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Lenovo & Customer Perception 472

Posted by Hemos
from the one-man's-opinion dept.
music_lover writes "According to this article, Lenovo is losing current ThinkPad series customers to HP, Toshiba and other notebook vendors because of customer perception. Apparently, customers don't feel comfortable purchasing from a Chinese PC manufacturer now that the ThinkPad brand isn't supported by IBM anymore. Could this really be perception? Quote: "Despite the overall poor performance, Lenovo has still not gained the mindshare or the respect that the ThinkPads command. In fact, it has, to some extent, alienated ThinkPad's fans and taken a sales hit. In my immediate vicinity, those who owned ThinkPads have now traded up to an HP or a Toshiba. None of them went back to their ThinkPads. After asking for a clarification, I was told, "Who wants to buy things from a Chinese company?" That said, our corporate parent has continued to buy/use Thinkpads; the ones that I've seen do just fine, and they've added new machines and a parternership with AMD.
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Lenovo & Customer Perception

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  • misconception (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dotpavan (829804) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:09AM (#15141336) Homepage
    It's a misconception, because even HP/Toshiba/Dell/etc laptops are assembled (or parts mfg.) in China.
    • Re:misconception (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dnwq (910646) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:24AM (#15141383)
      I think there's a perception (wrong or not) that companies based in Western nations are more accountable than companies based in China. Presumably, if something screws up, it is thought that it is harder to pursue a Chinese company than one in, say, the United States.

      This may not be strictly true, but somehow I doubt that corporate accountability in China is better than that in the States...
      • Re:misconception (Score:3, Interesting)

        by evilviper (135110)

        I think there's a perception (wrong or not) that companies based in Western nations are more accountable than companies based in China.

        You're close, but not quite on the mark.

        What drives me crazy about Chinese products is that brand-names are a dime a dozen.

        IBM would spend significant ammounts to make sure nothing associated with IBM is regarded as poor quality. The brand is worth a lot to them. To a lesser extent, the same is true of Dell, HP, etc.

        Enter China. Start a company named "Apex", manufacture c

    • Re:misconception (Score:5, Interesting)

      by darkmeridian (119044) <william...chuang@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:39AM (#15141438) Homepage
      I guess the misconception is that the engineers are also overseas and therefore the quality of the goods are going to go down. [sarcasm]You see, the Chinese are only good at following instructions given to them by the Americans.[/sarcasm] But look at the Thinkpad/Lenovo T60: they are still very well-built machines, when compared to even the Powerbooks.

      It's terrible to think that a great brand is going to go out of existence because of unwarranted xenophobia. Imagine if we're stuck with Dell!
      • I have a Dell notebook, you insensitive clod! I'll have you know

        @*&^^^ NO CARRIER
      • Americans are pretty well aware that most of their stuff is manufactured in Asia, but there's a different sense to getting things from Taiwan vs. China -- akin to someone deliberately buying Puerto Rican rum instead of Cuban rum. Calling it "unwarranted xenophobia" is more unwarranted than the supposed xenophobia. There are some very serious concerns with China from their labor standards and human rights record to their relations with North Korea and Taiwan.

        Some people take those issues very, very seriously
      • Re:misconception (Score:5, Insightful)

        by saihung (19097) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:11AM (#15142699)
        Unfortunately, what you say sarcastically isn't that far from true. Factories in China with foreign management are perfectly capable of churning out new VWs, Citroens, etc that look and drive just fine. But let's take the old Beijing Jeep debacle as an example: when Jeep actually had a say in the manufacture of Chinese Jeeps, they were basically up to the (more or less dubious, but still) quality standards of American-made Jeeps. As soon as Jeep left the business in disgust with their Chinese "partners" who were swindling them out of money and technology, the quality went into the toilet. The exterior panels stayed the same, but the engines were suddenly coming out of military trucks, the 4WD mysteriously disappeared and was replaced with a lousy 2WD drivetrain, they started shaking and rattling, etc. I don't claim to understand why this happens, but I think that it's for one big reason: Chinese understanding of what it means to be a brand is still vastly inferior to that in the West. The state of marketing and advertising in China bears this out. Chinese bosses simply don't understand, and therefore don't have patience for, Western-style marketing. Design counts, sensitivity to market counts, image counts. It took Japanese manufacturers years to figure this out, and when they did they started hiring American designers because they understood their market well enough to know that they didn't understand it very well! (though, to be fair to Japanese manufacturers, they cared about build quality even when no one was looking over their shoulders). If you've ever dealt with Chinese suppliers/executives, then you know it will be years, if ever, before most Chinese companies come to the same kind of understanding.
    • My fav features (Score:5, Insightful)

      by porkThreeWays (895269) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:40AM (#15141439)
      I bought a thinkpad a few months after the aquisiton. I basically bought it for two reasons. 1) A simple solid laptop that isn't as expensive as a toughbook. 2) Ease of assembly/disassembly, availability of parts, hardware documentation, etc etc. And so far its passed with flying colors.

      My last laptop (averatec) was the biggest piece of shit ever. It had a notorious power issue and Averatec refused to fix it (or even admit its a common problem). There was no documentation for taking it apart or its layout, and even when I got it apart and found the part to be replaced, Averatec won't sell you parts. I set out to find the perfect simple laptop...

