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 Post subject: Help Select A Thinkpad
PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:12 pm 
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I have a friend who is completely non-technical and thus hasn't the slightest interest in the insides or details of a computer. She wants to think of the computer as an appliance, like a toaster; when she turns it on she expects it to work and give her a web site or her email and not bother her with anything beyond logging on.

She has an aging desktop, 5 or 6 years old, which was surprisingly well-configured for its day and even now has more than sufficient horsepower for her modest needs. But it is getting old and rickety, with noisy fans. It frequently goes into a mode where it takes a minute or even longer to bring up a web page. Yeah, that's software - after I clean it the problem goes away for a while but I haven't been given the time to thoroughly diagnose things. And she's simply getting tired of that desktop - we all know how that goes.

After discussing things with her, we've decided that a laptop might be the best purchase for her. With a dock she can use her monitor, keyboard, and mouse so the fact that its a laptop is irrelevant, aside from the reduced space it will take up in her small room. I'll set up a wireless network so she can use it elsewhere in the house. It will tend to get less dirty inside than the desktop, which is always coated inside with an amazing amount of white feather dust from her constantly-preening big bird in the same room. So it seems a reasonable purchase. I've reassured her that while a laptop will be a little slower than the corresponding desktop, it's completely academic to most of us.

Needless to say, I recommended a Thinkpad for the usual reasons. I explained that by purchasing a used model one or two generations behind the curve, one can save lots of bucks and still get a reliable unit.

She isn't averse to the current widescreen models that I personally abhor. So a 16x10 unit with decent (non-XGA) resolution would be fine; I can't in good conscience recommend a 16x9 screen to anyone.

I really haven't followed the recent Lenovo offerings because they're widescreens; I hope to keep my FlexView T60p and less-loved widescreen T61 for as long as possible. But that might be too old a vintage for her, given that she wants to buy it and have it run reliably for at least 4 or 5 years. Who can blame her? She's not made of money, but probably could scarf up $500 or $600; more than that would require persuasion or perhaps send her in search of a different manufacturer.

So I don't feel capable of offering her an intelligent opinion for what model to suggest on the used market, given the constraints of cost, reliability, vintage, and decent performance. She's going to look at some models in stores (or I can bring some over) to see whether a 14" or 15" screen might be more appropriate; from our phone conversation a 12" didn't particularly interest her as extreme portability isn't a requirement.

Any suggestions out there for what models I might start eyeballing? This isn't an immediate purchase, so we have the luxury of time keeping an eye out her for an attractive deal in the Forum Marketplace group or in local sources of used Thinkpads.

Art


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:39 pm 
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I'd say the R400 or R500 would be worth a look. The problem with going with an older machine is there's often no warranty, which someone with limited experience may want.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:40 pm 
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The R400 and R500 were discontinued early 2010 so you should still be able to find a machine with warranty. I think it's a good choice if you want newer hardware since they seem to be cheaper than a T400 or T500. The R500 is almost 7 pounds and 1.5 inches thick though. That's the only downside of that one.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:43 am 
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I do not envy the shoes that you are in. I have had to deal with people that are the way that you are describing, and they have lead to countless calls, fuming with frustration because they can't just click and have something work 100%, 100% of the time.

My recommendation would be making sure that whatever you help her get, it comes with as much warranty as possible, and preferably with an warranty upgrade option.

Last one I helped with, bought a T43 from me. When the wireless kept disconnecting (turned out to be a router issue), she threw the laptop in the trash, because she said that it was junk, and went to Walmart and bought a new laptop (Acer)...that kept doing the same thing....grrrr

Never again for me. I spend time with a prospective buyer, and if I feel that they are anywhere close to being like this, I tell them that most of the laptops at Walmart (over $500) will work for them, to just pick out the one that they like. I don't even recommend a brand, so that they don't come back at me for a bad recommendation.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:45 pm 
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tfflivemb2 wrote:
I do not envy the shoes that you are in.


Actually, this will come back to haunt me less than you might think. Despite being non-technical, this lady is jawdroppingly great about following instructions, learning to use software and hardware, and getting diagnostic information (that means nothing to her) upon request. When I want to install software or hardware such as a USB hub or a backup solution, she asks intelligent questions and understands what she needs to know. I'm certain that she'll quickly pick up the quirks of using a laptop, and in learning Windows 7 - one of the requirements that I didn't mention because any recent Thinkpad will run it just fine. If there are certain minor quirks that she finds annoying, I'm positive she'll know that I recommended the best thing possible given the constraints (cost, capabilities, etc.) and she'll deal with things without complaint.

