back to article For some reason, you lot love 'em. So here are the many ThinkPads of 2018

For some Reg readers there's only One True Laptop, and it's the ThinkPad. Yes, still. The ThinkPad community may be world's biggest tech grumblers – I know, I am one – and have been complaining about the changes for years. But they keep coming back and paying a premium for the milspec-worthy build, the antiglare screen and the …

  1. Aladdin Sane

    The Triggered Snowflake

    Is that the one that only sells small batch craft ale and all the patrons have top-knots?

    1. Tomato42

      Re: The Triggered Snowflake

      Maybe, but as a Millenial I don't go there, and I think this whole chase for the "thinnest everything" to be stupid at best.

      A phone twice as thick will fit more easily in a pocket than one that's 1 cm wider. Same with backpacks and laptops - lighter I can get behind, but thinner for sake of thinnes? Just stupid. Especially if that means "micro Ethernet" or "3rd power standard over 3 years when the previous one lasted 2 decades".

  2. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Airline dinner trays

    I'm just wondering if the depth of an airline dinner tray is a factor in the near ubiquity of 16: 9 displays on non-Apple laptops?

    As a working theory it's undermined by Apple's 16:10 laptop displays, but might partly explain why they no longer make a 17" MacBook.

    The ThinkPad 25 ( inspired by the classic ThinkPad to celebrate twenty five years of the range - you may have heard Lenovo asking users what they wanted from it) makes do with a 16:9 screen and no ThinkLight

  3. Snorlax

    Blast from the past

    "The X series dates back to when IBM was the custodian of the ThinkPad, and long before the term "Ultrabook" was coined, with the X20 launched in 2000."

    2000? Was it that long ago? I've still got a couple of X20's around here in a drawer somewhere.

    Probably my favourite laptop ever. That or the T20...

    1. Tomato42

      Re: Blast from the past

      X61s for me

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Blast from the past

        X201, X201s, X61 and an X31 that appears to need an OS reinstall. Briefly owned an X301 as well, but for my daily use it had too little horsepower and so I sold it to someone whose use-case had a much better match. There's another X201 in this house, two X60s, an X40 tablet and an X30. Coming soon, an X60 tablet.

    2. Ken 16 Bronze badge
      Windows

      Re: Blast from the past

      I've got a 240X, running puppy Linux now from an SSD. It's got all the legacy ports I might need (and a USB).

  4. TooManyChoices

    Why don't more PC manufacturers give us a choice of a TrackPoint or pointing stick?

    For me, no TrackPoint = no sale. So I am left with the choice of Thinkpads, some Dells and the odd HP workstation. And none of them comes with a GTX 1080.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Your comment make me think of a related question... which Google quickly answered:

      A discrete keyboard with trackpoint exists. Worth considering, especially since chopping and changing one's cursor constroller (mouse, trackspad, graphics tablet etc) is a good way to avoid RSI.

      https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lenovo-Thinkpad-Compact-Keyboard-Trackpoint/dp/B00F3U4TQS

      1. TooManyChoices

        Thanks for the advice but I am such a TrackPoint addict that I already own it. Expensive but nice.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Unicomp

        A discrete keyboard with trackpoint exists.

        Indeed they do. It's even a worthy successor to the venerable and indestructable Model M.

        I haven't yet tested whether you can beat someone to death with it, then write their obituary, like you can with the original.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: Unicomp

          NICE. Thanks, fellow commentards!

          Now I have to decide between the US$60 USB one, and the US$80 Bluetooth one... or both...

    2. Snorlax

      @TooManyChoices

      @TooManyChoices:"Why don't more PC manufacturers give us a choice of a TrackPoint or pointing stick?"

      Extra cost. Plus, if you've never used a TrackPoint, it won't register in your consciousness and won't be on your shopping list. I have noticed that you can do a keyboard swap on some Dell Latitudes and HP ProBooks to give yourself a pointer.

      There's an interview on TechRadar with a Lenovo product designer who says:

      "It’s a little bit like an automatic transmission versus a stick shift. If you know how to drive a stick, you don’t want an automatic transmission. If you don’t drive a stick shift, you’re not going to buy a car that’s got one.

      One of the advantages of a TrackPoint is that your hands don’t have to leave the home row to move the cursor. So, you can type and move the cursor without doing this [mimes a hand shifting between a keyboard and a trackpad].

      Plus, your finger doesn’t really have to move, because a TrackPoint is strain-gauged, so it measures pressure. It doesn’t move around like a joystick, it’s measuring pressure. Some people get it and some people don’t; some people acquire the taste. It’s hard to explain, but I still think there’s a use for it."

