A Personal Fight Against The Modern Laptop

If you haven’t gone laptop shopping recently, you’re in for a big shock when you do. While the current generation of MacBook Pros is rightly torn to shreds for being an overpriced machine with a stupid gimmick of a Touch Bar, there are issues with laptops across the industry. No one has figured out how to take a high-res iPad screen and add a keyboard, most laptops with a display smaller than 13 inches are capped at 720 resolution, new features are introduced at the expense of old ones, binary blobs are cast into a web of BIOS whitelists and missing drivers, No, the Microsoft Surface doesn’t count, because while it’s a nice machine it’s a tablet with a keyboard, not a laptop.

After months of searching, [Hamish Coleman] found the closest thing to a perfect laptop. It’s a Thinkpad X230 from the ancient days of yore, or 2012 depending on how you’re counting. It’s close to perfect, though: aside from an old CPU and GPU, the only real show stopper is the keyboard. Replacing that keyboard was [Hamish]’s personal fight against the modern laptop (YouTube, embedded below), and he’s making it easier for us to fight against the current crop of craptops, too.

Since the introduction of the first Thinkpad, the keyboards for these machines remained relatively unchanged until 2011. For the consummate Thinkpad-sporting professional, that’s two decades of muscle memory, replaced with weird keys, deleted keys, and Page Up and Page Down buttons in the completely wrong spot. The keyboard for the X220 fits into a Thinkpad X230, making for an easy mechanical replacement, but the firmware simply doesn’t work.

After some reverse engineering, [Hamish] managed to get this older keyboard working. Of course, this isn’t new; Zmatt unlocked the controller for his Thinkpad keyboard around this time last year. [Hamish] is taking this one step further by building his own tools to unlock laptops more recent than the Thinkpad X230. The GitHub repo, now unlocks the entire Thinkpad xx30 series, and some work is being done with the xx50 and xx60 series.

Over the past year, we’ve seen a lot of hacks involving the Thinkpad X220 and X230 laptops. The chipped batteries are now unchipped, the standard 1366×768 resolution can be bumped up to 1080, and we can get rid of the dreaded Intel Management engine on these machines. For a six-year-old laptop, these old Thinkpads are shaping up to be the perfect machines for anyone who cares about free hardware. That’s free as in beer and speech – you can pick one of these machines up very cheaply.

206 thoughts on “A Personal Fight Against The Modern Laptop

  1. Is there really still a space for this form-factor? It seems to me that it is falling between big phones/small pads and desktop units with a shrinking number of potential users.

      1. I did plenty of IT work for an MSP, and laptops reign supreme there, especially for youth pastors. For those who do work outside of “normal” hours, there’s no other way to do it. I like tablets, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a different tool for a different task. Doing any amount of meaning content creation, being text or image manipulation, requires the type of input mainpulation that tablets and phones can’t accommodate to the same extent laptops can.

    1. If you’re talking about laptops as a valid form factor, then yes.

      I use my phone for, well, phone things. I use my tablet to read and to watch NetFlix/YouTube and similar. I do NOT like communicating on either, as long-form typing on either device is uncomfortable and takes far too long.

      A laptop is a great compromise, and is a great way of being able to still do computing tasks while travelling. At home I prefer normal keyboards and mice, and a regular PC tower with display/keyboard/mouse is my preferred medium of I/O. I have my laptop as part of my setup with Synergy, so it’s a separate computer with the use of a keyboard and mouse without further cluttering my desktop.

      I almost always bring my laptop when I travel because I honestly get twitchy if I don’t get access to reddit/hackaday/G+ at least once a day. Doing so on a tablet is a PITA, ditto on the phone.

    2. I ask because I just don’t see them ‘out in the wild’ (as it were) as much as I used to. My generation needs big screens and full-sized keyboards (because we are losing our vision) and everyone else younger seems to have their face buried in their phones.

      1. No, I wouldn’t try – I use a full size standard stand alone keyboard for than and any other major typing intensive task. On the other hand, when I did see laptops everywhere, I don’t think many of the people using them were writing code.

        1. Work from home – travel a few times a year for go-lives/client support. Pick my kids up and sometimes have to kill time between school pickup for one, and after school actives for the other. Am constantly writing code at McDonalds due to this… Laptops are great for actual work. Had a Surface Pro 3 with the keyboard that I turned in after a few weeks, can’t sit on the couch and work with that quasi-keyboard…

          1. I’m sure there were always a few – however my question was based on the fact that I don’t see folks using laptops in public as much as I used to and the drop in sightings has been significant.

        2. I’m the guy you see in the corner of the Starbucks with his hoodie pulled up, face hidden, coding like mad on a laptop. And I do it professionally. For a bank. I’m sure there’s more of us, and the “hacker” in the corner isn’t always up to no good… ;)

    3. I am in my mid to late 20’s, and almost everyone I know owns a phone, tablet and laptop. The only people who own a desktop use them for gaming or heavy lifting rendering. An even smaller number (myself among them) own a small portable laptop, and then a high spec gaming laptop with no desktop at all.

        1. I think what is happening is that people get laptops in droves, but they only use them at work or at home. They don’t take them out and about because the phone/tablet fills that niche. Most people do have a laptop form factor, and not so much people have the desktop anymore. But they use them on the couch in their living room, not at the coffee shop.

          1. in my experience students, coders, and content creators work at coffee shops as much as ever… Just yesterday I grabbed latte to kill 15 minutes before a site visit in a coffee shop I rarely frequent. I counted 11 out of maybe 20 people who were there working on a laptop, including 4 collaborating in a a designated work area. Macbooks dominated the space, there was also a surface and a an asus ultra portable. I didn’t get a good look at the collaborators. This wasn’t out of the ordinary for any of the coffee shops I frequent. But I’m also in a hipster part of town with a big University.

      1. lol I did that but my favorite is 4 screens so I had to go desktop. I have a 1201n for light travel, a lenovo y50 tricked out for IT work in the field, and a custom tower in the home office. The right tool means I run at max productivity

    4. Only for websurfing types. My work bought me a $3000 dell laptop that is nice and thick and has real processing power etc…

      for the very low end websurfing types? no laptops are disposable. for those of us that do real work? you have always been aboe to buy workstation class substantial laptops and you always will.

      1. Same here I have a tricked out super Dell laptop, but I think I would rather have a desktop and a tiny 12-13″ piece of (disposable) plastic garbage that remotes into said desktop. The 17″ workstation laptop is unfriendly to travel, airplanes, and general field use, I also don’t like it doesn’t fit in any of my regular bags. I bought my wife a piece of plastic garbage HP for $130 that is holding up fine and has great battery life.

