Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

ThinkPad: T41 vs R50

In general, the R line is lower end. But right now, the R line is new and the T line is older, so the two seem equivalent, except the R comes in 15" and T only in 14". Is there any reason to prefer T41 over R50?

Harvey Motulsky
Saturday, April 03, 2004

Check the weight. As I remember the cheaper series were always bigger and heavier (on the order of 7 pounds instead of 5).

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Monday, April 05, 2004

I bought a Thinkpad a couple of years ago.  Here's my testimonial.

My two main reasons for buying the Thinkpad were:

(1) I loathe and despise the touchpads.  I hate them with a passion.  Thinkpads didn't have the evil touchpad (hereafter refferred to as 'the abomination that causes desolation') but instead have a nipple in the middle of the keyboard.  How cool is that!?  I can be programming *and* fondling a nipple at the same time.  Booyah!

(2) Quality.  I thought an IBM laptop would be a higher quality, more robust, more likely to take a beating and keep going.  Of course, I ended up using it mostly (99% of the time) as a desktop, but expected it to have a significant usable lifetime.

My experience:

13 months after buying the laptop, the harddrive *completely* failed.  To say that it bought the farm would be to grossly underestimate the chaos that it caused in the agricultural derivatives market.  (Queue Monty Python's 'dead parrot' sketch)

IBM's response:

Wow, thats bad.  Hey!  It looks like you only had a one year warranty... sux to be you!!!

My response to their response... is unprintable.

Naturally I went with someone other than IBM to have it repaired, and they tell me IBM originally used some really cheap low quality harddrive with a high known failure rate(Fujitsu??).

My second experience:
About a year later, the case around the screen developed a crack.  Which has gradually gotten wider and wider...  I tried to find out how much it would cost to repair (answer: more than its worth).  Only to be told that its a very common problem with Thinkpads, because they only reinforce one side of the screen - and frequent opening and closing of the screen will cause this.

So you can pretty much rule out reason #2 for ever buying IBM.  Of course reason #1 still applies... or would, if I hadn't bought a computer from a completely different hardware supplier.

I will never buy IBM ever again.

For anything.


We hates them, we does.  Yessss....  nassty IBM.

Rick Carson
Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Hi Rick, could you please tell us the model?

Tayssir John Gabbour
Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Jeez. If I never did business with any company anyone has ever had a problem with, I'd have to live in a cave and eat berries :)

That might be a good diet. The "never do business with any company anyone has ever had a bad expierience with" diet. If I could shorten it into something trendy I might have another book idea.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Tuesday, April 06, 2004

The Dark Ages Diet?

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

If I never had to eat with anyone else or tell anyone what I eat, sounds good:

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

And as a requisite, I will counterpoint on IBM reliability.

My old Thinkpad X20, first gen low-res with celeron 500, never had a single problem. None. The closest thing to a problem was wear and tear on the power supply cable from rolling and unrolling it hundreds of time and nipple rub marks on the screen visible with the sun shining on the very dark screen.

The whole thing ran otherwise beautifully with an old version of Red Hat linux. I only replaced it after over 3 years because I needed a faster machine with much more ram.

Beside, I've had horror stories with Compaq, HP, DELL, IBM, Fujitsu, Sony and Toshiba laptops as well as with the generic Taiwan made laptops you can get (store brands and unknown brands with amazing prices....)

Besides, the keyboard on an IBM is just amazing to use. Even on the 12" and 3.2lbs X20, it was great. Better then my DELL  keyboard at work.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

I have a Thinkpad T20 which is now roughly four years old. I still use it every day. The construction all around is solid and I'm quite satisfied with the purchase. I would happily buy another Thinkpad. 

I can't say I haven't had any problems, though. Here's my list:

* Paint/rubber finish on the bottom under the CPU compartment has peeled off.
* The L.R.F. have gone missing.
* The hard drive begins to show signs of death. When the machine's been up and running for a long time, it starts giving I/O errors. I think this is related to heat as well.

I think it generates a bit more heat than the designers anticipated, but I consider these minor problems.

Robert Church
Monday, April 19, 2004

Yes, the T20 had heat problems around the hard drive. This was partly because it used a 12.5mm drive that was really packed tight into the machine. You may notice a hot spot on the left side of the keyboard where the hard drive is located.

Later models in the T2x series switched to 9.5mm drives, and they added a little plastic piece to prevent you from installing a 12.5mm drive. This helped quite a bit with the hard drive heat problem. The good news is that when you replace your failing hard drive (do it now, before it fails completely!) you'll probably get a 9.5mm drive which will run cooler.

About the T vs. R series... Like the A series before it, the R series includes both low end and very high end machines. For a software developer, the R50p is well worth looking at because of its terrific 1600x1200 FlexView display. The T series only goes up to 1400x1050 and doesn't offer FlexView, only conventional TFT displays. FlexView is really nice for when you're showing things to your coworkers or customers. Unlike a conventional TFT, it's readable at just about any viewing angle.

My favorite ThinkPad is the sadly out-of-production A30p/A31p. These machines have two Ultrabays instead of one. My A30p is a bit slow by modern standards, but with all the VMware virtual machines I run, I need storage even more than I need speed. It's great being able to keep two hard drives plus the DVD/CDRW in the machine, or even three hard drives if I want. And it has the 1600x1200 FlexView like the R50p.

Michael Geary
Sunday, April 25, 2004

I got the R50, with its 15" rather than 14" monitor (a bit better for tradeshows, and for my 50+year old eyes), with 1400x1050. Works very well. Two surprises. One is that I can plug in an external monitor and extend the desktop between the two. I now do that routinely. I don't think IBM even mentions that great feature on their site. Second, if you choose to use the TrackPad for navigation, you can set the "stickshift" to scroll. So the two become complentary, rather than redundant. Even if you leave the settings so the stickshift navigates, you can hold down a special button to make it scroll.

I'm sure I would have been as happy with the T41, but the R50 is working great for me.

Harvey Motulsky
Monday, May 03, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home