For Sale – Lenovo ThinkPad T61p 6460-8UG December 24th, 2011
As a converted Mac user, I no longer use my trusted Lenovo T61p.
The T61p may be a few years old but in my experience it still out performs most, if not all, of the mid-range machines on the market today. The ‘p’ designation was a very high specification laptop designed as a mobile workstation geared towards serious mobile computing and design work and will frankly, embarrass many of the most up-to-date models; with good all round performance coupled to a quality full HD display, the T61p is truly a great machine.
I wrote a review of the machine a while ago which can be found here for further information.
Specifications are as follows:
Model – Lenovo ThinkPad T61p 6460-8UG
Processor – Intel Core 2 Duo T7700 2.4Ghz with Centrino Pro technology
Memory – 3Gb DDR2 SDRAM PC2-5300-667MHz SO DIMM 200-Pin
Display – 15.4″ Full HD (1920×1200 WUXGA) TFT Active Matrix
Graphics – Nvidia Quatro FX 570M 256Mb PCI Express x16
Battery – 9-Cell Extended (Genuine Lenovo, approximately 6 months old)
Hard Drive – 320Gb 7200rpm SATA
Optical Drive – DVD-Writer DVD+RW
Operating System – Windows 7 Ultimate Edition 32-Bit (installed, licensed and activated but no COA or media supplied)
Please feel free to contact me if you’d like any further information, or head over to the eBay auction directly to place a bid. I also have available a Lenovo Advanced Dock (for the above) as well as a 19″ Widescreen Lenovo monitor.
Using Lenovo Power Manager With Non Genuine Battery… May 9th, 2010
I’m now on my third battery with my Lenovo T61p, my only criticism with what is otherwise an absolutely fantastic machine. The first two batteries were both genuine, the most recent a much cheaper, generic sourced one. The first battery that came with the system was a fairly typical 6 cell offering, nothing unusual there and it lasted for around 1 year; ironic really, it always seems with laptop batteries that they suddenly decide to loose their charge after the one year warranty has expired. I wasn’t too upset about this actually, mainly because I had always regretted not getting the 9 cell with my machine so it was an ideal opportunity to upgrade and secondly, being mainly office based where my machine sat in a docking station all day being charged to 100% I wasn’t too surprised it had come to an untimely end.
Now normally, I like to run my systems very ‘Zen’, ditching all of the manufacturer bloatware that comes pre-installed these days, but I decided when I bought the 9 cell battery to install the Lenovo Power Manager software, by now in version 3. For those who are not aware of what this does, it enhances the ability to control and monitor all aspects of the machines power usage; this is especially so of the battery and the way its charging cycles are handled. One of the features that I was most interested in was the ability to dynamically change the charging thresholds of the battery and thus improving its longevity. In essence, this works by changing not only the threshold at which the system allows the battery to be charged, but also the level at which the charge stops; so for example the system may determine to stop charging the battery when it reached 96% charge. The idea of course, is that this is better for the batteries health and it ‘should’ last longer.
All was well, I had this and other settings customised just how I like them when I was greeted with a warning to tell me that my lovely battery had a fault and could no longer be used; the fault was terminal. Most annoying was that the battery was still holding more charge than a 6 cell, even though it had well over 100 charging cycles, the battery should have been good for some time yet! Frustrated with the cost of genuine batteries from Lenovo, I started to look at other options and did some research on generic batteries. Finally, I decided that for a cost of £35 including delivery for a brand new 9 cell battery, it was wroth taking a punt and duly placed an order. Herein lies the problem.
Lenovo have cunningly engineered into the software a warning which keeps popping up to tell you that you are not using a genuine battery along with the usual warning about the effect this may have on your warranty and a rather scary disclaimer which in not so many words, tells you that you may spontaneously combust if you do not throw the battery in the bin straight away and buy one directly from them. Ironically, when you click OK for what seems like the hundredth time and acknowledge the warnings to enter the software, the battery information shows amongst other things that the part number is ‘COMPATIBLE‘ and the manufacturer is ‘SANYO‘; but hang on a minute, don’t Sanyo make the genuine batteries for Lenovo anyhow? It seems to me that Lenovo are just abusing the software to boost their after sales, something which I will not be tricked into and something which I think is unfair given the rubbish quality of a lot of their own batteries (namely the Sanyo ones it would seem, I wonder how long this one will last). I’m sorry Mr Lenovo but your ruse will not be working on me.
So that left me with the problem, just how do you go about continuing to use the otherwise excellent Power Manager software but without being nagged every 5 minutes to buy a new battery and fooled into thinking that you are about to blow up?
