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 Post subject: Which Thinkpad to buy?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:17 pm 
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L, T, X and W...

Which one to buy? I am totally clueless. I just go check the highest priced to see what is included, or what makes it unique, looks like W520 is a reasonably "high" priced laptop.

But when configured similarly, almost all series end up having very similar prices.
I am a bit confused with the model specialties.

Image
and
Image
Any guidance would be appreciated.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:31 pm 
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Welcome to the forum!

Price is only one factor in making this decision. Only you know what you need and want in a laptop. You have to decide what you are going to do with this laptop, how you will use it, and for what tasks. Then how much CPU power to you need, how much RAM will you need, what size HDD, what kind of weight will you want to carry around, or will this always sit on a desk, what size screen with what resolution would suit you, how long a battery life do you need, what applications will you use, how much keyboarding will you do, do you want multi-touch or just a trackpoint? And on, and on, and on. Just lots of decisions that only you can make. There is no "best" for everyone. What I like best may not suit you at all, and what you like/need may not work for me.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:07 pm 
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Thanks Neil,
But there should be a consensus on which series has what benefits/specialties.
Also, the reason I listed above prices/configuration is to show that similarly equipped notebooks on different model lines cost very similar.

I watched the videos at Lenovo, and they really mention very similar stuff, like fast, portable, fingerprint reader, USB 3, multimedia readers, connectivity and keyboard. The only major difference seem to be between IdeaPad, Essential and Thinkpad.

But within these line of laptops, -unless you get a tablet or super portable-, they all seem very similar.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:59 am 
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hyde wrote:
The only major difference seem to be between IdeaPad, Essential and Thinkpad.

A coarse definition would be:
Ideapad: consumer laptop
Essential: student laptop
Thinkpad: business laptop

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:53 am 
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T series is the bread and butter of Thinkpads, it is a 14 (T4xx)and 15.6 inch (T5xx) laptop.

W series is the Workstation laptop in 15.6 inch size (17 inch model has been discontinued), which has quad core CPU (or dual core in some models) with 4 ram slots (2 ram slots for the dual core machines). It is also equipped with better GPU than the T520 (which is the same size as the W520).

X series is the ultraportable laptop, the X220 is a 12.5 inch machine and the X1 have a 13.3 inch machine.

L series is an budget Thinkpad which are available in the 14 inch (L420) and 15.6 inch (L520) format, they are less robust than the T or W series machine due to the lack of internal magnesium alloy rollcage.

Basically this is a run down of the Thinkpad series.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:12 am 
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Thank you lead_org,
That's the kind of information I was looking for, I have a better idea about what each line is for.

I had no idea about internal magnesium alloy rollcage. I also did not know that dual cores only come with 2 RAM slots while quads come with 4. Is this the reason why they can only go up to 8GB ram?

It sounds like Lenovo wanted to keep a lot of different models but similar configuration generally costs about same no matter which line you went with, especially between T and W. Also when you go with 14" in T, you get limited options.

Do they all have hard-drive disconnect - the fall sensor that protects the hard disk drives from damage during rough movements and falls?

T is probably what's closest to original Thinkpad, W is the portable workstation, possibly heavier & thicker, and X is the one with smaller & lighter body. I can't seem to find the weight of my configuration while I try to build one, does anyone know where it is shown?

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:35 am 
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Seems like no one has mentioned this yet: The current X Series (and most X Series models of the past) doesn't have an internal optical drive. The other series do.

So, IMO, the main decisive factors are weight, size, screen resolution, and whether you need a built-in DVD/CD drive. Many people shopping for their first laptop focus instead on processor speed, hard drive capacity and RAM size, and try to get as much of each for as little money as possible. I made this mistake when shopping for my first laptop back in 2002 and greatly regretted my purchase. I have owned 90+ computers since then and that first laptop remains my biggest waste of money ever.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:00 pm 
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pianowizard wrote:
So, IMO, the main decisive factors are weight, size, screen resolution, and whether you need a built-in DVD/CD drive. Many people shopping for their first laptop focus instead on processor speed, hard drive capacity and RAM size, and try to get as much of each for as little money as possible. I made this mistake when shopping for my first laptop back in 2002 and greatly regretted my purchase. I have owned 90+ computers since then and that first laptop remains my biggest waste of money ever.

This is true for most including me, too.