      It feels very solid. You can handle it pretty well and it doesn't feel like it's going to break. Not toughbook strength, but still very good. IBM still hosts giant manuals on their site for taking them apart. This was extremely important to me. It seemed like an admission that it's actually ok to take apart your laptop and service it yourself. It's very extensive. I love how there are only 5 screw sizes on the whole laptop and they are all marked. It's such a simple gesture, yet it helps SO MUCH. With my Averatec, I was left with a pile of screws that got mixed up and was impossible to get back together.

      As I said, I've got a Levano and not an IBM version. I would say the quality is still there. If you are a corporate buyer, keep buying them until they give you a reason not to. I've had enough problems with Dell's and HP's to know jumping ship to them on a whim isn't going to make things any better.
    • Re:misconception (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tacocat (527354)

      But the contrast between Thinkpad and Dell et al is the price. Chinese made products are made because of the Wal-Mart Effect. If it's made in China it's got to be very low in price. But Thinkpads are still significantly more expensive than a Dell or HP. This isn't to say that the price difference is unjustified or unwarranted. But if you were to have these computers made by a German company (a country with a long standing perception of high quality engineering) then people would be more willing to have

      • Re:misconception (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Senzei (791599)
        But the contrast between Thinkpad and Dell et al is the price. Chinese made products are made because of the Wal-Mart Effect. If it's made in China it's got to be very low in price.

        What part of being made in China mandates that it be low price? Perception? Does a crap computer made by Germans somehow work better than a crap computer made by Chinese? Sure, maybe economic and social conditions over there encourage a "low quality, high volume" business plan, but I seriously doubt that the country as a whole

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:10AM (#15141337)

    about 200 million Americans shopping in Wallmart ?
    everybody has their price, just some can be bought for less
    • Well yes. But the basic reason for buying anything that's Chinese is that it's cheaper. When it comes to Thinkpads, they're both Chinese _and_ expensive. That's why they have hard time on European/American markets.
    • How many people buy Thinkpads in Wallmart?

      Now they will do. They're just switching their market for premium-buyers to cheapskates, or somewhere in between.

      In related news, they will be selling in Best-Buy. http://news.com.com/Lenovos+Best+Buy+deal+may+attr act+normal+folk/2100-1047_3-6059957.html [com.com]

      I guess it all makes sense for them.
    • by Valdrax (32670) on Monday April 17, 2006 @08:21AM (#15141608)
      It's the association between Chinese manufacturing and cheap, flimsy crap from Wal-Mart that's hurting Lenovo if any reputation is hurting them. Chinese manufacturing doesn't really have any other reputation in America despite the fact that most notebooks are assembled there and all notebooks are made of parts primarily manufactured there. China's spent so long trying to undercut everybody that they've done a lot of damage to their reputation for quality.

      On the other hand, that's exactly how America was 200 years ago. We undercut everyone with cheap, crappy goods thanks to our abundant workforce and raw supplies, and we built quality goods much later. China will eventually overcome this reputation once they've bootstrapped their economy and their own consumers become more sophisticated and demanding.

      Then again, what do I know? I haven't shopped for PC notebooks recently, and I don't know if there's an actual quality decline in Thinkpads instead of a perceived problem due to national origin.
  • Because I say so (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rydia (556444) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:10AM (#15141339)
    "I think that Lenovo is losing market share. I think it's because people don't trust them. Hold on and I think of some reasons why I think I think that."

    Come on, guys.
    • by mgblst (80109)
      It is because they added in the windows key - nobody really wants a windows key, and here we are seeing the backlash against lenovo. (good a reason as any)

      Personally, i would only but an IBM laptop, no other machine approaches the quality (maybe apple). I hope they aren't going down the tubes, or I will need to get a T43 - the best of the pre-lenovo crop.
      • speaking of apple, I've had my 4 year old son step on my closed ibook, had it fall off the table once, and just last week a can of sprite leaked all over it (after I pulled the iBook out of the bag, the sprite was running and dripping out of it.) hasn't skipped a beat... (knock on wood)
    • by phasm42 (588479)
      I don't think the problem is so much that Lenovo is Chinese, but rather that Lenovo is not IBM. IBM has a reputation for building solid machines. If HPaq or eMachines had bought the Thinkpad line, I think you'd see a similar decline.
    • Seriously, is this article supposed be a joke? Quick summary:

      Lenovo bought IBM's ThinkPad division.
      None of my friends buy ThinkPads anymore.
      No one wants to buy from a Chinese company. That's not sensible, but it's sensible.
      Lenovo doesn't command the brand premium like IBM could.
      Lenovo still has high prices, so they maybe might perhaps lose marketshare.
      Please lower prices, please?
  • by t482 (193197) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:10AM (#15141340) Homepage
    Friend of mine just got a new T series laptop and the keys fell off. After 10 Thinkpads he thinks the quality isn't quite as good and that they are cutting corners to make more money.

    Anyone else have a similar experience?
    • by dreemernj (859414) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:15AM (#15141355) Homepage Journal
      Yes, but not me personally. We have a few laptops at our office that are for general use and have been using thinkpads since they came with P166s. As a matter of fact those P166s are still here and running and have had no problems (aside from defective user errors) since we got them. But, then we got a couple of Lenovo Thinkpad X41s and aside from the poor performance for the money the things were built like eMachines. And not even todays eMachines, eMachines circa 1998. Now we have HPs.
    • I own a IBM T-30 that under really light use developed two cracks in the case. The crappy Gateway I leased and hauled around everywhere for over two years only developed one case crack. Moreover, the latter had hard use.

