My P50 impressions and setup experience

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furball4
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My P50 impressions and setup experience

#1 Post by furball4 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 3:55 am

I ran a W510 for more than six years, and just replaced it with a P50 (20EN-001SUS, Xeons, M2000M, 16GB, FHD, $1150 barely opened via eBay). Spec sheet here: http://psref.lenovo.com/Detail/ThinkPad ... 20EN001SUS

Since these forums were useful to my decision I wanted to drop back in and share my own impressions. Context:
  • I've been a ThinkPad fan since 1998
  • I've been a 560, T, and W series user
  • I am a Trackpoint fan and disabler of touchpads
  • I care a lot about display quality
  • I care a lot about the keyboard remaining cool to the touch
  • I run Ubuntu and do a lot of VM work
TL;DR: I'd give the P50 an 8.5 out of 10, which I consider to be high praise.

Impressions and experiences:
  • Very attractive appearance and smooth display hinging. Tight/firm everywhere.
  • I was concerned about the offset keyboard, but it doesn't bother me in the least. I got used to it in about two days.
  • Chiclet keyboard has a very precise feel to the keypresses. I'm fine with the shift, as far as the fundamentals go.
  • Keyboard layout is a step down from pre-chiclet. Tight spacing and lack of other differentiation hurts my ability to unconsciously locate specific keys (and the groups of four) in the Function row. Ditto for PgUp and PgDn. Additionally, I expected the new all-horizontal arrangement of Home - End - Insert - Delete to be a problem, and it is. I can find Delete. I have to look at the keyboard every time for the others. Really hoping that improves with use, but I mostly wish it hadn't changed.
  • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial) installed beautifully and has required very little troubleshooting or configuration.
  • The IPS FHD (not 4k) is excellent and a nice surprise. The W510 had a technically impressive but subjectively lacking display. I found the W510's colors—especially its whites—garish and not susceptible to much improvement with color tweaking. The P50 looks far better out of the box and NVIDIA color tweak options have allowed me to improve it a bit from there.
  • Backlight bleed is horrific. Fortunately, that matters very little to me. I don't notice it in most apps with most lighting, and even when watching a movie I unconsciously tune it out pretty quickly. But it's bad.
  • I'm a fan of how they've moved most of the chassis buttons onto the keyboard, if only because I think we've seen very sketchy button design from ThinkPads in the past. Poor/confusing tactile feedback, etc. The keyboard versions work well for me and the keypress experience is much nicer.
  • Ports are all extremely tight. USB, power, and HDMI all require paying close attention and exerting a noticeable amount of force.
  • Keyboard temperature stays very low. Not room temperature, but not warm either.
  • I have no fan problems. Fan runs seldom and is very quiet when it does.
  • Performance is excellent. It never looks, feels, or acts like it is exerting itself unduly.
  • I get about four and a half hours of battery, which is a huge step up from the W510. This is with the dedicated graphics card on at all times, and I believe some power-saving problems with the Skylake chipset that are resolved in newer kernels.
  • I left the stock 256GB M2 SSD in place and added my own, a Samsung 960 EVO.
  • Very solid webcam performance.
  • Adding a hard drive password to take advantage of self-encryption on the SSD was very easy and effective. I had no booting problems in any OS.
  • Sound is great for a laptop.
Current: P50
Past: W510, T60, T42, T20, 560X, 560

creshal
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Location: Graz, Austria

Re: My P50 impressions and setup experience

#2 Post by creshal » Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:25 pm

Additionally, I expected the new all-horizontal arrangement of Home - End - Insert - Delete to be a problem, and it is. I can find Delete. I have to look at the keyboard every time for the others. Really hoping that improves with use
Don't get your hopes up. I'm on new keyboards ever since they came out – which means I have used them longer than I used the old keyboards! – and I still can't feel my way around on them. Meanwhile, going back to the old keyboard after a ~3 years break with the X62 and I'm touch typing again after a week.
Backlight bleed is horrific.
To be fair, that's a problem with most IPS panels. Quantum dot VA or OLED ought to be better, maybe in a few years…
I get about four and a half hours of battery, which is a huge step up from the W510. This is with the dedicated graphics card on at all times, and I believe some power-saving problems with the Skylake chipset that are resolved in newer kernels.
AFAIK you can't fully disable the graphics card due to how the outputs are wired up, but new kernels will generally improve on it – Intel is still working on getting new fixes in with every kernel, and the open-source drivers for Nvidia graphics card are crawling forward at a slow pace because Nvidia doesn't support them.

furball4
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Posts: 64
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 2:15 am
Location: Walla Walla, WA

Re: My P50 impressions and setup experience

#3 Post by furball4 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 5:01 pm

Thanks @creshal. I certainly haven't gotten used to them since my first post. I think I'm going to map some ordinary key combination to them using modifiers and the arrow keys. :( At least it will be portable in the future. Maybe that's not a bad evolution away from keyboard hardware dependency, all things considered.

