thinkpad x201t has a plastic keyboard. So does the HP Touchsmart it replaced.

        Despite the similarity in materials, I have no qualms about describing the HP keyboard as a cheap plastic piece of shit -- nor do I have any worries that the wording of this phrase might automatically casts aspersions on

    • I dunno about that, although I suppose 'feels' is fairly subjective. We use Thinkpads at work...probably newer models, I don't know, mine's a T400...but it definitely feels like a cheap piece of shit to me. I know from the travel I've done with it already that it's fairly sturdy...but it _feels_ far inferior to my newer personal laptop, which is an HP dv6t (though about on par with my old Dell -- which was from their business line, a Vostro 1000.) If I squeeze my HP, it's fairly solid; if I squeeze the Thin

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

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

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

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

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

      Although I do agree that the older series Laptops, (anything R61 and earlier), were a hell of a lo

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

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

  • Yes, it will die (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @06:44PM (#42525173)
    I've had couple of generations, and our current model for my wife's use is an X301. We love its industrial ruggedness (for a non-ruggedized machine) and its very light weight for its size.

    But, I've owned Toshibas, Dells, and a Gateway, so I'm not opposed to other brands. When we bought the X301 it came with a free Ideapad S10-2, which is what I have on-hand as a quick-availability machine in the living room. Build Thinkpads like the Ideapads and you'll lose us as a customer. Even though the X301 was very expensive ($1700 if memory serves) I'd still rather buy quality an reliability in a package that looks businesslike and doesn't scream, "steal me!" over most of the stuff out there. If that paradigm changes, I don't need to keep buying.
    • The last good Thinkpad was the T6x series.

    • I never thought about the fact that Thinkpads don't scream "steal me!" until my ex-girlfriend's apartment was burglarized about 5 years ago. The idiot thief took a cheap, shiny looking Acer laptop and left behind two X-series Thinkpads that were sitting out in the open on a coffee table.
    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      Ah, the X301. Love mine. It was pretty expensive, but not THAT much more than anything else of comparable quality and specs when they brought it out.

      Never had the slightest issue with it.

  • I like them (Score:2, Insightful)

    by XaXXon ( 202882 )

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward

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

  • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @06:51PM (#42525261)

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

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

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

  • by tapspace ( 2368622 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @06:52PM (#42525279)

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

    • by ice3 ( 1305003 )

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

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

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

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

      • I beg to differ. I'm typing this on a T520, which is by far the best laptop I've ever owned. Doesn't make any noise whatsoever (configured it with the i3 and integrated graphics only for this reason), the FullHD display is awesome (color reproduction, viewing angles, brightness), the battery lasts 12+ hours (when I arrive at home after a 10 hour day it's usually got 30-40% left) and the keyboard is fantastic. Oh and it takes a beating like a champ...

        Yes, there are some weak points (the speakers, the creaky

    • by __aajfby9338 ( 725054 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @07:07PM (#42525429)
      I've had two T410s at work. I have not been impressed with their quality. Both have wavy, warped case plastic in spots. Both have audible digital hash in the audio at times. One has a docking port that is too unreliable to be usable. I haven't had much experience with pre-Lenovo ThinkPads, but the Lenovo ones I've used do not strike me as having any better build quality than other brands of laptops. They certainly don't hold a candle to my MacBook Air in that area.
  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @06:52PM (#42525285) Homepage

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

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

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


    • by tibit ( 1762298 )

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

    • by asavage ( 548758 )
      I have had the same experience. They might have some new options that are different but they still have classic Thinkpads. I bought a W520 about 15 months ago and still love it. It is totally solid. 4 slots for RAM (4x8GB possible). mSATA slot so I can use a solid state drive and keep the 2.5" hard drive. Actually high resolution 1920x1080 or 1600x900. The video cards are Nvidia Quadro 3d workstation video cards but still way more powerful than the average laptop video cards and powerful enough to pl
  • by stemarcoh ( 2110284 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @06:55PM (#42525313)
    Lenovo was one of the few vendors to retain the standard 2x3 key configuration for the Insert/Delete/Home/End/PgUp/PgDn keys. This made it very easy to feel your way to these keys rather than a very unhelpful linear layout. It seems the newer models no longer retain this intuitive and most basic configuration. That was enough to hold my attention in the past even if it meant less CPU or other features that, in the end, don't matter that much to 95% of users (please don't yell at me, I know there are plenty who want the fastest, biggest, etc) But now, I can get any old laptop. They're all the same.
  • T60 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @07:07PM (#42525433)

