Anyone happen to know Lenovo's current policy regarding "user removeable" parts still under factory warranty?
For instance, if the Finger Print Reader on the palm rest goes bad on a T61p still under original depot-repair factory warranty, does Lenovo require I send in the whole laptop or just the user removal part in this case (i.e just the bad palm rest)?
What you're referring to is a "CRU replacement" (pronounced "crew replacement") in IBM/Lenovo parlance. If you ask for that, and if you give them the FRU # of the part in question, they should happily send you a box with just that part. You swap the part yourself, you put the old part in the box, and you send it back.
It doesn't affect your warranty unless you break something during the replacement.
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Current laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad T420 (running Debian Wheezy) - kestrel [pending retirement]
Current workstation: IBM Intellistation 9228 (running FreeBSD 9.1) - blackbird