A journo bagging Thinkpads for all the wrong reasons

Discussion in 'Lenovo' started by lead_org, Jun 30, 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. ThinkRob

    ThinkRob Notebook Deity

    Reputations:
    1,006
    Messages:
    1,343
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    56
    Hi Renai,

    First off, thanks for coming here to explain your review. Not many journalists try to connect with their readers this way, and it doesn't go unnoticed. I appreciate it (as I'm sure do others.)

    Now I tend not to be a terribly reserved person when it comes to business and tech, so I'll be blunt here: your review is pretty poor. It lacks substance, offers little content not easily found elsewhere, and is at best misleading and at worst inaccurate on a number of counts.

    To start with, your wording is pretty clearly loaded. You open with this:

    That kinda sets the tone for the article, no? When I read something like that, I know that the author is going to come down hard on one side or the other. I didn't have to wonder which side you were on for long though, as you followed up with this:

    Perfectionists will note that the MacBook *never* featured a traditional latch -- ever since 2006 the design has used a magnetic one. Assuming that you're referring to the MacBook Pro, the answer is January 6th, 2009. That was when the last MacBook Pro to use the previous non-"unibody" design was replaced with a "unibody" (and thus latchless) design.

    Now I could just be a stickler, but when someone says "quite a few years now" I don't think "two and a half".

    Do you see how your language seems just a little biased?

    It may indeed feel that way. However, compared to the 15-inch MacBook Pro (which does seem to be the benchmark we're using here), it is actually lighter by 0.02 kg. Saying it "feels to large and weighty to slip into a laptop bag" might give the impression that it's heavier than comparable machines. It's not.

    As far as dimensions are concerned, here are the numbers (W x D x H):

    Code:
    MacBook Pro 15-inch:	364 mm x 249 mm x 24.1 mm	[1]
    ThinkPad T520:		373 mm x 245 mm x 31.8-35.6 mm	[2]
    
    Now I suppose that the extra 9 mm of width and 7-11 mm of height could be a make or break thing... but personally I don't think that the numbers match the prose.

    I also notice that you didn't compare it to other laptops with similar screen sizes. Let's do that now:

    Code:
    Dell E5520:		388 mm x 251 mm x 30.2-33.2 mm	[3]
    Toshiba L755:		379 mm x 249 mm x 27.6-37.5 mm	[4]
    Acer Aspire AS5750G:	381 mm x 254 mm x 33.2 mm	[5]
    
    [1] Apple - MacBook Pro - Technical specifications of the 15-inch model.
    [2] http://shop.lenovo.com/us/ww/pdf/t420_t520_datasheet.pdf
    [3] Dell Latitude E5520 Details | Dell
    [4] http://cdgenp01.csd.toshiba.com/content/product/pdf_files/detailed_specs/satellite_L755-S5216.pdf
    [5] AS5750G-6496 | Product Model

    In the above context, the T520 really doesn't seem like an outlier. Now you might think that the T520 is too bulky for you. I have no problem with that -- in fact, I tend to agree. I traveled internationally a fair bit with a 15.4" laptop, and it certainly did feel quite bulky at the time. But as a journalist, and *especially* as a product reviewer, it is your job to make clear what is merely your personal preference and what is not. Your complaints about the T520's size are clearly the former, since (as you can see from the above), its dimensions are in no way unusual for a laptop with such a screen size.

    Now it would be unjust for me to lambast your wording without attempting to do better, so here's what I'd say:

    Moving on, this passage stuck out:

    This can be disabled. In fact, the instructions for disabling it fit in less space than your complaint. I can't really think of a good reason to mention this. I mean... if I were reviewing a machine, and if the beep bothered me *that* much, I'd say something like this:

    That communicates your dissatisfaction with the default -- not a bad thing, since user experience is an important part of the review -- while simultaneously conveying that it's not a major problem for users as it can be disabled.

    Describing the power socket as bulky is rather amusing, as it is exceptionally close in size to those of many, many other laptops. Even the MagSafe port on Apple machines is wider than the modern ThinkPad socket, although it is a fair bit narrower. Again, your word choice seems... biased. Your mouse button complaint has been mentioned by other posters at this point, so I'll leave that one be.

