4hdds

My 2nd laptop, a Lenovo Thinkpad or a Toshiba Tecra?

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Hello all,

My Toshiba A505-S6965 Satellite 15.6" laptop just had it's 3rd birthday. Sadly, my 3 year warranty has expired, as has all free tech. support. Although it has worked flawlessly, except for a hard drive replacement, I'm thinking of configuring a 2nd laptop with the same screen size. I have absolutely no reason not to buy another Toshiba product. Their selection is great. But I have a friend who has had 3 Lenovo Thinkpad laptops, and he recommends (insists!) that I buy one. He stated that they are robust for business use, with a heavy duty mostly metallic chassis, and have many engineering "refinements" that he claimed can't be found in other brands. In essence, he's stated that Lenovo Thinkpad laptops are THE VERY BEST. By the way, my use will be 100% personal. I just like better made products, if I can afford them. Specifically, he's recommended the T530 series. I've configured it many times. Looks good to me. But I feel I should give Toshiba another shot at taking my money. I know more about the Lenovo T530 than any Toshiba Tecra business series model, because I've been considering a T530 and nothing else.

Can anybody give me the pros and cons for each brand based on your experience as owners, so that I can order a reduced price laptop soon after the new models come out later this fall season?

Thank you.

Edited by 4hdds

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I have very limited experience with Lenovo's and virtually no experience with Tecras. Thinkpads are a solid choice but realize that you need to take each product as an individual. For example with every change/update they might try something that people may not like.

Such as with the T430:

The T430's keyboard is a departure for Lenovo; they switched to the increasingly popular Chiclet style with extra spacing between the keys. This has the most encouraging tactile feedback out of all the variants I've tried. It has a slightly more clicky sound than the traditional ThinkPad keyboards and the key travel isn't as long, though the feedback doesn't suffer as a result, dare I say it feels even more solid. Lenovo is offering a backlit keyboard courtesy of this new design, a first on a 'real' ThinkPad. It still has the Think Light for die-hard fans, though.

So what's the matter with it? Simply put, more than a few ThinkPad owners will say Lenovo botched the keyboard layout. The Home, End, PgUp, PgDn, Insert and Delete keys are all over the place instead of being clustered in a nice organized group at the top right. Also missing is the multi-colored keys such as the purple [Enter]. This bothers me in a way; the ThinkPad keyboard formula was exactly what many business users wanted and now they changed it - what was the reasoning? It doesn't make sense to the end user. I'm all for change but this is a step backwards.

T430 review

And don't forget about Dell Latitudes...Business class and 3 year on-site(aka they come to you) warranty standard on most models. Accidental damage(aka you break it[unintentionally], they have to fix it or replace it is also cheap).

Before I continue on, I want to make sure you first understand your needs, so a few questions.

Are you sure you want a 15in screen size? I prefer smaller since it is more mobile but smaller screened size can be more expensive.

Have you used the trackpoint/nipple(red/blue dot on keyboard)? Thinkpads are known for having great ones, but if you are like me, I never had a need to use one, so it has little value.

What will you do on the notebook and will you game on this notebook...if so, what games?

Besides that, make sure to keep an eye out on coupons, use Dell's outlet for cheaper models and for thinkpads, look into EPP pricing(don't need to be an employee to get access to them) and Barnes and Noble Gold discount.

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I have very limited experience with Lenovo's and virtually no experience with Tecras. Thinkpads are a solid choice but realize that you need to take each product as an individual. For example with every change/update they might try something that people may not like.

Such as with the T430:

T430 review

And don't forget about Dell Latitudes...Business class and 3 year on-site(aka they come to you) warranty standard on most models. Accidental damage(aka you break it[unintentionally], they have to fix it or replace it is also cheap).

Before I continue on, I want to make sure you first understand your needs, so a few questions.

Are you sure you want a 15in screen size? I prefer smaller since it is more mobile but smaller screened size can be more expensive.

Have you used the trackpoint/nipple(red/blue dot on keyboard)? Thinkpads are known for having great ones, but if you are like me, I never had a need to use one, so it has little value.

What will you do on the notebook and will you game on this notebook...if so, what games?

Besides that, make sure to keep an eye out on coupons, use Dell's outlet for cheaper models and for thinkpads, look into EPP pricing(don't need to be an employee to get access to them) and Barnes and Noble Gold discount.

I've been considering only the T530, because it is the only Lenovo business series laptop with a screen larger than 14". My fascination with Thinkpads is with their construction and durability, and not light weight or small size geared for mobility. It won't be ported much. I'm going to read the entire users guide, to see what features it sports. I'm looking for a retail store where I can see a demo and give it a workout.

