Why ThinkPads?

Anyone that watches the channel will know that the majority of the laptops featured so far have been ThinkPads either made by IBM or Lenovo.

Here are some of the reasons they are featured:

  1. They last. ThinkPads are designed for business customers first and not the consumer market. That means after their service life, like any piece of equipment, it gets surplused by the company. A lot of surplus is generally written off for scrap, recyclers and tinkerers. What makes a ThinkPad different is, most of them have plenty of life left to give and their original value drops significantly. This is thanks in no small part to the Yamato Design Labs “torture chamber” and the MIL-STD tests that these laptops undergo. Most consumer-grade devices, if they last their life-cycle are often difficult to repair and source parts. A quick search on eBay reveals that parts for ThinkPads however are easily found.

    Yamato Labs from Digital Trends tour in 2017
  2. Maintenance Manuals are readily available. They show you step by step how to service each part of the machine, have images and part numbers. You can read them before or after you buy your laptop to see what you are getting yourself into. Never taken apart a computer before? It tells you how. Not sure if that “for parts” eBay listing is worth your time? Check the manual for costs and price out what it might cost to fix. Screws are also standard so no need for specialized drivers to open the computer.

    Cover of the Maintenance Manual for the T470s
  3. Drivers can be found. Every driver is available on one of thetwo driver websites that Lenovo maintains. No discs required and no hunting sketchy third-party websites for drivers. Get them right from the source. Not only that, but Linux support is infamous on ThinkPads and in the year 2020, you can buy them new with Linux installed.
  4. Design matters. ThinkPads aren’t just a black business laptop. When IBM was sold to Lenovo, one of the things that had Lenovo drooling was all the patents they were buying. Several iconic features were included in that deal. To say nothing of the innovations of swappable Ultrabay drives, the ThinkLight, TrackPoint, the amazing keyboards (both classic and new) would be a mistake. When you spend over 25 years designing an object, you learn a lot. Granted you make mistakes, but the benefits and knowledge over time outweigh the setbacks. David Hill told me that Lenovo knows everything about making a keyboard and that makes sense given how long they have been doing it.

    Graphic from “ThinkPad Design Spirit and Essence.”
  5. Tinkerer’s Dream. Don’t like the ThinkPad you bought? Chances are good there is something to be done about it. Whether it is swapping out factory parts, building an ExpressCard eGPU or seeking our third-party parts to enhance your computer, the ThinkPad community has you covered.

In short, if you are in the need of a laptop, as many are at the start of 2021, if you are willing to take the time and learn about your options, you really do stand to benefit from some used ThinkPads out there.