Tag Archives: IBM

A Love Letter to the Thinkpad

It’s hard to believe, but I finally did it. I just pulled the trigger on a new notebook computer. This after almost 8 years–yes, you read that right–8 years on an IBM 600 Thinkpad. I don’t know of any product that lasts 8 years these days. It’s even older than my Subaru. But somehow, not only did it keep on running, it kept up with what I needed it to do, running Windows XP and Office 2003 with a removable wireless card that came out 3 years or so after I bought the machine.

Mar07In case your wondering, yes, I used the laptop almost every day. But no, I don’t watch movies or play games on it. I pretty much operate on email, browser, word and powerpoint, though I used to do a fair amount of development on the road with dreamweaver and photoshop. I just never found the need to replace it, especially when the warranty and repairs were so effective. I replaced the keyboard once. I replaced the batteries a few times. I cracked open the case once to fix an audio connection. That’s it. And that includes at least two or three hard drops, and countless "soft" drops in my laptop bag.

But finally the time came for an upgrade, and to honor my incredible experience with the Thinkpad, I stuck with the brand and bought a new Z61T. It looks pretty much the same, except it has a lot more bells and whistles, and a 14-inch screen. I flirted with a Dell, customizing a high-end Latitude before going back to the Lenovo site, but at the end of the day the savings of $250 didn’t make up for the promise of another laptop with proven longevity. I’ve done the cheap route before. I bought an Acer that literally started to fall apart after 8 months. Not much savings when you factor in frequent replacements. And even though Dells are more solid than Acer’s, they can’t hold a candle to the durability of a Thinkpad–you can feel it when you hold the case–and they can’t hold a candle to the customer support.

The last time I called Dell, I wound up on a tech support loop that lasted nearly two weeks, with techs in Bangalore reading through canned support scripts. The last time I called support for my Thinkpad, I had simply forgotten my power cord on a sales trip to St. Louis, and couldn’t find a cord to power up my machine for a major presentation. A service rep found me a repair shop in St Louis where I picked up a used replacement. That’s something you can’t buy with just an extended warranty plan. 

So here’s to my Thinkpad 600. I wish all products were made that well. And I hope Lenovo weathers the transition and maintains the level of quality and service we’ve all come to expect, so I can get 8 years out of my new laptop. And if you’re wondering what I’m going to do with old machine, no, I’m not planning on recycling it. I’m going to stick in the case alongside my dad’s old laptop, one that’s lasted almost 10 times as long as my Thinkpad. It’s a late 1930s Hermes Baby, which my dad lugged around Europe in WWII. God only knows what my son might add to the collection some day.Img_6215