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T420 first impressions

T400/410/420 and T500/510/520 series specific matters only
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jvarszegi
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T420 first impressions

#1 Post by jvarszegi » Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:05 pm

I took delivery of my T420 today. My first impressions:

1. The touchpad texture sucks royally.

2. The fact that the touchpad is not recessed leads to more errors when the pointer freezes up, due to another finger on my right hand drifting onto the (quite large) touchpad.

3. The keyboard is quite loud. Also, after typing for a long time on a chiclet-style X100e keyboard, it takes a lot more effort to type, and is no faster-- maybe even a little slower. I like the keyboard, but would rate it as slightly behind my old T61 keyboard, and far behind the X100e keyboard, so far.

4. The advertised noise suppression feature is apparently nonexistent for normal typing, making the keyboard clatter even more annoying to me.

5. The 1600 X 900 screen is very nice. After all the grousing about how lousy the current crop of LCD panels is, I expected much worse. It reminds me a lot of the UltraSharp display on an old Dell Inspiron 8250 clunker I had-- very bright and sharp.

6. The resolution of 1600 X 900 seems just about right for the 14" screen size.

7. Build is very, very good.

8. Performance seems very good with the i5-2410M processor. I ran WEI and got impatient, so started using applications while the processor part was running, and it still came out to 6.9 . Surely not the most scientific benchmark ever, I know. Everything feels very snappy already-- can't wait to install the extra 4 GB of RAM and 80 GB mSATA drive I bought. :)

9. Not much bloatware. I'm definitely going to use the recovery software to port the OS to the mSATA drive.

I believe I will prefer this even to the wife's X201, due to the extra screen space, less wedge-like shape, and the fact that it's so nicely built.

ssd_thinkpad
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Re: T420 first impressions

#2 Post by ssd_thinkpad » Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:34 pm

Do you notice a real speed difference to the T61 or the x201? I did not see any from the x220 msata ssd to the T60 ssd (1,8 GHZ Core Duo 2 GB RAM). The touchpad is indeed bad. I thought about using it instead of the mouse, but whenever I use the touchpad, things happen that I don't want to. Yes, Bloatware in the x20 series is reduced, and the build of the T420's smaller - heavy - brother x220 is also outstanding.

jvarszegi
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Re: T420 first impressions

#3 Post by jvarszegi » Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:06 pm

It does seem faster than the T61, but I never put an SSD in that one before it became defunct recently (long story, loved that machine). The T61 had a 2 Ghz Core 2 Duo, but it may have picked up some OS bloat/creep over time, and was never reimaged, so it's hard to draw conclusions. Things just seem instantaneous so far on the T420 in a way that they didn't on the T61.

It would probably be hard to notice a speed difference, if any, with the X201. We tend to turn off lots of bells and whistles in the OS, and run the Windows Classic theme, even going so far as to replace the Start menu with a classic one. :oops: The X201 also has an i7. But not noticing a performance difference with that machine is fine with me. :D This one was cheaper, and I think I will like the larger screen better.

I think I will probably adapt over time to keeping my fingers out of the way of the touchpad; poor design just irritates me on a quality product like this. The rough texture I will probably never like. The terrible thing is that if I were to replace it with a smooth surface, for instance by use of the stickers I've read about recently (think it was here), I would have no tactile clues at all as to when I was drifting onto and off the touchpad. It's just an awful, awful ergonomic set of choices, and I'm stunned that no one at Lenovo realized this. Did they not test the thing?

darn, this keyboard's loud. Loudest ever, I do believe. Feels nice, though. I just can't see myself typing on a client call with this. Something will have to be done.

ETA: Holy, er, mackerel. Can't use a word that sounds like "dang"? I don't think Mark Twain would be happy 'round these parts.

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Re: T420 first impressions

#4 Post by blackomegax » Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:04 pm

Is the left side of the kb louder than the right?

jvarszegi
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Re: T420 first impressions

#5 Post by jvarszegi » Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:45 am

Not that I can tell. It's all pretty loud. I'll have to type for a day or so to give me time to adapt, and see if the noise reduces as I get more efficient. :|

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Re: T420 first impressions

#6 Post by Colonel O'Neill » Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:05 am

I found the newer keyboards to be thumpier and the older keyboards clackier. The keyboard noise suppression is for audio conferencing, not your actual ears short of some magical active noise cancelling.