    5. I typically travel by air 3-4 days a week see them more than ever at the airport and in customer meetings. Tablets in the hands of casual users and loungers, laptops for the working professionals.

      Laptops seem to not be quite as common in flight as they used to be, but I’d attribute that not only to shrinking seat space (T-Rex arms anyone?) but to increased security concerns as well.

      But stop in a hotel lobby in the morning and you’ll see plenty in use as the traveling work force meets up for breakfast and gets ready for customer meetings. In the room, there is no way you’re getting real work done on anything but.

      Once on site, I’m rarely in a meeting without several open around the table. A recent gathering of 130 of the top engineers for $DAY_JOB had 130 laptops out and in use. 60 were Mac Pros (Pre-TouchBar of course). Not a single Surface. In the last 6 years at this job I’ve seen thousands of customers and laptops. Total of two Surfaces.

      As someone else said, my phone is great for keeping on top of the crisis de jour, reading personal email, and being a phone. The tablet is great for reading and video entertainment. Real work, long posts like this, email all get done with a real screen and keyboard. My backpack has a tablet and a laptop w 8 cores. My desk at home, a real design workstation, multiple monitors, GPUs,CPU sockets, etc. And a Type M keyboard. ;)

      Use the right tool for the job.

      Now, when will someone post the code to mill a billet case for one of these nice Lenovos? And maybe an open source MB that will hold an i7, >32GB dram and 1TB of flash? :)

      1. Well it stands as an example of the elephant and the blind men effect. Since I’ve retired, I don’t fly as much and when we do it is on off times and to vacation destinations, so it is possible I’m not intersecting the working traveler as much. However it does seem to me, that few years ago, one could not go into a coffee shop or fast-food establishment at certain times of the day without the bulk of the patrons working on laptops, and that is just no longer the case, but almost all of them are busy with their phones. It is that observation that prompted the question. As well, there is a trend among us seniors to need larger screens and larger keyboards to compensate for poor eyesight and arthritic fingers.

        Understand I am not disputing what you people are saying here. Obviously my perspective is skewed.

    6. For kids snapchating, probably no. For people doing real work, the answer is yes.

      Yes, I use my phone to text, view video or read a quick email when on the go. Or standing in line somewhere. But even writing a reply to a discussion group on a handheld device is excruciating.

    7. You don’t see laptops as much because there are products that fill the niches that laptops once occupied. Doesn’t mean laptops are “dead”.

      If someone calculated my time ten years ago. I figure I spent 8-9 hours each day in front of a desktop, I spent about 6-7 hours with my laptop. This was during the weekdays. Today, I still spend 8-9 each day with the desktop, but average less than 1-2 on the laptop. I now spend 2-4 hours on a tablet/phone (not making calls). I actually lost time because I’m too old and need my naps. But more noteably, my tablet useage outstrips my laptop time.

      My tablet/phone is lighter and more portable. I primarily use it for reading and research. Such as reading datasheets or to monitor happenings at my work. Tasks I once exclusively used my laptop for.

      In essence, my usage is far more refined. I can easily view datasheets or charts on a 10″ tablet on the train, not so much with any one of my laptops. But if I want to remotely administrate my server, laptop it is.

      Laptops, like the desktop, cannot die. They fill a role that neither desktops or tablets can fill. Like big iron of yesteryear, there is still a need and they will continue to be used. Sometimes, those needs become blurred or the hardware shifts, but until we get Star-Trek-like U.I and Holodecks, they’ll be around.

      1. The Surface Pro 4 has a dual core i7 with 256GB of storage and a Gig of RAM. I agree that there’s generally a horsepower gap between most tablets and most laptops, but that line is quickly blurring.
        If we’re going to make the distinction we’re going to have to make a more specific division than just horsepower. Maybe ease of upgrade has to be a factor. Or maybe continue the HP argument but accept high end ‘tablets’ into the laptop domain.

        1. It’s of note that a “U”-class i7 doesn’t count, because it’s only called that so manufacturers can put “Intel i7 inside” on the box/specs and scores fairly abysmally on performance benchmarks–and nowhere that sells it, that I could find, specifies *which* i7 is in there, only a review site.

          1. Architecture is irrelevant, it’s still a U-class CPU, and so far as i7s are concerned U-class only exists for them as a branding tactic, with actual performance being i3-grade or worse in most cases.

          2. Fair enough, but if it’s got the same performance as a low end laptop, how do we distinguish it from a laptop?
            This all just reinforces my stance that performance isn’t a good way to differentiate between a tablet and a laptop. Since tablets like the Surface are increasingly being sold with keyboards even the distinction of intended I/O method is blurring. Then there are all the ‘convertible’ laptops that have touch screens.

          3. It’s distinguished in that exactly zero things can be upgraded; with the exception of a handful of chromebooks at least the storage medium is user-replaceable.

          4. I agree with what you are saying about the i7 U class but too a certain extent Laptop CPU’s are rubbish compared to their desktop/server counterparts.

        2. 256GB of storage and a Gig of RAM

          Woohoo… I had that in 2009, okay the CPU was a Pentium 4 mobile, so 32-bit, and I fib a little, it was 250GB instead of 256GB, but 1GB RAM still holds.

          In fact, my desktop back in 2002 had 1GB RAM also.

          Thing is, neither machine is trying to run the latest Microsoft abomination, so 1GB isn’t too bad, and that P4 had to be upgraded to a SSD recently due to a failing hard drive, so it is surprisingly responsive for a machine of its age.

          About the only area where that Surface Pro 4 wins is the CPU; it’ll be 64-bit, multi-core, and lower power; and in weight. The keyboard on those things reminds me a lot of those flexible rubber keyboards that were a fad for a while… terrible to type on… and the screen needs a kick-stand to keep it propped up.

          Asus had a decent thing going with the original Transformer… sadly they’ve lost their way with modern versions, and so today’s Asus Transformer isn’t worth buying. If Microsoft had copied the original Asus design, they might’ve had something truly special with the Surface, but like so many of their copying attempts, they swing, and miss by a mile.

        3. You can buy SP4s in various specs, but my (work-supplied, of course) one is “core i7-6650U @2.2GHz” and 8G of RAM. It’s an – interesting – machine. Tremendous potential. The SP9 ought to be pretty good. :-)

          I have a multi-decadal history of hating microsoft, so it feels very strange to be doing anything but bashing them. And sure, there’s plenty to bash. The CPU heat pipe conducts heat away from the CPU – right into the battery. Run the machine hard and it throttles back the clock speed like crazy. The Type Pad 4 is mostly usable – horrible by laptop standards but not bad at all by tablet standards. Between the touchpad, the touchscreen, and the stylus, all three of them work almost always. Mostly. Sometimes you have to remove and reattach the type cover to get the keyboard and touchpad to work again, and if the touchscreen stops registering touches then you just have to reboot it.