One additional thing that developed since my initial post was an ergonomic problem with typing. A few days in I started getting numbness and weakness in my hands, which is really strange for me. I compared the ergonomics to my W510 very carefully and noticed that the W510 had more of a forward tilt to the whole chassis than the P50 does. So I placed a 1/4-inch piece of wood beneath the back feet of the P50 and voila! The hand problems disappeared within days. It would be really nice if Lenovo made some truly sturdy pop-up back feet standard to help support personal differences like this. Would be one more (simple) thing that sets ThinkPads apart. Like the ThinkLight the removed...
Current: P50
Past: W510, T60, T42, T20, 560X, 560

Pokrzept
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Location: Lodz, Poland

Re: My P50 impressions and setup experience

#4 Post by Pokrzept » Fri Jan 27, 2017 4:50 am

furball4 wrote:Thanks @creshal. I certainly haven't gotten used to them since my first post. I think I'm going to map some ordinary key combination to them using modifiers and the arrow keys. :( At least it will be portable in the future. Maybe that's not a bad evolution away from keyboard hardware dependency, all things considered.

One additional thing that developed since my initial post was an ergonomic problem with typing. A few days in I started getting numbness and weakness in my hands, which is really strange for me. I compared the ergonomics to my W510 very carefully and noticed that the W510 had more of a forward tilt to the whole chassis than the P50 does. So I placed a 1/4-inch piece of wood beneath the back feet of the P50 and voila! The hand problems disappeared within days. It would be really nice if Lenovo made some truly sturdy pop-up back feet standard to help support personal differences like this. Would be one more (simple) thing that sets ThinkPads apart. Like the ThinkLight the removed...
How do you feel about new low profile displaced trackpoint? IMHO distance between manipulator and middle button has been reduced by and half of the key size and due to that I have to hold my right hand on completely different angle. It does not feel right and I'm quite sure that in longer perspective it may cause some wrist/finger strain/pain.
T601F 8889-ABG/2007-FBG: T9300(1.0V), 8GB RAM, 256 GB SSD + 1TB HDD/DVD-RW, 1600x1200, NVS140M(0.95V), Intel 802.11agn, WWAN, BT, 1Gb Eth, UltraNav, FPR, 9c+6c
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MikalE
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Re: My P50 impressions and setup experience

#5 Post by MikalE » Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:14 am

furball4 wrote:Thanks @creshal. I certainly haven't gotten used to them since my first post. I think I'm going to map some ordinary key combination to them using modifiers and the arrow keys. :( At least it will be portable in the future. Maybe that's not a bad evolution away from keyboard hardware dependency, all things considered.

One additional thing that developed since my initial post was an ergonomic problem with typing. A few days in I started getting numbness and weakness in my hands, which is really strange for me. I compared the ergonomics to my W510 very carefully and noticed that the W510 had more of a forward tilt to the whole chassis than the P50 does. So I placed a 1/4-inch piece of wood beneath the back feet of the P50 and voila! The hand problems disappeared within days. It would be really nice if Lenovo made some truly sturdy pop-up back feet standard to help support personal differences like this. Would be one more (simple) thing that sets ThinkPads apart. Like the ThinkLight the removed...

You should be able to find some square, 3/8" tall rubber feet to stick on the bottom rear of your P50. That should help and you won't have to carry a wooden stick around with you.
T510 i5, T510 i7 4349-A64 - T520 i7 4242-4UU, technically a CTO now.

T520: i7-2760QM(2.40GHz),16GB RAM, 500GB SSD/500GB 7200 RPM Drive, 15.6in 1600x900 LCD, 1GB NVIDIA, DVDRW, Smartcard reader, media card reader, FPR, Win7 Pro64, whitelist BIOS, Ultimate-N 6300 AGN, German KB, Bluetooth 4.0.

Tim-ANC
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Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:23 pm
Location: Eagle River, Alaska

Re: My P50 impressions and setup experience

#6 Post by Tim-ANC » Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:47 am

Furball,

Excellent write up. I was planning on buying a P50 last year but those funds got diverted. In the hunt again. Please excuse my ignorance, but was is backlight bleed?
Tim

W530 T500 T410 T60

furball4
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Posts: 64
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 2:15 am
Location: Walla Walla, WA

Re: My P50 impressions and setup experience

#7 Post by furball4 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:21 am

Pokrzept: I haven't had a problem with my TrackPoint usage, fortunately. I don't see difference when I measure though, either. Were you coming from a W510 or from something else?
Current: P50
Past: W510, T60, T42, T20, 560X, 560

furball4
Freshman Member
Posts: 64
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 2:15 am
Location: Walla Walla, WA

Re: My P50 impressions and setup experience

#8 Post by furball4 » Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:26 am

Tim-ANC: Light showing around the edge of the display when it shouldn't. Mostly visible when viewing dark things in a dark room. Here's a picture of someone's p50 backlight bleed: http://i.imgur.com/fnj3eDMl.jpg

I would reiterate that I basically never notice it, except under ideal circumstances for it and I don't create those often. But some people are more sensitive to it.
Current: P50
Past: W510, T60, T42, T20, 560X, 560

Tim-ANC
Freshman Member
Posts: 101
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:23 pm
Location: Eagle River, Alaska

Re: My P50 impressions and setup experience

#9 Post by Tim-ANC » Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:44 am

Thank you for the education. Doubt that would bother me much either.
Tim

W530 T500 T410 T60

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