Which is the best laptop in the town? - Page 3

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Re: Which is the best laptop in the town?

Somewhere on teh intarwebs BillW50 wrote:
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No, I haven't seen him. Then again, there are people who can't get a brick
to last five years. Admittedly my oldest ThinkPad is only 6 years as it's
only been recently that I've left the (gaming) PC building lark. I used to
build systems from friends and FOFs who upgraded often so my system was
usually part cast-offs (which I usually took as (at least part) payment for
assemling the new one. I usually had a new mobo / CPU though.

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I can't remember the models now but, back in the late 90s, a mate in the
corporate hardware bussiness (his main business is refurbishing
top-of-the-line servers supplied by companies who replace with the best
often, and on-selling to less wealthy companies, then maintaining them)
asked if I wanted to see if I could make a few bucks from some laptops. He'd
bought about 12 various Tosh lappies as part of a job-lot at auction. He was
only interested in the servers really but had already on-sold the laptops
that worked.

They were Pentium (1) laptops, I don't remember the models but all but about
three were the same model. I got them at the price I got for selling two
working so made a dollar or two. Back then there wasn't the 'private' access
to dis/assembly instructions that are avaialble for some laptops these days
so it was all a bit 'suck it and see' when it came to working out how to
(non-destructively) disassemble and then re-assemble them.

I think I did fairly well all-in-all. IIRC there were only two that I
couldn't get going, that were part-used as donor machines. I remember then
thinking that laptop repair was a highly-technical job, much patience was
required (unless you were affiliated with a laptop manufacurer in which case
you had access to all the documentation.) Unlike a few brands these days the
documents on opening the things was jealously guarded and often you'd end up
breaking off tabs etcetera on the first of any model you opened. It really
paid to keep notes.

However, as back then laptops cost roughly four times what a similar desktop
cost I then didn't really touch another for a decade or so.

Then a couple of years ago I decided that desktops were chewing through too
much electricity (I usually have three of four machines running at once) so
sought the advice of friends in the corporate IT business as to what brand
would be best. Of the four people I asked the unanimous reply was ThinkPads,
IBM and also the newer Lenovo versions. A couple of these guys bemoaned the
fact that some of their employers had recently changed suppliers, to Dell
and Toshiba respectively and that they missed the 'good old days'
(relatively) when they had quality, long-lasting and easilly serviced
machines (in the shape of ThinkPads) to look after.

Therefore a couple of years ago I started replacing my desktops with
laptops. As I'm on a very limited income but tech-savvy I bought
second-hand, sometimes with faults, and rolled up my sleves. One thing about
IBM/Lenovo and their ThinkPad range; They make their 'hardware maintainence
manuals' available to anyone and they are very easy to follow. It's also
still possiblt ot get these manuals for very old machines. I did buy some
non-ThinkPads and, in general had significantly more difficulty with them.

See ThinkPads were originally conceived for the corporate environment and,
as such, were designed to not only be robust but as most were bought with
on-site warranties, to be quickly and easilly repaired if anything did go
wrong. It's this original design philosophy (that is continued to this day)
that makes ThinkPads the best choice for me.

Then, when you consider that I'm an invalid on welfare (chronic back pain)
with a very limited income and that ThinkPads were widely bought in bulk by
the corporates it makes me one very lucky guy. There are a lot of them that
are being 're-homed' as most corporates replace every three of four years.
Also, as there are people who prefer to pay a premium for form over function
<cough> they tend to be reasonably priced. This fits in well with my
constraints, both financial and physical. Also it means that I can
mix'n'match, buy a machine that doesn't work cheaply knowing that there's a
good chance I can get parts fairly easilly and get it going. In fact two of
my current collection weren't even bought as 'whole laptops', they were
built up from parts from several sources.

I originally bought them as 'parts kits', like this one:


Also the education sector went largely with ThinkPads. I've spoken to guys
at forums.thinkpads, mainly USAian, who were issued with their machines as
part of their college intake procedure. There was usually a tech guy on
campus (often a student who IBM / Lenovo paid) who had a few drawers full of
all of  the FRUs (Field Replacement Units) for the current models they had
in service so if anything went wrong with a student's machine it could be
fixed, usually within the hour.

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Other than one of those Tosh's all those years ago that I kept for a while,
then realsied that I needed the money I could get for it more than I needed
a laptop (even ~4 years old they were worth as much as a new, far more
powerful desktop back then), and a Dell PII / 400 (I got it cheaply from a
agarage sale) that's just stopped working on me I've only bought laptops
that have USB2 and at least Pentium M CPUs.