When buying a notebook it is also good to get the specifications you can not choose after the purchase like the display size. RAM on the other hand is something you can upgrade rather easy, the same goes for the hard drive.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:29 pm 
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I was told that W series share the same chassis as T, is that true?

I agree on screen size/resolution, and stuff that you cannot upgrade, like processor, GPU, etc. Nowadays hard drive is really not a big problem since most data resides on servers or cloud, and I kind of prefer 320GB as I tend to believe smaller hard drives make the OS faster (may not be the case anymore). Also according to Lenovo getting smaller 320GB drive delays the shipping by 2-3 weeks, so I would have to get 500GB no matter what.

I don't mind 3-4hours maximum battery, as I almost always plug it in. And in the office I plan to use dual monitors, so graphics will be important, but I believe any decent GPU even embedded ones should be OK with dual monitors at reasonable resolution.

At Lenovo, you can add optical drive to X series, but I feel 12" is really too small as I also do a lot of work at home, and looking at 12" display for 3-4 hrs will be hard. I don't use monitor, just laptop on my lap in my couch.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:35 pm 
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hyde wrote:
I was told that W series share the same chassis as T, is that true?


True.

hyde wrote:
I agree on screen size/resolution, and stuff that you cannot upgrade, like processor, GPU, etc.


But for the majority of users, even the slowest processors and GPUs are sufficient. (Of course I mean the slowest options that Lenovo currently offers, not 80286 processors and 1MB video cards from 1990!) Screen size and resolution are much more important.

hyde wrote:
And in the office I plan to use dual monitors, so graphics will be important, but I believe any decent GPU even embedded ones should be OK with dual monitors at reasonable resolution.


Correct.

hyde wrote:
At Lenovo, you can add optical drive to X series


That's an external optical drive, one that dangles off a USB port or plugs into the docking station.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:38 pm 
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I'd buy another monitor for working at home. It is a huge difference to work on a 24 inch monitor for 150 USD or on your 15 inch notebook display. The price tag for a monitor is nothing. The quality of most external displays is at least comparable to the ones you find in a notebook. The x220 with two dockings for home / office would be a nice solutions. Although the dockings are rather expensive. But if you switch a lot, you'd like this setup.

As for couch surfing I don't know. All current lenovos should run cool. But in this case an iPad may be a good solution, it is far more lightweight and the display ratio is 3:4 instead of 16:9, you get your vertical size in comparision to the horizontal size more than doubled.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:51 pm 
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Good suggestion on ipad, but really I need my laptop. I have been running my laptop on my lap for over 5 years and during last 3 years using a belkin laptop cushion http://www.amazon.com/Belkin-F8N044-BRN ... B000P1R9QM this thing is excellent, and no matter how hot the laptop runs, It has no effect on me or my laps, and i can stuff my mouse, etc in there.

Therefore external monitor at couch is not an option, and in the office I will definitely get a dock. I use my laptop in office for 8-9 hours, and then another 3-5hrs at home. Using a separate computer/ipad is not workable, since I continue my work at home.

That was a question I had on Lenovos recently, so they all have 4:3 resolution? I don't mind as long as it is at least 1300-1400wide, so no big deal.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:56 pm 
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The last thinkpad with 4:3 display ratio was the T61 14 inch notebook (which was also available as 16:10 model). All current lenovo notebooks you might want to buy from lenovo.com are 16:9. For browsing the web, I'd prefer having lots of vertical space. By the way, an 18 inch 16:9 display is vertically smaller than a 15 inch 4:3 display.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 3:32 pm 
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Thank you very much.

How do I avoid this? Left: My 6 year old laptop, Right: Brand new Dell (Picture from 3 years ago)
I ended up buying another Toshiba because that was the only other laptop I could get with this type of screen. I see that Lenovos have different type of screens.

Image

At exact same brightness/gamma/contrast, looking at same image, the "newer" screens had terrible white bleeding at the bottom, and picture generally had a shade unless you looked at a certain angle. My co-worker has a Lenovo Ideapad from 6 months ago, and he has the same issue (although nobody considers this an issue anymore).

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 3:40 pm 
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Lenovo displays of the current product line are generally worse with the exception of the x220 with premium display (only 50 USD) and the FHD display of the T520 and W520 (250 USD more). Some HD+ displays of the T520 and W520 are good, but I don't know which ones. There are bad HD+ panels built in these models, too.