    Even your overall conclusions seem inconsistent:

    Those two statements seem to be at odds with one another. Either its performance was unsatisfactory, or it performed very well. There is one way that both of your statements can be factually correct: the laptop performed very well in your day-to-day usage, and you were dissatisfied with that fact.

    Right, so it's stuff like this that's made others question your technical knowledge. What legacy hardware is holding the machine back? You disliked some aspects of the machine's chassis design, but as far as the actual functional hardware goes, about the only legacy hardware you even mentioned was the modem and the VGA port. The latter's utility has been discussed already (not everyone has a shiny new Apple Cinema display -- some of us need to hook up to projectors, etc. that only have VGA), while the former is considerably more useful than you might imagine when traveling through areas which do not yet have a WiFi-enabled Starbucks on every corner. (Hell, there are large chunks of the US in which dial-up is your only option! Coincidentally, these are also the areas where 3G coverage is often spotty at best...)

    When reading your review, I got the impression that you set out with the opinion that ThinkPads were boring and "old-school", and were going to try your hardest to prove that to your readers. You don't really do that though. You've slathered your review with complaints about how "archaic" the machine is with its "legacy" features, yet the only concrete examples you can point to are an optional modem and a VGA port -- one of which you somewhat acknowledged as a useful feature (though not in your review). You trash its performance (in some places) while failing to provide any meaningful commentary on *what* failed to perform well. You talk about a "giant oversized plug", yet fail to mention (or are unaware of) how its dimensions compare to those used on competing machines. In short, I think you make a number of unsupported assertions and voice numerous vague complaints, all of which serve to make your review more inflammatory than informative.

    I'm glad you stand by your review. That alone sets you apart from many journalists out there; I'm of a mind that people should be willing to own up to and defend what they write, and I admire that characteristic in others. Nevertheless, I urge you to remember the advice of other users here when writing your next review. Everyone here is obviously quite biased an vocal -- but there are a large number of knowledgeable, experienced notebook users here, and I think you'd do well to at least consider their feedback.

    -Rob
     
  2. Likvid

    Likvid Notebook Geek

    Reputations:
    0
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    15
    Well if you actually been a systems administrator you would also know that the serial port is used on a daily basis by network engineers to get into console for configuration tasks if you want fast access locally.

    I works at a ISP and i got actually pissed off when IBM dropped native serial port on my old T41p thinkpad, IBMs answer was to use a USB-Serial dongle, right! another accessory to bring with you. :rolleyes:
     
  3. Renai_LeMay

    Renai_LeMay Newbie

    Reputations:
    0
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    5
    Hi everyone,

    thanks again for your feedback!

    I think this is a very interesting issue. I think it's pretty hard for me to respond to all of the criticism in detail, however I just wanted to post a few comments:

    1. This review is not a comment on the overall quality of ThinkPads. It is a comment on the quality and features of the T520. Having tested both the T520 and the X1 over the past few weeks, I currently believe there is a great deal of difference between the quality of ThinkPads on the market. The X1 is an excellent machine which I highly recommend. But I could not overlook the T520's build quality issues. I would highlight the fact here that most of you are objecting mainly to my critiques of the T520's features (eg the ports) but not the build quality problems I mentioned.

    2. Yes, the MacBook is being used in business settings. In fact, for example, the Commonwealth Bank, one of Australia's largest banks) is rolling out MacBook Airs, which have even less ports than most Macs, to thousands of workers in its new Darling Walk facility in Sydney. Many of the IT workers and developers I know prefer MacBook Pros, and it is very common at developer conferences to see whole rooms of them where you used to see whole rooms of ThinkPads. Yup, I've been around that long ;)

    http://www.itnews.com.au/News/252286,commbanks-sydney-staff-to-get-macbook-airs.aspx

    3. I have worked in a number of environments at large companies which used projectors in meetings on a daily basis. I never saw people complain about having to use an adapter to plug in their laptop to the project's VGA port. A quick query of some of my friends and readers working in IT confirms they don't see it as an issue and don't really expect a VGA port on a laptop in 2011.

