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How do you like the latest keyboard change?
Very good - It makes these Thinkpads more appealing to me 2%  2%  [ 2 ]
Good - I like it 5%  5%  [ 4 ]
Neutral - Don't care either way 11%  11%  [ 9 ]
Bad - I dislike it 14%  14%  [ 12 ]
Very bad - This may be a deal-breaker for me 42%  42%  [ 35 ]
I'll make up my mind once I've actually had one to try 26%  26%  [ 22 ]
Total votes : 84
Author Message
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:28 am 
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We haven't seen the new Thinkpads yet, but from the some previews and leaks it looks like the 6-row chiclet keyboard from models such as Thinkpad Edge is coming to T and W series (X series unconfirmed at this point), to replace the 7-row traditional keyboard.

This is being discussed in several forum topics:
http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=101600
http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=103381
http://forum.notebookreview.com/lenovo- ... -w530.html

This is the old keyboard:
http://www.studentbuyingguide.com/wp-co ... -04971.jpg

This is the new keyboard:
http://img.gfx.no/994/994052/T430u.jpg

I'd like to let the members of this forum express their opinions in a poll. Please select from the poll options the one that best describes your personal feelings towards this change. Feel free to explain and elaborate in a reply. :)

Admin edit: Added a wait and see choice, given responses so far.

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Last edited by dr_st on Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:41 am 
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I don´t care about 6-row vs. 7-row, because my L520 has a 6-row layout (and I love it). Chiclet vs classic-keycaps: I will test the new keyboard and then I will decide how good/bad they are (it is based on the X1 keyboard, so it is maybe pretty good).

Quote:
This is the new keyboard:
http://uvenet.com/wp-content/uploads/20 ... rd-res.jpg

Hm, thats not exactly the new keyboard. It is more like this: http://i.haymarket.net.au/Galleries/201 ... G_4595.JPG But even that is not final (the reds on the F-keys will be switched with the traditional blue). You can see it here: http://www.lenovo.com/images/products/n ... s/L530.png

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:47 am 
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Good point. I will edit the post.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:32 am 
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I slightly prefer having 7 rows, but believe that as long as the keycaps are curved, typing should still be easy and comfortable. I had an HP netbook with flat chiclet keys and while I could still type fast, the experience was rather uncomfortable.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 9:56 am 
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How do you like the latest keyboard change?

Sucks big time. Once the X230 probable chiclets keyboard is confirmed, I'll get my hands on an X220.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 8:24 pm 
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I don't know why people are so opposed to chiclet keys. OK, I know about aesthetics and sentiments, but other than that? Chiclet doesn't automatically means bad, in fact it seems people's review on existing chiclet ThinkPads are excellent in the keyboard department. If a ThinkPad Chiclet has the same concave surface, same key spacing, same depth of stroke, (not considering 7-row vs. 6-row just yet), what's the functional difference between it and a traditional style keyboard?
If I take a traditional ThinkPad keyboard, take each key cap, cut off the slanted rim and somehow mount them back so that they type exactly like before, only they look like chiclets now. Does that make the keyboard crap and not worthy of ThinkPad?

Now, saying 6-row keyboards are inferior to 7-rows might be a valid argument. But people hating on the chiclets before they even have the chance to touch it, or even look at it in real life just strikes me as irrational.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:21 pm 
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With the introduction of chiclet 6-row keys the last currently remaining reason for me to ever consider buying a new ThinkPad will be gone.

Other manufacturers make decent keyboards of that nature, and I'm certain that Lenovo is perfectly capable of sourcing one as well. That is not a big issue for me.

But why would I bother getting a ThinkPad that has nothing left from the qualities that had initially attracted me more than a decade ago?

My $0.02 only...

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:17 pm 
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I encourage everyone who voted before the poll was edited to vote again.

twistero wrote:
Now, saying 6-row keyboards are inferior to 7-rows might be a valid argument. But people hating on the chiclets before they even have the chance to touch it, or even look at it in real life just strikes me as irrational.

Some people may have bad prior experience with chiclet keyboards and so they assume that all chiclet keyboard will behave the same.

Since the change of both mechanism and layout happens at the same time it's hard to separate these two. Some people may care more about one change, some about the other, some about both.