          Windows 10 still has the Win 8 identity crisis (phone? computer? yes!) but it’s getting a little bit better each time they patch it. Speaking of patches – there’s a steady stream of firmware patches, and this is one machine where you’ll actually want to apply them. It’s almost like the firmware people got their first hands-on time at the launch event or something. It’s getting better.

          There are some things I like about it. Being able to doodle on a powerpoint slide with the stylus, in mid presentation, is even better than projecting onto a whiteboard so you can use the markers. This way I can save the doodles and send people a copy of the slides with the circles and arrows on them. The screen is nice – high DPI, good color gamut. Windows 10 gets the high-dpi scaling right at least 90% of the time. Battery life seems decent – all day surfing or three hours of real work.

          With Apple more or less end-of-lifing the mac, microsoft could catch up in a few years. :-)

      2. i found one: the Aorus X3 Plus V6 (they’re currently up to the V7 model). it took a LOT of research (which is public and on the arm-netbook archives). full installation report / investigation at http://lkcl.net/reports/aorus_x3_plus_v6.html – there are many other people who’ve installed linux on these utterly insane extreme machines, i’m just one of the few that got absolutely everything working (and documented it) including the optirun / bumblebeed driven headless NVIDIA 1050 GPU with SIX (!!) Gigabytes of DDR5 RAM.

        if the $2600 price-tag of the Aorus X3 is a bit much and you KNOW you don’t need to upgrade to 32GB of RAM, you KNOW you are never going to need dual raided 2500 MEGABYTE per SECOND M2 NVMe SSDs, then you could go for the Dell XPS 13 9350 which is very well supported and has a ton of people installing GNU/linux-based OSes on it.

    1. A laptop has the motherboard and drives under the keyboard. The screen can hinge all the way around if you want it in tent mode for some reason, or you want to put the keyboard on the table and then transfer table debris to your screen.

      A tablet with a keyboard has the motherboard behind the screen, which makes them top-heavy. They usually need kickstands to use on a table, and are cumbersome to use on a lap.

      The Surface Pro is a tablet, Dell Latitudes are laptops.

  2. “While the current generation of MacBook Pros is rightly torn to shreds for being an overpriced machine with a stupid gimmick of a Touch Bar…”

    Brian, I don’t think there’s any need for overtly opinionated comments like this on Hackaday. If you want to criticize products, then at least provide basic technical reasons like your Thinkpad Buyer’s Guide does. The quote as it stands provides no meaningful benefit to the article. I’d much rather read about the cool Thinkpad hack than how much you hate the new MacBook Pro. Leave that for trashy tech blogs to “report” on; please don’t bring Hackaday down to that level.

          1. Don’t you know we live in a post-truth world…? Whenever you’re upset by anything, you just make words come out of your mouth – it really doesn’t matter anymore what they mean…

      1. I agree with him, and I’m not sure I could install an app on a Mac without reading the instructions.

        Be funny, be interesting, be honest and trustworthy, don’t be like that.

    1. I was in the Palo Alto library to use their WiFi room last year. It is pretty big and full of desks, ALL of which were occupied by people using MacBook and MacBook Air. Likewise everywhere around Stanford, or basically anywhere in Silicon Valley. I had a huge Gateway laptop that played bongo sounds whenever I opened it, which was kinda fun.

      I prefer Macs any day, but I buy them used, even for the business, and usually iMacs with quad I7s and 27″.

      Current keyboards are a PITA. And how about a war against Caps Lock? First thing I do is glue that switch open.

      1. I just program mine out…. Got a spare full size access-is keyboard without the MSR part attached. Found it in the scrap because two switches had gone on it and no-one could be asked to solder new keys in.

        I have a “fair-use” agreement regarding the scrap bins with management of course. Use and return when finished with, unless the employment contract ends.

        1. I have a pair of Apple Extended Keyboard II waiting for me to stick in an Arduino Nano for ADB to USB. They are one of the best keyboards ever made.

          I turn caps lock into a shift key in Linux but move the keyboards around all the time, so glue is more effective.

          1. Just looked up Apple Extended Keyboard II as a reminder.
            That would make a great keyboard project (I don’t mid the whole bring back vintage idea, It just seems kinda cool).

            Access-is being a keyboard targeting the e-pos industry (Tills and checkouts), Their keyboards are hard-programmable. Meaning, program once and keep settings in the keyboard EEPROM.
            Heck I have a Razor with an STM32-something that couldn’t do that. (Because they, Razor, want people to sign-up with their tie-in-ware for some strange reason, though got it at a market for five GBP)

            The razor is registered to my work E-mail so I can macro, “Dusted, Cleaned, Tested, Working OK” on one of the macro keys (that is all the use I have for that crippleware keyboard, and typing/booking out jobs)

            Hope to see your project make it here sometime….

    1. I take your T61p and raise you an X61T. Proper thinkpad keyboard, linux friendly but also spine friendly. And no stupid optical drive.

      Only complaint; you need a stupid optical drive to update the firmware. So I’m still stuck on SATA-1 till I can borrow a dock or get around to hacking a more sensible solution (write iso to HDD and boot from there?)

  3. ” No one has figured out how to take a high-res iPad screen and add a keyboard”

    “No, the Microsoft Surface doesn’t count, because while it’s a nice machine it’s a tablet with a keyboard, not a laptop.”

    Just so I’m clear, what you want is a tablet display with a keypad, but you reject the Microsoft surface because it’s just (and I quote) a “tablet with a keyboard”?

      1. Or a hotplate, a preheated oven, suction cups and a heated blade at slightly above the oven temperature.

        AND NO! not a 200*C+ cooking oven. Something that is still comfortable to place hands in and carefully pry the two apart.

        So far I’ve replaced dead displays two Microsoft-Nokia phones (the Microsoft own brand-transitioned era version) and a no-brand tablet PC using the above technique in a makeshift “oven”:
        Cardboard box with one flap down and a hair-drier in the side with a heat-plate.

        OK… I cracked 1 Nokia by accident, but my excuse was it was my first.

          1. I meant hot-air reflow heatgun.
            It is used to melt solder where a soldering iron cant reach… I.E. Ball-grid-array (you know, the ones under the CPU/SOC in phones on main-boards etc)

      1. I suspect/hope your $1,800 laptop contains exponentially more storage, several times the RAM and a processor equal to several dozen of the CPU in your $300 laptop.