      Apart from Lenovo, I'd go for the Dell pointer although I don't think they use the sandpaper-ish 'cat's tongue' material which I prefer to the rubber.

      The HP and Toshiba offerings are crap imho.

      1. TooManyChoices

        Re: @Snorlax

        Recently I went so far as seeing if you could put a Latitude or Precision keyboard (with pointer stick) in a Alienware 17. You can't.

        Currently I use a Precision M6800. The standard pointer tip sucks but 99p later on ebay I had the cat's tongue sandpaper type. In blue of course.

        So when I come to replace it, as you say, I am stuck with something from the Lenovo Thinkpad or Dell Precision/Latitude range. Which is what I have been using (one or the other) since about 1998.

        I did once have a corporate Toshiba (with pointer stick) in about 2000. It was crap.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: @Snorlax

          Ah. So you're those people who use that. I'm actually quite happy to hear that, because I've hated those things forever. I never use them, but they like to send my cursor to random places when I'm typing quickly, and because I'm typing quickly, I don't notice instantly. I've even gone to the extent of removing it from the device's drivers, if I can without causing additional damage as sometimes it's connected to the normal mouse. I haven't found a person who says they like them, so I always considered it useless. At least there are some people for which that's a useful device. I find them more acceptable now.

  5. EddieD

    They're good machines,

    But QC needs some attention, I ordered a Lenovo ThinkPad P51 - nice machine btw - for a staffer here, and when it arrived, it had a Finnish keyboard, which was just the end.

    So far it's been over a month waiting for the replacement.

    1. Uffish

      Re: QC

      Maybe the production line supervisor said "Get that laptop finished asap".

      1. John H Woods

        Re: QC

        Lapptop

        1. Loud Speaker

          Re: QC

          Lapptop

          Guaranteed to avoid Elks

  6. Blockchain commentard

    All the specs but no price? For home use this is important if you can't get your boss to buy you one.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      There's often little point in technology blogs giving a list price since list prices are often different to what stores actually charge.

      Doubly do if you suspect that Reg readers will be ordering machines with non-standard specifications :)

  7. Uffish

    Something to look forward to

    Thanks for giving me a preview of my 'new' home laptop in five to eight years time.

    1. Vulch

      Re: Something to look forward to

      I ought to bookmark the article, currently trying to sort out the models from 5 years ago looking for a replacement for the one from 10 years ago.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Something to look forward to

        currently trying to sort out the models from 5 years ago

        ThinkWiki.{org|de} can offer a lot of insight there. There are even lists of models that were the last to use particular features, such as a 4:3 screen.

    2. jrd

      Re: Something to look forward to

      You too, huh? Currently using a second-hand T420 which replaced a second-hand X60 which replaced a second-hand X30... And they're all still working machines :-)

  8. John H Woods

    Rant

    Don't really have anything bad to say about my T450 ... apart from the usual: a gloss screen on a business laptop is an abomination

    1. joed

      Re: Rant

      You forgot to mention the crappy touchpad of t450/60/70 series. Keyboard is acceptable. Build quality - well, what can one expect from cheapo plastic. Fragile as heck and replacement screen cost a fortune.

      BTW, none of new mainstream machines will allow for RAM upgrade (at all) or even SSD swap (without voiding warranty). Built in battery, no Ethernet jack and the "greatest" OS yet as the only option. Obviously more expensive.

      1. John H Woods

        Re: Rant

        "You forgot to mention the crappy touchpad of t450/60/70 series"

        Ah. I've got that switched off in the BIOS - never use it. I only ever touch it accidentally with my thenar eminence which, if the touchpad wasn't disabled, often resulted in selecting a large amount of content from my current document and consequently overwriting it with the next keystroke.

        Footnote: have just prodded it several times and you are absolutely correct: it's crappy.

  9. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Keyboard?

    The arses still have the damn Fn key in the wrong place. Seriously, when going from a normal, standard keyboard to one of these cretinous things the dumb-arse placement of the Fn key in place of the Ctrl key is infuriating. Probably OK if you're a two thumb keyboard poker but for anyone else...

    Almost as cretinous as setting the alternative actions of the actual function keys to to be the default. No, turning off laptop WiFi with a single keypress is not a useful feature. None of the other alternative actions are immediately useful either.

    They are generally solid, if unglamarous, machines though.

    1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      Re: Keyboard?

      Almost as cretinous as setting the alternative actions of the actual function keys to to be the default. No, turning off laptop WiFi with a single keypress is not a useful feature. None of the other alternative actions are immediately useful either.

