New notebook?

I’m in the market for a new notebook. I’ve only ever owned ThinkPads (except for a brief fling with a PowerBook a couple of years ago).

My current ThinkPad T42p has served proudly in the DRM wars and is entering retirement. It still does its job, but I want a notebook that’s not as heavy.

I’ve been considering getting the ThinkPad X60t as it’s smaller and lighter than the T60. Unfortunately, it’s currently available from Lenovo with only a L2400 CPU and I haven’t been able to find much info on how well it runs Linux. Also, there are reports of screen ripple issues. I was worried that quality would go down when Lenovo bought IBM’s PC division… and on a related note, the new ThinkVantage and volume buttons are hideous!

Should I switch to a MacBook Pro?

42 thoughts on “New notebook?”

  1. Regarding switching to a MacBook Pro, yes you should. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. My thoughts exactly. I am dithering between the MacBook Pro and the Lenovo tablet. The screen ripple thing seems to be a manufacturing problem, and in the comments nobody else has much of that problem, so I wouldn’t worry about that. My issue is with the keyboard (Thinkpad keyboards ar great, but a little hard) and the screen size. And, of course (since I use Windows), the ever-present compatibility problems, especially for all those little helpful programs you get used to over the years.

    I wish Apple would come up with a Tablet version of the MacBook Pro. Would solve my problem.

  3. I got a 17″ MacBook Pro a week ago, and I love it. I’ve not gotten more than gimmick value out of things like the remote or built-in webcam or illuminated keyboard. But the laptop is very well designed, as you’d expect, and it’s super-speedy. Not too hot, either; from what I’d read about the Intel Macs I was expecting it to be roasting my lap when I didn’t have a desk handy, but unless I’m playing WoW or something else GPU-intensive, it doesn’t get too hot, and the fans don’t get too loud. (Surprisingly, GPU activity is more of a factor on temperature than CPU activity.)

    My only complaint: I didn’t know that the audio-in jack only did line-level audio, not mic-level. I need to get an iMic or an amp for my gaming headset now.

  4. I recently switched from Thinkpad to MBP and it’s been a bit of a disappointment. Take a look at the Apple MBP forums ( to get a feel for the type of problems people are seeing. If you’re interested, my personal review is here:

    I also have a T60 (replaced an R51), and there is a noticeable difference with the newer Lenovo Thinkpads. The problem isn’t so much quality as it is design. For example, the T41/2/3 had a super easy memory expansion panel, whereas on the T60 you have to remove 4 screws and take the entire front panel of the machine off. Small but annoying cost-cutting changes.

  5. Personally i am not a huge mac fan, but if you are going to actually use the OS X side of the computer than go for it. But if your are just going to use windows and/or linux there are much better laptops out there than the MacBook.

  6. I am a thinkpad (t43p) owner and a computer technician. I’ve seen very few failures of Lenovo’s equipment. While Apple has an “next door” technician feel to it, that is almost insignificant due to the fact that thinkpads are built like tanks.

    Their T60 series is super quick, and also built with quality (much like the MBP).

    For the linux side of things, (as you probably know) thinkpads are prime for Laptop based linuxing. Most of the devs have thinkpads, and for that reason, the support is amazing. Not as much when it comes to the MBP. You can still get useful unix tools on the MBP, but it can be a pain at times (the porters can only do so much).

    In the end, it is a personal choice. You can probably make the transition very easily due to being a guru of sorts, but I will always recommend the Thinkpad to those that want a high performance/high quality laptop that will last.

  7. Hub, you do realize that OS X is built on Unix, right?

    As to a Mac Book Pro, If your looking for light weight, take a peek at the MacBook. It’s smaller and lighter than it’s MBP big brother. Maybe not quite as powerful, but that fully depends on what you plan on doing with the notebook.

    Just a thought. I bought a MacBook almost a year ago and love it to pieces. Way better than any Windows notebook I have ever owned.

  8. Make the switch to the Mac. I switched over 9 months ago and have been quite happy. That being said it all ties back to what you feel best with. I use Parallels to run Linux and other operating systems when the need arises. Good luck.

  9. I personally own a MacBook Pro 15″, love the damn thing. It is not too heavy (lighter than my old 12″ IBook) and does everything I need it to do plus more.

  10. I own a mbp 17″ with duo core… I really like it a lot. it does not run hot and I like to play with video editing and the garage band and GIMP and perl. I run cord to remote desktop back to work to work on windows servers and ssh to my linux boxes and vnc to what ever. I have an older thinkpad t-23 in which I run debian. Tough decision ๐Ÿ™‚ but I would lean toward the mac ๐Ÿ™‚
    BTW have you wrote a server that acts like airtunes? I would like to play my itunes through to my linux box which is hooked up to my stereo. I can not find anything that makes a linux box act like an airtunes box.

