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    I have the following ThinkPads that are still functional:

    • T23 (14.1”, 1400x1050)
    • T41p (14.1”, 1400x1050)
    • R60 (15”, 1400x1050)
    • X60 (12.1”, 1024x768)
    • 2x X61T (the best! 12.1”, 1400x1050)
    • T400 (14.1”, 1440x900)
    • T410 (14.1”, 1440x900)
    • T430s (14.0”, 1600x900)
    • X240 (12.5”, 1920x1080)

    Older ones I forgot or don’t have anymore.

    I also have experience with:

    • X200 (12”, 1280x800)
    • X220 (12.5”, 1366x768)
    • T420s (14.1”, 1600x900)
    • T61 (14.1”, 1440x900)

    Also forgot about:

    • T510 (15.6”, 1920x1080)

    The older ones were the better ones. Much better. The new ones feel like consumer laptops. Still the best non-Mac laptop, but ultra crappy compared to ThinkPads from 15 years ago.

    Long gone are the high resolution screens. Yeah, now some 12” laptops come with 1080p screens and some 14” laptops (but not the better ones) come with 2560x1440. So what, these might be higher DPI, but they have LESS real screen estate than the old laptops. The keyboard is now completely compromised (no 7 row), and the build quality feels, and is much cheaper. Oh yeah, back in the day ThinkPads were the thin laptops compared to the competition. Now they are bricks.

    So I buy Macs. I get 16:10 screen, which unfortunately is not a 4:3 screen but still so much better than a 16:9 screen, most real screen estate available in a laptop today, true 2x hi-dpi display, not the crappy 1.5x other manufacturers offer, PCIe storage (don’t think it’s necessary in a laptop? have you used “modern” software the last decade?), best battery life, quiet, great build quality, and 3x MIMO 802.11ac. Macs are not just a little bit better laptops, they are in a different class altogether. Unfortunately they are the only laptop in this class.

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      X1C 4th and 5th Gen (2016/2017 models) have everything you list as being unique in the class of Macbooks. Exception is 16:9 1080p screen, but the Lenovo one is matte, which is my personal screen preference.

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        Long gone are the high resolution screens.

        So what, these might be higher DPI, but they have LESS real screen estate than the old laptops.

        Resolution is literally about DPI and not real estate?!?!

        back in the day ThinkPads were the thin laptops compared to the competition. Now they are bricks

        Well, the X1 Carbon is there if you don’t like bricks. Some people do :)

        PCIe storage (don’t think it’s necessary in a laptop? have you used “modern” software the last decade?)

        I use SATA storage on my workstation. I do use modern software. Really haven’t found the need to spend twice the $/GB for faster SSDs.

        (But the Carbons and other expensive ThinkPad models do have M.2 slots with PCIe support.)

        best battery life

        You have an X240, and you think Macs beat the dual/hotswap battery system that actually gives you a whole day of work?

        quiet

        My old MacBook Air sounded like a goddamn vacuum cleaner when idle. My X240 is very quiet under full load. Sure, newer MacBooks also have ultra low power CPUs, so maybe they’re quieter than the 2010 model…

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          Resolution is literally about DPI and not real estate?!?!

          I am not sure what you mean, the virtual viewport resolution is all that matters for screen estate.

          Ideally you want integer scaling, 2x or 3x, if that’s not possible, non-integer scaling higher than 2x works pretty well, but only if the physical pixel density is high enough. Lower than 2x scaling modes are very crappy. On my 13” Macbook Pro I get a 1280x800 virtual viewport with 2x scaling (but I use more scaling, more on that later). On my 15” MacBook Pro I get an 1440x900 viewport with 2x scaling. On my 12” MacBook I get an 2.something scaled 1280x800 viewport. Of course all text is rendered natively at 220-227 ppi.

          The 12.5” X270 with the better screen has an 1920x1080 physical display. Text is only rendered at a crappy 176 ppi, but let’s talk about screen estate.

