Getting a used Thinkpad X200 Cheap...Good Idea?

Discussion in 'SFF, Notebooks, Pre-Built/Barebones PCs' started by Tushaar, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. Tushaar

    Tushaar Member

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    I've been on the market for a light and long-lived (in terms of battery life) netbook/laptop for a month or two now.

    I had been considering a bunch of netbooks and sub-notebooks in the $300-350 range recently, like the Asus 1015CX (10.1 inch), Asus 1225C (11.6 inch) and the Acer Aspire D270 (10.1 inch).

    However, I got an offer for a used Thinkpad X200 for approximately $230 a couple of days ago, and I have to decide by tomorrow if I want it. If the system has no defects, what do you guys think of it?

    Right now, I can get the X200 for $230, and with a 9 cell genuine 47++ battery, which will cost approx $120 here, my entire cost will be $350 max. I personally think this is a great deal since I'm getting a machine built like a tank, is reasonably powerful (my primary use is lots and lots of browsing - 15 to 20 tabs open along with half a dozen PDFs and maybe some music), along with reported 6-9 hours of battery life with the 9 cell battery.

    One of my concerns is the lack of a touchpad. I've used only touchpads till now, and I'm concerned I may not be able to adjust to the Trackpoint. I tried it out for a bit on my friend's Thinkpad, and being left handed, it felt a bit awkward and not as quick.

    Thoughts, anyone? ASAP would be super, I need to make a decision quickly.
     
  2. kevinsbane

    kevinsbane Senior member

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    IMO, get a new Thinkpad.

    That being said, it'll cost a lot more. Regardless!

    If you choose to go with the $350 option, it will still work ok. Touchpad isn't that great once you have Trackpoint. The thing with Trackpoint is that you have to force yourself to use it for a few days. Then you can crank up the sensitivity (mine's at max mouse speed, maximum sensitivity) and it flies like it was always meant to fly. Regarding left versus right hand use, that doesn't matter so much. I am ambidextrous as far as Trackpoint use is concerned, even though I'm a firm rightie otherwise. Actually, I can use my Trackpoint with my middle fingers as well (and often do). Give it a bit of time, and it becomes indispensable.

    I'm typing this right now on my X220. And I must admit, typing is the best case scenario for Trackpoint. You never have to move you fingers off home row, and it makes things so convenient that way.
     
  3. crab0

    crab0 Member

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    Well forgetting the X200 for a second, I don't think your usage would work on the Atom machines listed, would be too slow. Granted I'm saying that based on a seeing an AMD C-50 (4GB ram) slowing down when you get the tabs into the double digits (with nothing else running), not an Atom machine itself.

    For the price I would jump on it and try the Trackpoint, tiny netbook trackpads suck anyway, your getting so much more computer in exchange for no trackpad and worst case scenario there's cutesy mini mices for cheap :p
     
  4. Tushaar

    Tushaar Member

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    I've had only good experiences with business laptops from HP and Lenovo. The X200 is pretty much a full powered laptop for my needs, which never goes beyond watching movies and the occasional light photoshop editing session.

    As for the suggestion to buy a new Thinkpad - I would if I could. But I have to fund this purchase myself, and being a college student, around $350-400 is the best I can do.

    Also, I find the retro Touchpad design very professional and sober, which is my preference when it comes to laptops. Shiny machines are not my thing. Plus, Thinkpads are flat out reliable, 10 inch and 11 inch notebooks are usually consumer junk which I try to stay away from.
     
  5. rsutoratosu

    rsutoratosu Platinum Member

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    i would say a x201 if you can get one in that price range.. i like it better than the x200, i got mine for around the same price new off ebay, and i bought the factory thinkpad protection warranty on top of it.. was awesome..
     
  6. Tushaar

    Tushaar Member

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    Unfortunately, the product cycle in my country, India, runs a bit behind the other countries. The X201 is still being sold at retail centres along with the X220 and X230, so at best most used X201s are coming in at around $450-500, which is outside my range.
     
  7. unokitty

    unokitty Diamond Member

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    I've had my X200 for about three years.