  11. I’m typing this on my main machine — a Thinkpad X60 (not t). Just double-check that the model you get is all Intel hardware internally (ethernet, wifi, graphics) and it will just work out of the box with modern distributions (Ubunty Edgy Eft in my case). I have the 1706-8GG, which comes with 1G RAM and 100G SATA. It’s *lovely*. My worries about Lenovo letting the ThinkPad line slide disappeared when I actually saw one at a conference, this feels just like a “proper” ThinkPad (my ThinkPad X22 is still on the hifi stack, running MPD).

    I’ve no direct experience with the t series, the problem for me is that there is no really good software for the tablet.

  12. If the volume buttons of that IBM bother you, you won’t be disappointed by any of the Apple laptops.

    And yes, they will run Linux, although I’ve found Mac OS X to be a good substitute for Linux a lot of the time. It’s not “built on Unix” per se, but it’s very Unix-like and has the majority of the major Unix tools built in.

  13. Well, X40 + SLED 10 – works as a beauty ! the most difficult part was installation of Lotus Notes for Linux which took me a while. Full story here, but bottom line very positive.

    And you can’t beat the x40 for portability, which for me is VERY important.
    My only gripe is subpar battery life (2 hrs max) but I am going to solve it with a battery slice

  14. I own a Mac Book Pro since december and I _really_ love it. It is way better than any other notebook I ever had before (IBM, Asus, Dell).

  15. If you’re considering a Macbook Pro for running only Linux, I would go try out the keyboard since its a little different than your typical laptop keyboard (single delete/backspace key, have to use function key for pgup/pgdn/home/end). Also is the single mouse button going to be a problem for you?

    My laptop is an IBM Thinkpad as well (an old T22 that is still chugging along). Personally, I really like the trackpoint mouse (my model doesn’t even have a touchpad and I don’t want one). If you have a preference for those, you of course won’t have that option with any of Apple’s offerings.

    If you plan on running OS X (even as a secondary OS), a Macbook Pro would make sense. But otherwise I think the keyboard/mouse would make it very awkward to use with Linux.

  16. say YES to a Macbook Pro.
    it has a nice form factor. it’s not heavy, it’s robust and it is able to run all major OSs (Linux, Windows, and MacOSX).
    this comes in really handy when you need to develop stuff for all 3 of them. not only that it is really handy to virtualize another os out of mac os x, you can run this natively. that just rocks ๐Ÿ˜‰
    i’m typing this on a PB G4. and i can’t wait to be able to afford a mac book pro.

  17. I have a MBP for about a year and am still very happy with it. I had no problems compiling linux software and command line tools so far. Coding with Xcode is fun ๐Ÿ™‚ … I would like to see someone as talented as you are in the mac community, but if you don’t want OS X, you should consider using another notebook, because I don’t know how well linux will do with the hardware …

  18. yes.. do buy a powerbook…
    we handful of mac programmers would love to have your brains fighting from ourside..

  19. I have a MacBook Pro. It is amazing. They are expensive, but especially with the Parallels software and a RAM upgrade, you can do absolutely anything you want. You can run a virtual linux session just fine, or even run all 3 at once, OSX, Windows, and Linux. ThinkPads are good as far as PC goes, but MacBook Pros are definitely the best notebooks on the market.

  20. I would second the point about a single mouse button. I just can’t imagine using Linux without all three buttons! Another thing I’d miss is the “eraser-head” TrackPoint thing.

  21. I own a x60s, and run linux on it.

    It’s clearly the best laptop I’ve ever had. 6h30 of autonomy with 8 cells battery. Definitively full hardware support, and processor is VT capable.

  22. definitely get a macbook. then get parallels, and run linux and windows at the same time. windows xp boots in about 10 seconds on a macbook pro with 2GB *inside the virtual machine*.

    why not get an PC and run linux? because you won’t have to waste any time finding the right x11 configs, and whatever other drivers you need to get the thing to sleep properly.

  23. I have had my Core2Duo MBP since November and love it. I have most all of my Linux tools on it and with VMware Fusion I can run anything else I want. I just ordered a second gig stick of RAM and will have it tomorrow. I need the extra memory for my Vista VM. I won’t actually be using Vista but pen testing it(won’t be too difficult (: )

    I would definitely recommend it and VMware, not parallels.

  24. I got me a MPB and love it, but I wouldn’t recommend it for running only linux, as the driver support for somethings really suck. However, if you can be satisfied with running Linux t on a VM (Parallels or VMware), I would recommend it. It’s waaaaaaay better than any PC laptop I’ve ever tried. Thinkpads are great, but on the long run Lenovo’s is going to become more like Dell’s than IBM’s.