          Unfortunately the display is not high-dpi enough to run at 2x, so you’d have to settle for less. The only scaling factor that produces acceptable rendering quality and acceptable angular virtual resolution is 1.5. That produces a virtual viewport of 1280x720. Even though it has the same number of virtual horizontal points, it’s significantly more crappy than the Macbook’s 800 point vertical viewport. There is more real screen estate on the Mac.

          The X470 is even worse, it also maxes out at 1920x1080, that’s only 157 ppi! Text is even crappier than on X270, and 1.5x scaling gives us the same crappy 1280x720 viewport with rendering too large for 14”. We need more scaling, but I actually tried an equivalent screen and there wasn’t any scaling factor that produced acceptable quality. The reason is too low ppi. High-ppi screens work well at non-integer factors, Low-ppi screens don’t.

          The T470s and T470p have a better screen. 2560x1440 on 14”. That means we can finally get good text rendering at 209 ppi and good rendering quality with 2x scaling. Unfortunately 2x scaling gives us the same virtual viewport of only 1280x720.

          No matter what you do you can’t get more than 720 lines of vertical screen estate on a 12.5”-14” ThinkPad, while I get 800 lines of screen estate on my Macbook. On my Macbook Pros, which I actually run at higher than 2x (as the high pixel density allows for this) I get an 1440x900 viewport on my 13” and 1680x1050 on my 15”. That is vastly more screen estate than any ThinkPad.

          But let’s forget about pixel densities and scale factors. Even if Lenovo starts using higher density screens, if you want screen elements and text to be rendered at the same size, a 16:9 has less screen surface, and more importantly less vertical lines than an 16:10 screen, so a ThinkPad will always lose the screen estate if it has an 16:9 screen.

          By comparison, my 4:3 ThinkPad X61T has an 1400x1050 screen. This has both more horizontal, and vertical screen estate than any ThinkPad sold today. It has the same number of vertical lines as my 15” Macbook running in more than 2x mode! And it was released 10 years ago! Literally a decade ago! How far we’ve regressed since then.

          Even my newer T410 has an 1440x900 screen, which has more virtual points than any ThinkPad sold today. Today, if you want screen estate Macbooks are the only players, because they are the only laptops with better than 16:9 screens and good pixel density.

          Well, the X1 Carbon is there if you don’t like bricks. Some people do :)

          X1C comes with a crappy screen (as discussed above) and with many of the same disadvantages as the Macs: no real ethernet port, built-in battery, etc. Also no 7-row keyboard, why should I care about the X1C again?

          You have an X240, and you think Macs beat the dual/hotswap battery system that actually gives you a whole day of work?

          X240 has less battery life in OpenBSD compared to Macbooks running macOS. Yes, of course X240 is not optimized for OpenBSD, but realistically I can only compare what I run on these machines. I’m sure X240 fares better in Windows, but I don’t run Windows on these machines.

          My old MacBook Air sounded like a goddamn vacuum cleaner when idle. […] Sure, newer MacBooks also have ultra low power CPUs, so maybe they’re quieter than the 2010 model…

          Correct, this problem has been solved. My 12” Macbook doesn’t have any fans at all, it’s passively cooled. My 2017, 15” quad-core MacBook Pro has fans, but I have never heard them, and that’s no exaggeration. Also my late 2015 iMac has fans and I never hear them unless I am compiling something that takes longer than 15 minutes.

          My late 2012 13” Macbook Pro has fans, and I hear them more often compared to the later Macs I have, but they are dead silent on idle, and I hear them less often that I hear ThinkPad fans, and as you can see I have a large collection to compare from. Oh yeah, I also had a T510, I forgot about that.

          My X240 is very quiet under full load.

          Here we must disagree. I can hear the X240 fans on idle. This is on OpenBSD, where idle power consumption is a little higher than on Windows. On full load they are much noisier than any other Mac I have while in full load.