    4. I have found that the opinions of the readers from NoteBookReview.com differ quite a bit from those of other readers -- you are much more likely to want advanced features in laptops which others are not looking for. I understand that you are advanced users, but is it possible that you are asking for features -- such as the TrackPoint -- which non-advanced users do not use? I find that this sort of thing occurs a lot when readers from one site converge on another. It's not a bad thing -- but Lenovo has a wide audience for its laptops, and I am trying to meet that wide audience in Australia with my reviews ;)

    A good example would be the comment about serial ports. Yes, I was a former sysadmin and used my machine's serial port all the time to access routers etc. However, I would say that 99% of laptop users these days would never need to use their laptop's serial port.

    I hope this makes sense :)

    One further question: Given that you guys have all piled in to slam me for my review, can I ask you to name what your favourite laptops models are, and what features you like to see in modern laptops? I ask both so that we can structure our review program with the input of informed readers, but also so I know what you think of the laptop market in general etc.

    Cheers, and once again thanks for the debate!

    Renai
     
  4. Tsunade_Hime

    Tsunade_Hime such bacon. wow

    Reputations:
    5,413
    Messages:
    10,722
    Likes Received:
    1,203
    Trophy Points:
    581
    In coporate America, everyone uses business oriented notebooks (aka the Big 3 of Business; Dell, HP and Lenovo. No serious large corporation in the Fortune 500 primarily uses Apple computers as their primary workhorse computers...except for maybe Apple.

    Perhaps this is the case, but VGA is still the most common output on computers, even in 2011. Only really high end notebooks have eliminated VGA ports.

    TrackPoint is for people who have gotten to used to it. Nearly all workhorse business laptops have them, Dell Latitudes, HP Elitebook, and of course ThinkPads. You say non-advanced users, but most non-advanced users don't buy ThinkPads. Most faint at the price of a fully configured W520. The average joe schmoe buys a 400-500 dollar laptop for basic use. We use ThinkPads for business use.

    Sure many users do not need serial, most don't even know what it is. But it is on buisness oriented notebooks for reason(s) you stated. At work we had to upgrade all our credit card machines which only utilize serial ports.
    I had to bring in my my older D600 and another coworker his D610 to upgrade all the credit card machines. Had we all used Macs, we would have been doomed.

    The most discussed laptops in this Lenovo/IBM forum are going to be the new Sandy Bridge models from Lenovo, mainly the T420, X220 and the W520.

    The thing is a review of a business laptop is definitely going to differ than a review oriented towards consumer grade (which includes Apple laptops). Perhaps a business subsection where you compare the Big 3 Business manufacturers (Dell's Vostro/Latitude/Precision lines, HP's Elitebook/ProBook lines, and Lenovo's ThinkPad line).
     
  5. lead_org

    lead_org Purveyor of Truth

    Reputations:
    1,571
    Messages:
    8,107
    Likes Received:
    126
    Trophy Points:
    231
    1. Maybe you like the X1 styling because it resembles a black Macbook when it is open? I like the external casing, but not too sure about the internal styling.

    2. So Commonwealth is going to use hot desk-ing in Sydney, maybe the commercial office rent are getting too expensive in Sydney. Anyway, Macbook Air 11 as a business laptop? they must be running light apps and nothing CPU intensive.

    Yes, there are lot of people whom prefer the Mac laptop, not just because of its styling, but as an alternative to windows. I use to use Macbook Pro in my University years (because that was a fad), but i found that they need to be babied more than the Thinkpads (i wouldn't care if i scratched or dropped my Thinkpads, but i am super careful with the pre-Unibody MBP, since a dent or scratch on it would look out of place). I also i found that you can't run CPU intensive processes on the MBP and still put the laptop on the lap for prolonged period.

    3. Regarding ports and stuffs, i think your Macbook Pro review had the right idea:

    Apple 15″ MacBook Pro (Feb 2011 model): Review | Delimiter

    I can't imagine i would be happy if Lenovo went the same direction.

    ------------------

    My favourite Thinkpad would be W700ds, R500, R400, T500, T60p, X301, T400s, T43p, Z61t, X61... quite a few. But X300/X301 would be my most favourite machine (this was the real competitor to the first MB Air).