      The only positive comment is that the IBM unit is still technically useful running Linux, whereas the Gateway with the then new Windows 95 ceased to have any utility to me a full six months prior to the lease expiration - and I was doing Windows type custom coding for clients at that time.
  • Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrAfFiT (802657) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:11AM (#15141342) Homepage
    The irony is that all these companies contract out (I could also include Apple here) to the same few manufacturers, all either in China or Taiwan..
    • Re:Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mjpaci (33725) * on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:21AM (#15141369) Homepage Journal
      I don't think it's the fact that they're made in China. Apple's laptops are assembled somewhere over there (don't recall if it's Taiwan or the main land) and they're good quality. It's the QA and the attention to detail that the mother company (Lenovo/Apple/HP/Toshiba) demands of the contract manufacturer. Maybe Lenovo isn't as strict as IBM was? Maybe they're using a different manufacturer. Who knows. We use IBM desktops and ThinkPads here and have since ~2003. I have not heard anything bad about the new Lenovo machines - but then again I haven't really been paying too much attention. I will ask today and post more if it's bad...

      --Mike
      • Apple's laptops are assembled somewhere over there (don't recall if it's Taiwan or the main land)

        ASUS in Taiwan with Power/MacBook shells coming from Japan, I believe.

        My PowerBook 12" says "Assembled in China" if that means anything, but it can mean either one afaik. I've heard definite confirmation that the iBooks are made by ASUS (they recently got a contract for the iBook replacement, too), presumably Power/MacBooks come from the same place.
    • Re:Irony (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fafaforza (248976) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:21AM (#15141370)
      Sure, ThinkPads for years have been manufactured in the same places that other laptops are. But with Lenovo's purchase, the design and decision making would likely move from US engineers and designers and to Lenovo's.

      Would that make a difference? I tend to think so. IBM didn't rely on the ThinkPads for most of its revenue. As a result, there was a slow cycle of development where proven things were kept in the laptop and it hadn't changed in many major ways for years. Still black, still the same awesome keyboard, still the trackpoint.

      Now with Lenovo, you have a hardware company that is keen on outperforming its rivals and being the biggest PC supplier. I haven't been considering a new laptop purchase, but from what I've seen on Lenovo's website, they are already adding gimmicky things like white marks on the top to indicate where various ports are, making bulky wide screen models, etc. How long til the built-in multi card readers, and blue neon lights all around the case? The risk is that with a reliance on the ThinkPad brand, and a market share to grow, the T line will start undergoing very short developmental cycles with lenovo throwing in any new ideea they think up and seeing how it works out, breaking what makes ThinkPads ThinkPads. At that point, you might as well get an HP.

    • The problem isn't who made the hardware, or where the hardware was made. The problem is who is selling, and more importantly, supporting it.

      IBM had a reputation for excelent service. Even if they told everybody their laptops were made by some Chinese company and could be bought without the label for half price, businesses would still have bought the IBM product because they want the support that comes with an IBM product. Perhaps Lenovo didn't realize that when they made their purchase? Either way, if they
  • Wait a minute... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nule.org (591224)
    I was under the impression that if you didn't want to buy a laptop "made in China" that you pretty much couldn't buy a laptop? Am I wrong?
  • Performance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by therage96 (912259) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:14AM (#15141351)
    For me, its not the fact that they are a Chinese manufacturer, but rather the performance of their computers is just not there.

    Its the same as it was when Thinkpad was still an IBM product, they were tight little systems with perhaps a few cool features (butterfly keyboard anyone?), but when it came to the actual performance of the machine, competitors always beat them and at a cheaper price too.

    Now if this is still true or not, I'm not sure, but that is my "impression" of the Thinkpad brand still leftover from the old IBM days.
    • Re:Performance (Score:4, Interesting)

      by OS24Ever (245667) * <trekkie@nomorestars.com> on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:57AM (#15141489) Homepage Journal
      Who cares if it's a little slower. I much prefer the fact that a 280lb geek could step on one closed 600E on the floor at 2AM and not break the screen, or a hatchback is opened and your bag was open and your T21 bounces out onto the pavement and you open it up and it works fine, or a X40 gets a full bottle of Jones Berry Cola poured into it and other than a black cherry-licious smell it keeps working (ok so I replaced the keyboard a few weeks later)

      Now a 32 oz glass of tea into a T21 didn't fair nearly as well, but that's a lot of liquid. I was impressed I yanked the power cord in like 0.2 seconds but it kept running on that little thing called a battery.

      Hard drive was fine though.