        This is like asking why my Ford F-150 crew cab with 4WD costs so much more than a motorcycle.

        1. Not even close. The laptop’s CPU is a crappy mobile i7, and it came with 4GB RAM that I’ve upgraded to 8GB. It has a discrete GPU, but it’s an AMD Radeon that was low-end and useless when it was new. It originally had a 250GB HDD and I’ve replaced that with a 250GB SSD.

          My tablet, on the other hand, has a Tegra K1 and can run games that the laptop would struggle to deal with, plus it has CUDA, which is useless on a tablet (to me) and I’d give my right arm to have it in my laptop.

          As a result, I carry both around and only use my laptop when I have to type.

      2. That must be at least 3 years old with some GTX7xxm GPU..
        Today 1500$ gets you a 17″ inch i7-6700(7700)HQ, 1060, 16GB of DDR4, FHD 120Hz display, and at least 256GB of SSD+1TB HDD..

    1. And marketing people pushing ‘Full HD! / 1080P!’, and the people who buy into it… Old laptops had better than that…. There are some good ones out there though still, the ThinkPad I’m on now has an i7 with 2880×1620 native.

      1. What’s bizarre is that this is the *exact* argument I heard lobbed at the shit flat panel displays when we dropped CRTs. How long did it take for the industry to regain lost ground, both in physical screen real estate (a 15″ 4:3 is NOT the same as a 15″ 16:9) and resolution (1080p! WTF!) for screens.

        It’s god damn embarrassing to have to deal with a monitor that is both physically smaller and has shittier resolution than one I had a mere 15 years ago.

        This 4k crap is finally a step in the right direction but the frame rate is abysmal.

  4. Funny I tell people that my surface is a laptop than can be like a tablet. And in no way is it a tablet like a laptop. Yes it has touch screen, but it’s more of a desktop/laptop OS with desktop/laptop applications, same programs as my desktop, not dumb down ones for tablet. Yes I know there is a version of apps in a tablet mode, but they suck, and I use the surface as a laptop, with tablet like cababilities. To reject it for being what you asked for is just fluff to write an article

    1. I believe what’s being referred to is the lack of aftermarket upgrade potential, as well as the inability to actually use it on a lap as a laptop because of all the flopping. And the keyboard that is, quite frankly, terrible to use compared to even chiclet keyboards.

  5. For the screen and form factor concerns, look at the razer blade stealth (at least if writhing green tentacles on the back of your monitor isn’t a dealbreaker) — 4k 12.5″ screen. I looked at it when shopping for a new computer recently, it looked pretty nice but in the end I opted for something else.

  6. I own a clevo p650 and I absolutely love it. No branding on it, huge touchpad, great cooling, aluminium body. It’s a gaming rig but it’s a classy one at that and you pay virtually 0$ on the brand.

    1. 0$ for the brand, but quite a few $$$ for the HW I don’t need :(
      By the same elimination as the author, I ended up with a X230 just as he did, it was the best compromise and you can get them cheap used without being worn&torn to hell, even with the better configs… the only PITAs are the display and keyboard…

      1. Then get the desktop cpu Clevo models that dont have dGPU, they start in the 700€ range, with 8GB of RAM and 256GB worth of SSD, and with a decent/above average display panel..
        Or a P640 from Clevo, or a P150RF, the ones with 965m where selling for just under 900€, dont expect decent hardware from Hp or Dell, or Acer when shopping for a laptop in a supermarket..

  7. I recently bought a refurbished Thinkpad T420 (14″ 1366×768) with 4GB or RAM an I5 processor and a 250GB traditional hard drive for about $300 CAD..that’s almost $230 USD…It’s turned out to be a great machine that I can use for years to come..especially when using Linux. I can always change the RAM/hard drive as needed. Overall a great deal for the price.

    1. Too bad you didn’t get it with a 1600 x 900 screen… But there is something not well known about the T420. There is a cover at the bottom of the laptop. It contains one of the RAM modules and an empty socket. That socket is meant to be used for a 3G Modem, but you can also put an mSATA-SSD (not M2!) there (seen up to 500GB). It will only do SATA-2 (3 GBit/sec), but that’s still a lot faster than a HD, especially when booting. This way you can have an SSD for the OS and a large HD as a datadump.

      Well worth the expense.

      1. I bought a used T420 a few years ago and when I went to replace the 30GB HDD that came with it, found an empty drive bay.
        That is when I discovered the mSATA drive hiding in the memory bay, and then later replaced it with the 256GB drive that I still have in it. (Along with the SSD in the normal drive bay, and another in the optical drive bay, and often a large low profile USB drive…)

        Solid and reliable laptops, AL the T series machines that I have owned or worked with.

  8. I have to say it somewhere : HP 17-x044nf Is à Big pile of sh#t.
    Poor drivers
    Terrible optimal drive
    Lousy charger…
    Horrible keyboard and toy-like trackpad…
    Yuk…you suck Hp

    1. Peasant grade casing:

      Those cases typically warp easily, especially when picked up from a corner to, say, give your college mate some table space.

      The state of soldering in peasant grade laptops will hold up a little over a year with such handling, and heaven forbid an NVIDIA GPU and it may not even make it’s warranty. That is if the hinges don’t snap first or the HDD isn’t crushed by the typing on the keyboard or the casing doesn’t become spine-shaped from in a laptop carrying backpack or….. well I could list an endless set of reasons to avoid peasant grade like the plague in a HIV prone area.

      Windows 10 home is a give-away of it’s intended audience.

    2. Dont use HP drivers, do a clean install, open it up and repaste it. Then, you are complaining about a 500€ laptop, where you expecting high quality build? Even better, its a facebook machine sold in supermarkets, its as disposable as a can of dog food..

  9. I buy a “refurbushed” Dell Lattitude for $200-$250 every couple years (current is a e7240), install Linux and then a couple years later pass it down to one of my kids and buy another. With 4 ‘users’ in the house its the best for the price. We have a E7250, E7240, E7420 and E7320 plus a D410 and C400 at the moment.

    1. Got my 3 lots of E6400 latitudes for around £25 each from a decommission batch.

      1 to use, 1 experimental, 1 for spares.

      Maxed out RAM (2x 4GB DDR2=8GB total) and rocking 2 SDDs in their hotswapable trays (locking screws left out).

      Not bad and runs Linux well.

      You should look around for good deals from decommission computing redistributors at boot sales, If you can barter a bulk buy deal on two or more, Then… You know the rest.

