Quality Control? Why I Returned My ThinkPad X1 Carbon 3 Times

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Jake Hall

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Aug 28, 2013
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Lenovo and HP are annoying. Many times, i've seen both require genuine brand batteries and only certain whitelisted wireless cards and memory.
 

alan.campbell99

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Parts is a sore point with Lenovo and I say that as having being involved with servicing them for a time. Some parts had multiple subs if you couldn't get the original. The other thing was there were often situations where there was a ridiculously long wait for a part and sometimes it couldn't even be supplied.
 

ashburner

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I'd spent a few hundred more and get an MSI Stealth Thin. Then again, I like to be able to play games once in a while and don't mind the bit of extra weight. If I was sticking to the ultralight class, I'd be willing to give the Matebook X Pro a shot.
 
Jul 26, 2018
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Don't forget battery life. In my experience LG batteries perform better and most importantly last much longer than other maker's. Last time I got my T450s it had a SANYO external battery, which fell to 70% in less than 6 months. I ordered and LG in 2015 and it's still running at 95%.
 

Dosflores

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The best laptop keyboard I have tried was the one in an incredibly cheap Acer. The rest of its hardware was as crappy as its price suggested.

I'd suggest visiting a big store and trying every laptop that seems acceptable. You already know you can't trust Lenovo, so you'll have to learn to live without a TrackPoint. Anyway, there are very few things you can trust in the laptop space. One of them is: a Macbook is crazy expensive, it has a great screen, and a terrible keyboard. If I was willing to go over $1000, I would try the Surface Laptop.
 

gasaraki

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LOL, it's funny how you use the analogy "Maserati of business laptops" because Maserati's are crap cars. Prone to issues, bad build quality, overpriced, etc. I guess it fits perfectly.
 

AlexMc

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This article just prompted me to get out both my work laptop (ThinkPad 480s) and personal laptop (2017 ThinkPad Carbon X1) and mash at the keys with them side by side. I'd have probably never noticed without doing this comparison, but I have to say that my Carbon's keys are the better of the two.


I would think, after publishing this article, that someone at Lenovo could arrange a cherry picked screen/keyboard combo for you, or at least agree to send a replacement keyboard should you get one with a keyboard you don't like. Being editor-in-chief for Tom's Hardware should at least be able to get some preferential treatment, especially for a laptop that you're paying for with your own money.
 

karakarga

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I think, you have deserved to face with that series of problems by, first a four year notebook is not much old to replace after 5-7 years. Second, a 1000 dollar price tag portrays, the quality is moderate, for a better quality, you should look over 2000+ price tag. Thirdly, Lenovo is not a good choice, because it is no longer IBM, heavy Lenovo's are generally good, if a good model, if it is light a cheap trick. So heavy + good = not a good choice for this era, what so ever! You should have to look other brands, never a Lenovo!
 

Poozle

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Go to a local Microsoft store/Best Buy and test out a variety of laptops. I really enjoy the Surface line (Surface Book 2 15 inch) and would highly recommend even the 13.5 inch version. Both are incredible for work and play. The Surface laptop might not be too far out of what you are looking for perhaps?
 

cd000

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Loving my Huawei Ryzen Matebook D. You should take a hard look at it. I think you would be pleasantly surprised.
 

nostriluu

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Thanks for writing this article. I have a first gen X1 Yoga, and just got an L380 Yoga. The L380 came with an outright defective keyboard, and the screen is uneven with some bad pixels. It also came with a Lenovo NVME drive, despite all reviews saying it would be Samsung.

The big service secret of Thinkpads, aside from the fact they have great service manuals and support user-replaced parts, is their aftermarket warranties, which are well worth it if you like to keep your gear for years. I registered the defect online, the next day the part arrived and a technician showed up to install it.

However, I'm concerned when they replace the display I may get an inferior one, since this one is bright with good colour and contrast.

I got a great price on the notebook and it's one of the few that can expand to 32GB, but to be a great company Lenovo needs to find a better solution than the parts supplier lottery. I'd happily pay a little more to ensure the best combination parts will arrive.
 
I'm still using a Lenovo T400 14.1" laptop running a C2D chipset I received from an old job 8 years ago. The original "fat boy" battery still holds a 3hr+ charge if the backlight is turned down. An upgrade to 8GB memory and an SSD and it's still a snappy laptop even today, but it's not used for any heavy apps outside of web, video, and MS Office apps.

Apparently, QC has gone downhill at Lenovo. I can say the same for HP as I have two of their laptops: one business class 14.1" EliteBook 8460p (Sandy Bridge) also gotten from an old job, and an Ivy Bridge based Pavilion G7 17.3" bought for personal use. That Pavilion's fan died after not even two years and it wasn't used much. A $7 fan replacement and thermal paste re-application and it runs like a champ including after upgrading the memory, chip, and to an SSD. Dead HP Pavilion laptop fans way too early are a known issue. Have had zero problems with the 2012-era EliteBook.

Unfortunately, we can't realistically choose our own laptop components and build one from scratch like we can with PCs. I know there are some options out there, but it's more trouble (and money) than it's worth. The desktop is not dead by a long shot!
 

