Finally ready to leave ThinkPad family
After almost 20 years of using Thinkpads, I feel ready to leave this family. I took some effort and focus. It came as a side effect really. But I am very happy for it.
I bought my first ThinkPad when I started my uni studies. It was IBM ThinkPad T22 and it was love at first site. Look how slim the display bezel is, how they maximized the keyboard size, key travel and feel was great, body was super sturdy, fan was almost always off... When you compare it to laptops of that era, it was several steps ahead if you didn't care about graphic performance, which was embarrassing really with its 8MB S3 Savage :). I have been using it for many years and after brief romance with Fujtisu Siemens Amilo Pro V3205, I was sure I needed to go back. How disappointed I was, when I realized, that in 2012 I can't get ThinkPad without touchpad, that the keybord is chicklet style now, that display bezels are thicker than they were on my T22 from 10 years ago, that the display ratio is not 4:3 anymore and that overall feel is much cheaper. But I had that opportunity to choose one as my working laptop, so I went for it.
X1 Carbon Gen.1 was what I chose but I returned it after 3 days. It was complete no go for me for so many reasons. Too shallow Keyboard, missing PCMCIA, always throttling, fan was noisy, performance was sluggish. I decided to give it one more try and opted for X230. I got back my PCMCIA, almost no throttling, key travel was much deeper. In fact, I really started to like the chicklet keyboard with X230. I missed the removed seventh row, but got used to it after a while. Performance was great with an i7-3520M CPU, 16GB RAM and SATA3 SSD. It still felt a lot cheaper when considered build quality, but I stayed with it. Repearability was almost on par with T22 (only cpu was not replacable). In fact I use this laptop until now as a personal laptop. Since 2018, my primary work laptop is ThinkPad X1C6. I really don't like where Lenovo is going with Thinkpads since they bought it out from IBM. As many traditionalist, I didn't want to loose replacable battery and internals, keyboard key travel and performance just to be not 21mm thick but 15mm. But I struggled with being too addicted to trackpoint and good keyboard.
During the pandemic I decided to improve my abilities to control laptop with keyboard only. I switched from Xfce to dwm (I've been using i3 in the past for a long time, so it wasn't that much of a stretch), I installed vimium browser plugin and finished implementation of several TUI apps I missed. For several months now, the only GUI application I use on regular basis is browser. And I have no app that I control primarily with mouse. This setup gave me 2 advantages:
My memory and cpu footprint is much smaller, therefore my X230 come much closer performance wise to modern laptops even under heavier load when using current setup. This gives me couple more years with my old iron until I will need any replacement.
I use mouse sporadically now, which means, missing trackpoint is not such a big blocker for me anymore. It widens my possibilities in future.
Constant pursuit of minimalism brought advantages in yet another aspect of my life. I am again a bit faster in using computer, which I don't need to replace for few more years to stay performant. This will save my money and our environment too. As a bonus I can choose from much broader spectrum of laptops when it finally be needed. But I am still a bit nostalgic, I was one of those, who really believed Lenovo would make an exception for once and create the ultimate "Retro ThinkPad" for its 25th aniversary. Basically to make a little bit thinner, oldschool (T22/X60 like) laptop with modern hardware inside, that would serve me good for another decade. But who knows... maybe they'll make it right on 30th ;)