  10. …and another thing. *Handles*. Why can’t manufactures give the option “Do you want a pull-out handle with your laptop?”
    It really isn’t hard!!
    The very early Toshiba range T1000, T1200 etc had handles. Why didn’t this become a standard?
    How many laptops have you dropped over the past thirty years whilst juggling it and a bunch of other items, coz the dang thing didnt have a simple carry handle on it?

    1. That’s died out for the most part in “normal” laptops because handles are expensive in terms of volume and complexity, and they require a stronger chassis to be useful. Most of the ruggedized lines still have them, though.

    2. Zero. I have dropped zero laptops in the past decade, and I simply don’t remember any farther back than that. I typically walk around carrying my personal laptop one-handed, clamshell open and screen active.
      When I need to carry more things, I close the lid, and stack them…
      Handles are very much in the domain of user-specific needs, and there are more than enough 3rd party carrying cases with the feature.

      1. Or thrown…or being used as a blunt-edge weapon for murder :P
        Buuuut, that thing seriously is a brick. Sure, I’ve seen someone clean it with a pressure washer (so much pacepalm) and survive without any problems, but the weight makes it a special-use item, it’s way too heavy for every day carry.

          1. Can’t say I’ve tried the CF-17… but I haven’t struck a laptop whose keyboard particularly annoyed me. Typing this on a late 2008-era MacBook, and the keyboard there is fine. I’ve owned a few Toshibas, one Dell, and here in the house we have one LG… and none of them have keyboards worth complaining about.

            The only one I have particular issue with is a Lemote Yeeloong… but being a netbook, you kinda expect that things are going to be cramped. The MacBook keyboard does hide some keys behind the “Fn” meta-key annoyingly, but it’s workable. You get used to it and move on. Probably the worst issue is the location of left-Control and Fn keys.

            At work we recently got some Lenovo X1 Carbons (the non-touchscreen version), and one of the people who got one thought the CF-53 had a really nice keyboard. The X1 Carbons have some odd key positioning decisions, but people seem to get used to them.

        1. No joke… a colleague of mine wanted to play a game of soccer with it the day I got it!

          Yes, it’s heavy… it is built the way laptops USED to be built… and cost what laptops USED to cost. Given it lives on my desk at work semi-permanently, the weight isn’t an issue, expandability is… which is why I bought it to replace the MacBook (2008-era) that I was using; only two USB ports was really giving me the ####s.

          I opted for this particular machine because I figured when it was done its tour of duty on the desk at work, I’d replace it with a small desktop and it’d become a home workstation where the RS-232 port would come in handy.

          1. laptops of that ilk are made for something so far from a desk it hurts to read you use it like that.

            they are meant for field work, on a desk a normal enterprise grade laptop will do just as well, in reality probably better and for a quarter of the price.

          2. oodain: (Can’t reply to your post directly because it’s too deeply nested)

            You think this mob run their checkpoints from air conditioned offices? A normal enterprise grade laptop usually has no RS-232, no Cardbus and crap idiosyncratic hardware. It was mainly the presence of these legacy interfaces, which I do use in my day-to-day work, that made me consider it. The fact that it ran fairly standard, well supported, hardware components, and was ruggedised, are just sweeteners for the deal.

            This thing has been rock solid, runs as well as the day I bought it, everything in Linux “Just Works”, and is rugged enough for me to use when running a packet radio check point at a car rally to boot. (a place where the RS-232 port comes into its own; interfacing to an AX.25 TNC.)

            As I say, when it’s officially “depreciated” for tax purposes… it’ll be a home workhorse and em-comms field powerhouse, and likely a small desktop will replace it as I don’t actually need the portability in my day job.

  11. “While the current generation of MacBook Pros is rightly torn to shreds for being an overpriced machine with a stupid gimmick of a Touch Bar, there are issues with laptops across the industry.”

    Ugh. I come to HackADay to read about cool hacks – not to read some author’s personal bias against Apple machines (BTW: the new Surface Book Pro is a laptop, costs *more* than a 15″ MacBook Pro, doesn’t run a Unix variant, and has literally half the CPU power… where’s the bitching?)

    I’m removing HackADay from my RSS feeds. If I wanted this kind of crap, I’d build a time machine and go back to 1983 so I could do Commodore vs Atari all over again.

    (BTW: I’ve got a 2016 15″ MacBook Pro, a Dell XPS 15 9550, a Surface Pro 3 *and* a Lenovo X230 – I’m also a Unix sysadmin & developer, and did embedded Linux development for years. So let’s just skip the ‘fanboi’ comments. I’m pretty platform agnostic but I do consider the MBP to be the best of the 3 machine I’ve purchased recently. The X230 is my second-favourite)

    1. Brian is apparently the author of the HackADay “flamewars generate page views, so let’s steer back to the days when when the comments sections were populated by hate-filled trolls” doctrine. If you’re a long time HAD reader, you’ll remember it as the era when Jeri Ellsworth said something to the effect of, “the haters are out in force today. Something I did must have made the front page on HackADay.”

      You might also remember that HAD changed their comments system and policy explicitly to steer away from that well-earned bad reputation. I know I do.

      Apparently Brian has forgotten, or is just jonesing to take HAD back to those ‘glory’ days.

      HAD does still have decent content most days, but personally I’m going to start avoiding any articles whose tease is little more than open flamebait.

      1. Generally, it’s not considered poor taste to attack the market leader. It’s be like me saying “Screw overpriced fords, here’s my home made go cart!”. It’s simply not a real business threat. Don’t be a sore winner. :)

        (This post written on a MBP15)

    2. “my Apple”… “my RSS feeds”…
      Nobody cares. Please go back to reddit and talk about how your are offended. About you indignation and socially unjust victimized Crapple.

      No worries. No reader of value was lost.

      P.S. I worked at Apple. Products are shit. Company is shit. Fans are shit. ~fin

  12. All I want is a laptop with a 1080p screen, i7 CPU, a desktop-grade GPU, and real RS-232 and parallel ports.

    Better yet, an ATX-compliant case in a laptop formfactor with screen, keyboard, and battery.

    1. No no no! You don’t want a laptop with a 1080p screen. That’s what you need a tablet for, to watch films on with no borders… Demand a 16:10 screen, be it 1920×1200 or some higher equivalent. Cheapskate manufacturers went for 16:9 so they could advertise “15.6” screens, better than 15.4, even though the 15.4″ had an extra cm or so of vertical space.

      Sad that Apple are the only laptop makers still providing 16:10. I’ve had a Macbook since 2012, hardware is great, software not so.