Although the x220 premium displays use the far more advanced panel technology (IPS), some of them tend to have backlight bleeding. The FHD panel uses the inferior TN technology, but it is said to be a very good one. You could compare this good TN panel with the good TN panels apple build inside its notebooks.

If you don't plan on buying one of these three models and do the display upgrade, you won't be happy with thinkpads.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 3:47 pm 
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I am planning T520/420 or W520.
If I upgrade to 1600 x 900 panel, does that make it somewhat better?
Lenovo claims that they have excellent color reproduction and graphics, but they can't get a decent panel?

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:02 pm 
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1600x900 is HD+. There are very good HD+ 15.6 inch panels from lenovo. There is also one bad panel (HD+ 15.6 inch) out there from lenovo. You don't know what you get until you power on your laptop.

The 14 inch models can't compete with the 15 inch FHD and the good 15 inch HD+.

Yes, this is all complicated and worrying. But display panel quality is not one of lenovos top priorities. Lenovos are reliable and very good priced.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:31 pm 
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Do they use identical screens in T and W when getting same size/same type? I mean do they use the same batch when building these. There surely is a variance on monitor quality and picture within the same line, but at least that will limit a big difference.

Based on a few comments in other boards, I was told to avoid 14" models, as they have lower contrast.
So I am really down to T520 or W520. Looks like you get a lot more for the same buck if I go with W series.

I see no benefit in getting Professional vs Home Premium, so I can save $50.

Where can I get weight information? Most likely most of the components really won't matter, other than 6 vs 9 cell battery. Does 9 cell stick out from the back or bottom, and how much heavier is it?

Image

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:39 pm 
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There are - to my knowledge - three different HD+ panels build-in from lenovo in the T520 and W520. One of this panels is a very bad one. Here are two tests about the HD+ and the FHD panel with real data. Not that kind of "I like this display" but they measured the display:

http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Len ... 596.0.html
http://www.notebookcheck.net/Review-Len ... 220.0.html

The 9 cell battery sticks out. It is noticeably heavier. If you don't need a special gpu, be aware that he sandy bridge cpu has a very good gpu build inside. In fact, this integrated gpu is nearly as good as the dedicated gpu two generations behind.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 8:09 pm 
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Thank you very much for the links. Very nice reviews. Although they claim T series do not come with USB 3 ports, and they claim to have standard 3 year warranty.
About the GPU, W520 just happens to come with it (no option to remove it) so I will just go with it. :) With W520, there is also no choice to downgrade CPU to save money, so Nvidia 2GB + i7 2.7GHz. I just thought 2GB was too little, so having 4GB really will help, especially since I save money by downgrading it to Home Premium instead of Professional (is there any reason, really?)

Does the fingerprint reader work with Windows 7 login?
Do they all have that little light on the lid to illuminate the keyboard?

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 9:42 pm 
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hyde wrote:
Thank you very much for the links. Very nice reviews. Although they claim T series do not come with USB 3 ports, and they claim to have standard 3 year warranty.
T series indeed do not have USB 3 ports, and in Europe they do have a standard 3-year warranty.

hyde wrote:
I just thought 2GB was too little, so having 4GB really will help, especially since I save money by downgrading it to Home Premium instead of Professional (is there any reason, really?)
I agree that 4GB is the sweet spot right now for average usage (not including multiple virtual machines and the like). I would stay with Professional, though. Some of the extra features it has over Home Premium may come handy (Remote Desktop / XP Mode). Here is a full comparison chart.

hyde wrote:
Does the fingerprint reader work with Windows 7 login?
Probably does, since it worked already with XP, but you'll have to wait for someone actually using these dreadful devices to confirm. :D

hyde wrote:
Do they all have that little light on the lid to illuminate the keyboard?
They most certainly do.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:02 pm 
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dr_st wrote:
T series indeed do not have USB 3 ports, and in Europe they do have a standard 3-year warranty.


Over here http://www.lenovo.com/shop/americas/con ... 20s-9L.jpg and Gallery at Lenovo website, it states T series have USB 3 ports.
But after further review, it states that only T420s model has USB3 ports, this means we cannot have both 15" and USB 3. So it means I am pretty much set with W series now.

dr_st wrote:
Here is a full comparison chart.