          All this being said, I will buy the ThinkPad Retro once it comes out, as I can’t help myself. I really want a machine that runs non-macOS Unix natively, even though that in many ways it’s worse than machines I had over a decade ago.

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            Just for reference, some of the X1C have hidpi screens. 2560x1440 at 1.5 scaling gives a good looking 900 lines of resolution. I don’t know why Lenovo always releases new models with crap screens and only brings out the good screen later, if at all.

            I wonder if Lenovo is held back by stupid enterprise shit that can’t scale. Some of the older, not consumer targeted windows dialogs are ugly as sin. In house Java business apps must be even worse. I would bet this prevents them from selling hidpi screens to many corps.

            Also, not sure if it’s because of the broadwell cpu, but the fans are completely off. I don’t know if the X250 would be the same or not.

            I can agree with the general sentiment that Lenovo has a mix of good parts and bad parts and kind of circles around the target, but never quite manages to put everything together in one model. Plus their web site is shit. And the tech specs page always promises configurations you can never actually buy.

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              Thanks, I didn’t know about the high resolution X1C displays!

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              I am not sure what you mean

              I mean, DPI is resolution, we have less vertical space these days, but more DPI / more pixels, so “Long gone are the high resolution screens” doesn’t make sense to me. High vertical lines screens are mostly gone, sure :) Except for, like, the Microsoft Surface Book which is 3:2.

              This is on OpenBSD, where idle power consumption is a little higher than on Windows.

              OpenBSD’s supposed to have good ThinkPad support, why wasn’t this fixed? :) On FreeBSD -CURRENT with powerd++, idle CPU power consumption as measured with Intel’s pcm.x is 1-2W.

              Did you have 3D acceleration enabled? (OpenBSD supports Haswell GPU, right?) If not, yeah, not surprising. For whatever reason, it consumes 10W if you don’t initialize the GPU. Thanks, Intel.

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                I mean, DPI is resolution, we have less vertical space these days, but more DPI / more pixels, so “Long gone are the high resolution screens” doesn’t make sense to me. High vertical lines screens are mostly gone, sure :)

                I meant compared to the competition. Back in the days, screens were crappy, both in resolution and other things. ThinkPad screens were also crappy (and still are), except you could get them in higher resolutions compared to the competition. Only Fujitsu laptops made in Japan had equivalent displays, and those cost more than ThinkPads.

                These days however, ThinkPad displays are not competitive. They are worse than the competition. Of course the competition are Macs. There is no other competition. As much as ThinkPad regressed, they are still better than other laptops. And there are no laptops made in Japan anymore.

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          I am with @amontalenti in the group of long time Thinkpad users. Started with a T32, T42, T43, X200, X220, T450s all of them running either Linux or DragonFly BSD or recently OpenBSD. You can see I am a clear fan of their Laptops.

          However, a recent event might changed my mind. The Display on my T450 broke and I sent it to Lenovo for repair. At first, I was really surprised to get a notification about my cost estimation being ready after 3 working days (including shipment from Germany to Poland). Interestingly, they asked for my sales tax ID and would not send me the cost estimation without providing one. Since I am a private person and not a company I do not have a sales tax ID (at least that’s the way in Germany). After explaining them this, the whole customer experience process went to hell :/

          The repair center in Poland that wanted the sales tax ID stopped responding to my emails. The call center in Croatia could reach them only via email and no escalation helped. Nobody could give me the exact status of my cost estimation, my laptop at all and everybody blamed the others. Since I knew that the cost estimation was already written I was pretty disappointed and nobody spoke to me for 3.5 weeks. Then someone from UK approached me and told me that there was a hiccup in the financial dept and they now know that private persons have no sales tax ID. Finally, another week later I got my estimation and another week later my laptop back. Summarized, it took them over 5 weeks to replace a simple display.

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            That sounds like a pretty poor experience. I imagine this is some foolish attempt to prevent repairs by bootleggers. But I wouldn’t read into it too deeply. For a contrasting experience, I had recently received a factory outlet model from Lenovo that had some screen damage, and I called them up and they instantly refunded the full purchase. I could order its replacement straight away and without hassle.