      1. Haha! I once welded a steel strength frame, mounted it inside a small ATX case with a 733 MHz PIII, bolted a 17 inch LCD (huge at the time) onto the side, the swivel foot from an old 21 inch Apple monitor to the bottom, and a drawer handle to the top. I used to lug that old thing around to a robotics group I attended. I wanted serial and parallel ports, a big screen, and full processing power, and decided to go that route.

    2. Just grab a metal briefcase, bolt your monitor (replace original PSU with inverter for CFLs, and add extension cable for all voltages for logic board) to the inside of the lid, put inside a Mini-ITX board, SSD, HDD decent GPU, add some DC-DC converter for both motherboard and monitor, two dozen of 18650 cells with balancer and charging circuit (or a dozen of bigger LiPo batteries for RC models), cover it with some acrylic (so you can add blinkenlights too), and add a strap to hold down a keyboard and mouse, when lid is closed. Of course your cool laptop would be on the heavy side of things, but at least it will have bigger screen and more power with all those batteries…

      1. Or you could…..

        Rob a bunch of Wincor BA73 units and take out their TMDS to LVDS boards, bodge it from 8-bit mode to 6-bit mode (Still working on my scrap bin salvaged PCB one since they have been upgraded and a bunch of scrap BA73 units landed on my desk for my pleasure) and hook that to the DVI port by splicing cables.

        Find a UATX with a decent CORE M or ATOM CPU and bodge a heat-pipe onto the hot parts and cut down on height where possible:
        Low Profile RAM, Removing tall sockets, etc.

        Rob a DigiPOS Retail-Blade, one of the models from the Pentium 4 era ones as they have a 14-24V to ATX PSU in them.

        Get a bunch of batteries to power the shebang, stick it in a suitcase with padding, metal and mounting and you have a laptop.

        Those 14-24V PSUs are about 180W, Two of them “should” (In Theory, But I have doubts) power up, say a PS3 or PS4.

        So Also you could have a PS 3 or 4 laptop running off batteries.

        Oh… AND DON’T!!!!!, WHATEVER YOU DO, JUST DON’T WALK INTO AN AIRPORT!!!!

  13. > No one has figured out how to take a high-res iPad screen and add a keyboard,

    > No, the Microsoft Surface doesn’t count, because while it’s a nice machine it’s a tablet with a keyboard, not a laptop.

    What the hell do you want then?

  14. I completely agree on the market issue, except I just bought the HP Spectre for $1100 and I love it. I had been waiting for years for a high tech, great design laptop to come out to replace my old one, and this was it. I use Linux 100% for the laptop, and only had one issue with suspend that I fixed in like 30secs by disabling the wake lock for a driver. Check it out for yourself

  15. i haven’t met a laptop i liked since that 30 pound clevo monstrosity i had back in 2003. i had an asus laptop in 2009 and it just wouldn’t boot one day, weeks after the warranty had expired. i think im done with laptops. there is no build quality, no performance, and the keyboards are too damn small.

    1. I’ve had my £200 Asus K53E for about 6 years with no issues. Added a SSD and some RAM, replaced the charger (frayed cable) and keyboard (I broke a key) but seriously no issues.

      Running debian and Parrot OS.

  16. X220 and iPad Pro user here. The iPad pro keyboard case is finally a tablet keyboard done right. I honestly thought I might have found a device that meant I could do a bit of light dev and leave the lapper at home when travelling – the other stuff like email and what not is just fine on the iPad. Most of the issues associated with Apples walled garden I can work around, bar one. There’s no web browser that offers on-device debugging. You can load firebug lite, but it’s lite like the name says. So frustrating to be so near, but so far. Next time round, it will be a Surface Pro.

    1. Yep… Just not in peasant prices…
      Can’t people make do with something a bit older but a buisness decommission or go and look for the buisness grade instead of this “Light weight, fat free now with 10% less blah blah etc…” grade snaptop doesn’t-compute(r) rubbish.

      Heck, couldn’t Lenovo scrap all their peasant grade laptop ranges and stick with their mid-range (thicker plastic) and their proper business ranges (Metal alloy inner-frame and/or metal alloy unibody).

      The peasant grade Lenovo is making is pushing away customers who turned to them for reliability and people will still upgrade anyway (It may take a lil longer tho, that is where Lenovo could have seperate subdivisions for differing business plans like IBM did to keep them afloat in the mid term between customer upgrade seasons)

  17. I don’t think you can disable the ME on either the X220 or X230 as the article implied; the link takes you to the older X200.
    Coreboot with native RAM and graphics into GRUB2 to load a signed kernal off a LUKS boot and root with a reversed and patched EC firmware is very nice.

  18. When IBM brought out the PC Jr. it was widely criticized and one of the main criticisms was the chiclet keyboard. Now all laptops have them and that’s apparently OK… sigh. Here’s what I want:

    4:3 screen (1920×1440 is fine) 15″ on the diagonal (fading eyesight)
    A real keyboard*
    Linux compatible without driver issues.

    I don’t care if it’s not 1/4″ thick – it can be it can be over an inch thick, just give me a decent keyboard.

    * Here’s how to add a decent keyboard to a laptop.
    1) use the old IBM butterfly design to get a full width
    2) You know that coffee cup holder on the right side? Replace it with a pull-out keyboard for arrow, page, numeric etc.

        1. I was going to say….

          I’ve seen some very high quality (spec and build wise) laptops with full mechanical keyboards. Mostly MSI brand and mostly extremely out of my price range (I’d need to find a winning lottery ticket first before a purchase of that price range ever happens)

    1. or.. when they turn up at the bootsales with drill holes through every component possible and the idiot asks 100 for it when the working ones around the corner are going for about 20 to 60 each.

      Yes, I do ask them a price just for the fun of it.

  19. My personal peeve is that laptops don’t come with enough USB ports. Mouse, keyboard, audio interface, MIDI interface, printer, microcontroller dev system… I need at least 6 ports if I don’t want to go hot swapping all the time. And 90% of the time, a USB hub just doesn’t work with the high performance stuff at all. No audio or midi or dev box on a hub.

    1. Full size USB sockets take up valuable space…
      For a Lenovo system, you could, (very) theoretically design your own Ultrabay module with a bazzllion USB ports and have that :D

    2. I am guilty of buying a docking station back in the day. Standard brick & Power Management will not resolve 6 USB drives at full cap in a mad scientist stripped array or 5 and one HDMI mirrored to projector. Or combinations thereof… You’d be asking for a separate processor to handle the PCI lanes. Can’t you be happy with finding a laptop that can handle a eGPU? You’d still end up hauling a full sized pizza box with you if LUCKY…

  20. Can I get a new Samsung laptop in the USA without grey market importing it? Micron/MicronPC/MPC rebranded them until MPC folded in 2008.