I really don't like the wedge profile either. 90 degree corners FTW.
W520: i7-2720QM, Q2000M at 1080/688/1376, 21GB RAM, 500GB + 750GB HDD, FHD screen & MB168B+
X61T: L7500, 3GB RAM, 500GB HDD, XGA screen, Ultrabase
Y3P: 5Y70, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, QHD+ screen

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Re: T420 first impressions

#7 Post by vipstjert » Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:59 am

I have posted an easy and good solution to the lousy touchpad texture here, it works for my T400s, but I guess it will also work for your machine: http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=98352

jvarszegi
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Re: T420 first impressions

#8 Post by jvarszegi » Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:16 am

vipstjert wrote:I have posted an easy and good solution to the lousy touchpad texture here, it works for my T400s, but I guess it will also work for your machine: http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=98352
Does the T400s have a flush touchpad? It's hard to tell from pictures. If so, do you find it to be a problem when you can't feel where the touchpad begins/ends?

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Re: T420 first impressions

#9 Post by vipstjert » Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:24 am

The T400s has a flush touchpad, but still I do not experience any problems at all with recognizing the touchpad-area with the new smooth surface. You notice clearly when it begins/ends. Also the texture is not exactly the same on this new smooth touchpad-surface and the wrist-rest, so you notice, when you are placing your finger at the wrong place. Of course sometimes your finger crosses the borders of the touchpad, but this also happened with the original textured surface, now that there is no recessed border to actually stop your finger from gliding across the borders. I experience this as no real problem during daily use.

Remember to adjust first of all sensitivity and palmcheck settings to fit the new surface. You do this via fn+f8

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Re: T420 first impressions

#10 Post by icecream123 » Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:32 am

So I upgraded to T420 from T61 and I concur with your assessment.

The touch-pad sucks biggggg time...
1. The texture on touch pad makes me sick every time i run my finger over it
2. Since the touch surface is at the same level as palm-rest, I run into issues of accidently tapping something or mouse getting frozen because I have multiple contacts on touch-pad. I just wish they had put in a touch pad like T61 in T420, would have been so much better.
3. I configured some settings in touch pad software which checks for palm and avoids un neccesary movements, but still.. not good...
4. It takes me full 2-3 movements across the touchpad to get mouse from one end of screen to another, on my current t61, with the sensitivity and fast movement set to max i can get from one edge of screen to another without having to lift my finger, with t420 it doesnt work that way.

16:9 screen is good, 1600x900 is great, but that empty space below the screen bothers me a lot, I would love to have 16:10 screen on this since there is some space available, either make the laptop smaller or use that empty space....

The mute and volume buttons, you really gotta press them to get them to work. If i press gently (i do feel the click) but it doesnt do anything, if i press it really hard then it works....

I've got SSD drive in my T420, overall system speed is decent... Although I dont think there is significant speed boost from my t61, its good difference but not much to get me to say wow.

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Re: T420 first impressions

#11 Post by vipstjert » Sat Aug 20, 2011 7:07 am

Sorry for being so persistent on this, but I can really recommend the solution I found to the touchpad issue here: http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=98352

It works for my T400s, but I guess it will also work for the T420

jvarszegi
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Re: T420 first impressions

#12 Post by jvarszegi » Sat Aug 20, 2011 11:38 am

All of your posts are on this product. Are you selling it?

vipstjert
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Re: T420 first impressions

#13 Post by vipstjert » Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:51 am

No, I am not selling anything, I live in Denmark, and this comes from Taiwan or somewhere. I have no profit what so ever of this little trick, that costs only 10 dollars. I am just so very happy that this solved this problem for me, and want to share the solution to as many as possible, because I consider Thinkpads to be a very good product, that deserves a working touchpad. I myself have been looking for a solution for half a year before I tried this one. The textured touchpad was driving me, or rather my finger, completely crazy!!

jvarszegi
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Re: T420 first impressions

#14 Post by jvarszegi » Sun Aug 21, 2011 10:04 am

Fair enough. The touchpad is driving me crazy too, although I must say I've gotten SLIGHTLY more used to it over the last few days. I will never get to the point that I like it, that's for sure.

I would jump on your solution immediately, if it weren't for worries about botching the job and being left with an even worse touchpad, and voiding the warranty on the touchpad surface. I may report that I've gotten over my worries and bit the bullet. Right now I'm just on the fence. :)

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Re: T420 first impressions

#15 Post by jvarszegi » Sun Aug 21, 2011 2:36 pm

Another flaw that is driving me crazy: the DVD door opens at the slightest brush, due to its poor placement and design.

I agree about the 16:10 screen being a better aspect ratio, and that the wasted bezel space is an eyesore. I understand that Lenovo does not make their own panels, but if they knew in advance that they would have no 16:10 panels available for the T420, to design the laptop for them seems absurd. The laptop could have been made smaller and lighter by designing better for the 16:9 panels. It's still not as bad as the off-center bezels on the T61, IMHO.

