Apr 04

I’ve elaborated a bit in a previous post about my dislikes of the way Apple seems to be heading. One of the consequences I took from that observation is that replacement of my laptop was not going to be another macbook. Finding something comparable was not trivial. After a couple of weeks I’ve settled on a Thinkpad T510, type 4384GEG. This blog entry details some of my finding of the process of acquiring it, configuring and using it for the first two weeks.

Lenovo has a complex and long list of different models. Of the T510 they have at least 10 base types, designated by a number of 4 digits (mine is 4384) and for each base type there are one or more subtypes. So, loads of choices. Lenovo has apparently a reference document tabook.pdf which supposedly lists all available models; I stopped counting after 50, it’s way more than that. Ironically the model which I eventually ordered is not in there. On top of all this there are so called CTO (Customized To Order) models, but these seem only available for the US market.

I spent literally 5 or 6 hours going over models matching my specs, trying to decipher which ones were actually available for me, meaning in the Netherlands or, if not possible, within Europe. After having selected the model, another 3 hours was spent to locate a place where they actually had some thinkpad available in a showroom, meaning I could go visit and have a touch. I ended up with two potential suppliers, one of which stopped answering emails after my second question. Probably because they found out I was not going to order 50 machines.

The above was not what I was used to. Apple hardware is available everywhere, for the same price, and with a good chance of being in stock, so finding a Macbook is pretty much a no-brainer. Although the fact that the prices are fixed is probably not such a good thing, in practice it saves quite a bit of time.

I was over two weeks into the ‘buying a new laptop’-process and I hadn’t even placed an order or seen a machine yet, because I was waiting on the one showroom I could find which would have a T510 or W510 in their showroom. Ordering the machine was pretty easy, because I had a full specsheet. Expected delivery time: 21 days. Sigh.

[…skip 20 days…]

On the day it was promised the order came in. Bonus points!

My macbook was dying so I wanted to move to the T510 as quickly as possible. The process I had in mind was this:

  1. Install 64-bit Ubuntu 10.10 on the harddrive (well, after wiping it clean of windows 7 and whatever else was on there)
  2. Move the SSD disk from the macbook as second disk into the t510 temporarily
  3. Move over and check my home dir and settings, install and recompile applications along the way; I was expecting this to take a week or so for my main needs and take whatever additional apps and configuration during usage;
  4. Clear the SSD when done;
  5. Resize the harddisk partion of standard lenovo disk to be as small as the SSD;
  6. Copy the partition over the the SSD;
  7. Swap the HDD out and replace with the SSD;
  8. Consider using the HDD as second drive in the DVD bay.

It took almost a week indeed, no problems worth mentioning. What is worth mentioning though is that to swap harddisks in a Macbook pro you need to remove something like 24 (very small) screws, replace a bit of tape inside the machine and carefully pry of a couple of flatcable-connectors. For the lenovo there is literarlly one screw to remove to do the same process. One!

During the above process I already found one quality of the t510 which I had hoped to be excellent: “The keyboard”. The keyboard is very good. If anything it’s ‘louder than the fashion’ these days. There are many details on the t510 which tell me it has been deliberated engineered to accomodate keyboard users. Not that I also use the word engineered rather than designed.

  1. detail some of the setup configuration for the hardware
  2. complain about the fuzzyness around the gps/3g chip in it
  3. list pros and cons of the machine, not directly comparing it to the mbp
  4. conclude

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