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    I don’t really get these “bolt a bunch of stuff onto an X220” articles. It just seems like a lot of money and effort to have something that doesn’t work very well (i.e. fighting SeaBIOS or dealing with improperly fit keyboards) in the end.

    My interest in ThinkPads is pretty much over anyways though.

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      Oh, and fn belongs to the left of control. Apple and Lenovo get this right, why can’t anyone else?


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        There’s a few Lenovo laptops that do that… Yoga L13 to give an example. But in all of them you can switch it in bios and in many you can even swap the keycaps.

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        Haha, yes. It is indeed. What I have ended up working rather well, no issues except the stiffness will never be as good as a macbook.

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          I bought a secondhand Latitude e6220 (Dell’s equivalent of the X220) as it was much cheaper than X220s at the time (about 5 years ago) - it’s still going strong with 8Mb RAM and 275Gb SSD. I use it when I travel as it’s tough as old boots, and it’s still faster than my usual “browsing” machine (a cheapo Asus with an N5000 CPU, but 1080p), the only thing that lets it down is the 768p screen.

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          I honestly hope that the Framework laptop will have a similar legacy and fanbase in a few years.

          I’m fascinated by the thought of doing something similar with a Thinkpad, and I can imagine the amount of time and money spent on this will make me even happier with my ‘new’ computer. It would probably feel amazing…but I won’t. I know a rabbit hole when I see one :D

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            If you don’t want to do it yourself there’s a shadowy Shenzhen hacker collective that will do it for you: https://geoff.greer.fm/2017/07/16/thinkpad-x62/

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              That’s todays risky click - it might cost me money. :(

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            I also went a bit overboard. There is just some undeniable magic to soldering stuff to get a Quad-Core upgrade, replacing the CCFL with a LED in the x200 IPS panel to compete with daylight. Modding hardware mods. It’s way past rational, yet something special and I don’t even understand why.

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              Ownership is special. Property is one of the greatest inventions of civilisation, while being one of the most maligned.

              In my opinion, the more you modify and customise something, the greater the sense of (and benefit from) ownership.

              I still remember the feeling of freedom when I realised I could drill a hole through a wall to run cables, without having to ask a landlord.

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              That said, my original 2012 battery that came with the Thinkpad was in good condition.

              Wait what?? How?

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                I don’t know! Maybe it was never used.

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                  The battery in my 2013 MacBook Pro died this year and that machine was in daily use for the last 8 years. The battery was holding around 90% of the charge that it held when new, but it had swollen enough that I couldn’t push the trackpad button down properly, I wouldn’t have noticed that it was in a might-catch-fire-soon state if it hadn’t pushed up against the trackpad (cutting through the glue to get it out was quite stressful, but we got it out without anything catching fire and disposed of it). This one had been kept more than 50% charged most of the time, which is generally good for LiIon batteries (keeping them at 60-70% charge is ideal, I believe), which reduces the wear.

                  The probability of failure for LiIon batteries goes up over time (and at different rates depending on charge level) but it remains probabilistic failure. Outliers will be happy after 10+ years or die in under one year. The battery in my G4 PowerBook (2005 or 2006 edition?) is still fine, though that one got only a couple of years of use before being displaced by the Core 2 Duo version (Apple lost the original machine when I sent it in for repair and after spending £20 on phone calls being lied to by their support reps and writing an article that was picked up in syndication by a few places about it, they finally sent me a replacement about 6 weeks after I sent in the original).

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                  And that’s why I’m modding my T470 (1080p 400nits 105% sRGB screen from the T14, 95Wh battery, 2TB NVMe SSD, 32GB DDR4-3200 RAM, etc). Atm considering whether it’s possible to upgrade the CPU with a heat gun.

                  Ideally I’d be modding a ThinkPad 25 (as it has the better keyboard and more M.2 slots, and hopefully a proper Thunderbolt port), but I can’t find one used.

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                    In case anyone else is looking for it (it took me months to find a reputable retailer selling it), this is the display I got: https://www.xelent-store.de/Innolux-N140HCG-GQ2-400cd-Low-Power-Display-72-NTSC-inkl-4-brackets

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                    Nice guide, thanks for sharing it.

