I got myself a new machine recently, a Thinkpad R400. At first I only wanted to buy a new keyboard and some RAM for my old laptop, but then I saw that I could get a not-completely-obsolete Thinkpad off of ebay for less than 200 €. That’s where my brain came to the conclusion that spending 200 € and needlessly getting a new machine would be somehow better than spending 30 € to upgrade the old one.
But to hell with rationality: it’s a Thinkpad for heaven’s sake!
I really like how these things look. It’s that form-follows-function thing, at least it seems to be. It looks as if the engineers could dictate every little detail – as if there were absolutely no trade-offs made with the design department. The screen isn’t even centered in the lid! It’s about half a centimeter off to the right – how cool is that?
Also, it’s as black as anything can possibly be. And the top of the lid has some rubber coating, making it appear even darker. It’s so black, it sucks in surrounding light. White things turn to grey, days turn to night around a Thinkpad.
How much more black can it be? None. None more black.
Maybe it’s just the contrast to today’s glossy, polished aluminum iPads, MacBooks and what-have-you – but I really like that design. It’s a beautiful kind of ugliness, as it were.
It’s also build pretty well, everything seems really solid. Like, almost too solid. In fact, I think that if you would drop it from second floor, the planet would break in half.
The keyboard is said to be among the best one can find on a notebook. I think it’s good, even though it’s not much better than that of my old machine (an Acer Travelmate). But that’s probably because Travelmates also have some kind of a reputation for their keyboards. The only other data-point I have here is an HP Pavilion laptop – and both keyboards are vastly superior to the mushy hell that is the one on the HP.
I still have some problems getting used to the fn-key being in the lower left corner, though. That’s where Ctrl has to be. And since it’s fn, you can’t even easily swap it software-wise. There are unofficial BIOS hacks, but I’m not going to let random guys on the internet binary-patch my machine’s BIOS. There’s just too much disastrous “told you so” potential in that kind of thing.
TL;DR: Lenovo Thinkpad R400, 190 €, great machine.