    And other than I need to replace the battery soon, it has been bullet proof.

    That said, if your primary use is going to be Internet Browsing, make sure that you can live with the size of the screen. It was my first laptop that didn't have a 4:3 aspect ratio, and I don't know if it was the screen size or the aspect ratio -- but it took me a while to get used to the screen.

    I love the TrackPoint. On my previous portables, I never cared for the trackpads. It may be different than what you are used to but I suspect that you will adjust to it quickly.

    In buying my X200, my goal was to have a portable, reliable, computer that I could transport easily. I make a lot of presentations. And the X200 is very good at that...

    Two very minor complaints. One, when running VM workstation, I sometimes wish that I had more screen realestate. Two, sometimes I will boot into Backtrack Linux from a USB stick and since the Lenovo screen utilities are in software, I can power the screen or I can power the external VGA port for a projector but I can't do both at the same time like I can with Windows. Though, I doubt that many people use their portables like this. So for most people this wouldn't be an issue.

    It is a well built machine. The keyboard is fine. The price you are talking about seems good. My only concern would be whether or not you would be happy with the screen size.

    Best of luck,
    Uno
     
  8. NitrouseXpress60

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    I've been using my x200 tablet for about two years now. It has been my favorite laptop compared to a T510 and R50e. It has the best build quality of anything I've owned and it is the QUIETEST machine ever. I enjoy using the keyboard (versus the newer versions) and I never had an issue not having a trackpad since I prefer the trackpoint. I use this laptop daily as my main computer and I really hope this machine lasts a long time as I doubt any new laptop can satisfy me.

    Are you trying to mirror the display on both the laptop and the external monitor? I haven't had a problem doing this with debian based distros.
     
  9. unokitty

    unokitty Diamond Member

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    That's correct. When I boot BackTrack Linux from a USB stick, I am unable to have both the laptop and external monitor powered. (Though, I can power either one -- just not both at the same time.)

    I suspect that there are utilities available to deal with this. But I haven't researched them yet...

    In the next month, or so, I am going to be experimenting with Ubuntu with persistence on a USB.

    Agree with you that the X200 is very quiet.

    Uno
     
  10. gsaldivar

    gsaldivar Diamond Member

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    X200 is a solid reliable computer. Don't forget to pick up a dock off eBay and turn it into a desktop computer.
     
  11. Tushaar

    Tushaar Member

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    I bought it. Looks almost new.

    I love it, quite grateful for the recommendations. Anyway, I have two questions:

    1. Do any other X200 owners experience the dithering/flickering in the screen, especially at low brightness? I noticed it quite a bit when I used it with Vista, and then later with WIndows 8. After installing all the Windows 8/Windows 7 drivers, it seems to have gone away. Anyone else had this issue?

    2. I tend to use my laptop a LOT (16-18 hours a day), and I need my battery for the road. I'm planning to use the 6 cell which came with it for a while when i travel, so is it recommened that I charge the battery, disconnect it and run off AC mains till I travel again (next week)?
     
  12. gsaldivar

    gsaldivar Diamond Member

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    Newer ThinkPads have an intelligent charging system that will automatically charge the battery to full, then stop charging unless the battery falls below a threshold (like 95%). So there is no need to manually remove the battery once charged. I would, however, recommend picking up a spare battery if you plan to spend a lot of time away from a power outlet. Again, eBay is a great resource fit heavily discounted parts and accessories. Good luck
     
  13. Tushaar

    Tushaar Member

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    Unless I've read this incorrectly, keeping the battery in all the time while on AC mains degrades the cells quite quickly. How do I know whether the particular technology you mentioned is in my system? I'm working with a clean install of Windows 8. I have installed the Lenovo Power Manager though, but I don't know if this feature in built in to the battery or the software.

    Also, if I were to going with what you're saying, are you implying that keeping the battery plugged in with the AC mains all the time is better than charging and discharging it 2-3 times a day?
     
  14. NitrouseXpress60

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    Keep the battery in while connected to AC. Examine Lenovo's Power Manager application and look at the advanced settings for the battery info to examine charging threshold. You can adjust when the battery will stop charging; lowering it increases the life of the battery although slightly lowering runtime.
     