Turns out that the solution is actually painfully simple. After doing some research on Google I first started but doing some registry edits and denying certain services the authority to run, this should according to the research I came across work; not by fooling the software into thinking it was a genuine battery but by stopping it from being able to display the warning messages from being displayed. Sadly though, it didn’t work even after trying numerous different hacks.
It was then that I had a thought, they often say that it’s the most obvious solution that works. The Power Manager software itself comes essentially in two parts, firstly the system software and secondly, the extra toolbar which runs in the system tray that shows you a graphical representation of the charge you have left and, importantly, is where the warning messages are displayed so prevalently. So I wondered, if I simply right clicked and removed the Power Manager toolbar, would that allow the software to still run and do all of the behind the scenes stuff to keep my battery in good condition without the warning messages being displayed. It turns out that it does. By disabling the toolbar, you are still able to access all of the Power Manager features by right clicking the default Windows power icon in the system tray instead (or via the Control Panel), meaning that you are able to configure power options and battery options just as before. Of course you do loose the Lenovo power icon in the system tray but I was never a huge fan of that anyway and it did nothing that the Windows power icon doesn’t. The end result is that I am now using a non-genuine battery quite happily with Lenovo Power Manager but without all of the annoying warnings and attempts to sell you a new battery.
I hope someone finds this useful. Enjoy.
Lenovo T61P Review November 3rd, 2009
Sadly I have never owned an IBM ThinkPad. I say that because since Lenovo took over the ThinkPad brand a lot of reviews and industry insiders will tell you that the quality and experience of owning a ThinkPad has suffered. Well, I own a Lenovo ThinkPad; a T61p in fact which a year ago was one of the high-end models in the range.
Previously I have owned a fair few laptops, goes with the territory, ranging from HP, Dell and Acer models right back to my very first laptop, an Olivetti! So, what do I think about my Lenovo? Truth is its fantastic, by far the best laptop I have owned!
My ThinkPad has the following specs:
• Intel Core Duo T7700 2.4Ghz processor
• 3Gb DDR2 PC2-5300 RAM
• NVidia FX 570M GPU with 256Mb dedicated memory
• 15.4” 1920×1200 WUXGA (175nit) LCD
• Seagate Momentus 7200.1 ST910021AS 100Gb 7200RPM HDD
• Intel Pro 3945 A/B/G WLAN
• 4-in-1 card reader
• Fingerprint reader
When you first look at a ThinkPad, you’ll notice that it is a big rectangular piece of black plastic. When you consider the price premium which usually goes with a ThinkPad you’d be forgiven for thinking that it doesn’t look anything special. Personally, I like the looks, very businesslike and more durable than say a Sony Vaio or a MacBook; but I know many would disagree. What a lot of people don’t know is that hidden beneath this bland exterior lays a very sophisticated magnesium roll cage. The I/O on the outside consists of Firewire, three USB slots, VGA out, Ethernet, modem, a 4-in1 card reader and a card slot; I’d have liked to have seen a serial port too but these are a dying breed amongst the latest offering, which I find very frustrating as we (IT professionals) still have a real need for them. There is also a radio on/off switch on the front and audio jacks on the side.
When you first pick up a ThinkPad, it feels very solid with no flex in the body and is relatively light without the battery. Lenovo have put a magnesium roll cage around the entire laptop for protection which – importantly – for a laptop which spends a lot of its time on the road, reduces the chances of the LCD screen being cracked or otherwise damaged. The black plastic on the top cover also has a slightly rubbery texture which personally I really like, helps ensure you have a good hold when you pick it up, minimising the chances of it slipping out of your hand which has happened to me previously with a nice shiny Dell x1.
The keyboard is the standard ThinkPad keyboard; full-size, stiff and with a great tactile response when typing. It’s by far the best keyboard I have used on any laptop, certainly leagues ahead of the rubbish Dell seem to spec these days. Another great feature although of course not unique to the ThinkPad, is the drain holes at the base of the laptop and a ‘containment reservoir’ underneath the keyboard in case you should accidently spill any liquids (because we all follow the rule of not putting out coffee next to our laptops on the desk right..?). Fortunately I have never had to test this feature – yet – but it’s good to know that it’s there. One of the key features for me when choosing the ThinkPad was the TrackPoint, it resembles an eraser on the top of a pencil, making it possible to navigate without having to move your hands hardly, if at all. Of course it also comes with a conventional touchpad for those who are not able to get along with the TrackPoint; which is kind of like Marmite; you either love it, or hate it. The ThinkPad also had a small LED mounted to the bezel above the screen aptly named the ThinkLight; it’s an ingenious idea which allows you to illuminate the keyboard in dark conditions so you can work in comfort, genius.