      Slight Disclaimer: I work for em, and no matter what happens to them they get repaired, but so far I've not managed to do much to them that requires it, and I'm not gentle with my systems. I shudder to think if I treated the Dell, HPs or Toshibas (little while since I've used on of the Toshibas though). I see bits-o-plastic everywhere.
  • Perception (Score:5, Insightful)

    by a_nonamiss (743253) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:14AM (#15141353)
    As a country, we prove ourselves irrationally xenophobic again and again. From the Dubai Ports World deal to people not buying laptops because they're "Chinese." What people don't know is that not much has changed since Lenovo bought the right to produce Thinkpads. They still use the same suppliers, and the manufacture is still basically the same. Thinkpads still kick ass, and I challenge anyone to find a laptop that isn't made primarily overseas.
    • Re:Perception (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:31AM (#15141402) Journal
      I would disagree. I would instead say that we are a culture who blindly purchases brand names with very little actual research into performance. Sytle is everything. IBM has style. Lenovo doesn't. Nobody want's a middling performance, ugly laptop/ Lets' face it - IBM thinkpads have never been speed demons, and they are the butt-ugliest, clunky-looking laptops out there. But IBM - I B M - now that's a name that means confidence and performance. And premium prices mean premium goods.

      Lenovo. Well, this "new" (to American ears) Chinese company may have bought the ThinkPad name, but there no IBM. Nosireebob. We need something that stands for quality. A company that would never cut corners. A solid performer that believes in quality over raw profits. Those boys at Hewlett Packard have been around forever and I know that name. It must stand for a good product. So now that IBM, the venerable old company, is not producing laptops, we'll go with HP. Rock solid, I tell you. (Yes everything about HP is tongue in cheek...Thanks, Carly).

      This has very little to do with xenophobia, and much to do with brand recognition.

      I think you sum up my point well, "... I challenge anyone to find a laptop that isn't made primarily overseas." And yet, we buy them by the landfill-load. It's not about where they're made, it's about what name is on the cover. It's no different than the way be buy cars, clothes, appliances, and consumer electronics. Nobody would buy Lenovo bought Nike people woudn't buy Lenovo athletic shoes - even if they made them in the same Chinese factory.
      • So now that IBM, the venerable old company, is not producing laptops, we'll go with HP. Rock solid, I tell you.

        There's something to that. There's many companies out there that run Dell Desktops, Dell Servers, Dell Laptops ... until you get to the executive suite, where it's IBM ThinkPad all the way. Which of course is a complete pain in the ass from an IT perspective.

        The Levano models come out, they're supposedly the same. But they aren't quite. The buttons are cheaper and fuglier. The lids are shiney rathe
      • Re:Perception (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dr. Blue (63477)
        Lets' face it - IBM thinkpads have never been speed demons, and they are the butt-ugliest, clunky-looking laptops out there.

        Wow. I know that looks are subjective, but I've never heard anyone call a ThinkPad "ugly" or "clunky" before reading this (and a couple of other postings here -- but there are also a lot of people here who disagree with you).

        I've got a T42, and it's sleek (pretty much the opposite of "clunky") and I really like the way it looks. I had a Dell before this -- now that was a clunky a

  • by CUGWMUI (639218) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:16AM (#15141357)
    Lenovo may have taken over the Thinkpad business from IBM, but the quality of the laptops continues to be the same. Lenovo (and IBM too), ensured that their large corporate customers continue to stick by the brand, and thats where the large sales volumes and bulk contracts come from. If there is a drop in sales to individual customers, its probably because the other laptops aren't "bland, boring machines" like Thinkpads, from a visual perspective as well as from a features perspective.

    I know my company is still sticking to Thinkpads.. for the time being atleast.

  • Lenovo vs. HP (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dethboy (136650) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:20AM (#15141366) Homepage
    I'd buy another Thinkpad. I got a Z60 in December - so far the only problem I've had was a missing power cord for the docking station. I called and was promptly drop shipped a new cable.

    In contrast - I've had two HP's that I've had to ship back - one took 2 weeks to return, was still broken when I got it back - shipped it again - waited another two weeks, got it back again still broken, then a day later I got a 'new' refurbished laptop in the mail - no explanation.

    Jim
  • by William Robinson (875390) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:20AM (#15141367)
    Who wants to buy things from a Chinese company

    Hope it is misconception. Why would anybody discard a product just because it is from some other country unless there are quality issues.

    my $0.02.

    PS: No I haven't RTFA. The site is slashdotted.

    • Why would anybody discard a product just because it is from some other country unless there are quality issues.

      What about slavery issues?

      TWW

  • by Chanc_Gorkon (94133) <gorkon&gmail,com> on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:22AM (#15141373)
    Thinkpads before and after the Lenovo purchase are every bit as good as the one when they were called IBM ThinkPads. In fact, they have bene made by Lenovo for many years now. Only way they may be loosing market share is fear of loosing support.
  • Time to burn some more karma...

    Thinkpads have always sucked. They are ugly, heavy, and generally have less features than similarly priced notebooks from other makers. So why were they so good? I.B.M. You had the reputation of IBM behind each one. It didn't matter that these things looked like they were slapped together from parts scrounged off of cheap umbrellas and suitcase handles, IBM - the business company - was making them, and that made these ugly pieces of crap not only the de-facto business lap
    • My Thinkpad weighs less than 4 pounds so I don't know where the "heavy" part is coming in. I've always know IBM laptops to be lighter than their competitors. The less features is probably because they don't whore almost meaningless specs to get sales. They just don't use cheap parts, plain and simple. While other companies will cut corners and give you a laptop that's heavy, runs hot, and has a powerbrick large enough to kill a man, IBM truly gives you a good product. I do like Powerbooks, but they wear muc
    • by planetmn (724378) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:41AM (#15141447)
      They are ugly, heavy, and generally have less features than similarly priced notebooks from other makers. So why were they so good? I.B.M. You had the reputation of IBM behind each one.