Lutfij

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I live in Bangladesh and the first thing I'm hit with is which brand is best for a laptop. If I could get them to read through this article(which should've come out 10 years ago) and also explain the number of samples I've had to deal with, then they'd understand why I'm reluctant to suggest a laptop in a day and age where you can do most of your work on your smart phone. Let alone in my country.

Do you think you could get express permission from Lenovo to disassemble the unit and get to the bottom of it? It'd also help provide additional insight into the laptop parts/consumable market where each laptops parts are sourced from a number of manufacturing plants strewn across China.

On one hand, Avram, you should consider the person honoring the warranty to be godsend. The dealers/distributors in my country brush you aside the moment you confront them about keyboard or screen issues. Their typical response,
It's brand new. We can't say why it's got a dim display. All the laptops in this shipment are going to be the same. No refunds, sorry!
 

iaw4

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you *must* write a review where you systematically test which companies cheat. it is not likely to have been an accident that the two review samples were so much better than the four non-review samples. if you try out 10 more (costco, elsewhere), how many will meet the review sample standard. and, please, make a big deal about it, too. and you should now downrate the x1 from 5-stars to 3-stars. it's really a 260/300 nit laptop with a good but inconsistent keyboard, falsely advertising itself as something far superior.
 
Jul 26, 2018
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I find this article very disturbing to me and here is why. My very first laptop given to me at work in 1994 was a Thinkpad. I didn't even know how to type but the IT guy told me it had the best keyboard he'd ever seen. Over the years I was given many different brands of laptops at work but always loved the Thinkpads the best. since 2001 with my own business, I have only purchased Thinkpands and I always go for the thinnest lightest one. I always reveled extensively with lots of baggage an equipment as well as a bad back.

So, I presently have an X1 Carbon. I believe it is a Gen 3 and I absolutely love it. It will be 5 years old in November. For the past few years, I have been looking at the new ones online as I wait for the day when this one will need to be replaced. I really want a new updated X1 but this article is certainly giving me pause. I wish they were still IBM. When they first became Chinese I wondered if the quality would remain the same quality and I think it did, at least at first.

These are very expensive as we all know. I live in Canada where our sales tax is 13%, I bought my present Think pad off the US eBay and picked it up over there. Our Canadian Costco as well as our Coatco.ca does not sell this model. I do see it at Costrco.com on the US side and it does say that it may be available in some Costco stores over there (sorry to be so long-winded)

So, would you recommend that perhaps the best way to not get screwed would be to go over to the States and look in a Costco.....OR order one from Costco.com for delivery to a US address and hope/trust that it will be ok. Unfortunately, and this seems crazy, but there is no Costco at all in the entire Buffalo Niagara Falls area. The closest one to me is Rochester which is quite a hike from Burlington Ontario
 

jlehew

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Order a high end laptop refurb with an SSD from Dell, HP, or Lenovo. I just ordered last years Dell 15 XPS with 4k IPS display, 16GB, and 1TB SSD for about $1450, a new one is $2300. It said it had an 18 hour battery life but it is really closer to 9 hours which is still good. I buy refurbs for me and my employees for work. So far, I've not had any issues with any of the 6 refurbs of different makes and models I've purchased. The Dell Precision 5520 is my favorite refurb and found one cheap without the Nvidia video card in it. We don't do CAD at work so it was perfect and $1500 less than a new one, same config.
 

Ryguy64

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I had a Y40 I bought around January 2014. The battery stopped accurately displaying the amount it was charged. It would say 100% and suddenly be dead 5 minutes later. This happened just before the warranty expired so they replaced it. The same thing happened s year later. The answer I got was essentially that batteries only last a year. It was almost like they programmed it to die after 1 year. Now I have a Dell XPS15 and it is much nicer.
 

Travis Hershberger

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Sep 9, 2013
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After Lenovo has lost two class action law suits because they were still including Superfish in their driver stacks after it was revealed that they were installing it via their BIOS/EFI tools. Still having a WiFi flaw that allows anyone to put files on your computer, and the BIOS level access that only requires hijacking a link and entering the same password for every Lenovo, why would you have ever even considered Lenovo a valid choice in the first place?
 
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I have to say that I am surprised, even shocked that after 4.5 years my Thinkpad X1 Carbon, Gen 3 still gets 3 hours of battery life. It's the first computer I've ever had that has a setting to extend battery life by only charging to 50% when plugged in all the time. I was always under that impression that the idea was to fully charge and then run to zero.
 

Dosflores

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That laptop charging behavior is really smart, and really unusual, sadly. The "fully charge and then run to zero" strategy might have been useful for old battery types, but not for current ones. You shouldn't let a modern battery run to zero, because if it stays like that for a long time, it won't be able to charge again. The next worst state for a battery is fully charged, because of the strain of having to hold so much energy. The best way to extend battery life is to keep about 50% at all times.

 

Rune Olsen

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Zenbook Pro, had a lot of Lenovos and HP before at work, the old IBM Thinkpads were epic, just went downhill from there. As with the HP laptops i don't have any good to say really, they suck all in general. Zenbook pro and zenbooks in general have a proper quality feel that i haven't found in any other brands yet, and it never seems to fail
 
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