I appreciate the responses so far, although several seem to be 16x9 models. I've been plowing through the forum and various other sources to learn about some of those cited newer models that weren't familiar to me. It's a pleasure having the luxury of time, rather than needing to deal with a "the machine totally failed" crisis.

I really like the idea of getting a machine with at least a little bit of warranty left; it hadn't occurred to me at the time, but even if the warranty isn't needed - and it probably won't be - the value-add of "warm and fuzzy feelings" will be invaluable to the recipient.

Art


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:05 pm 
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This may meet most of the requirements: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=91205

As is true with most of the great sellers here, a machine from Ed is likely to be better than described. Even with the upgrades and a warranty extension, it should be below the budget.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:36 pm 
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dsvochak wrote:
This may meet most of the requirements:

Thanks! I saw that posting but there's only 800 pixels vertical resolution. XGA resolution won't make it, but I nonetheless appreciate folks thinking of this entry and offering suggestions.

I run a site for an organization (a bicycle club, from whence I know this lady) where pictures are posted after rides. I usually post at 600x800, or 800x600 as appropriate, and think that's a reasonable size for a web image. With the captions, forward and backward links, and framework of the page, we're talking over a thousand pixels for a portrait-orientation picture, and I think it is absolutely preposterous that someone would have to scroll such a page vertically. Having this expectation isn't oddball (I trust!), so having at least the equivalent widescreen vertical resolution to, say, an SXGA+ 4x3 machine is one of the requirements I'm putting on the purchase.

Art


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:03 pm 
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tfflivemb2 wrote:
Last one I helped with, bought a T43 from me. When the wireless kept disconnecting (turned out to be a router issue), she threw the laptop in the trash, because she said that it was junk, and went to Walmart and bought a new laptop (Acer)...that kept doing the same thing....grrrr


:lol:

Poor T43!

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:18 pm 
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If she just wants to do the web surfing, e-mail thing, T60s offer good value for money. You can get ones that are in 'new' or 'almost new' condition for $350 or less.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:48 pm 
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The wifi card in my R51 won't connect at all. I have no choice but to try the one from the defective T41. If that doesn't work, the R51 will be sold. Or given away.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 5:50 pm 
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At certain new technology introductions you need to start making cut-offs of machines not meeting future requirements. A Thinkpad if well kept will most likely be still useful 5 or more years from now, so it's wise to buy something more future proof.

For instance in 2005/6 the cut-off for me was: USB2.0, SATA, ability to run Longhorn (DX9, 1-2GB of RAM). Now I would add to the cut-off the 64-bit CPU and ability to add 4GB or more RAM in the future. Thus I would not recommend getting a T4x (T42p, T43p have DX9 but they're very old by now) or T60 (3.5GB RAM limitation). T61 is the minimum. Of course there are exceptions to this rule (if you want 3:4 IPS then it might be worth sacrificing 3.5GB RAM limit for UXGA IPS in T60p but you'd have to upgrade CPU to run 64-bit Windows).

For about about 450 Euros you can get a used good condition still in warranty 14" T61 with 1440x900 resolution. It will most likely run next version of Windows (8GB RAM limit, 2TB HDD limit, Microsoft probably won't change DirectX requirements for next generation desktop). I recommended new 14" T61 with dock to similar friend (small room, big noisy desktop with CRT) couple of years ago and she loves it, also ordered used mint in warranty 14" T61 for my brother.

If someone is about to buy new machine and can wait it might be worth to wait for next generation as those bring USB3.0 (not as high jump as USB 1->2 was), UEFI (support for booting beyond 2TB HDDs, other changes), SATA 6Gb/s (some SSDs are already requiring it, at the end of life of this machine fast SSDs will be ubiquitous). The 15" workstations will probably get 3D and we might see IPS again. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:16 pm 
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That sounds like good logic. What's equivalent to the T61? I doubt I could risk another Thinkpad. No luck at all with them. I just can't risk another problem or lemon. I guess I'll look at Dell, Asus and Toshiba. They have older machines as well that aren't too bad. There's some entry level machines that are cheaper but then one risks low quality hardware. I guess you can't win unless you are going to spend $1K.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:59 pm 
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Utwig wrote:

Quote:
The 15" workstations will probably get 3D and we might see IPS again.


Hmm...3D maybe not just yet, but IPS has come back on the latest generation of HP workstations...along with some other good stuff like USB 3.0. That's on a 17" units I believe...

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Cheers,

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Running Linux while collecting SSDI: A31p, T42p

Abused daily: R60F, R500F, T60, T61, T410

For sale: T601 QXGA FrankenPad


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 1:23 am 
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The 15" 8540w also has the IPS Dreamcolor 2 option in addition to the 17" 8740w.

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