      That, or they are built like a tank, something that a business would appreciate. I have a circa 1999/2000 I-Series thinkpad. Bottom of the line pretty much. The friend who purchased it new abused the hell out of it (since selling it to me and buying powerbooks, he has broken the powerbook multiple times). Six years later, everything works but the PCMCIA card reader (he dropped it onto its' side with a wireless card installed) and the hinges for the screen take some finessing (it travelled cross country, more then once, thrown into the bed of a truck). The thing is a tank, and if you are travelling, it will outlast anything out there. Sure they are more expensive, but there is a reason.

      Color! Brightness! Good keyboards! STYLE.

      Maybe it's just me, but I like the plain, black look of the thinkpad, I find it rather sleek. But hey, style is subjective. I also like the look of the powerbook. And in terms of keyboard, I have not used a keyboard on a laptop I prefer to the thinkpad (this includes HPs, Dells, Apples and Toshibas).

      It's all Windows underneath the hood, and in all likelihood it's the same hardware as well.

      While that may be true, the fact that the "hood" is heavier duty, makes a huge difference.

      -dave
    • Sorry, but if you think the Mac laptop offerings (especially the keyboards) are "good", you've evidently lost all feeling below the neck. Their laptop offerings are some of the flimsiest pieces of crap imaginable.

      Take the MacBookPro. Pick it up in one hand along an edge. If you can't see the entire damn case flexing, I'll eat my UPS.

      I'm not really sure what your experience with Thinkpads was.

      My experience was almost universally positive. And the things, while not the greatest gaming systems (Internation
      • Sorry, I'm with him. I have a TiBook G4 and a work-provided T40. Even after you take the operating system out of the equation, the Mac is lighter, faster, smaller, more comfortable, has a longer battery life and doesn't have that annoying high-friction top the Thinkpad has. And above all, the Mac is less deep, which makes all the difference in the world when you're working on a plane.

        The one advantage I'll give the T40 is that the USB ports on the side make for easier use of a memory stick in tight quarter

    • So people start looking around and see what they've been missing. Color! Brightness! Good keyboards! STYLE.

      Cheap cases that creak and flex whenever you pick the thing up! 400 obnoxious blue LEDs! Windows keys! Sending the thing in for repairs! 500 multimedia keys all over the thing! Tech support in third world countries! Horray for nice round fisher-price cases!

      And I have no idea what you're talking about with "good keyboards" or these things being heavy.

    • I realize this is a highly subjective area but I think the above poster has either not used a thinkpad recently or has had some serious problems with IBM in the past.

      I currently use (R51) and purchase IBM/Lenovo Thinkpads for my company (T-30, T-40/42 and one X somthing). Over the years I have used and purchased other brands such as Gateway, Toshiba, Sharp and HP. 7 years ago I got my first Thinkpad A20m and have since that day forward been buying thinkpads.

      When I think of buying a corporate laptop for a s
  • I can understand if everyone else is having the same problems we are. 40% of the laptops we get have issues that mainly come from bad motherboards. With that many systems not working and the fact that it takes so long for the new system or the part to replace it, you start to thinking of looking elsewhere. Lonovo: Get your act straight or you're going to lose almost all your customers!
  • When I bought my Thinkpad I did so because of their reputation and was not disappointed. IBM's support is great. A friend's hard drive recently failed and he didn't need to go through the usual process of sending his stuff back to IBM for them to verify the problem, they just overnighted him a new one. Despite that he had called that evening, early morning the next day the new hard drive was at his door. I asked some Lenovo reps at CES if they were planning any major changes to the ThinkPad and they said no
    • Re:Don't Know Lenovo (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jim Hall (2985) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:57AM (#15141491) Homepage

      I'm going to wait and see what other customers have to say. That said if I were in the market for a laptop right now I'd heavily consider Lenovo because Dell, HP, Sony, Toshiba, et al have all already proven themselves to be inferior products.

      IBM and Lenovo are still tight business partners. For example, at the end of March, I met with my IBM sales rep to review projects coming up over the next 12 months. As an aside, half-jokingly, I mentioned in that timeframe I'd also buy a new laptop ... and if he knew of any new ThinkPads coming out, let me know. Heh heh.

      The next day I got a call from a Lenovo rep, who had spoken with my IBM rep. She said she heard I was interested in Lenovo Thinkpads, and would I like to test-drive a new model that recently came out? Hell, yes.

      I've been running a Thinkpad T60 laptop since the start of April. Of course, I'm running Linux on it. [umn.edu] It's a great laptop. Titanium body, magnesium-allow cover, integrated wireless, ... It's even Intel Core Duo! At the end of the month, it's going to be hard to go back to my Thinkpad R40 (ABS plastic body & cover, single-core CPU, etc.)

      Still, if you're waiting to see what other customers have to say, I'd suggest getting a model that uses the Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 video (which is natively supported by x.org). So far, ipw3945-0.0.74-4.rhfc5.at seems to provide stable wireless networking, so I guess the Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG integrated wireless is okay.