I am not trying to start a theoretical discussion on which layout is better or which keyboard design is better. I am trying to get a very practical feel on what Thinkpad users think about the change in the way it's given to them - as a whole. This is why the poll is the way it is and does not separate the two aspects.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:47 pm 
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Thinking about it a bit more, my reply was probably more appropriate in that other thread, where people are constantly bashing chiclets :roll: sorry dr_st :wink:

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:11 am 
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twistero wrote:
slanted rim


Chiclets don't have them and that makes a whole difference.
And yes, I (have to) use chiclets. The supposedly good Lenovo chiclets.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:18 am 
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Some interesting reading. Apparently their feelings changed between the earlier promise to keep the 7-rows and today.

http://blog.lenovo.com/design/different ... -isolation

http://blog.lenovo.com/design/ferdinand ... -1935-2012

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:09 am 
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JaneL wrote:
Some interesting reading. Apparently their feelings changed between the earlier promise to keep the 7-rows and today.

http://blog.lenovo.com/design/different ... -isolation

http://blog.lenovo.com/design/ferdinand ... -1935-2012

Yes, David Hill wrote that in his blog posts:
http://blog.lenovo.com/design/thinkpad- ... s-keyboard
http://blog.lenovo.com/design/thinkpad- ... e-keyboard
Quote:
Is it really okay to switch the ThinkPad classic keyboard to a 6 row keyboard? Is it really okay to reduce the stroke? In the end, though, we were able to develop with confidence. The X1 keyboard earned a higher evaluation than the T420s in user research that spanned several months and was done across the world, including in Japan. Many of the people who participated in the test were devotees of ThinkPad, and we were surprised to find that the attachment to 7 row keyboards was not as strong as we had expected. Even I, who have always loved 7 row keyboards, realized that "times have changed"
....
If you are one of the people who just can't live without a 7 row keyboard, I encourage you to touch one of these keyboards and find out just how good they are.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:33 am 
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I don't know. I've spent a decent amount of time the last few weeks on my brothers and niece's Thinkpad E420's and they aren't terrible, but I don't know that I'm a fan either. As far as typing goes they seem OK. I don't seem to feel my fingers extending quite as much as I'm used to, but it doesn't prevent me from being proficient with the keyboard.

What DOES bother me is the size / placement of the escape key. Which I love being a larger target for VIM work. They have widened the key but shortened it and it doesn't work as well for me.

Oh well, glad I decided to upgrade my T410 to a T420 - puts dealing with this change a good clip out into the future and who knows, by then we might be on to the next "breakthrough" design...

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:16 pm 
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Ibthink wrote:
Yes, David Hill wrote that in his blog posts:


Of course he said that. It would only be surprising had he not.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 1:23 pm 
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twistero wrote:
Now, saying 6-row keyboards are inferior to 7-rows might be a valid argument. But people hating on the chiclets before they even have the chance to touch it, or even look at it in real life just strikes me as irrational.


Agreed. I was initially opposed to the chiclet keyboard; after using it for a few months now, I think it's the best laptop keyboard I've ever had. The only things I would change are moving back to the seven row layout, and adding color (blue enter key + grey Function keys) back to the keyboard. From a typing perspective, the new keyboard feels a lot more firm than the traditional Thinkpad keyboard.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:49 am 
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Another fresh thread discussing the subject:
viewtopic.php?f=48&t=103569

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:05 pm 
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it's a lost cause. going mac all the way...

most of my thinkpads are in storage or not being used


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:00 pm 
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I have software where I actually use all of the Ins/Del Home/End PgUp/PgDn and the function keys. I ran a virtual Windows XP installation on a unibody Macbook for several months. The keyboard was a MAJOR problem for me. I have since realized that I rely on having the additional keys and the spacing between the function keys. Even the revised 7 row keyboard was, at best, a move sideways for me, because of the moved function keys and lesser spacing between keys. Not merely the spacing between the function key blocks, but also the relative lack of taper of all keys, with gaps that are all but non-existent, by feel, particularly in the navigation (Ins/Del etc.) key block.

Before I got my first Thinkpad, in 2000, I had a laptop with the Home/End PgUp/PgDn keys running down the right hand side, a common layout in those days. That was not bad. What concerns me today are two things:

(1) The loss of dedicated keys, leading to more things relegated to shift or Fn key combinations.

(2) The homogenization of the keyboard layout.

The more irregular a keyboard is, the easier it is to feel your way around it without looking. The trackpoint, the ridges on the F and J keys, the step in the Caps Lock key, the gaps between the function keys, the 7th row, the raised ledge between the Esc and F1 key on the older keyboards all help with orientation.

I'll concede that a properly sculpted chiclet keyboard is likely better than the Apple ones. I'll concede that the gaps between keys on such a keyboard may just be good for the feel. But I know that the loss of keys and the regular-spaced top row will completely throw me and I have no desire to use such a keyboard.

