I recently complained about Google crippling their devices in the name of security. Lenovo, the maker of the ThinkPads I have been reliably buying for over a decade now, has decided to do the same in the name of… I don’t know. Aesthetics, I guess.

I got my hands on a Thinkpad T540p, which is their newest 15″ laptop. I got my hands off of it and I am at a loss. It is terrible. It is atrocious. It takes one of the big reasons that I (and many others) are loyal Thinkpad user and makes it decidedly inferior. Harder to use. And not in a way that I will get used to over time, most likely. Mostly, in a way that makes me question whether I will ever buy a Thinkpad again. I haven’t purchased a laptop that wasn’t a Thinkpad since 1998.

If there is a method to their madness, I don’t know what it is. it does look nicer, I guess. Buttons and their inherent functionality and ease of use have become passe, I guess. Out with the function, in with the form I suppose.

This leaves me in a lurch because, like I said, I don’t buy anything but Thinkpads. For a while I can basically continue to buy the previous models. Until it becomes outdated. If I do that, though, I will run into the same situation I am in now where every laptop in the house is becoming outdated all at once. This is because at some point I determined that the T60/T61 was the perfect model and made sure that just about all of my laptop purchases were that model. But computers become outdated over time, and start falling apart. It says a lot that I am dealing with this for a model made in 2006, but it’s inconvenient when I have spent the last two weeks trying to find use for an army of computers that can’t make the transition to Windows 7. Presumably, sticking with T520’s will be great until they all hit some other roadblock.

Then, I guess, either Lenovo will have its act together, or *gulp* I may be looking at Dells.

Incidentally, Microsoft is pretty evil. They’ve shoved down something called Secure Boot. The result of which is that it took me a half hour just to figure out how to boot a Linux LiveCD. It can be done, but man they make it difficult.

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9 Responses to First Google, Now Lenovo

  1. I don’t know. Aesthetics, I guess

    Are you talking about the removal of the buttons on the trackpad and their replacement with buttonless pad? I suspect that it’s partially for aesthetics, but also to blend in with the rest of the market. Lenovo didn’t exactly buy the brand in order to keep sales flat, and they need to attract more customers*, and I suspect this is part of their effort. Of course, they’re also driving away a lot of the purists, but given what else is on the market, even a crappy ThinkPad may be better than a Macbook.

    *Whenever I recommend a ThinkPad, people have no idea of what I’m talking about, and end up buying a Dell or HP or whatever other brand is offered at the local big box store.

    • trumwill says:

      You mean the rest of them have gone this route? Argh. Then I guess I will be sticking with Thinkpads after all.

      I thought attracting new customers was what the whole “Edge” abomination was for. Leave my T-series be!

      • I think the big change is that while there’s a core unit of ThinkPad users like ourselves, we don’t do the bulk of the purchasing. If anything, it’s mostly done by IT departments at medium to large size firms, and with the shift from IT directed decision making to BYOD, I think Lenovo is facing competition from firms that permit their employees to bring MacBooks and other laptops to work.

        Leave my T-series be!

        That ship has sailed. Your choice is a crappy ThinkPad or a crappy laptop from somebody else, and the TP refugees don’t exactly find the other substitutes to “clitmouse” to be any better.

  2. BTW, you may want to try this: http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?f=68&t=114421#p735263

    Presumably, sticking with T520′s will be great until they all hit some other roadblock.

    I have a T420 that sits on a dock connected to a monitor. It’s probably the best compromise in regards to having one computer to do everything. It’s probably going to remain in the fleet as is for a while…

    I also have a T410 that serves as the travel computer these days, although for the right price, I’d swap it for an equivalent X series laptop…

    • trumwill says:

      I’ve already decided to return the laptop. As it is, it simply isn’t an upgrade from what I currently have. The T520 is perfectly capable, for the time being. Hopefully, Lenovo will get their act together and make it more usable down the road. And Linux will figure it out as well.

      • FWIW, it’s not like you’re a guy that needs bleeding edge stuff, right? Coincidentally, neither does your daughter. 😛

        Go SSD, increase the RAM to 8GB, and get a dock with a good monitor, and I think you’ll be content for longer. 🙂

        • Will Truman says:

          I actually already have an SSD and 16GB worth of RAM! And the T520 works fantastically, so I really have no complaints. Windows 7 is covered until 2019 or 2020, so at least theoretically the computers should be fine until then unless there is a malfunction. In which case, I can maybe just replace it with another T520.

          Hopefully, by the time I am on the other end, Lenovo or someone else will have mastered this buttonless business.

  3. Vikram Bath says:

    Perhaps there is some small-volume manufacturer out there that would get the job done?

    The tiny Dell the school got for my wife seems pretty nice, and she seems happy with it. Unfortunately, most manufacturers seem to specialize in making a bunch of crappy models that appeal on price/performance while only one or two models are actually well built. Lenovo was nice because the well-built ones were labeled Thinkpads, but if that’s changed now…

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