I read the T430 review you linked me to, in it's entirety. Very impressive for the most part. Can you tell me why there is so much discontent with the new style of "chiclet" keys among avid longtime Thinkpad users? My Toshiba laptop has keys that sit on top of a flat panel, with air separating one from another. The keys don't sit inside of a plastic cutout like on most keyboards, peeking out enough to be useful. This is my first laptop, so what do I know!

The sterling reputation of the Thinkpad series, has currently impressed me enough NOT to consider even the better business series laptops from Dell, HP and Toshiba.

Yes, I'm sure that I want a screen similar in size to my Toshiba laptop, 15.6". Even at this size, I find that I have to magnify fonts via the mouse and Ctrl key, and do vertical scrolling too often. Mobility is not a big thing for me. It will be used for entertainment and hobby purposes.

I never used the trackpoint feature. I'm sure I can easily ignore it's presence!

No gaming use at all. Mostly downloading videos, films and music clips and browsing the internet.

You're probably thinking that the T530 is overkill, based on my planned use. But I like robust construction in all my devices, especially the ones that house delicate electronics and moving parts

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As for keyboard, people don't like change, possible cost cutting element, productivity issues(less rows on chiclet version means movement of keys), and there could be an issue with typing for long periods(though I haven't used chiclet to experience it and lenovo engineers may have addressed that issue.

My opinion is that you should be happy with any business class notebook. T530 is a fine choice(though I still prefer to go smaller and hook it up to a larger screen/dock), but remember to take each product as an individual. They are "business" rugged but there can always can always be problems. For example:

http://forums.lenovo.com/t5/X-Series-ThinkPad-Laptops/Crack-in-X220-casing-poor-support/td-p/670587

(X220 is/was a very popular notebook that is supposed to be built well and yet not immune). Even if it rare, you can get a lemon, so be ready(Permission FTW).

If you really want something that is known for its construction and durability(and a little crazy), get a Toughbook... I just acquired a used older CF-74(only way to get toughbook cheap is buying used as they MSRP in the thousands). 13in notebook but weights as much as older 15in consumer notebooks, port covers, no bottom vent(nothing to clog vent), 2 pound ac adapter, magnesium case(not just inner rollcage) and a handle...and this just an older semi-rugged model :P ).

Get know to effectively reach CS/Tech support. For example, if you have an issue with the notebook and phone support is useless(CS/Tech are like a box of chocolates...you never know what you will get), post on their forums(both lenovo and dells forums are good) and social media accounts(twitter/Facebook-both should be monitored). You can even carpet bomb the CEO's emails and you may get higher quality tech support. It is a good way to get their attention and I have experienced companies(Dell for now) being proactive and sending waves of social media outreach teams to forums(though their comments can borderline as spam :P).

As for getting a good deal, again check the outlets(double check on if you can upgrade outlet warranties). You might have to wait a bit for more deals/promotions(black Friday/holiday season is near). Also call up a sales rep and try to haggle...can be a good way to shave off some fat or at least get some free upgrades.

Toshiba laptop, 15.6". Even at this size, I find that I have to magnify fonts via the mouse and Ctrl key, and do vertical scrolling too often. Mobility is not a big thing for me. It will be used for entertainment and hobby purposes.

This kinda worries me. At 1366 x 768(default for almost all notebooks), the text should not need magnifying unless maybe you wear glasses. You might want to look into raising the DPI to see if that helps(http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/443-dpi-display-size-settings-change.html).

Vertical scrolling will be expecting with all notebooks as manufactures have decided to go wider instead of taller(prettier notebook but not as productive). If you upgrade the resolution of the screen, you will scroll less(a bit), but text will be even smaller(raising DPI helps).

And just to make a long post longer...make sure to "swap" the FN and CTRL keys on the T530 as zooming probably won't work with FN. Should be able to do it in the BIOS or with the provided software.

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As for keyboard, people don't like change, possible cost cutting element, productivity issues(less rows on chiclet version means movement of keys), and there could be an issue with typing for long periods(though I haven't used chiclet to experience it and lenovo engineers may have addressed that issue.

My opinion is that you should be happy with any business class notebook. T530 is a fine choice(though I still prefer to go smaller and hook it up to a larger screen/dock), but remember to take each product as an individual. They are "business" rugged but there can always can always be problems. For example:

http://forums.lenovo...ort/td-p/670587

(X220 is/was a very popular notebook that is supposed to be built well and yet not immune). Even if it rare, you can get a lemon, so be ready(Permission FTW).

If you really want something that is known for its construction and durability(and a little crazy), get a Toughbook... I just acquired a used older CF-74(only way to get toughbook cheap is buying used as they MSRP in the thousands). 13in notebook but weights as much as older 15in consumer notebooks, port covers, no bottom vent(nothing to clog vent), 2 pound ac adapter, magnesium case(not just inner rollcage) and a handle...and this just an older semi-rugged model :P ).

Get know to effectively reach CS/Tech support. For example, if you have an issue with the notebook and phone support is useless(CS/Tech are like a box of chocolates...you never know what you will get), post on their forums(both Lenovo and dells forums are good) and social media accounts(twitter/Facebook-both should be monitored). You can even carpet bomb the CEO's emails and you may get higher quality tech support. It is a good way to get their attention and I have experienced companies(Dell for now) being proactive and sending waves of social media outreach teams to forums(though their comments can borderline as spam :P).

As for getting a good deal, again check the outlets(double check on if you can upgrade outlet warranties). You might have to wait a bit for more deals/promotions(black Friday/holiday season is near). Also call up a sales rep and try to haggle...can be a good way to shave off some fat or at least get some free upgrades.

This kinda worries me. At 1366 x 768(default for almost all notebooks), the text should not need magnifying unless maybe you wear glasses. You might want to look into raising the DPI to see if that helps(http://www.sevenforu...ngs-change.html).

Vertical scrolling will be expecting with all notebooks as manufactures have decided to go wider instead of taller(prettier notebook but not as productive). If you upgrade the resolution of the screen, you will scroll less(a bit), but text will be even smaller(raising DPI helps).

And just to make a long post longer...make sure to "swap" the FN and CTRL keys on the T530 as zooming probably won't work with FN. Should be able to do it in the BIOS or with the provided software.

I find that every industry fixes things that are not broken, for the sake of dazzling their consumer base with seemingly new products with seemingly new features that will send them running to buy their goods. I'm not sure if the keyboard was revised for practical or salesmanship motives.

So far, I'm happy with all aspects of the T530. I read the entire thread at your link, and wonder why the original poster didn't take Lenovo to the small claims court in Holland to get his laptop repaired or replaced. He obviously had a good case to beat Lenovo at it's own game. OK, Lenovo's customer service is not perfect. Once liability is reasonably established outside the court system, a company can be challenged in court. The laptop owner would have won the case! I always inspect a new device before I term it perfect from the factory. Once I find a defect before I get to use it, the company is summoned ASAP. My heart goes out to all of us who have recived a lemon, never having the chance to enjoy their purchase.

Even a used Toughbook would be "tough" on my budget. I'll stick with laptops close to $1,000, sales tax included. But I admire the company's emphasis on the human engineering aspect.

I'm just the right guy to "advertise" the shortcomings of a company who doesn't fulfill their promise fof proper customer support. The more the negative PR, the faster the company will realize that they work for their customers, and not the other way around. It's a shame that these tactics must be used to maintain fair treatment.

There are many options to getting a price down. I'll have to visit them. When do the next generation of laptops appear, causing last year's models to drop in price?

Thanks for the DPI change tutorial link. Not to worry about my eyeballs. I'm very nearsighted and somewhat presbyopic due to my age. My eyeglasses are single vision, so the only correction for presbyopia is larger fonts, or a cheap pair of reading glasses to avoid the entire problem. My display's resolution is 1366 x 768 alright.

No need to swap the Fn and Ctrl keys. The Ctrl key with the plus or minus key, will zoom in or zoom out of any browser page. Ctrl - 0 will return the page to it's default size.

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I find that every industry fixes things that are not broken, for the sake of dazzling their consumer base with seemingly new products with seemingly new features that will send them running to buy their goods. I'm not sure if the keyboard was revised for practical or salesmanship motives.

My thoughts exactly...one more reason why I like older notebooks.

Small claims courts and even the BBB.org are great when companies are not working with you.

When do the next generation of laptops appear, causing last year's models to drop in price?

I don't know if there are exact dates, but expect a new one using Intel's latest architecture(so Haswell in 2013, so maybe next may/june-middle of the year)

Ctrl does do zoom, but on thinkpad keyboards, the keys(FN/CTRL) are switched...so when muscle memory kicks in, you will be hitting the wrong key(unless you use the right CTRL key).

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My thoughts exactly...one more reason why I like older notebooks.

Small claims courts and even the BBB.org are great when companies are not working with you.

I don't know if there are exact dates, but expect a new one using Intel's latest architecture (so Haswell in 2013, so maybe next May/June-middle of the year)

CTRL does zoom, but on Thinkpad keyboards the keys (FN/CTRL) are switched...so when muscle memory kicks in you will be hitting the wrong key (unless you use the right CTRL key).

A Lenovo rep. on the phone told me that the latest crop of models for 2012 are already out. This means that I either live with the current technology and snatch up a laptop, or wait until the spring/summer of 2013. There is no pressing need for me to buy now another laptop now anyway. My Toshiba purrs along.

Funny you should mention the right CTRL key. That is the one I use most of the time, because I can't reach the zero, minus and plus keys from the left CTRL key with one hand. The right CTRL key works fine for me.

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I've been configuring a Lenovo T530. I'm not sure which one of the 4 wireless LAN adapters I should select. These are the ones offered by Lenovo:

Thinkpad 1 x 1 b/g/n

Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2200 (2x2 BGN) - no price added

Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 AGN - add $20.00

Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 AGN - add $40.00

The last one has a 3 x 3 antenna system. I have a "situation" that may require the 3 x 3 unit. My next door neighbor has Cablevision internet service, with a non-wireless cable modem. I've lent her my Linksys E2000 wireless router, since Cablevision cable modems only use ethernet connections to pcs. The room in which I am using my laptop is separated from the router by 4 drywall walls. The 23 story building was erected in 1964. She has allowed me access to her network connection. I'm finding that I don't get anywhere near her 15/2 transfer rate pairing from my apartment. Both of our laptops achieve the 15/2 rates when in her apartment and 8 feet from the router. In my apartment, when I move the laptop to a room where there is only one wall between it and the router, I achieve the 15/2 transfer rates.

By the way, I have my own wireless network connection from Verizon FiOS. The modem/router is separated from my laptop by one wall. My FiOS speeds are 50/25, but at times I've been able to get 58/40. I need her Cablevision connection, for those times when I'm using my FiOS connection to download many files to my desktop, and i want to continue to use my laptop without it crawling along.

Being the most elaborate one, does anybody think that the 3 x 3 adapter will solve my problem?

Edited by 4hdds

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AFAIK, the 3 x 3 adapter doesn't increase range, so I don't think it will work with that situation.

I say keep the base option of the 2200 and work with the router. Look into performance guides(basically just changing channels/channel widths etc) and firmware update or even some mods like external antenna(though interference may also play role). You can always buy the wifi card later and upgrade it yourself if someone who likely knows more about the "interwebz" than I do recommends it.

As for price, you will likely have to wait. Keep an eye on prices and make sure you are not selecting upgrades you don't need and, ideally, call the reps whenever possible just to make sure you didn't miss anything. Holidays should mean some sales(not necessarily better deals but more sales :P).

If you have twitter, follow @lenovodeals. Also, you can get emails for lenovo deals with sites like dealnews.com. They email you when a deal for the product you are interested in is posted.

-Kevin

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AFAIK, the 3 x 3 adapter doesn't increase range, so I don't think it will work with that situation.

I say keep the base option of the 2200 and work with the router. Look into performance guides(basically just changing channels/channel widths etc) and firmware update or even some mods like external antenna(though interference may also play role). You can always buy the wifi card later and upgrade it yourself if someone who likely knows more about the "interwebz" than I do recommends it.

As for price, you will likely have to wait. Keep an eye on prices and make sure you are not selecting upgrades you don't need and, ideally, call the reps whenever possible just to make sure you didn't miss anything. Holidays should mean some sales(not necessarily better deals but more sales :P).

If you have twitter, follow @lenovodeals. Also, you can get emails for lenovo deals with sites like dealnews.com. They email you when a deal for the product you are interested in is posted.

-Kevin

Perhaps you missed that this adapter Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2200 (2x2 BGN) is a free upgrade. Aren't 2 antennas better than 1?

Good idea to tweak the router's configuration settings. I've tweaked them before, but never when it's physical location ISN'T in my apartment. I'll have to bother my neighbor if it refuses to function after I change a setting. This is a minor inconvenience for both of us. Any improvement in performance I realize will also be an improvement for her!

Thank you for your other advice on laptop purchasing price.

Edited by 4hdds

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Free = new base option :P Intel cards are usually better than the rebranded Atheros/Broadcom ones.

• 2x2 – 2 transmit antennas/paths and 2 receive antennas/paths

• 3x3 – 3 transmit antennas/paths and 3 receive antennas/paths

MIMO Configuration-Max Rate: 20 MHz Channel Width-Max Rate: 40 MHz Channel Width

1x1-65-72 Mbps-150 Mbps

2x2-130-144 Mbps-300 Mbps

3x3-195-216 Mbps-450 Mbps

(theoretical! Actual will be less.)

Antenna/wires are side by side and are in the LCD which has limited area. More antenna should mean better throughput and possibly better coverage(not necessarily better range). With wireless, you shouldn't be hitting those speeds for 2x2, so an upgrade to 3x3 likely won't be worth it.

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Free = new base option :P Intel cards are usually better than the rebranded Atheros/Broadcom ones.

(theoretical! Actual will be less.)

Antenna/wires are side by side and are in the LCD which has limited area. More antenna should mean better throughput and possibly better coverage(not necessarily better range). With wireless, you shouldn't be hitting those speeds for 2 x 2, so an upgrade to 3 x 3 likely won't be worth it.

Lenovo should call the 2nd adapter option "free-er than free", because it is a step up from their free generic adapter. Marketing is a strange animal.

Based on the 1 x 1, 2 x 2 and 3 x 3 charts, which I was not able to include in this post to my dismay, I can see that my FiOS/Actiontec router is performing like a 1 x 1 and a 2 x 2 device. The speed varies between 65 Mbps and 130 Mbps, as seen in the Wireless Network Connection Status dialog box after connecting to a network. It spends more time at the 65 rate, though. I'm sure that it will stay on 130 when I bring the laptop into the room where the router is perched. But I'm still surprised that the signal varies at all, being that 1 wall/8 feet separate laptop from router.

From Wikipedia..... "MIMO technology has attracted attention in wireless communications, because it offers significant increases in data throughput and link range without additional bandwidth or increased transmit power. It achieves this goal by spreading the same total transmit power over the antennas to achieve an array gain that improves the spectral efficiency (more bits per second per hertz of bandwidth) or to achieve a diversity gain that improves the link reliability (reduced fading). Because of these properties, MIMO is an important part of modern wireless communication standards such as IEEE 802.11n (Wi-Fi), 4G, 3GPP Long Term Evolution, WiMAX and HSPA+."

Indeed, the issues I'm having with my neighbor's network connection are "range" related, so a 3 x 3 adapter will not guarantee me any success. I'll have to be satisfied with the 2/2 speeds I'm getting, compared to the 15/2 speeds Cablevision is delivering to the modem.

Edited by 4hdds

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Divide those Wireless Network Connection Status rates by three to get the potential total maximum deliverable transfer rate. i.e. 65Mbps/3 ~= 21.6Mbps

15Mbps/2Mbps ~ 15Mbps + 2Mbps = 17Mbps total

21.6Mbps > 17Mbps .... However, latency and # of nodes are also factors!<_<

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Divide those Wireless Network Connection Status rates by three to get the potential total maximum deliverable transfer rate. i.e. 65Mbps/3 ~= 21.6Mbps

15Mbps/2Mbps ~ 15Mbps + 2Mbps = 17Mbps total

21.6Mbps > 17Mbps .... However, latency and # of nodes are also factors!dry.gif

Thank you for the transfer rate calculation method. Can the potential total maximum deliverable transfer rate be observed while viewing the progress of a Firefox browser download within the Download Manager box? The unit of data transfer is KB/sec or MB/sec. If it can, then I can always multiply the observed number by 8 to get back to the ISP's standard transfer rates. My Verizon FiOS service delivers 50/35.

2 pcs would be working off the router, at the very most.

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Your 50/35 beats my new 15/0.64 DSL previously 1.5/(hope). Yeah, 8 X download bps. Some trickery (partly by Verizon, the WIFI/router, and the servers which YOU can't control, partly with efficiency on Your part - torrent?) will allow ~ 6MB/s (total) downloads - shoveling it fast enough is the challenge. Remember, there's only 3 useful WIFI channels in the 2.4GHz band due to channel overlap. However, a short clear path with multiply streamed 40MHz "a" band 5GHz channels is preferred. Whether the $ for the Ultimate-N 6300 would make that worthwhile... I have my doubts. After all, your WAP would need to support multiple streams for full 50/35, perhaps pass through walls (not 5GHz friendly), and support any legacy 2.4GHz connections - perhaps blowing the budget.

Thinkpad 1 x 1 b/g/n - single 2.4GHz band

Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2200 (2x2 BGN) - no price added - single 2.4GHz band

Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 AGN - add $20.00 - (2x2) 2.4GHz AND 5 GHz band (40MHz bandwidth allowed)

Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 AGN - add $40.00 - (3x3) 2.4GHz AND 5 GHz band (40MHz bandwidth allowed)

A 2.4GHz beam antenna pointed next door might improve your throughput with your neighbor's 15/2, but you'd probably need to plug in a separate WIFI adapter for that.

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