                    I currently use 10 years old ThinkPad W520 and I will use it for several years more as replacements does not exist. Maybe I will be able to get ThinkPad T25 (Anniversary) but I haven’t seen one on auction since about a year …

                    I also own X220 (not X230) because I did not wanted to waste time with keyboard modifications. I got 1366x768 IPS panel instead of TN one so colors and brightness are great. Maybe I will put FullHD 1920x1080 somewhere in the future as its the only thing I maybe miss from my ThinkPad W520 :)


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                      I think it’s interesting and telling that the display is the first thing he cites wanting to replace.

                      I bought a T15 Gen2 a number of months ago and I’m positively delighted with it with one exception - the screen has such a severe glare problem that if you even so much as waft a particle of sunlight near it it washes out to the point of utter unusability.

                      That’s pretty frustrating in what is otherwise a reasonably high-ish end laptop. I chose the UHD model. Most Thinkpad enthusiasts act like they have NO earthly idea what I’m talking about, so my attempts at trying to discern whether choosing the MUCH more expensive FHD display would have solved this problem have been fruitless.

                      Still super happy with my choice given the price point but the display is an omni-present fly in the ointment.

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                        Buy one of the displays separately and replace it to try it out? I replaced the 6-bit 250nits panel in my T470 with the 8-bit 400nits panel from the T14 (with custom brackets from a chinese seller), and I’m very happy with the results.

                        At least for 14”, nothing beats the Innolux N140HCG-GQ2, I’d expect the 15” variants to be similar.

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                          Most Thinkpad enthusiasts act like they have NO earthly idea what I’m talking about

                          That’s weird; most of the reading I’ve done online is pretty clear about the fact that for many models it’s basically completely random whether you will end up with a good screen or a bad screen, and that you pretty much have to see it in person before you can know.

                          When I started at my job in 2016, I asked them to get me a Thinkpad and it didn’t even occur to me to specify “with a non-shit display” so I ended up with 768 vertical pixels making it basically unusable without an external display.

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                          I have a second hand X220 I bought in 2016. I have been using it unmodified since then, but I love these kind of articles. It just shows how much fun it is to tinker with hardware. It also gives me confidence that this is still possible.

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                            My kids run a fleet of three X250s; they’re not great compared with earlier X-series. For example, to make them thinner the hard drive / SSD caddies have been abandoned, so you have to remove the entire back to swap a drive.

                            That’s sort-of acceptable for second-hand kids’ devices that are expected to be disposable (have you seen how a three year old treats a laptop?) but represents a significant step backwards from my old X220 and X200.

                            My new plan is just to build something myself to replace my W540 … chuck an Intel SBC (say, a Udoo), battery, etc. in a Pelican case. Something like this:


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                              ….how often do you swap disks?

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                                Usually whenever I purchase a replacement laptop for one of the kids, or a new one for myself, when I upgrade my own SSD, or when I want to play with other operating systems (e.g. Plan 9).

                                So, not that often, but often enough that I’d rather return to caddies.

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                                  A little off topic but what is the youngest age at which your child is allowed to use a computer? What is the youngest age at which they get their own computer?

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                                    We have a few age related family traditions:

                                    • at age 3, you get your big boy’s / big girl’s bed (that is, upgrade from a convertible cot), and your first ThinkPad running Linux.

                                    • at age 5, you get your own SIM card, phone, and email address, and are allowed to accompany your elder siblings at the playground without adult supervision

                                    • at age 7, you get your own torch, choice of multi tool (Leatherman or Victorinox), and get to go ‘adventuring’ (walking alone in the neighbourhood, short train trips).

                                    We do fun activities like putting scam calls on speakerphone, then playing a game where the kids have to work out what the scammer is attempting to achieve as quickly as possible. Also another game where I attempt to phish them by email, and they get chocolate if they identify the phish.

                                    An interesting consequence of this is decoupling literacy from writing, because they can just type the letters. I’m not a professional teacher but it seems to help.

                                    Kids are currently 9, 7, and 5 and they’ve only destroyed a few laptops. None maliciously but they’ve been dropped so hard that internal connectors detach (webcam, audio), a hinge has broken, and somehow they ‘jammed’ a trackpad so it wouldn’t tap to click.

                                    The best survivors though have been X250s. Like my own laptops for many years (and my home ProLiant that runs our NAS) I buy refurbished mostly ex-corporate machines so they’re reasonably affordable.

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                              Wow. You’ve gone to a lot of work! I bought an X200 in 2009 and I still use it as my primary machine for personal work. No mods, but I did have to replace the battery a few years ago.