I choose the largest screen option, which is a whooping 1920×1200. The screen itself is great quality and reproduces colour and contrast exceptionally well. My only criticism is that the screen is not quite as bright as others I have used, such as the latest HP models. I’m glad to see as well that Lenovo resisted the urge to go for the latest craze of horrible glossy screens. There is a tiny bit of light leakage from the top and bottom of the screen which you can see if the screen is completely black, but I’m being critical here, it’s minimal. The GPU is an NVidia FX 570M which has 256Mb of dedicated memory so runs graphics superbly. In hindsight, I would have preferred an onboard shared video GPU but that’s only because I don’t play any games so don’t need such a powerful chip; the NVidia chip also eats more battery than an onboard chip, another reason I would have gone down that route if I were specifying this machine again. Having a 1920×1200 screen resolution on a laptop is amazing and makes multitasking much easier, but there are tradeoffs, you’ll need good eyesight! One strange thing about the ThinkPad screen is that it is not housed centrally in the LCD cover, this isn’t a problem though and most people will not even notice unless it is pointed out to them.
I’ve had cause to use a few of the battery options, originally starting off with the standard 6-cell arrangement which worked quite well. I can’t remember exactly how long I was getting between charges as I used to be more office based and use a docking station but from memory, I was getting on average around 3 hours which I didn’t think was too bad. Unfortunately for me, I lost my charger over the summer and rather stupidly, ordered a ‘compatible’ replacement from one of the ever present online battery specialists. Needless to say it was unbranded and made in China! Aside from the bulk of it, everything appeared to work fine until recently when I noticed I was getting what appeared to be static shocks from my laptop, I had a niggle that it was the charger so bought an original Lenovo replacement – as I should have done the first time round – but it would seem the damage was already done and my battery soon gave up the ghost, only lasting around 10 minutes on ‘full’ charge.
I now have an original Lenovo 9-cell battery and with a little experimentation, can almost get through a day without needling a power socket. The only downside of the larger battery is that it is a bit on the large size and protrudes from the back of the machine, although I don’t really find this an issue. I plan on keeping an eye open on eBay for a second battery which sits in the modular drive bay, that way I should be able to easily work away from a power socket all day without worrying. Good stuff.
I’ve had Windows XP, Windows Vista and now Windows 7 installed on the machine and so far, the only problems I have had are a few random lockups whilst using Windows Vista. Both Windows XP and Windows 7 have been perfect. Even though the laptop is now a good year old, it is perfectly matched for Windows 7, all of the hardware is recognised during the initial installation and they work together very well.
ThinkPad’s also come with ThinkVantage software to help manage the computer and for me it was another key feature in choosing the ThinkPad. I’ve always liked the idea of ThinkVantage software because it makes dealing with minor but annoying Windows shortcomings much easier to handle. Lenovo have done an excellent job in developing the ThinkVantage software and unlike other manufacturers have provided the end user with genuinely useful enhancements instead of the usual crapware. It seems that one of the trends in the industry over the past 5 years has been the rise of this bundled software on new machines. Crapware; no one wants it, most of it is about as good as the name suggests, and as a rule it does nothing more than slow the boot times of what would otherwise be decent computers. But crapware is on new machines for a reason – it helps to subsidise the cost of new machines and helps to keep costs down.
I’m just pleased that Lenovo have bucked this trend and developed its suite of genuinely useful enhancements. In terms of Windows 7, Lenovo were also the first manufacturer to work with Microsoft to develop the ‘Windows 7 Enhanced Experience’ program. I’m yet to experience this as it is more geared towards Lenovo’s latest offerings but if my experience of Windows 7 and my T61p is anything to go by, I look forward to the new features when it’s time to trade up next.
As I mentioned before, I also use the ThinkPad advanced dock mated to a Lenovo 24” widescreen monitor when I am at my desk. I think this is the perfect solution for me, gives me real desktop performance when I’m sat at my desk. The dock itself offers full port replication with the addition of DVI and VGA connectors, parallel and serial ports, Firewire and USB ports, the usual audio jacks and an extra modular drive bay. Perfect setup, what more can I say.
The only thing I would like to do with my T61p is replace the hard drive with a SSD offering, although I’m planning to wait a while until the cost comes down a little. Other than that, there is nothing I think my laptop needs; it really is a great machine.
I started this post saying that I was sad not to have ever owned an IBM ThinkPad but when I think about it, actually I don’t think it really matters. The IBM ThinkPad’s may have been better than the latest Lenovo’s, they may not have been but I don’t think it really matters. I don’t think it really matters because the Lenovo ThinkPad is a great machine in its own right and me for one, I am very happy with mine thanks very much.
Lenovo, keep up the good work!