Thank you so much, I was looking at Microsoft's comparison chart, and it only listed just a few differences. I had no idea we could back up to network, or that it lacked XP mode, and additionally RAM limits are also interesting.

dr_st wrote:
actually using these dreadful devices to confirm. :D

Why are they dreadful? I was hoping that I could finally stop typing long login passwords and simply switch to fingerprint reader (and it would also look pretty cool as well). Is there any potential security problems with using fingerprint reader? Someone accessing/copying fingerprint?

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:33 pm 
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Well, regarding fingerprint reader, it is mostly a matter of preference. Me - I would much rather not depend on a device that can suddenly malfunction or anything. I never had any problems typing passwords, and since I frequently use multiple machines - laptops, desktops - a fingerprint reader on each is infeasible.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:51 pm 
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I hope to use a single machine, and generally with fingerprint login there is almost always a manual option as well. Like my co-workers Lenovo came with face recognition login, but you can always bypass that and simply type in the password.

It just would be very cool to use it instead of typing login passwords, or accessing LastPass when they finally incorporate it.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 3:46 pm 
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I started considering getting SSD coupled with lower clock-speed processor like i5 2.6ghz and with plain old intel graphics chip.
Do you think it is better to get SSD?

The only reason I was thinking of getting better processor and graphics is hoping that it would run my daily operations faster like e-mails, excel files,etc and be able to run two external monitors. Also I was hoping to finally be able to keep most of my computer and my e-mails indexed for easy search, I guess SSD would be a big improvement on that, as opposed to faster processor. What do you think?

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 7:01 pm 
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For office work even the integrated graphics of my T60 is more than enough. For video processing it is not.

The integrated graphics of sandy bridge is better than the dedicated gpus two generations behind. It is possible that the T520 with integrated gpu is better than the T520 with dedicated gpu. I am not sure, though.

For your work (mails, excel) I would only look at integrated gpu. Your fan does not need to work so much, so you get a much more quiet environment. Also it is better for your battery life - which is not your main buying priority, but anyway.

A SSD helps keeping your system much faster than a better cpu. And it makes your environment also much quieter. In a notebook, avoiding moving parts like conventional hdds is also good for data protection. Get a reliable ssd (example: intel) as some ssds are heard to just go dead.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 7:08 pm 
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Thanks, for SSD I was referring to Lenovo's own SSD. I have no idea what brand SSDs they are offering with these configurations, and I also read about SSD's degrading over longer period of time.

I am so used to my Toshiba being whisper quiet. Sometimes it worries me, but when I lean and put my ear on it, I can hear the fan spinning. This thing seems to have a very good cooling system for a 3,5 yr old $600-then laptop.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 7:22 pm 
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You usually won't find high quality ssds in lenovo stock notebooks. You could buy a good intel ssd for less money than you would have paid for a lenovo stock ssd.

Maybe you should stay with your current notebook. A newer one does usually not have a better display. And this is important for you. Newer notebooks are faster - but for your applications it may be possible that you don't notice that.

I'd ask myself if there are ways to spend the money otherwise put onto a new notebook to improve your work experience. Maybe the notebook is just good as it is.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 9:38 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:12 pm
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Location: New York, NY
Thanks again, maybe an SSD updgrade of my current notebook could be a good approach.. The display of my laptops is really excellent, and probably a wipe/restore may solve some of my problems like excel getting stuck when I try to paste something into an e-mail that is copied from a 50MB excel file (I face this all the time). The memory is maxed at 4GB due to OS limitation (32 bit). It's Satellite A205 with Core 2 Duo T5550.

But it does feel like it is going to collapse soon, sometimes I see that it gets stuck, or I fear that it will never boot, so I always hibernate. :)

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8/18/2011 - X220, Intel 2540M, 12.5" IPS, FingerPrint, Webcam, Bluetooth, Intel 6205 Wifi, 8GB RAM with U2312HM UltraSharp 23" IPS
1/15/2012 - S405 (Wife's), AMD A6-4455M, 14", 4GB RAM, Windows 8


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 6:19 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2008 4:45 am
Posts: 867
Location: France Paris
As you can make use of sata SSDs, I would advice you to buy a good reliable ssd from intel and try this in your notebook. This should give you a nice speed boast. You can also reuse this ssd in your new notebook if you are unhappy with the results.

If you wouldn't have a faible for good displays I'd advice you to buy a good thinkpad, but the current thinkpad line is not that good with displays. But of course there is a reason why you want to buy a new notebook. You should first figure out what is most important to you. If it is speed, try the ssd and then upgrade to a sandy bridge notebook.

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