            One thing to recognize about Lenovo is that it is offering PC hardware choice in an industry that is tending to be dominated by Apple, Microsoft, and Google “vertically-integrated” hardware+software. It’s a tough business.

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              This is all Lenovo repairs, including my thoroughly botched repair. I think it would be a mistake to buy a Lenovo laptop until they’ve had a major corporate reorganization. These are organizational problems, not technical.

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              I love Linux, but my machine is still a MacBook Pro using VMWare to run Linux. I started using Linux in 1999, but in 2006 I jumped to the Mac simply because I wanted access to better commercial software and also because I was tired of having the hardware not work 100% of the time.

              I want to use Linux exclusively, and have had my eye on the exit door for quite some time, but I’m just not willing to spend my time tinkering on stuff. Linux works awesome on servers, and it is all I will use in addition to other *nix variants, but for now my GUI’s going to be a Mac.

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                I think this is a rational choice as a developer.

                That said, I operate in a reverse fashion, and find no real harm to my day to day. I run Linux on the desktop, and then VMWare + Win10 for the occasional commercial app. The Windows-era holdovers for me include my Fujitsu scanner software, GotoMeeting, Apple iTunes, Adobe Photoshop CS, Adobe Acrobat, and the MS Office suite.

                I find I boot my Windows 10 VM about once every few weeks, since 95%+ of the time, I can run on free software or non-free ports to Linux.

                I have a dedicated Mac Mini that I run 24x7 because, frustratingly, there is some Apple software that I wish I could access via VM, but can’t. This includes XCode, Keynote, and Pages. Lately, I use a remote access software to use this stuff from my Linux machine in the odd moments that I need it. But given that Apple makes OSX so frustratingly hard to virtualize, and given that Apple has several important Apple-only commercial apps, I can see why many otherwise-Linux users feel forced into running OSX. I really hope these folks recognize their hand is more forced by Apple’s stance on virtualization and insistence on non-free development tools than by Linux’s historical hardware support.

                Of all of these, XCode is the real holdover. Keynote and Pages have reasonable iOS and web (iCloud) editions, so with either a web browser or an iPad, one could bridge these somewhat easily. But, XCode still requires OSX, and I imagine this ends up being a pretty serious deal breaker for native iOS developers. I really wish Apple would sponsor development of XCode-only OSX VMs in the same way Microsoft does the same for historical IE versions needed by web developers.

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                  my machine is still a MacBook Pro using VMWare to run Linux.

                  I wish there were more programs that used Apple’s native Hypervisor.framework so you could run VMs without 3rd party kernel drivers.

                  So far only xhyve exists, but it’s full of rough edges. There was another app, Veertu, that was even on the app store, but they renamed it and changed its focus into some vaporware bullshit: https://veertu.com.

                  Unfortunately I don’t think Apple has a 1st party solution for virtual networking (they don’t even ship a tun/tap driver), but sometimes you can live without. Apple has a solution for VPNs, so you can install VPNs programs without tun/tap drivers that don’t run as root, but I don’t know yet if you can abuse that for virtual networking. I think you can, though.

                  VMware is still a dream compared to VirtualBox, which is a total shitshow, but even VMware has its warts. There’s always something wrong when you install VMware on a mac. Power consumption used to go up the roof. That’s sort of fixed now, but it has other problems. For example, merely installing VMware increases input lag. You don’t even have to be running any VMs. I am very sensitive to input lag, and it’s immediately obvious to me that there’s something wrong.

                  I haven’t tried Parallels. Since it’s consumer/Windows focused I doubt it’s what I need. For example vagrant support is simply not there and I doubt it can run OpenBSD/Solaris well, but I should try it one day. All these GUI apps make me nauseous. Xhyve has the best user experience of all (just a CLI program).

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                    My work uses Parallels and I can’t stand using it for Linux. I don’t think it supports port forwarding like VirtualBox (and probably VMware). I couldn’t get it to allow me to SSH into the VM.