The touchpad and DVD door are horrible, absurd blunders on the part of Lenovo.

Lenovo also widely advertised keyboard noise suppression, and I was excited for that only to find out that it is a hokey feature that only works with Skype etc., despite failing to mention the extreme limitations in the marketing blurbs. Here I was thinking that they'd actually implemented the feature they'd advertised: noise suppression of the keyboard, not noise suppression on web chats.

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Re: T420 first impressions

#16 Post by jvarszegi » Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:51 pm

Another absurdity in the T420 is the removal of the ability to have a bay battery. What were they thinking?

I am torn about the T420. I like the general build and screen. There are just a number of very poor choices made in the design.

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Re: T420 first impressions

#17 Post by vipstjert » Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:25 pm

Ok, I understand your worries regarding the changing of the touchpad surface on your own, what I did was to order two of them, since they were so cheap, then I had one to do a test with, and the second would sit perfect. Good luck whatever you decide to do. If it is as easy on the T420 as it was on my T400s, I can only say, that is was extremely easy, as easy as changing one sticker with another! And, to repeat myself: my T400s is now a whole new computer, the old textured surface was completely ruining the experience for me.

Here you have an image of the result on my T400s:

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/83 ... e0143.jpg/

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Re: T420 first impressions

#18 Post by debris » Sat Aug 27, 2011 5:29 am

icecream123 wrote:I would love to have 16:10 screen on this since there is some space available
I second that! With the 16:10 form factor, you could optimally choose from WXGA, WXGA+ and WSXGA+ (which would still be easier to read than WUXGA on a 15,4" screen).

IMO 14,1" inch screen with 1680x1050 resolution would be absolutely perfect.

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Re: T420 first impressions

#19 Post by bblumberg » Sun Aug 28, 2011 12:27 am

After 2 weeks with my new T420, I can add a few points.

It is faster and has much better battery life than the T400 or T61p it replaced.
I am NOT a fan of the new, smaller screen. I don't like the lost vertical space at all.
The keyboard (Alps) is a bit mushy compared with the NMB on my T400 and T61p. I will probably replace it.
Loss of the bay battery is not a problem given the much greater battery life the slice provides.
The WWAN card gives me MUCH better signal than a Sierra wireless card with an external antenna in my T400. It remains to be seen how well it will work on European GSM networks.
Touchpad doesn't bother me much since I don't use it very often.
I agree that the DVD door opens much too easily and don't like this at all.

All in all, it is an upgrade over my T400 but I would have preferred the same screen configuration.

Bruce
T440p (hate it), T420 (mostly use this one), T400, T61p, T43p, T30

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Re: T420 first impressions

#20 Post by ThinkRob » Mon Aug 29, 2011 3:19 pm

bblumberg wrote: I am NOT a fan of the new, smaller screen. I don't like the lost vertical space at all.
You mean in terms of physical space, right? Because obviously it's got the same number of pixels. I agree though: I dislike 16:9 a good bit more than 4:3 or 16:10.
The keyboard (Alps) is a bit mushy compared with the NMB on my T400 and T61p. I will probably replace it.
Ahhh, the good ol' ALPS/NMB/Chicony wars. ;) (FWIW, I prefer Chicony to NMB to ALPS, so no disagreement there...)
Loss of the bay battery is not a problem given the much greater battery life the slice provides.
At first I was a little irked by the loss of a bay option, but given that the T420 has very, very good battery life on the standard cells (and has a slice option), I really don't find myself missing it. Heck, even the 6-cell option is a lot more viable than it ever was for the T410.
I agree that the DVD door opens much too easily and don't like this at all.
That drove me nuts. So I replaced it with a slot-loading one. :D
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Re: T420 first impressions

#21 Post by jvarszegi » Tue Aug 30, 2011 6:27 am

Agree about the loss of vertical resolution. The extra thick bezel on the top and bottom is an eyesore, and it looks like they could have just about squeezed a 15" 16:10 panel into this 14" chassis.

The loss of the bay battery seems like a bald-faced move to force people to buy the T420s if they don't like the bulk of the slice battery. I know the T420 has good battery life, but still-- leave the fricking power connector in there already instead of hobbling the product. The slice battery makes the already-thick machine thicker. I never like artificial product-line segmentation.

(That said, I probably wouldn't buy the bay battery unless they fixed the bad implementation seen in prior models, where the bay battery is always fully drained first without any built-in balancing, killing the bay battery in a short time. I haven't bought a bay battery in a long time because of that problem.)

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