  15. unokitty

    unokitty Diamond Member

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    Have never noticed any screen dithering/flickering. Though, I've always used Windows 7.

    If that persists, you may want to check your video drivers.

    Best of luck,
    Uno
     
  16. Tushaar

    Tushaar Member

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  17. jihe

    jihe Senior member

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    Battery seems way too expensive, otherwise the x200 is quite a capable machine still. You get used to trackpoint, I had the same concern but now I prefer the trackpoint.
     
  18. jihe

    jihe Senior member

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    Actually the worst thing for a battery is to charge it up and then left alone.
     
  19. Tushaar

    Tushaar Member

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    Battery is expensive because it's not available locally...i'm going to have to get an original battery imported from the US from eBay (http://geb.ebay.in/g/New-Genuine-Le...attery-9-Cell-47-Original?itemid=360520256371). Actually, it's around $130. But if I'm getting an original one, I'm good. I managed to knock down the price to $200 anyway for the machine. I also ran CPUID and it tells me the battery has a capacity of 54 Whr as compared to a new 6 cell, which has 56 Whr. So the original 6 cell already in the laptop is in quite good shape.

    Also, so you are suggesting I should keep the battery plugged in at 100% all the time and to preserve it, not discharge it at all? I can live with that.
     
  20. kevinsbane

    kevinsbane Senior member

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    Lithium Ion batteries will lose capacity dependent on your charge state over time. 100% charged Li-Ion batteries will lose ~20% capacity per year. Li-ion batteries at less than 100% will lose charge more slowly (~4% per year at half capacity). Leaving your battery in will discharge and charge your battery from 100% -> 90% -> 100% constantly, which extends the battery life. Somehow. The specifics escape me, but it's better than storing your battery @ 100% charge. That is, if you have the power manager software from lenovo installed.

    Discharging your battery should have no adverse effect on it. At least, I've run down my 6 cell battery on my X220 multiple times, often to ~10% or less, and I still have good battery life even after a year and 4 months.
     
  21. Tushaar

    Tushaar Member

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    Anyone has any official stuff to verify this?
     
  22. kevinsbane

    kevinsbane Senior member

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  23. Tushaar

    Tushaar Member

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    Sorry if I ask a stupid question again, but if I'm on AC mains all the time, it's best to keep the battery in and at 100% all the time? That will prolong durability of the battery?

    I've read a bit on Google, but nothing answers this definitely (comments and all are contradictory).
     
    #23 Tushaar, Dec 10, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2012
  24. kevinsbane

    kevinsbane Senior member

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    It is not good to keep the battery at 100% all the time.

    That being said, if you have the Lenovo power manager program installed, you will not be keeping your battery at 100% all the time. The program automatically charges the battery up to ~100% (or whatever threshold you specify), then lets the battery run down to about 90% (or whatever threshold you specify) before beginning a charge again. By default, it charges to 100% and then lets it run down to 90% before charging. This will maximize battery life while balancing useability.

    As long as you're plugged in and have the power manager installed, leave your battery in.
     
  25. Tushaar

    Tushaar Member

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    Ok, this is going to sound really stupid, but I'm not sure Power Manager works properly.

    I am running Windows 8, which means .NET 3.5 is not installed, which Power Manager requires. However, PM installed fine, though it gave a warning about .NET. However, though it has added power profiles and I can right click on the Lenovo Battery meter and select Battery Stretch, it does not allow me to "Launch" the Power Manager window. That prevents me from accessing other settings. Battery meter constantly (Lenovo and Windows) constantly shows 100% and doesn't appear to be charging/discharging as you mentioned.

    I've tried all ways to install .NET framework 3.5 (including running the command prompt as well as an executable I download from Microsoft's site), but it just doesn't happen. And on my WiFi at University, download size is limited to 150MB, which is too small for the 231 MB .NET update through Windows Update. I managed to download the executable through Tor, but it doesn't work on Windows 8.

    This is a bit off topic, sorry.