    Still using my MPC TransPort T2500, AKA Samsung X65. Fully usable 4gig RAM (even with a 32 bit OS). Core 2 Duo (could upgrade to a faster one). 1680×1050. Only big knock against it is the WTF decision by Samsung to equip the model with a CardBus slot instead of ExpressCard – in 2008. I assume since Sammy and MPC (and its forebears) were always after big money government contracts, they used CardBus for ‘legacy support’ so agencies buying them could keep using old cards with XP. (Which is why you’ll rarely find a T2500 with an OEM Vista install.) I have 10 Pro x64 on mine and it runs quite nicely.

    1. Samsung got kicked out of the EU for crappy ideias about a warranty is, as in not honoring the 2 years time like they should, bad build quality(so many broken hinges), and that must be case in the US as well, they like to be sleazy, then they get the ban hammer.

    2. I also have a t2500, but wasn’t aware it was a Samsung rebrand so thanks for that tidbit. It really is a great laptop, despite that I’ve not had any luck selling it over the years (presumably because no ones heard of MPC) and therefore use it as a spare or to loan out to friends.

  21. Ok, straight off the bat, we have to get out the way “it’s expensive”, but for a MS .NET developer, a Surface Book is pretty much perfect. It’s fast, has an amazing keyboard, weighs a couple of pounds, and turns into a tablet at weekends.
    For Linux guys, not so good, though, until the ubuntu environment is solid.

  22. Regarding the video, all that could be solved with a flat flex with two connectors, that would re-route the signals(rows/colums) to the needed order, and add a couple pads to inject 5v from some usb port for the backlight, or just use a key remapping thingy in linux and be done with it..

    Regarding laptops, my work horse for 5 years was an N53SM, I upgraded the lcd to a FHD IPS model, unlocked the BIOS, injected most recent PXE, SATA oROM, cpu microcode. GOP drivers for the iGPU and various optimizations, bumped the cpu to a i7-2670qm, 16GB of DDR3 RAM and an MX200 SSD, was thinking about getting the G74 backlight keyboard, decided not to..

    Then I snagged a Toshiba P50-A with an i7-4700HQ, bumped the ram to 16GB of DDR3L and added a BX200 480GB ssd, upgraded the lcd to a LG WF6 for decent colour reproduction, then I discovered that the CPU was limited to 39Amps aka 2.4Ghz when using all 4 cores, so I dumped the BIOS and using setup_var2 I redefined the Amps to max, as well as turbo boost maximum time(254 seconds), and repasted it using Coolaboratory Liquid Ultra, the BIOS trickery is described here(it took a while to get it done):
    https://www.techinferno.com/index.php?/forums/topic/10272-help-cant-unlock-a-toshiba-p50-a-12z-tittle-changed/

    Toshiba does this in almost all their laptops, as does HP, and Asus, and Acer, and many others, even low power U cpu’s are TDP and current limited so they can skimp on thermals…

    My desktop is an MSI GT72 2QE with a 980m, an extra FHD display, keyboard and mouse, its a blessing having decent laptops, being able to pack the MSI and go to my friends house for some lan-parties is worth the limitations, that and working 120Km from home and being in rented rooms during the week..

      1. At least 150Amps stable is no problem, its a 3 phase design with two mosfets per phase(each mosfet is rated at 80Amps, the limitation is done because the stock cooler paired with stock thermal paste will put your cpu at around 80ºC when dissipating the 30Watts that its limited to, so, I glued a couple feet in the rear of the laptop(I also like it a bit more slanted because its more comfortable for my writing style.
        With Coolaboraty Liquid Ultra and dissipating 52Watts(due to turbo boost) during a Cinebench R15 run the max it gets is around 80ºC, in stock form even TDP limited it would throttle down because it would hit 98ºC.

        I have also undervolted the cpu by 50mV with XTU, I can probably get it lower, but no time/pacience to test it for days for every mV I drop.

  23. If you want nice things in a laptop you are going to pay for it.

    https://www.google.com/#q=custom+build+laptop

    I usually use xoticpc as a good place to start. The crazy configurable ones seem to be from the MSI line these days. But to get the specs of a mac you are going to pay similar prices. Lenovo are not very good config wise. They are meant for the office worker who is on a plane every other day. They excel at that task. Lenovo/thinkpad laptops grabbed the attention of the ‘maker’ crowd because they can usually be had for fairly cheap used, as offices offload 500 at a time. They are pretty durable. The specs on them are always middle of the road to low end.

  24. The crazy configurable are still Clevos, MSI only as a barebones model that sports an LGA1151 cpu socket and one MXM connector for the GPU.

    Lenovo is sketchy, very bad build quality..

    1. with Lenovo, you get what you pay for (which mostly applies for all manufacturers)… shit-tier laptops are built to a price, the “business class” ones usually have to be build a little better, otherwise they will not stand up to the daily use and abuse…
      The top-end models usually have no problem lasting through the 1st user, so the 2nd hand market is doing well for them.

    2. I love my Sager (Clevo rebrand)! Who else lets me have a 4GHz i7, two internal HDD slots, a 4k screen, two DisplayPort connectors and an HDMI?
      I’m running 2 1080p monitors, 1 4k monitor, and the main 4k screen all at the same rime right now.
      So awesome!

      I bought this a couple of years ago, so I don’t know if the specs have been matched yet, but when I bought it you couldn’t even buy a machine with these specs from any of the mainstream vendors.

  25. I’m with you Brian. The new Macbook Pro is exactly what you said it is. There’s no other way to wrap it up and present it. Basically Apple has no creativity left, so continuing to make things thinner and thinner and lighter is to suffice instead. Plus throw in some gimmicky features and you’ve got a piece of “quality” gear that is worthy of your 1500 plus hard earned dollars. Don’t take my statements as me being an Apple hater. I’ve always had a mix of gear. I enjoy my first gen 11″ Macbook Air with the i5 processor for traveling. I’ve had many Apple products over the years.

    Nowadays though I’m finding less and less gear that can replace my older gear that is still humming along well. I’m not a gamer and even if I was I would not buy a gaming laptop. I’d rather spend the money on building one or two custom pcs. For laptops Dell Precision / Latitude series, Lenovo Thinkpads, Panasonic Toughbooks, or Getac ruggedized laptops are the only ones that I will buy. I don’t necessarily need a fully ruggedized laptop but Panasonic and Getac are currently the only commonly available new laptops that still include one or two rs232 ports. For me that’s important for a variety of reasons. Also all these brands (minus Getac) are produced in such high numbers that I can easily afford several off lease models for when I need to do testing etc.