  25. I recommend NOT buy a macbook pro. Way too expensive! I’m also in the market for a laptop. I been seriously contemplating buying a Dell Inspiron 9400/1705. You can get the same level of power as a macbook pro but about $1000 less. A brand new Dell Inspiron 9400/1705 with a Intel Core 2 Duo (T7200 – 2.0 Ghz), 2 GHz (667 Mhz), 17″, 100 GB (7200 RPM), ATI Radeon X1400 video card, CD/DVD+/-RW for roughly about $1500. That’s pretty good. I haven’t seen any spec at comparable prices. You can use the extra $1000.00 and buy other things ๐Ÿ™‚ Unlike others here who are absolute Mac lovers, I actually despises Macs ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. All the hardware on the X60 works with Linux (all of Peugeot has standardized on the X60 as their Linux laptop, and will have every driver and fix you need).

    Am personally a T60 user myself, as I like the larger screen, but Nat has been using an X60 for 6-9 months and loves it. He also got an extension battery (it is a flat battery that sits on the bottom) and gives him 6 to 7 hours of battery, very useful for travel and conferences.

    As for problems with the Macs, you might want to wait for another iteration on that hardware, my experience with the test laptops that we got for demoing Mono reflect the bad experiences in


  27. I’m quite happy with my Lenovo ThinkPad T60.
    It’s powerfull, handy and almost all devices works great with linux (gentoo).

    I would recommend a Lenovo T60 or T60p.

  28. Really anymore Macs are overpriced PCs with a special booting setup and a custom UNIX based OS. Only get a Mac if you intend on using OSX. Remember Mac’s use EFI instead of a BIOS so certain versions of Linux may not run outside of a virtual machine. I’m not sure if Boot camp supports Linux(doubtful).

    I currently have a Lenovo laptop(a 3000N mainly because it’s geared more for multimedia) and it’s been very good thus far. I’m also having really good luck with my hp dv9000 series notebook though I wouldn’t compare it with a Thinkpad.

  29. I have the Thinkpad Z60m, 17″ widescreen. I have run Linux (Mandrake Corporate Desktop) and am currently running Vista Ultimate. I love my Z60m. The only complaint would be that the firewire support is 1394.

  30. Running a MacBook Pro with OSX, Vista and Ubuntu – all running at the same time using Parallels! The thing is so well-designed.

  31. I have a MacBook Pro Core Duo 15″ 2.16 GHz og 2GB ram .. It works just perfect for my use. Im mainly using it for the Adobe CS2 package (Photoshop, Illustrator, Golive, brigde, imageready etc) and Macromedia Dreamweaver. At first i was quite supriced about how powerfull the MBP are! It all just works smoothly ๐Ÿ™‚

    Before i just used PCs and was sceptical about Mac.. but now i for sure never will switch ! It gives you the complete package ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Offcourse, you have other needs than me, im mainly a designer, you are a coder. Maybe you dont need a mac and are just fine with other products.. hard to say, since i have no skills in coding hehe..

    To thoose who are not to happy about the mono-mouse , hehe , you just have to plug in a normal three buttoned mouse into the MBP and it works just fine, geez ;P


  32. I don’t have a Mac laptop. I have 2 G4s, 2 G5s and 2 MacPros. 5 years ago owned 2 IBM and 2 Dell PCs. I own an ad agency. I got very little work done between errors on the Windows PCs. As I started switching them over to Macs, one by one… as I could afford them. Lo and behold… my productivity increased with each conversion, and now that I am all Mac I am doing so much business without interruption that the cost of the Macs seems insignificant. Wnat an amazing machine with an even more amazing operating system. 6 Macs, 5 years…. NOT ONE ERROR, CRASH or VIRUS! And now they run Windows? (not that I would screw up a perfectly good Mac by doing that), just even more amazing. I see the Windows hacker crowd is now harrassing you devout PC gamers… sorry to hear that. But I am NOT sorry that there is an obvious lack of violent, bloodthirsty, sexually explicit and crime glorifying games out there for Mac. Apparently the people at Mac prefer their hard work to be used by people with intelligence and good conscience. I plan to buy that laptop this summer. With the money my Macs are making, I can surely afford that MacBook Pro!

  33. I suggest you stick with Thinkpad, although Lenovo has done some nasty changes.
    Its pretty superior to Mac!

  34. So what did you end up with ?

    Iยดm really satisfied with my MBP 17″ , but I also consider a Thinkpad for Vista and Ubuntu (saving money is a pain in the arse though…)

  35. Sony, Sony, Sony … oh and did I mention Sony? I’m stressing this point because they honestly some of the best tougest, and strongest performance notebooks. Along with elegance and versatility. shows you that. the only problem is $$$, but if you’re willing to customize your MBP and drop 3k on one, then might as well go for sony. the bottom line is preference. it’s less of an issue now, because of intel chips and such, but build wise for linux, there is no problem watsoever on a vaio.

  36. Interested in what you finally decided on. The guys at my company also use Thinkpads, and like you right now we have the T42p which has worked great.

    We have been waiting on a good 64bit thinkpad with a large hard drive so we can run both linux and winxp ( hopefully in 64bit mode, but there have been so many issues ).

    Anyway, if inclined, would appreciate knowing what you chose and why.


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