back to article Take notebooks: About those new Thinkpads...

For some professionals and enterprises there's only one name in laptops: Thinkpad, and there are hardcore Register writers who will agree. Now Lenovo has given three key business lines – the T, X and L series – their first major overhaul in four years. But there's good news and bad for traditionalists. The good news: both the …

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SD card slots are replaced by microSD card slots

You can understand the thinking but Micro SD cards are very fiddly and easy to drop. Which is probably why cameras still use them.

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I have seen SD cards which have micro SD cards inside them so that could work but I imagine it would be both fiddly and slow in transfering data (at least when it's camera -> SD -> micro SD).

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Anonymous Coward

Many pro camera still use some variant of CF cards. They could be faster, but are also less difficult to handle, and to mark to tell which one is. You may have several, and don't want to use (and maybe format) the wrong one.

microSD are mostly OK as storage expansions you rarely remove, in small devices. Using microSD -> SD adapters is not what a pro would like to mess around.

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No difference in data transfer speeds, the SD caddy is purely cabling making the pins of the micro SD card bigger, no additional electronics involved. Now finding the micro card, finding the caddy, putting them together putting in camera, taking photos, taking out micro card on the third attempt, dropping it, finding it again and putting in laptop is likely to take much more time.

Probably better just to give up and just stick a USB cable in the side of the camera.

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I thought CF cards were dead until I recently changed camera to a Canon 7D2 - now I can't imagine buggering about with SD again (even though the camera has a slot this format), let alone microSD.

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All my cameras have full size SD slots but I don't think I've ever used any thing but micro SD in them. Agreed, micro SD is pretty fiddly but it's easy enough to keep them in the adapter. If I needed to do regular transfers in the field and only had a micro slot I'd probably just use a USB adapter.

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Anonymous Coward

The only issue with CF cards is they are not backward and forward compatible. You can't use a CF into a CFast or CFexpress slot, and viceversa.

That's because CF connectors, unlike SD, basically mirror the underlying media interface technology - PATA, SATA and PCIe/NVMe. So you need a different reader for each of them - on a laptop a single SD reader can access different SD versions, even if it means lower speeds.

I have a CF/SD camera too - but I use the SD only as an overflow or image backup card.

Anyway, on Canon dual slot cameras, the SD interface is usually not one of the last and fast ones, so it's slower than the CF.

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Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse with the introduction of that shitty chiclet keyboard, they decide to weld the battery in to the laptop.

My T500 will just have to keep on keeping on. There's no alternative to the T500 (circa 2010/2011 edition) in terms of robustness, reliability, and typing pleasure.

EDIT: Just checked and my T500 was built in 2008, and was already second hand when I bought it in 2012.

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FAIL

How they gonna make a fixed battery last the 10-20 years we all expect a Thinkpad to last ?

ps. Typed on my IBM model-M keyboard.

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"How they gonna make a fixed battery last the 10-20 years we all expect a Thinkpad to last ?"

Maybe they're trying to tell you something.

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Happy

@Bob Dunlop

Bob,

I'm with you in spirit there fellow commentard, I have an Apple Ergonomic [ADB] keyboard plugged into my win 10 Lenovo E570 (which I refuse to call a 'ThinkPad' because it isn't).

They literally don't make keyboards like these anymore, the current version of the Apple ergo keyboard i have at home is 21 years old...

Cheers matey.

Jay

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FAIL

Battery life of two years?

Since the battery is going to be pretty bad after 2 years or 300 charging cycles, you'll need a new one. I'm typing this on a 2015 Dell XPS13 with a built-in battery that has only 0.4 of its designed new capacity. It also has a built-in battery.

Since it is hard to replace Lenovo has learned from Apple and is hoping you buy a new laptop to replace the worn-out battery.

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Re: Battery life of two years?

"Since it is hard to replace Lenovo has learned from Apple and is hoping you buy a new laptop to replace the worn-out battery."

Slight difference. Unless you choose to jump platform you have to replace an Apple with an Apple however pissed off you might be with their tricks. If Lenovo piss you off with theirs you can go elsewhere unless everyone else goes down the same route.