I stopped buying and building Intel machines when they went to that dog of a
CPU, the Pentium 4 and became an AMD man. However, starting with the Pentium
M CPU ('Banais', which was then developed via the 'Dothan' to become the
'Core' range of CPUs, then 'Core 2', and now iX range) Intel were back on
course. It's like the whole P4 nightmare went away The Pentium M was based
on the PIII but included a few things that Intel learned from the P4
fiasco... Sorry, pet subject.

Anyway, as I see it, any laptop that is running at least a 1.5GHz Pentium M
and has USB2 is useful for most things and will remain so for a while yet.
Bonus points if it's a ThinkPad as they had largely interchangable parts and
there are lots of them (parts and machines) available on places like ebay or
the site I linked to above, Trademe, NZ's version of ebay.

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Yeah, I agree on the Intel chipset thing and if I wasn't into (very light by
today's standards) gaming I'd only buy machines with Intel graphics.
ThinkPads did and do feature either Intel graphics or a seperate GPU. They
never used the latest and greatest mobile GPU so, for the most part, there
wasn't a problem with heat from it (The T60p and some T61s being the

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I'm talking about a dedicated machine, with my full collection of my ripped
CDs on the HDD (at a high birate), permanently hooked up to my stereo
system. I can plug my Sennheiser cans into any of my machines if needed
However I mean home entertainment system mp3 player.

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Well, several times I've waited while an ATM booted up and every one I've
seen runs OS/2 to this day. As do one hell of a lot of the 'computers' that
run essential services used by utility suppliers. For a brief time IBM *was*
the largest /developer/ of PC software. However they ran into the inertia
and apathy that all the various Linux distros are running into now; People
stick with whats supplied with their machine. (Unless it's Linux, in which
case a lot of them swap it out for Windows.)

The difference is Linux is largely developed by volunteers so, despite the
fact that it's user-base is small, can continue on. IBM on the other hand
were investing billions in PC software development so, when the returns
didn't come, pulled out again and went back to their core business of
mainframes etcetera and their software. That said I know a couple of guys
who run OS/2 on their day-to-day machines still. I actually bought a copy of
OS/2 'Warp', a significant investment in those days, but coiuldn't come to
grips with it. I was very much a n00b then. :-/

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Can't hurt to look. You say that you can't see them being 'more relaible'
than your current crop of laptops but I believe that you really have no
frame of reference?

Caveat: As mentioned, I'm working with older machines, from 2004 to 2008
(that's when they stopped offering 4:3 aspect ratio and I heartilly dislike
'widescreen' for computing. Why do you think they have to call it
'widescreen'? Because it's not natural, that's why. Otherwise they'd call
the older 4:3 aspect 'narrowscreen' rather than the other way around. ;-)

Anyway, as such I can't vouch for the current Lenovo products other than to
say that I hear good things about the 'T' range that still carry the
ThinkPad name. It's my understanding that IBM still have strict giudlines in
place for Lenovo concerning the use of the ThinkPad brand name.

"When we dream.... that's just our brains defragmenting" G Jackson

Re: Which is the best laptop in the town?

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Is any company making standard sized Laptop components which allow low
priced upgrades? E.g. Keeping the size of the mother board and basic
inputs constant can help replace with newer versions.

Re: Which is the best laptop in the town?

Somewhere on teh intarwebs Ganesh wrote:
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To a certain extent, yes, amongst their own range. I read forums.thinkpad a
lot and there are several accounts of 'FrankenPads" where people have put
different planars (motherboards) into machines from different model ranges.
I know a guy who made a FrankenPad actually, he wanted a combo of features
that wasn't available from IBM / Lenovo so fitted a planar from a different
model to his machine.

I've built up two ThinkPads myself from parts bought on NZ's version of ebay
(Trademe.co.nz), starting with simply a 'base', which contains a planar.
People buy bases as donors for laptops that are BIOS locked. It's next to
impossible to defeat a ThinkPad's password lock feature (unlike a recent
Toshiba that I unlocked the other day which just needed a 'jumper' shorted
on power-up) so there are people who sell 'bases' for different models. I
had spares for my R40 and also for my R51 so I ended up buying a base for
each, then using some of my spares plus buying parts and built up working

"When we dream.... that's just our brains defragmenting" G Jackson

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