                    Parallels is also bad for power consumption. I would avoid it.

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                      Thanks, awful as expected.

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                  I have a Dell XPS 13 developer edition and I’ve been very happy with it. It ‘just works’, and is a nice machine. He’s right about the ‘nose cam’, but I don’t do a lot of video calling. Just back away from the computer a bit more, or buy an external one if you do.

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                    I’m running a Thinkpad X1C 3rd Gen for work and it’s good enough, although my team has System 76’s Galago Pro from this year, which seems better in almost every way except battery life. I would expect that for ultrabook-style Linux laptops, either the next revision of the Thinkpad X1C, or whatever home-spun design System 76 comes up with (current Galago Pros are based on another OEM’s hardware) will be pretty much perfect. The next Dell XPS 13 is another potential contender, as I have seen them work amazingly as Linux laptops over the last 2 revisions.

                    Again that’s ultrabook-style laptops. I still don’t feel my sweet spot is served by existing laptops, and it comes down to a market segmentation issue. To get a slightly larger/thicker laptop, with a little more battery, and a little better cooling that can support a better processor (i.e. a 7700HQ instead of a 7600U) almost all the OEMs I have looked at require you get a dedicated Nvidia GPU as well. Said GPU will operate in a hybrid/switchable manner, the Linux experience for which I neither like, nor want.

                    My current hope is that AMD will offer a version of Ryzen mobile paired with enough integrated GPU “oomph” to allow higher-powered CPU laptops to eschew a hybird-dedicated GPU.

                    For those who like the thin-and-light laptops, it’s is already approaching a golden era for Linux laptoppery.

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                      although my team has System 76’s Galago Pro from this year, which seems better in almost every way except battery life

                      I’m watching System 76, but until now they don’t having keyboards comparable with the ones of recent ThinkPads (the older ThinkPads had even better ones), not even talking about the missing TrackPoint. So, I would like to extend your sentence to: almost every way, except the missing trackpoint, an excellent keyboard and battery life.

                      I’m waiting for the X62

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                        That keyboard criticism is fair. I also was never a rabid devotee, despite using Thinkpads for most of the laptops in my life. I like them better than “clickpad” touchpads, I suppose, but it’s not a strong feeling.

                        I use my laptop docked ~75% of the time anyway, so while I like the TrackPoint and nicer keyboard, I don’t notice those as greatly these days. Keyboard would outweigh the touchpad v. trackpoint debate in importance (for me).

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                      I really don’t get the 16:9 hate that’s so common in ThinkPad threads here. 16:10 and 3:2 look interesting, but I’m fine with 16:9. 4:3 looks just old and uncool :P

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                        It’s extremely simple. For a given diagonal, the wider the aspect ration, the less surface and the less vertical space the display has. Laptop screens are small, there is only so much they can display, and 16:9 makes them display even less. Why would one want a display that show less information is beyond my understanding.

                        Of course it’s all exacerbated by the fact that displays used to be 4:3, and then 16:10. This means they used to be better (more information, more code), and now they are worse. We are complaining about regression. There is a lot less code I can display on my screen compared to a decade ago.

                        It’s hard to take the claim that people don’t want 4:3 displays seriously (because they want to watch movies) when Apple’s iPads are all 4:3.

                        It’s also much harder to make the argument for 16:10. 16:10 is just as good as 16:9 for watching movies, yet so much more better for anything else. Plus just look at all these ThinkPads with 16:9 displays. They have huge horizontal bezels. A 16:10 screen would fit with room to spare.

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                        I very much wish that there was more interesting competition in the laptop market, but between the economies of the Windows OEMs and Apple, there really isn’t anything. I am happy with Apple’s choices, but a world where fit and finish is only really available from one vendor is not a great one to live in. I accept that this is because of cross-subsidization from the money-printing iPhone juggernaut, but that’s just an explanation, not an excuse.