  • Surprised? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pcguru19 (33878)
    Everything on the market was already being made or 99% designed before Lenovo bought the brand. The true test of quality and innovation will be with the next flip of laptops. The R&D and design work is still being done in the USA by the old thinkpad team, but time will tell if they have the same budget and the same directives on what they're to build. It doesn't matter how great your design team is if you're told you've got to make a laptop for no more than $999 MSRP.
  • Lenovo has a lot of people here in the US. They support a lot of jobs. There are a lot of Thinkpad manufacturing and support jobs right here in North Carolina. Lenovo is about to move their HQ here.

    We've been a Thinkpad buyer for many years and haven't seen any change or decline in quality or service. We just got in a few of the T60 and X60 notebooks that are brand new. The Core Duo T60 sure runs cooler than my MacBook Pro. We have enough new Dell and HP notebooks come through here to know that we're
  • Lenovo is good stuff (Score:2, Informative)

    by toogreen (632329)
    Hey I've been living in China for more than 3 years now, and I know a bit about computer brands and stuff. It's a total misconception because Lenovo is BY FAR the best Chinese brand for computers and laptop here. It's considered by many of pretty good quality. My girlfriend has a Lenovo branded laptop, and It's good enough! Better than many HP/Toshiba I've seen before...

    It's not like nothing good can come out of China...
    • by hey! (33014)
      Lenovo is BY FAR the best Chinese brand for computers and laptop here.

      The thing is -- companies aren't always brands, as is well known to, say, General Motors. Any organization that can make superb equipment can also make junk, and there's money to be made selling junk.

      My late brother was, unlike me, a super-salesman. It wasn't that he was the sort who could sell anything to anyone. In fact that would ran counter to his philosophy of sales, which is that if you want to sell to somebody, have the right th
  • How could you not feel comfortable with Lenovo after checking out the secret Lenovo Tapes [lenovo-tapes.com] that show the kind of testing and developement going on in the Lenovo labs?
  • by ivan256 (17499) * on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:37AM (#15141429)
    Companies aren't usually racist, or xenophobic. Most big business embrace foreign production as a method to save costs. What's going on here is that the high price of a ThinkPad used to be justified because it was backed by the excelent support organization at IBM. Busunesses didn't care that Lenovo was making the laptops for IBM anyway before the sale because they were buying the service and support primarily and the hardware second. Unless Lenovo builds up a network of local on-call service personell and a rapid FRU distribution chain like IBM has, and unless they market that service organization to death, they're slowly going to lose every business and educational ThinkPad customer IBM had.
    • In addition, it is another "nobody will get fired by purchasing from IBM/Microsoft" argument. Just imagine you are working in some IT department and you recommended the department to buy IBM/HP/Toshiba/Sony laptop. Now, a few units broke down. No one will think twice except the typical yell and moan.

      But, if you suggested the company to buy an Acer/ASUS/LG etc, then someone will say behind your back that you have no commerical sense because you tried to save a few bucks for cheap gear. Oh, if you suggest
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:37AM (#15141430)
    The real problem isn't that Lenovo is making the computers, they have manufactured Thinkpads for IBM for years now. The problem is that Lenovo is pushing the Thinkpads into retail and are therefore competing with low-end Gateways, Averatecs, and who knows what else. This puts enormous pressure to bring prices down, which means resultant pressure to get the manufacturing costs of the laptops down as well. Users of the x60 series Thinkpads (formerly x40, x32, etc) are complaining that the buttons feel cheap and that the units are not as solid as previous models.

    The good thing about Thinkpads is that IBM refused to cheapen the laptops just to get market share. IBM users knew that they were getting a solid notebook with good service and a 3-year warranty. IBM could therefore charge a premium for that. Now that Lenovo is trying to get their products into Best Buy, there is no incentive to build a rock solid machine because nobody is going to buy it because it is too expensive. So the incentive is to build cheap crap that is good enough to get out the door without excessive warranty claims from cheaping out too far.

    It's a shame that Lenovo is ruining the Thinkpad brand. I have a Thinkpad and love it but I will have to think twice when it comes time to buy another one.
  • by duffbeer703 (177751) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:38AM (#15141431)
    Companies bought Thinkpads because they were IBM customers, and their IBM rep sold them some IBM "solution" that covered everything from software & services to client devices. You see this alot in big banks and government agencies. They would sell Thinkpads and PCs at a heavy "discount", and recoup the "discount" in rollout costs or by not discounting some enterprise server or software.

    Now that Lenovo is a different entity, your Websphere, Tivoli or mainframe salesman cannot pad his commissions by moving a few hundred Thinkpads at a heavily discounted price. Hence the drop in Thinkpad sales.

  • Anything that's mobile is not longer just a tool. Because you carry it, people associate you with it; it makes a statement about you. In other words, it's a fashion accessory.

    Sure the manufacturing, technical support, and eincrasingly the engineering can all be offshored as well, or perhaps even better for the price. But they could never offshore that ineffable yet undeniable ThinkPad style: that lushious black keyboard with crisp white lettering, accented with that audacious soupçon of blue... We
  • For years, I refused to buy a laptop. I had to use them for work (for trips, demos, etc) all the time and hated them. At work, we used primarily Think Pads, but I had also used a few other brands.

    Then I visited a friend who had a Toshiba and my whole outlook on Notebooks changed.