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Next time, Dell

The last time I bought a Lenovo, they left out the caps lock LED. And the model before that was so full of crapware that I couldn't load a development environment. The last time I used Dell, they included the Windows disk, and then I could load Windows without the crapware.

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Re: Next time, Dell

Who needs a LED indicator for the caps lock key, when they put a black square, some 80 pixels wide, in the bottom right corner of the screen that remains visible THE WHOLE TIME caps is on, obscuring whatever is behind it.

Really can't understand what brain-dead decision making process gave us that.

Oh, and Lenovo has the Fn key in the left corner of the keyboard, where the Ctrl key *should* be. The position of the Fn key is, no kidding, one of the main thing is take into account while looking for laptops.

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Re: Next time, Dell

Just bought a Thinkpad P71 for xmas, all that was on it besides the standard windows OS and Office items were some Lenovo apps for support and overclocking.

They stopped adding the crap, too many people complained.

They no longer need to include the OS DVD, you simply download it from M$.

I put Linux on it anyway, have to say that as far as PC laptops go it's pretty decent.

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FAIL

...left out the caps lock LED...

What is that caps lock you are talking about? I don't have such a function on my Windows or Linux computers.

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Re: Next time, Dell

Oh, and Lenovo has the Fn key in the left corner of the keyboard, where the Ctrl key *should* be. The position of the Fn key is, no kidding, one of the main thing is take into account while looking for laptops.

You can -- at least on my 18-month-old T460p -- swap those around in the "BIOS" (aka UEFI firmware) setup.

What's really stupid, though, is that the Ctrl and Fn keys are different sizes so you can't swap the keytops around to remind yourself that you've done so.

Sigh.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Next time, Dell

To hide the crypto-mining s/w notice?

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Re: Next time, Dell

I've used perhaps a dozen Dell models (all employer-supplied) over the past couple decades, and every single one has had some glaring design flaw.

The Latitude E6540 I'm using right now suffer from a couple of them:

  • Annoying: The machine has a key sequence, Fn-Alt-B, which (when enabled in the BIOS) turns off all the lights. Screen backlighting, keyboard backlighting, activity lights, power lights... everything. It's very nice when I'm staying in a hotel room and I want to leave the beast on overnight, but don't want it lighting up the room like a friggin' Christmas tree. But: the power supply cable has a blue LED that shines with the brightness of a thousand suns. It's on the barrel connector that plugs into the laptop, and it's mounted in a ring of lucite that goes around the barrel so you can't just flip it over to hide it, as you could with the old LED-on-the-transformer-brick design. And there's no way to turn it off, short of unplugging the thing. Stupid, stupid, stupid. So I have electrical tape wrapped around the barrel connector.
  • Criminal: Dell wants to prevent people from using third-party power supplies (so they can charge a premium). So they designed the world's worst lock-in system. It's incredibly fragile, both to mechanical and electrical damage. If it breaks, then 1) the laptop will no longer charge the battery, and 2) the BIOS throttles the CPU (to "save battery life"). If it breaks in the charger, then in theory you can pony up $60 or so for a new, vastly overpriced Dell charger. If it breaks on the laptop, and you're not under warranty, then Dell provides the "ha ha no, you're fucked" remedy.

I would never, ever buy a Dell for my personal use. There is something deeply wrong with that firm.

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LDS
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"They stopped adding the crap, too many people complained."

Isn't because the FTC complained, with the right "instruments"?

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2018/01/ftc-gives-final-approval-lenovo-settlement

But just wait for some cousin of Pai's getting the helm of FTC too, and he will create a "restore laptop freedom order" to let Lenovo install crap again in the name of "innovation".

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I just received my P71 laptop - built like a REAL Thinkpad

1.5 TB of SSD, 64GB memory, full keyboard with real keys, 3840x2160 display and separate nVidia Quadro P3000 for separate 4K displays.

I've always gravitated to the more robust rather than the lightest-weight. A21P, T42P, W701. I do tote around a Yoga 900 which has great screen resolution and I can remote into my heftier laptops.

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Re: I just received my P71 laptop - built like a REAL Thinkpad

I also purchased a P71, so far so good.