Finally the still decreasing key travel cannot possibly be a good thing either. Go back to a Thinkpad keyboard from the mid 90s, with proper key travel, and you really know what's been lost. Making laptops as thin as possible was a good idea 20 years ago when they were bricks. These days it's a disease.


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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 4:33 pm 
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So they finally cheaped out the Thinkpad to common crap. I always liked Thinkpads for their unique features like:
-- Superb 7 row keyboard (with BLUE enter). I can't type with such pleasure on anything else.
-- TrackPoint. So heaven sent.
-- ThinkLight - I can't imagine why they traded it for keyboard back light, it only looks cooler but ThinkLight much more practical
-- Sturdy cases. Love T6x for this, T400 also not bad if you put keyboard from T6x series. The newer are inferior.
-- Asymmetrical hinges. (gone, sadly)
-- Screen latch. Keeps the screen well protected.
-- Decent matte screens
-- Silence
-- Design that never gets old (you can have Thinkpad for ten or more years and still would not feel outdated)

Now, that most of these features are gone away or got cheaper and added horrible 16:9 screens (actually a step back to XGA, but more expensive), a huge touchpad. I do not see why should I spend more on these so called thinkpads. I am probably gonna look into dell side when I'll need a new laptop. They got same 6 row keyboards with backlight, same dreadful 16:9 screens, same huge touchpads. But they cost much less, batteries hold better and they look much better than these new "Thinkpads". T

This 6 row keyboard was the last straw. 100% deal breaker for me. Won't buy or recommend any Thinkpad after T400 new or used. Unless they'll make something like t60/t61/t400/x200 again, but that seems like an elephant dream now.

In the end, I'll do my best to keep my T60,T61 and T400 for as long as I can. So far I've been more and more disappointed with each and every new think pad.

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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 6:19 pm 
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I understand chiclets - they can build them cheaper and they can make notebook thinner (after they made it thicker by going from Ultrabay Slim to Ultrabay Enhanced) but for the love of God, why did they have to mess up the keyboard layout which has been the same for 20 years.

One of the top reasons for sticking to Thinkpads is that for years the layout has been the same, the Fn-combos have been the same. People always notice how fast I type and I carry TP USB keyboard if I have to use desktops or servers so my productivity doesn't go down. I'm always puzzled when I have to use someone else's notebook and have to look for del, home, pg-up/pg-down locations of which on the 6-row differ vastly by different makes. I know most people are unwilling to learn keyboard shortcuts and never use home/end/ins/del or function keys and while Thinkpad market has perhaps highest power-user base percentage, it's still not enough for them to register in focus groups (they say most like newer keyboard).

After keyboard layout is gone I will probably purchase a few last non-chiclet Thinkpads, max them out with SSDs and then I'm prepared to change brands. If I have to go non-standard layout and chiclets I may as well get a Mac.

Do you think this will make them loose the core fans which generated most halo and brought in new users? Personally I have influenced about 10 other people to buy Thinkpads over other notebooks. While corporate bean counters don't care about keyboard layout or cannot differ between IPS and crap TN that is used these days, the IT department people who also influence buying decisions and who predominately use Thinkpads (I was on few high level admin courses and 90% of sysadmins had Thinkpads). This will take for a while to trickle down and loss of this strong brand advocate group might prove costlier than it appears in focus groups.

For example during late 90s and early 2000s when Macs were really under performing and not desirable by the general public, it was the core Apple fans who created much of advocacy and kept them alive by buying their products however inferior and overpriced G4 processor computers were to Athlons 64 and Pentiums 4 of the day. Apart from Apple Thinkpad has been the only computer maker as a whole (nVidia/Ati/AMD/Corsair/Crucial are only component makers) which has significant following and brand advocacy akin to Apple. I don't see as much fandom in HP or Dell users, they get bought mainly on corporate decision.

After the core fan-base leaves - I'm noticing these forums are less active than they used to be few years ago - it will take few years for this loss of advocacy and perceived value to trickle down to average users and corporate decision makers. Despite tablets and smart phones being all the rage I don't see keyboard replaced and I still see notebook as the best form factor for content creation (besides a multi-monitor desktop). As Apple has shown, notebooks don't differentiate in performance (they all use comparable CPUs, screens, GPUs and HDDs) but in (perceived) quality and image.

I think this will eventually bite Lenovo back. While they might be able to sell more notebooks for a while coasting on diluted brand, they will loose the high end market.

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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 8:19 pm 
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Totoro-kun wrote:
So they finally cheaped out the Thinkpad to common crap. I always liked Thinkpads for their unique features like:


Not to be that guy, but...

Quote:
-- Superb 7 row keyboard (with BLUE enter). I can't type with such pleasure on anything else.