    The fan and battery on mine are shot now, after years of abuse (including a year in Mexico sucking really dusty air through it which I'm sure is what killed the fan). But it still runs, albeit at a slower CPU speed. If I need it to
  • by Churla (936633) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:50AM (#15141468)
    Why do people continue to buy Sony products when Sony has been slipping?

    Why do people continue to buy Microsoft software if it's known not to be the best out there?

    Why do people eat at McDonalds instead of the mom and pop diner 2 blocks away that serves better burgers?

    It's all name and brand recognition. People bought IBM notebooks because IBM had a name behind them, and in many cases also supplied all the bigger infrastructure and server pieces.

    Now that same laptop isn't an IBM anymore. Like a high dollar luxury car manufacturer that also releases the same cars produced in the same way, but with a less expensive nameplate on them loses market value.

    What used to have a Lexus nameplate on it, now has a Toyota nameplate. And has to complete on a different scale.
  • Lenovo is still making ThinkPads engineered by IBM and the quality hasnt changed a bit. The keyboards are still made by the same suppliers and nothing has changed yet. As someone who works 9 hours a day fixing IBM laptops for a reseller, I can say that things are looking up. The new T/X60 computers look awesome and relatively problem free (havent had any experience with them yet, a good sign) and Z60 is more or less problem free and has many features IBM has starved homeusers of (windows button, firewire et
  • People look at the front of things, not the back, doubly so retail stores.
    When people buy at WalMart, they perceive they buying from a good old 'merican bidniz. They see Sam Walton, Arkansas, Slim Jims, NASCAR and Wrangler - what can be more American? In reality if WalMart were a country they'd be China's 8th largest trading partner.
    Even when they see things that say "Made in the USA" they don't realize it could be from the Marianas, which is by technicality a US protectorate but is just another Pacific s
  • IBM's mindshare (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:58AM (#15141493) Homepage Journal
    IBM has been slowly losing mindshare for decades now. Older nerds will remember the days when IBM was the big one, the monolith, the place BBS kids dreamed of haxing and MIT kids dreamed of ending up at. For a long time, the entire home computer industry was basically IBM and Apple. Not so these days.
  • We have them at work, and I've found that the ones I've used are very nice workhorse machines in a men in black dress code sort of way. The PC support people also seem to like the support they get on these machines. The keyboards are particularly nice, however I my must say that the quality of the Thinkpad keyboard I have now is a cut below the machine I had previously.

    However I am also in the market for a machine for personal use - and I've found that Lenovo just doesn't offer the features I'm looking for,
  • My experience (Score:4, Interesting)

    by timeOday (582209) on Monday April 17, 2006 @08:05AM (#15141523)
    When my 2.5 year-old IBM T40 recently flaked out, it was repaired on warranty - including a new motherboard, keyboard, and CD ROM drive (I use the laptop all the time and it was basically shot). So long as they carry on IBM's obligations and the quality stays high, I'm seriously tempted to stay with the Thinkpad series. The T60 looks to be a great machine, the only complication is that MacBooks can now boot windows too so those are tempting.
  • Where do they think all these electronics get manufactured otherwise? Hint: not here in the good 'ol U-S-of-A.

  • I really don't think that they are from China that is the real issue. It is the fact that they are not IBM. "Nobody will get fired for choosing IBM" is the old slogan. Lenovo is well... unheard of in the US. I could see someone renewing their Contract for new ThinkPads and the people see that this company Lenovo. And they get a Bad Batch of Think Pads will the person who decided to go with Lenovo will probably get fired, while if the Same thing happened with IBM he would probably get promoted because if IB
  • by dozer (30790) on Monday April 17, 2006 @08:10AM (#15141555)
    I bought a ThinkPad i1452 in 1999. IBM took it back once under warranty to clean cat hairs out of the keyboard (oops) and once, OUT OF WARRANTY, to replace a still-working but loose power connector. No hassles; I just call them up, spend 10 minutes on the phone, a shipping container arrives the next day, and I have a working laptop back within a week. Beautiful.

    My roommate just bought an X41. The hardware is beautiful but the software that it shipped with is insanely buggy. She spent a day applying all the updates. Click update, click yes, reboot, click update, click yes, reboot reboot reboot. At the end of that, the laptop still throws up random error dialogs about hard disk issues and the CD-ROM drive is really flaky. She spent 4 hours on the phone with Lenovo over the weekend. Lenovo told her to run the entire diagnostic regimen (takes over 12 hours). No errors. Then they told her to wipe the hard drive and recover from the recovery partition. And then go through another day of update hell. She hasn't done that yet -- the laptop is sitting unused while she tries to find time to hassle with it again.

    Lenovo seems to think that it's acceptable to charge her almost $2500 for a laptop and then burn over TWO DAYS of her time trying to get working software on this thing. IBM would have fixed it or replaced it and ensured she has a laptop that actually works. If she wanted to repair her own laptop, she would have bought an Asus.

    I've bought and recommended ThinkPads since 1999. No more. Does anybody have any recommendations for a ThinkPad replacement? A company that makes solid laptops and stands behind them 100%?
    • Using the software update utility from Lenovo's website downloads all of the updates in one shot and instlal them all. I've never seen this endless rebooting you describe.
    • Does anybody have any recommendations for a ThinkPad replacement? A company that makes solid laptops and stands behind them 100%?