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ThinkShutter

That's a nice idea. Neater than a piece of black PVC ThinkTape on the webcam.

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Me-to! - How to devalue a brand

Anyone hoping that the much-loved seven-row keyboard would return to the mainstays will be disappointed. That was an expensive treat for hardcore fans in the 25th Anniversary Edition.

Interesting, the retail prices for replacement keyboards indicate there is a £10~15 price difference between the seven-row keyboard and the newer 'me-to' keyboard. So whilst I appreciate production cost savings - particularly when you are producing at volume, I do have to wonder whether this decision is a little short sighted, given those who buy a Thinkpad are those who will happily pay a premium for a premium laptop, particularly one that loudly proclaims itself to be a Thinkpad.

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Haynes Manual

I bought a T41 second hand in 2007 which only finally gave up the ghost last year. At one point the motherboard blew so I bought a £25 replacement from eBay and replaced it myself using IBM's downloadable repair manual. It took about 40 minutes and I only had to use one screwdriver.

That was a proper ThinkPad.

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What about CDs

I don't see anything for CDs/DVDs in the pictures or in the report.

I use "live CDs" for online banking, and to restore computers to a non-virus state.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What about CDs

Err USB?

To be fair, you are in a tiny minority. I have no idea when I last used a cd / dvd in my laptop.

Use the drive bay for a 2nd SSD, much more use these days.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What about CDs

Madness, you can't put a cd in the usb port?

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Re: What about CDs

You'd really be better using a USB stick for those purposes, it is possible to apply iso images to a USB stick to boot from.

Otherwise there's always the Zalman ZE500 ( Have the ZE300, works well), which stores iso images and also works as an external hard drive.

Alternatively the Samsung SE208BW (discontinued) supports iSCSI to the drive out of the box

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Re: What about CDs

We have to use CDs at work because the idiots in IT have disabled the USB ports.

So, because nobody supplies data on CD any more, we have a stand alone PC for USB to CD duties.

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Re: What about CDs

@Binky

The reason I like CDs is that the ones in ISO9660 or Joliet formats cannot be written to, unlike USB sticks. So having created them free from viruses, that is how they stay.

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Anonymous Coward

We've Lenovo laptops at work. Not thinkpads. But they are fucking egonomic horrors with the worst trackpads I have ever experienced.

Chiclet keyboards, no caps lock led, welded battery, fuck your Lenovo laptop.

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ZSn

only one name?

For some professionals and enterprises there's only one name in laptops: Thinkpad.

Actually the panasonic toughbook comes in to that category better - just got a second hand one for 200 - quite old but still built like a brick outhouse and runs debian a treat. Not all of us need it to be thin, having it near bullet proof is also useful.

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Re: only one name?

I'd actually say that more most professional users thickness is completely irrelevant. It's not like you're going to put your laptop into an envelope, or cram 10 of them into a backpack.

An easy to replace battery and an ethernet port are _much_ more useful than shaving off a couple of centimetres.

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In Windows I turn on what they call Toggle Keys in Ease Of Access. That makes the computer beep whenever the caps lock (and num and scroll) key is pressed.

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Anonymous Coward

Workstation?

> Vying for the workstation end of the market ... and NVIDIA's GeForce MX150 GPU.

Nvidia's Workstation range are Quadro, not GeForce. If people are really needing Workstation capabilities, their software may not even work with GeForce. Various CAD software springs to mind.

So, hopefully that's just the author using overly enthusiastic wording in this rehashed press release, and Lenovo hasn't really picked the wrong graphics module for this specific market segment.

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Re: Workstation?

Not been able to locate a Lenovo specification to clarify the situation, however, I did come across this article:

https://www.anandtech.com/show/12204/lenovos-thinkpad-t580-launched

It would seem to be correct the T580 doesn't come with a "a professional-grade GPU", instead the options are: NVIDIA’s GeForce MX150 GPU or Intel’s HD Graphics 620.

If you really need the Quadro then you need the P52 variant. Which given Lenovo are targetting the P-series at designers, engineers, and video artists ie. users of 3D modelling, CAD etc. and who want to use ISV-Certified applications (see https://support.lenovo.com/gb/en/solutions/ht101713 ), makes sense.