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

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

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

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

    Which is the same thing Microsoft did chasing Apple, most recently trashing the Windows brand by turning Windows 8 into a tablet clone. It was enough to spook consumers to say 'well why don't I just get a tablet anyway' and Windows developers to wonder since the captain was getting into the lifeboat perhaps they should be doing the same thing? You attract c
  • They can have a new line of faddish skinny machines with chicklet keys.

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

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

  • by pesho ( 843750 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @07:24PM (#42525589)

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

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

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

    3. Have 16GB of RAM.

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

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

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

  • by LaughingRadish ( 2694765 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @07:29PM (#42525651) Journal

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

  • It's planned obsolesence vs. company planning.

    Business customers with a large PC/Laptop fleet don't really want things to change, because it breaks compatibility and spare parts availability, and change costs money -- especially change that they didn't really need, and hadn't planned on paying for.

    This isn't what the manufacturers want, however; they want to sell kit, and a good way to do that is to have a customer base they believe is loyal, and render their products obsolete on a regular basis. The change doesn't have to be better, just different. Different enough to be incompatible with the current generation. Oh, and wrap up support of the old gear as soon as you can, so the customers have to change over their fleet.

    I've noticed this happening during a gig certifying store systems for a major retailer. Really pisses off the retailers, too (beware the irony).

  • Got one recently, and it is truly awful. Screen, buttons, optical drive, cooling fan, drivers, usb ports, brightness controls, wifi, battery, you name it, it has a problem. Resume from sleep and brightness controls are broken. Reboot and wifi is missing. Totally power off and restart, usb port rejects the mouse. Fan pulses up and down every 2 seconds. Suddenly can't read the battery, and it will soon emergency shut down, unless rebooting to fix that asap. Optical drive randomly pops open occasionally

  • by Duncan J Murray ( 1678632 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @08:11PM (#42526035) Homepage

    I used my Thinkpad T40 as my main computing device for a solid 9 years prior to dropping it shearing off the hinge last month (although it still actually works!). Part of the reason for its longevity is the modular design - everything is easily swappable - allowing me to replace the fan at 5 years for about 30GBP with just a small screwdriver. Upgrading the RAM, hard-drive, optical drive etc was even easier often not requiring any tools.

    I paid 1500GBP back when I bought it, and at the time many colleagues paid around 850GBP for the cheapest piece of plastic on the laptop market, which would inevitably overheat and break after 1 year, just after warranty. People thought I was wasting money at the time, but since then I've had 9 uninterrupted years of computing pleasure, typed on a unrivaled laptop keyboard, in a nice thin and light design, which still doesn't show it's age. My friends have been through 3 even 4 cheap laptops in this time, spending at least double in total, and having the inconsistency and annoyance of having to replace it 3 or 4 times.

    I've replaced my T40 with a 14inch T60p that doesn't seem to have been used, but it's concerning that the more recent models are showing trends towards less modularity (i.e the X carbon) and possibly also to less quality. I'm not against change - and the Thinkpad series has gone through a lot of experiment and change since it's inception - the cheaper i-series and G-series, the butterfly keyboard, various tablet type forms. When they started out they were sleek, black and boxy - I think that modern finishing techniques can bring those design features into this decade. But they can't compromise on the quality or modularity to achieve that, or else they will quickly lose their cachet.

  • by glwtta ( 532858 ) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @08:27PM (#42526187) Homepage
    I don't know who the hell decided that the only acceptable expression of "sexy" is 'round corners and shiny surfaces', but I hate that guy. Has made shopping for electronics a lot harder, unless you're super into stuff that looks like Apple made it, obviously.

    That and motherfucking glossy, reflective as fuck screens - I can't imagine how anyone thought that abomination was a good idea. Seriously, what the fuck?
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @09:22AM (#42530919) Homepage Journal

    Lenovo has ZERO to do with IBM now and that's the way it's been for YEARS. IBM doesn't make Lenovo or own any remaining Lenovo stock. IBM no longer owns the Thinkpad name or brand.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson