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Friday, 29 September 2017 19:21

Destruction in slow motion: the painful death of a Lenovo ThinkPad


There are two ways of watching a structure crumble and slowly disappear from existence. You can either watch a demolition crew take down a multi-storey building using explosives or buy a Lenovo ThinkPad and use it for a few years.

I have had a Lenovo ThinkPad for the last three years and a bit and part by part the laptop is beginning to crumble. Or maybe I should say give up the ghost.

My first ThinkPad was made by IBM and I bought it in 2005. It lasted for 10 years and the only reason why I got rid of it was because, in 2014, it was impossible to find a bigger IDE hard drive than the one in the machine. The laptop came with an 80GB drive and I could not locate anything bigger, even second-hand, no matter how hard I tried.

And so I made a decision I have been regretting for the last three years or so: I bought a Lenovo ThinkPad, thinking that the same quality of reliability that IBM had made a feature of this iconic line would be part of the Lenovo models too.

Alas, things could not be more different.

Lest one get the wrong idea, this is not some budget device. No, it is a 15-inch laptop and boasts an i7 processor and 8GB of memory. It cost me $1100.


The first component to indicate its flimsiness and poor workmanship was the charger. After two years of use, the charger plug became loose to the point where I often found myself running low on battery even though the charger was plugged in.

Then one had to move the charger cord around a bit until the indicator on the laptop told me that a charge was indeed taking place. It was just poor workmanship; on my old ThinkPad, the charger lasted for eight years. And it never got to the point where I had to fiddle around; no, like a battle-hardened veteran it just gave up the ghost one fine morning.

I had to replace the charger and pay out an additional $100 for it. The repairer, a man whom I know well, told me that the voltage from the original charger was incorrect and this had led to internal components burning out.

The next thing to die was the headphone jack. I reckoned that this would not be much of an issue as I could use an USB headset. But then the USB ports started playing up.

In the interim, the DVD drive packed up. I often listen to music while working and most of my music is on CDs; this was the reason why I bought a machine with an optical drive.

The space bar has now developed issues and the cursor moves only when the bar is tapped at certain regions. Like a building coming down in slow motion, the Lenovo ThinkPad is slowly crumbling before my very eyes.

The fan has also started playing up and I get messages every now and then saying "fan error". At times the temperature of the laptop reaches the point where it is uncomfortable to touch.

I have written about the ridiculous design of the touchpad on an earlier occasion so I will avoid repeating myself here.

It looks like I am not the lone individual to experience issues like this; a search for "Lenovo sucks" will provide enough reading for a few days.

In 2012 I bought a Lenovo ThinkPad for a friend: the mainboard died, fortunately during the warranty period. It took a month to be replaced.

To some extent, I guess one should not be surprised at the poor quality of Lenovo's ThinkPads. When big companies put price before everything else and sell their reputations and goodwill to cheap offshore vendors, this is what results.

Lenovo should get out of the hardware business. It is giving what used to be good products, like the ThinkPad, a bad name.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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