      If its anything like my old IdeaPad, that can be switched in the BIOS so the Function-<x> is the default, and not, as you say the 'alternative' action. It might also be possible to switch the <Fn> and <Ctrl> keys in the BIOS too, but that wasn't a feature for my machine, and the <Ctrl> key was in the correct place, which meant I had to unlearn the (wrong) positioning for the previous Lenovo laptop. Then again, I come from an era when the correct place for a control key was to the immediate left of the 'A', where you usually find a <Caps Lock> key now, so I'm unhappy whichever way round Lenovo decide to put it. Jerry Pournelle of Byte magazine’s Chaos Manor column actually had some custom keyboards made up with the <Ctrl> key in the 'correct' place, to the left of the 'A'.

      As I have to adapt to at least three different keyboard layouts for typing in different languages, I operate in <confused> mode most of the time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "can be switched in the BIOS"

        Can confirm: all the Stinkpads I have used have a fn/ctrl swap BIOS option.

        It doesn't bother me having the wrong labels because my usual keyboard has unmarked keys.

      2. Christian Berger

        Re: Keyboard?

        "Then again, I come from an era when the correct place for a control key was to the immediate left of the 'A'"

        That's still the correct place to put the control key.

    2. druck Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Keyboard?

      Plus there is the stupid half height up and down cursor keys - two of the most used keys crippled just so the lower edge of the keyboard remains straight - I don't care about that, extend the cursor key area down so the damn things are usable.

  10. bob, mon!

    "the many Thinkpads of 2018" ?

    Did nothing happen in the P-series? Power users who need big screens for old eyes want to know!

  11. Hans 1
    Unhappy

    L380 Yoga - Goldylocks MacBook Pro with ugly buttons

    That keyboard looks like a MacBook keyboard with a cl1t nobody uses ... it is 2018 and the trackpad has buttons ... I know, users complained, but then, where is the floppy disk drive ?

    Again, does Windows 10 work reliably with a button-less trackpad, Windows 7 was not as good as macos, but then again, that was ages ago when I tried Windows 7 on a MacBook Pro ...

    And, more importantly, can I choose no OS or Linux when I buy ? No -> No thanks!

    And "No thanks" it seems ...

    1. Snorlax

      Re: L380 Yoga - Goldylocks MacBook Pro with ugly buttons

      @Hans 1:"it is 2018 and the trackpad has buttons"

      Nothing wrong with that.

      Using one of those godawful buttonless Sony Vaio touchpads will send you into a fit of rage.

    2. TooManyChoices

      Re: L380 Yoga - Goldylocks MacBook Pro with ugly buttons

      That keyboard looks like a MacBook keyboard with a cl1t nobody uses ...

      I for one won't touch anything without a cl1t.

    3. alexmcm

      Re: L380 Yoga - Goldylocks MacBook Pro with ugly buttons

      "keyboard with a cl1t nobody uses"

      We always referred to it as the nipple. What a sheltered life I've led....

    4. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: L380 Yoga - Goldylocks MacBook Pro with ugly buttons

      Its hard buying laptops without the windows tax.

      The real question tho which I think there is a regcommentbot askng on all laptop reviews is...

      "Does it run linux!".

      Perhaps the regcommemtbot is disabled on thinkpad reviews because it does run Linux.

  12. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Yoga

    Technically and mechanically it's nice, but I've never actually seen anyone use one as a tablet with the screen folded all the way around. I wonder how many buy them "just because" and how many actually see the fold around screen/tablet mode as useful.

    1. Julian Bradfield

      Re: Yoga

      I bought an X1 Yoga "just because" a couple of years ago, and I've used it as a tablet about twice:)

    2. d3vy

      Re: Yoga

      Ive got a yoga.

      I use it in "tent mode" when Im watching movies in bed as it positions the vents upwards so the duvet doesnt cover them up.

      I use it in tablet mode when pooping - I believe that is its only use case.

    3. joed

      Re: Yoga

      I know of some that requested it just cause it was more expensive than t470. Can't get what you really want? Get what make you seem more important.

    4. coolcity

      Re: Yoga

      I guess it depends how and where you use your machine, but for me the versatility of the 2 in 1 design is a Godsend. I couldn't imagine ever having to go back to a "normal" laptop now.

      1. d3vy

        Re: Yoga

        @Coolcity

        Agreed, Joking about only using it for pooping aside - Im in a similar situation - I dont use it often but like to have the option, Ive already ruled out several laptop replacements because they dont have the facility to turn into a makeshift tablet...

