I joined this forum more than 6 years ago when I bought a Thinkpad T42p for work. It has been the best laptop I've ever used. Finally needing to upgrade, I bought a custom configured T520 - with many helpful suggestions from you all.
I couldn't find as much info the T520 as I wanted, and so I was spooked by threads like the "Buyer's Remorse" thread. Have Thinkpads really gone so far downhill? It was getting me worried and concerned. I can't think of leaving a Thinkpad - the Trackpoint alone is worth putting up with other possible "issues".
So, the machine arrived yesterday, and I'm very happy to say that this machine is awesome so far. Anyone concerned about posts related to Thinkpad - perhaps the models discussed are smaller, or the screens the less expensive options. Don't be concerned about the T520 as configured below. First impressions are fantastic!
I thought I start this thread to point out the strengths of the T520 for what I'm doing with it, to pay forward your support. Let's start with the very first impressions.
Here's the configuration:
Intel Core i7-2720QM Processor (2.20GHz, 6MB L3)
Genuine Windows 7 Professional 64
Microsoft Windows 7 XP Mode - English
15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080) LED Backlit Anti-Glare Display, Mobile Broadband Ready
NVIDIA NVS 4200M Graphics with Optimus Technology, 1GB DDR3 Memory
4 GB PC3-10600 DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz SODIMM Memory (1 DIMM)
UltraNav with TrackPoint & touchpad plus Fingerprint reader
500 GB Hard Disk Drive, 7200rpm
DVD recordable multiburner
Express Card Slot & 4 in 1 Card Reader
9 cell Li-Ion Battery - 55++
Country Pack North America with Line cord & 135W AC adapter
Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 (3x3 AGN)
Integrated Mobile Broadband - Upgradable
ThinkPad Battery 27++ (9 Cell Slice Battery - T410/420, T510/520, W510/520)
ThinkPad Mini Dock Plus Series 3 (US/Canada/LA)
+ 4GB RAM for total of 8 GB
Wenger Legacy Triple-Gusset CF Model WA-7654-14F00 (checkpoint-friendly)
Quick first impressions:
- The screen is awesome. I was concerned as many posts complain of some Thinkpad screens. The FHD screen is awesome. So funny that the TABOOK only lists one T520 pre-configured model with it! I love a sharp, hi-res, low-gloss screen - and this one qualifies.
- It's a lot larger than expected! Not uncomfortably large for me, but while it's really not a lot larger than the T42p, the wider aspect ratio gives the impression that it is. It's plenty light for me.
- The slice battery is downright mean-looking. With the 9-cell battery boasting such high run times, the slice might not be used a lot. But, I might bring it to meetings just for impact value. :0 It makes the T520 look like a jacked-up hot rod. More later on how it performs.
- Quad-core, multi-threaded CPU/OS is a thing of beauty. Opening the task manager and seeing 8 threads is very cool. To my surprise, even with just system utilities running, all four threads seem to be used.
- I haven't pushed it yet, but this thing is literally cool. The very low fan running was blowing out cool air.
- Keyboard is high quality. I need more time with it to see if I prefer the keys being closer together, but the action is quite good.
- I thought I would be really disappointed with the wider aspect ratio. I think I'm liking it already. It will be great for the usual landscape spreadsheets. But also, it should allow side-by-side document comparisons with a bit of room to spare on the desktop.
- Although the Lenovo configurator only allows you to buy a 135W power brick with a quad core T520, you don't have to buy another 90W brick to replace the large and heavy 135W if you buy the dock as shown above. You can swap the 90W brick from the dock, and use it on the T520, and use the 135W brick on the dock. (NOTE: I haven't tried the dock yet, but the hardcopy instructions confirm that you can do this). The 90W brick is pretty small, but I might go smaller still with the Targus offering, and keep the 90W for recharging when home.
Note that for my use, more battery and less power brick is preferable. This was the key reason why I didn't go for the W520. Traveling to meetings, and while at the actual meeting in many cases, getting to an outlet is really inconvenient. From the numbers I'm reading on run time on battery, the 9 cell, and especially 9 cell + slice when needed is going to preclude the need for plugging in often.
- When traveling, I prefer a (one) case that will hold everything I need for the computer, plus hardcopy notes. All of the cases available at local stores were really not adequate. The Wenger case mentioned above might be the perfect case. I was worried that the T520 might not fit - but indeed, it fits perfectly. I think though that it would be tough to store it in any kind of sleeve, as the fit is "just right". If an extra sleeve is desired, a very thin one, or a thin bubble wrap bag might be used.
The case is checkpoint-friendly, so in many airports, you can have the bag scanned without taking the computer out of the bag - a nice feature. The bag also has an extra compartment for hardcopy folders, books, whatever. I could not find such a bag at local stores - all have two, or one! Completely inadequate for me - I need at least three.
But there's another important consideration - how big would the case be with the wider computer. My very, very old Kensington case that I use for the T42p, and that I used for the laptop before that is "thick", but LxW is actually quite compact, and it always fits under airline seats (in coach). It still fits with the nasty room-stealing video entertainment compartments that are under some seats these days. So, the good news? This case has the exact same LxW as my old case! That's so important. I see many cases out there that are slimmer, but wider - and would be a problem in planes.
- The machine was built without a modem. There's no way to choose one anymore for the T520. I've been told that they are being phased out. The modem port is plugged - so at least there's not some silly, non-functioning exposed port. I've never used the modem on the T42p, so I don't expect I'll need one. You may need one though. If so, you might want to find a preconfigured model. But, I suggest not to sacrifice the FHD display for something like a modem!
I hope this helps people get through potential buyers fears. I probably pre-plan these things way too much, but that's because I hate returns. I just want to get it right the first time if possible. And clearly, I use these things until they are worn out. Amazing to me that the T42p still keeps going strong. Let's see if the T520 can match it for longevity.