I'll miss the 7-row keyboard, but the blue Enter key was actually a very short-lived addition to the layout. Most IBM ThinkPads didn't have it, and virtually none of the ones actually made by IBM did.

Quote:
-- Sturdy cases. Love T6x for this, T400 also not bad if you put keyboard from T6x series. The newer are inferior.


A little surprising that you can state this, considering that very few people have actually used the final mechanicals for any length of time.

Quote:
-- Asymmetrical hinges. (gone, sadly)


Gone a generation ago, actually. And historically most ThinkPads have had symmetrical hinges. (Personally I prefer the asymmetrical design, particularly that of the T30, but still...)

The TrackPoint, clean black designs, and matte screens are all there too.

FragrantHead wrote:
Finally the still decreasing key travel cannot possibly be a good thing either. Go back to a Thinkpad keyboard from the mid 90s, with proper key travel, and you really know what's been lost.


? I thought everything but the X1 and X1x0e will get a 2.5mm stroke, same as existing models.

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 1:08 am 
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I've seen a number of ultrabooks of late with chiclet keyboards. While they are certainly firm due to the limited amount of space beneath them, they didn't have enough key depth to make for a a truly pleasing typing experience. The one thicker notebook I saw with a chiclet keyboard was the HP dm4t. That wasn't too bad, but I'll reserve judgment for the ThinkPad chiclet until I use one. I do wonder how the X1 Carbon will offer key depth being that it's .7" thick. None of the ultrabooks I've seen so far have been able to do it.

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 9:49 am 
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ZaZ wrote:
That wasn't too bad, but I'll reserve judgment for the ThinkPad chiclet until I use one. I do wonder how the X1 Carbon will offer key depth being that it's .7" thick. None of the ultrabooks I've seen so far have been able to do it.


I haven't confirmed this, but I'd bet that the X1 and X1 Carbon would share a keyboard FRU. If that's the case, then IMHO it will be one of the few ultrabooks that offers a decent keyboard. The stroke depth won't be quite the same as most ThinkPads, but it's a pretty small difference and while it is noticeable it's nowhere like the feel of most other ultrabooks.

Personally I'm interested to see if the new T/W/X keyboards offer activation points similar to the existing keyboards. (Or, just dreaming here, similar to the X30x's NMB switches...)

I wonder who the other manufacturers are? I know Chicony's doing some of them...

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 2:26 pm 
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Its kind of funny how the HUMAN to COMPUTER INTERFACE (HCI) has been most neglected in the design of machines.

Screens went from high res to stupid 1366 x 768 and now thanks to Apple going back up.

I hope some of that Halo touches other aspects like Keyboard Design and Usage etc.

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 7:28 pm 
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Quote:
Screens went from high res to stupid 1366 x 768 and now thanks to Apple going back up.

No: Screens went from low res to low res and from high res to another hight res (1280x800->1366x768, 1440x900->1366x768/1600x900, 1680x1050->1600x900/1920x1080, 1920x1200->1920x1080).

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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 9:19 pm 
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And 2048x1536 -> 1920x1080.

It seems very broken to me that the iPad has the highest resolution of any portable computer on the market today. IPS displays are fairly common on tablets and rare on PCs. Nobody seems willing to invest in building a quality PC anymore, Lenovo included.


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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 5:05 am 
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Ok, thats a special resolution, which was only available on one ThinkPad. Even with 16:10 you couldn´t get more than 1920x1200.

But High-Res Screens will taking the market over until 2015.

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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 12:13 pm 
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Zak wrote:
Nobody seems willing to invest in building a quality PC anymore, Lenovo included.


Because no business is willing to invest in buying a quality PC anymore. Perhaps you're forgetting that 15-20 years ago laptops used to cost literally an order of magnitude more than they do today...

Few companies want to spend 2-3K on a base config business laptop nowadays.

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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 12:42 pm 
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Here's a some hands on experience with the new keyboard, as opposed to the conjecture being posted of late.

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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 1:18 pm 
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ThinkRob wrote:
Perhaps you're forgetting that 15-20 years ago laptops used to cost literally an order of magnitude more than they do today...Few companies want to spend 2-3K on a base config business laptop nowadays.


This applies to individual consumers as well. When I bought my first laptop back in 2002, I was much less "wealthy" than I am now and yet I was more than happy to shell out $1,750 for that very mediocre laptop (a Dell Inspiron 8200). In the following several years, I bought several more laptops that were over $1K. Contrast that with my four current laptops, on which I have invested only $452 (including a $212 SSD upgrade), $252, $39 and $110, in the order listed in my signature. Computers used to be luxury items but for the most part they aren't any more.

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