      Nope. And I think we all saw this coming, too. With the ever-declining emphasis on quality and service in favour of price for every sector, and the market rewarding them for this, I think that this will continue more and more.

      When IBM had the ThinkPad line that supplemented its other enterprise offerings, it could afford to emphasize the service end. Now with ThinkPads standing
  • Brand recognition. IBM - everyone knows it, company has been in America's consciousness forever. Lenovo - Chinese company no one knows and everyone assumes is planting spy chips in their computers.

  • Poor Service (Score:5, Informative)

    by moankey (142715) on Monday April 17, 2006 @08:16AM (#15141586)
    While the machines may be manufactured from the same place, I had to call for my offices recently for an invoice on a particular Thinkpad requested by the CFO. After being transferred to half a dozen people over the course of about 4 hours and providing the serial number and model number it was something they could not figure out or do for me. Apparently a request like this was never made before and baffled their customer, technical service, and sales.

    Whereas when it was IBM run, it would have taken 1 call and 10 minutes.
  • The computer is only half of the package. What happens when it breaks down?

    Not if. WHEN. Current production tolerances mean that something will break down sooner or later. Buy the necessities for an average computer and your chances are pretty good that one piece is going to be broken from the start. CPU, power supply, ram...

    It's getting similar with notebooks. Few are broken by design, but many break down within the first year. Let's even ignore such things as the dreaded cup of coffee that follow's Newton
  • I recently purchased an X40 from Lenovo and have had no reason to be sorry about my choice. When I worked at my university's helpdesk, we had HPs, Gateways, Dells, Toshies, and Vaios stacked in heaps in the "to be repaired" cabinet, but I can count on one hand the number of thinkpads brought in with problems (most of these were over 5 years old and still going strong). I personally have owned laptops made by Dell, Gateway, HP, and even a customized Sager, but none of them were able to take much abuse. Th
  • I have mixed feelings about getting another TP. I bought a TP T42 a bit before the acquisition, and it had screen issues, some parts just feel not tied down to anything (most notably the lower right palmrest area), and the rear ports aren't lined up exactly, most notably the AC port. I had to fight with IBM to get the screen replaced after they damaged it replacing the first screen, which had a number of dead pixels. When they shipped it back, the LCD bezel had gouges all over the place. So I had to sen
  • Branding matters? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Monday April 17, 2006 @08:46AM (#15141757)
    Is this shocking to anyone. Yes some of us know that a handful of Chinese companies make the computers of all 99% of all desktop and laptop manifacturers, but many don't.

    So they look for brand identity, external appearance. Country of manifacturing on the brand is a part of the brand.

    Over here (Bulgaria) there's plenty of companies running shared hosting business. Their tech support are all Bulgarian boys and girls, but they all have US name pseudonyms. One of those companies I've internal info on (shall remain nameless) insisted on being patriotic and splattering everything with the Bulgarian flag and not using pseudonyms.

    After an incredibly weak few months, were even purchase by Bulgarians were weak, they joined the "let's pretend the world is US" bandwagon and sales quickly jumped up.
  • by KC7GR (473279) on Monday April 17, 2006 @11:12AM (#15142708) Homepage Journal
    I think there's a little of both going on. Consider that the 'ThinkPad' name has been a part of IBM for many moons indeed. Suddenly shuffling that name off to Lenovo, a name that I doubt anyone outside of laptop manufacturing circles even knew existed, is bound to cause a bit of a dent.

    The 'misconception' in this situation is two-part. First, Lenovo has, to the best of my knowledge, been building ThinkPads for IBM for at least the last decade or so. Assuming my understanding is accurate, anyone who's ever bought a ThinkPad has already bought a Lenovo-built system.

    The second part is the idea that quality will be lower on Chinese-manufactured products. While this is certainly true in many cases (think cheap hand tools), I don't see it happening here because, again, Lenovo has been building ThinkPads all along. Why would they risk damaging their own market, and possible collateral damage to IBM's rep, by starting to cut corners?

    'Brand loyalty' is a tricky thing. Advertising companies know this, and I think IBM and Lenovo are learning that all over again. The bitter truth of the matter is that the US has sold off an awful lot of its manufacturing base to China, and other foreign investors, most definitely including computer hardware.

    I may not like this trend, but I cannot deny that I have taken advantage of it many times. The motherboards I've been using for the past decade or so (Tyan, usually) were all manufactured in Chinese factories.

    Another example: The surround receiver I just bought (Harman Kardon AV635) was designed in the US, but actually built in China. Used to be that H-K built ALL their amps, tuners, etc. right here in the US.

    In short: How, exactly, does one AVOID Chinese-made electronics? There are darn few US-based electronics manufacturers left, and most of those are in specialty or 'niche' markets.

    Even if an electronic product is made entirely in the US, by a US company, take a look inside. Chances are really good that you'll find transistors from Japan, capacitors from Korea or China, and plastic parts from Lord only knows where.

    It's (unfortunately) unavoidable. The whole thing reminds me a bit of a Monty Python animation which shows a secretary drowning in a rising wave of Chinese.

    The best anyone can do is what should always be done: Carefully evaluate multiple brands against your requirements, and pick the best one for the job.

    Keep the peace(es).

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

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