So suspect the "workstation end of the market" is a different workstation market to that being targetted by the P-series...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Workstation?

> So suspect the "workstation end of the market" is a different workstation market to that being targetted by the P-series...

Thanks, yeah. Does sounds like it. Bad use of wording in this rehashed press release then. ;)

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Anonymous Coward

pretty consistent

I (almost) admire lenovo, for the last 5 - 7 years they've been consistently destroying the reputation of thinkpad, doing their best to disenchant thinkpad core users. This is so stupid, it can't be stupidity alone, must have been a conscious design :/

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Grrrrr new docking station

Not impressed with yet again having to support two models of docking station.

Fixed battery may or may not be a good thing. The X260's seemed to have a problem with the battery sensor dying and not recognising the battery anymore so this may be an improvement - perhaps.

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Actually, budget ThinkPads aren't getting worse. At work we have bought ThinkPads for some years; the lowest point was the E530s which had the most dreadful trackpad along with awful 1366x768 resolution, and awful BIOS too! The E570/E560s are quite nice in comparison and have been super reliable but do weigh a ton, so I personally choose to stick with my four year old MacBook Air ;-)

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Happy

@ifekas

ifekas,

I agree, my E570 is a pleasant enough workhorse [screen aside], all the more so when accessed from a 27" imac and remote desktop...

Cheers,

Jay

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The early C2D era Acer Travelmates had the same keyboard layout as the Thinkpads and I used one happily for a few years. But Acer seem to have traveled the same path to chiclet keyboards and disappearing or flush trackpad buttons and thin 'n light packaging dropping features as Lenovo.

Would be nice if some competitor sensed a market opportunity and made an old-style Thinkpad clone, but instead they're behaving like lemmings.

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Anonymous Coward

first they came for the keyboard

at the darkest night hour of 2012

but i didn't care typed on my x220

with thinklight on spare keyboard too

so they took away the thinklight

but no matter i said

still a few years ahead of us

they really forced windows x experience

down my throat around 2016

i told them valiantly go forth and multiply

next they soldered battery I wept at first

because i saw the writing on the wall

yet shrugged and got a spare cell for my x220

they went into overdrive in 2018

shrunk the sd slot out went the ethernet

around 2019 was the year to snip the nipply clit

following extensive customer feedback

of course

and i wept bitterly stroking mine

because the clock was nearly done

ding goes half eaten yellow glowing pear on the lid

to further enhance customer experience dong

i died

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Re: first they came for the keyboard

They had to remove the Ethernet. Did you ever try unlpugging Cat5 cable from P50? They had no other choice if they wanted to keep their customers from destroying the port. /s

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On my T series laptop (T460P) the entire back cover has to be unscrewed and pulled off to gain access to anything. If the battery is not soldered in place and just on a small fly lead and clipped in then then in my opinion this is good enough as how often does the vast majority change their batteries?

If the company I work for is any indication, no-one has a spare battery, and very few people change their batteries apart from when they are left with <30mins life left. In fact, most stay plugged in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Anyone know if this is how they have designed these newer laptops internally, is the battery easily replaceable just not on demand user removable ?

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Bronze badge

Depends on usage, at a previous job I used to travel a lot and be in the middle of nowhere, spare batteries were extremely useful. Especially when my random collection of chargers would not work with whatever supply was available.

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@gsf333 - whilst I get your point, the real issue is that this is a T-series Thinkpad, which is presented and sold as a laptop to be used by mobile workers ie. everywhere.

At one time you could hot swap batteries (well you had about 30 seconds to do it in), which at times could be handy. I think part of the problem is how well catered for mobile workers (particularly in our larger cities) are now, with many public places and trains having power sockets (and WiFi), however, step outside that environment and things can get much more problematic.

In fact, most stay plugged in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Anyone know if this is how they have designed these newer laptops internally

From my experience the answer is no, frequently using your laptop with the power connected still kills the battery.

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Happy

@Roland6

Roland,

for the last twenty years or so I have used many variants of laptop - all plugged in for 99% of the time, which has had no detrimental effect on the batteries.

Ymdv!

Cheers,

Jay

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