My Thinkpad x230 gave me a bit of a scare recently. The display died out of the blue, and Lenovo’s support was an absolute nightmare. In spite of next business day on site warranty, it took them nearly two weeks to actually fix the bloody thing. The first time the tech showed up, he replaced the broken panel with another broken panel. Not too useful, that.
While I was in limbo, unsure if it would ever get fixed under warranty, and wondering how much it would cost me to have it fixed, I spent some time researching alternatives.
Sadly, I found none. It seems like literally no one makes laptops for people who use use them anymore. There’s loads of consumer-grade crap out there, but nothing useful. Especially in the 12.5″ range.
There are a couple of recurring failures.
Keyboard & Mouse
The Thinkpad x240 — “new and improved” — comes with a trackpad that takes up more space than the fucking keyboard. The top buttons (used in conjunction with the nipple) are part of the trackpad. Apparently if you disable the trackpad, you’re out of luck and out of buttons. Great. Turning off the trackpad, of course, is mandatory, given that the thing is so fucking huge that my thumbs constantly touch it inadvertently. Especially annoying when focus follows pointer.
The picture doesn’t do it justice, but another problem with the x240 is that the function keys got smaller and are now closer to the number row than before. Makes for an overall less enjoyable experience.
These ASUS & Dell pieces of shite both seem to be missing a bunch of keys (page up, page down, home, insert, end, …) and seem to have completely flat keys. Apparently there’s a market for people who don’t type.
Mechanical failures waiting to happen
Whoever designed these amazing ultra portable laptops seems to have forgotten that people will be moving around with them. Those display look like they’ll snap in half the first time you bump into anything. And seriously, who the fuck needs a detachable display? Who buys this? What do they do for a living? Not software engineers, that’s for sure.
Apparently everybody and their grandmother wants a touchscreen. I can’t for the life of my imagine why. Having to use a mouse (due to terrible window management and non-keyboard-friendly websites) is already a waste of time. Having to touch my screen (and leaving greasy fingerprints everywhere) is even worse. Fuck that shit.
Laptops that don’t suffer from any of the above flaws are few and far between, and usually have a CPU that’s slower than my phone’s, or less memory than my toaster. Anything that ships with an AMD CPU isn’t even worthy of being a coaster, either. Makes you wonder how they’re still relevant.
Apparently there are literally no laptops on the market for software engineers. There’s all kinds of crap designed around this Windows 8 insanity with its useless tablet-like interface. I’m sure these machines are perfectly fine for consuming information like some kind of brain dead zombie, but there’s no universe in which these machines are useful for creating or getting any work done.
Needless to say, I’m quite happy that Lenovo did repair my x230 in the end. Hopefully it’ll outlive its warranty. With a bit of luck, the x250 or x260 won’t suck quite as much…