  26. Best laptop I ever owned and still do is the Panasonic Toughbook however sadly for the ancient beast that is still kicking the battery is now dead and the original PSU fried itself long ago. and I wish it would run anything other that windows 98.
    However more than once I have put it on its edge and used it as a step stool to reach the top of a rack, dropped it off the roof when aligning a communications antenna and was able to stay up a mast finishing the config on some radios in torrential rain that soaked the entire thing.

  27. Isn’t the Dell Vostro 3300 keyboard one of the best for programming?
    It’s the only one I know with keys like INS, DEL, HOME, END, PGUP and PGDOWN on good places.
    What others laptop keyboards are alike?

    1. Heck… I don’t use a laptop, but I haven’t bought Apple hardware in ages, even though I preferred using Mac OS for most tasks. The result was building a Hackintosh. I managed to build a fully upgradable quad i7 PC with 16 GB RAM and over 20 TB in hard drives by simply salvaging hardware from previous computers and buying the core parts… Those core parts only cost me a bit over 600 bucks. I spent a little here and there, over the past 3 years, and bumped it to 32 GB RAM, added two SSDs, made it dual boot, and added a GTX 980 ti.

      I’ll never buy a glued together computer ever!

  28. Look at the Dell Precision or HP Elitebook range for a good series of notebooks with power and hackability. I run a Dell Precision M4600 hailing from 2011, and it supports up to 3 hard disks, upgradeable GPU, upgradeable CPU, four RAM slots, and Dell gives you the teardown guide.

        1. Thanks!

          That number pad uses a repurposed apple “magsafe” connector and a few neodymium magnets to magnetically attach and detach. I have no fear of stray magsafe connectors finding their way into my keyboard’s connectors… I doubt any Apple laptops will ever even have a chance to cross it’s path. I may prefer everyday browsing on Mac OS… But I run it on stock PC hardware! I haven’t bought a new Apple product since my iPod a decade ago.

  29. Best Buy has an Insignia (house brand) tablet for $199 with a docking keyboard that makes it into a clamshell laptop with two real USB ports, a very typeable keyboard, and serviceable touch pad (as well as the tablet’s touchscreen of course). The battery lasts 5 hours in heavy use. No, it can’t be upgraded, but unless you are doing FPS gaming or numerical engineering analysis, why would you ever need to? Yeah the 32 gig flash is a bit limited but it also has a uSD socket and with a 64 gig card in place it has more nonvolatile storage than my old laptop. And no spinning discs or fans, it’s completely sealed, Great for use in industrial environments. The built-in display is 1080p and if that’s not good enough for you it will drive a 4K monitor through the micro HDMI port. Yeah it’s running Windows 10 but with Classic Shell it’s tolerable, and it’s the tablet 32-bit version so it will run all my old software that “won’t run on windows 8 or 10” because it won’t run on a 64-bit OS. (I continue to be mystified as to why anything doesn’t run on 64-bit, since I continue to develop stuff with VB6 and it all works just fine on 64-bit OS. Whatevs.)

  30. I like my old Zenith Super sport laptop with the full 80 column monochrome graphics, dual 3.5 floppies and DOS 3.3. Now that had a keyboard!

    I also got another Zenith that had a cool pop-up 3.5 floppy. Both for $10 at a PC repair shop getting rid of old computers back in the mid-90’s.

  31. Believe it or not, I still have an apple 2E. There’s just something about that computer that I just love. My desktop is an AMD fx-8150 with 8 gigs of RAM. For surfing the net and doing some Visual Basic programming it works. I also have Compaq cq60 17 inch a laptop. It’s a heavy machine and I rarely use it anymore. Mainly I use it for ham radio stuff. I’m doing research on ultra thin ultralight laptops. It would be nice to get rid of some of the weight of my little laptop. What am I using to type this? And LG G2 with voice recognition.

    1. “I’m doing research on ultra thin ultralight laptops. It would be nice to get rid of some of the weight of my little laptop.”

      I just pulled the trigger on a refurb Dell E7420 ultra portable laptop – 3 lbs, i7 dual-core CPU, 12″ display, can take 16 Gig RAM and 2x m2SATA storage drives, and has replaceable battery (external, not sealed inside case). Base config cost me $307 after a wicked coupon at dellrefurbished.com. Haven’t gotten it yet

  32. Nobody will read this but that has been my inner struggle for the past 16 months. I already have a heavyweight laptop but have been using a tablet+keyboard while travelling. I wanted something that can last a day and under 3lbs, with a nice screen and a semi-decent CPU. I’ve settled for the past 12 months with an Atom laptop but it’s frustrating to use.

    My reasoning was to: buy the Atom until the MacBook Air prices come down by 200$/EUR. Got shafted as the Air line has been discontinued, especially the 11″ models which now sell for the same price they did 4 years ago.
    So I spent some months studying, was looking at E6220 (horrible screen) and above then settled on X230 (spill-proof, IPS by default). Was hunting for a deal but still I had doubts about the battery (5h), even less on a used unit.

    Looking back I should’ve bought that Mac a year ago and saved myself the thinking. Now a 13″ Pro looks the most decent option since it costs the same as a lowly Air. Sure, there are XPS 13 and other models out there but: they depreciate rapidly, only a few last the day, the trackpad isn’t as nice, they look uglier AND they cost the same.
    I’m not a fanboy, never had a mac in my life, but repaired two of them and got to test them to destruction.

    So I’ll pay the stupid tax (>1000$) and when I’m done I can sell it for a good price, I see Core2Duo models (2009-2010) fetching 400$ in EU. WTF?

    1. I’m using $ and € interchangeably since they are about the same now. Also, Apple used the Brexit move as an excuse to inflate the prices in Europe, so you end up paying about 30% extra compared to US, while missing a healthy second-hand market.
      I know some people will say Xiaomi – sure, pay about half, get half the battery life, unproven design, unenforceable warranty, no community support. And you might be forced to produce the purchase receipt at an airport to prove you’ve paid taxes on it (VAT). It’s fine if you intend to use it at home but not if you depend on it while travelling.

    2. > I see Core2Duo models (2009-2010) fetching 400$ in EU. WTF?

      people are SHEEP, they want that bling bling Apple look at me Im relevant and hip logo. This is why Apple butchered 2016 refresh shipping consumer bleh with PRO badge and ignoring actual Pro users – they dont need prosumers anymore with hundreds of millions pleb jumping on those products.

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