  13. steviebuk Silver badge

    If I remember right...

    ...my ThinkPad is a slightly beefed up W540 I put more RAM in it to run VMs. Last year I finally replaced the hard drive with an SSD because it was taking ages to load Windows. Now quick again. I mainly use it for playing basic games on Steam when out and about or on holiday (yes I'm one of those people that goes on holiday and then just plays games on my laptop all the time. It annoys the girlfriend buy why? That's my idea of a holiday).

    I recently watched a T42 go on ebay the other day for £74.99. I was going to bid, it was in good condition as a collector had owned it, but it would of been another project that would never had gone anywhere, like my many Raspberry Pi purchases. Watching LGR on YouTube made me want to put it's original OS on it etc etc.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love my work T470 - especially after adding an M2 SSD for booting Windows to the big hard drive for storage (they took away that capability for a while but it's back). Typing on it is indeed a delight.

    Just a shame the trackpad no longer left-clicks - not sure what happened there. But at least there's a button.

    AC because.

  15. Michael H.F. Wilkinson
    Thumb Up

    Interesting stuff

    Looking for a new workhorse laptop, also to demo stuff at conferences. The T480 ticks a lot of boxes, but I would like an option with a beefier nVidia GPU (1050, or 1050 TI) to run CUDA stuff at serious speeds (not for gaming, honest!). A good keyboard is of course also very important. Choices, choices.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: warm pucks to the rescue?

      @M.H.F.W following the recent trend to use an outboard eGPU, Lenovo should soon be releasing in US/UK a $400/£400 Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 eGPU "puck" (A) with mobile GTX 1050 [TDP 55W], with external Lenovo 170W PSU brick (B).

      (A) 13 x 25 x 2.3cm 0.7kg, two DisplayPorts , some USB 3 ports, an Ethernet port and 65W Power for charging your Lenovo lappy.

      (B) standard 170W Lenovo brick: 15.5 x 7.6 x 3cm 0.6kg

      Personally, I stuck with X220 from online marketplace, amazing value & reliability. I will be using an external 650W TB3 eGPU crate on a low-end 2017 27" iMac, with a Vega Pro 56 GPU, for VR development, when I can source the bits.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    God these are ugly...

    ...luckily we still have Apple, despite Cook's best efforts.

    And of course they run Windows. Epic fail.

  17. John 104

    Crap

    I use a T470 at work. I hate it.

    Moderate weight, no biggie. Reasonably powerful. Nice form factor.

    However, it absolutely blows chunks when being docked and undocked. I repeatedly have to fiddle with network devices to get it to work. The other day it was the worst yet. I had to remove my network device in device manager to get it to enable. Not to get it to pick up the network as if it was diconnected. To get it to work at all. Why was it disabled when undocked? PITA.

    Waking from sleep is slow. This may be a byproduct of having to communicate with the docking station. I don't really care.

    Keyboard is nice though.

    I'm far happier with my HP Envy. It's a previous generation I7 and is faster and more reliable than the 470. Cost less too.

    1. Peter27x

      Re: Crap

      I tend to find corp installs of windows, with all the associated corp bloat/spy ware and the wrong driver cause lots of problems with sleep and networking etc. I managed to partition the HD on my last corp laptop and installed a personal, private install of windows (both were Win 7), and the laptop ran faster and more reliably. It was painfull to have to switch back to the corp install when work started.

    2. Tomato42

      Re: Crap

      T470 is atrocious with docking on Linux too, it's not the drivers, the hardware is crap (firmware and Kernel updates helped, but didn't eliminate the issue)

  18. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Nope

    Glossy screen.

    Fixed battery.

    That's more than enough to put me off.

    1. d3vy

      Re: Nope

      Its only fixed if you dont own a screwdriver.

  19. VerySlowData
    Happy

    thinkpads do it for me

    I am typing this on a W520 (16 gbRAM, 1Tb SSD) workhorse machine which resisted the ravages of Windows 10 upgrades (still Win 7 pro/Linux Mint dual boot) It just works...I have a T61 on the workbench and in the shed and an X60 to use when out if needed.

    Having looked at other folks lappies for repairs or software problems, they just don't cut it for repairability or longevity..

    perhaps us dedicated Thinkpad fans are starting to sound like Mac aficionados!

    1. Loud Speaker

      Re: thinkpads do it for me

      I have a T61

      So do I.Two in fact.

      Which brings up the question - do any of the new thingies have Ultrabays? Somehow not mentioned in the reviews.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022