    My other favourite laptops are Panasonic Toughbook and Macbook Pro (yes i am a moderate Apple fan).

    Finally we just want a balanced review, much like the Macbook Pro review that you did We are not all advanced users, but most of us take pride in using Thinkpads, which is why we frequent this forum so we can share our whims with other others whom care to listen. And we will express our dismay at any unfair comments directed at Thinkpads when the evidences are to the contrary.
     
  6. kyriu

    kyriu Notebook Enthusiast

    Reputations:
    0
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    15
    I dread mac users that show up in conferences and, to do presentations, demand to use their mac (because of the software they used to do it) and then there's no adapter around to serve them (because the owner forgot to bring it). It is still a long way to go before VGA displays become the exception and not the norm in projectors and monitors. If thats the case, and at travel, space and weight are at premium, VGA display port seems essential for this kind of laptop IMHO.
     
  7. Tsunade_Hime

    Tsunade_Hime such bacon. wow

    Reputations:
    5,413
    Messages:
    10,722
    Likes Received:
    1,203
    Trophy Points:
    581
    lead_org actually likes all ThinkPads deep down. :p

    Ya I would love to see retro ThinkPad reviews...but would that be relevant? lol
     
  8. lead_org

    lead_org Purveyor of Truth

    Reputations:
    1,571
    Messages:
    8,107
    Likes Received:
    126
    Trophy Points:
    231
    i am writing up retro review for all the Thinkpad i own. An momentous task....

    Yes i do love my Thinkpads other than the Nvidia GPU equipped T61 and R61, just can't bear the thoughts of them failing on me even when i pamper them (which i rarely do to Thinkpads, since they are meant to be used).
     
  9. E. Boder

    E. Boder Newbie

    Reputations:
    0
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    5
    Hi everyone.
    I have frequented this site a few times in the past and always thought I should register for the forums but never took the plunge of adding yet another registration to my list. :p I guess it took something like this "review" to get me signed up.

    I agree with the lot of you and especially the level-headed and experienced views of Rob and lead_org.

    As some may know I have already shared my views of the linked-to review on the comments section of the page - needless to say I was not at all impressed and I would actually like to see the review revised or taken down. I think this would be within the best interests of the reviewer as well.

    Addressing the last post by Renai ...

    I grabbed this from your review:

    This does actually worry me. Could you make a video showing the above? There are not many videos of the T520 around, but the ones that are available don't bring out any of those issues.

    Well that is probably because in your review you spend a fair bit more time and space complaining about the "features" as opposed to the "build quality". ;)

    Yeah, let's see how long that lasts for.

    You know it's an interesting thing about Australia (and probably more so about Sydney than anywhere else), but the feeling I get is that, where in Europe or the US there is an air of "been there done that with the hip stuff - now it's time to get to the brass tax of business" here it sometimes still seems to be more about the "hip stuff". It's not easy to explain, but it's something like that.

    How much have you travelled? These Thinkpad's are not just made for your company or just for Australians. These machines are made to be used universally - all over the globe! Like other business systems they are all about covering as many (universally used) features as possible, and the Thinkpad does just that, without compromising on any modern features as well!

    But Lenovo make the IdeaPad and the G series for the so-called "non-advanced users". The Thinkpad is not, and was never meant to be, for your average home user/consumer. So if you are writing a review on a Thinkpad with the average consumer in mind - well why don't you also write about a Toyota Land Cruiser V8 with the senior citizens in mind!? - You would have to completely bag out the Toyota LC because obviously it's not what your average grandma could drive.

    I am sorry but that bit alone just tells me that you don't truly and fully understand what a Thinkpad is and where it's coming from.

    (P.S. Can anyone tell me how to setup my signature? It's does not appear to be in the CP.)
     
  10. lead_org

    lead_org Purveyor of Truth

    Reputations:
    1,571
    Messages:
    8,107
    Likes Received:
    126
    Trophy Points:
    231
    @E.boder, welcome aboard....

    i was going to ask Renai why he didn't compare Merc's Unimog or G Class SUV with the Audi Q5. But any hoot, i agree with all the issues you raised in the comment section of the T520 Review.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page