I’ve looked at, tried out, and abused plenty of Windows laptops over the years. In the end, there’s one brand and model I keep coming back to: the Lenovo ThinkPad T400 series (currently, the T420). Why? First, because you can get fantastic performance for reasonable prices. Second, because they are indestructible. Third, because of the outstanding customer service.

My first ThinkPad (a T43) wouldn’t die, even after it suffered numerous drops, smacks, and indignities. So I sold it for parts and bought a T400, which has already been tossed across the living room (accidentally, while working on a brief at 4 a.m.) and survived none the worse for wear. You can’t kill a ThinkPad.

If you manage to dent one, however, you’ll be thrilled with Lenovo’s customer service (still provide by IBM in much of the US). It’s the kind of no-questions-asked, as-fast-as-possible service every company should offer. The on-site service is usually same-day, and the depot service has ridiculous turnaround (36 hours, including shipping, the last time I used it).

Why the T400 series, specifically? A 14-inch screen is a perfect blend of portability and utility. 15 inches is just too big for toting comfortably, and 13 inches is just a bit small for looking at two documents side-by-side. 14 inches is just right.

If you are in the market for a new laptop, get a ThinkPad. You’ll be glad you did.


  1. Michael Doby says:

    Northern Michigan University requires all student to lease a laptop through the school, so my first laptop was a Thinkpad. Everyone grumbled about how ugly and clunky they were, especially compared to the Macs that the art and design majors got. I made the mistake of not buying one when I graduated, thinking I could find something “better”. Besides not being able to find something with the ruggedness and dependability that Sam talked about, the Thinkpad had features like the trackpoint and the keyboard light that I had really gotten used to but did not exist anywhere else. I am ready to go back to a thinkpad. I have been looking at some of the models on Lenovo’s outlet site, does anyone have experience buying from there?

  2. Dan says:

    On the consumer side of Lenovo’s great Windows laptops, they are just releasing the Ideapad U300s… (one of several Intel branded “Ultrabooks” designed to offer a Windows solution for those that appreciate the design and portability of the Macbook Air).

    The U300s is unique and attractive, actually thinner and lighter than the MBA, boots in 10 seconds… It’s no surprise that Lenovo just overtook Dell for the #2 computer manufacturer worldwide (HP is #1).

  3. Sam Glover Sam Glover says:

    The consensus in the LAB seems to be that ThinkPads are indeed a great choice. Told you so.

  4. Bob Ambrogi says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the Thinkpad. See my “Love letter to a laptop”: http://www.lawsitesblog.com/2010/10/a-love-letter-to-a-laptop.html

  5. Adam says:

    High praise. I just got my 16 year old daughter one..we shall see if it can with stand the onslaught of a careless teen.

  6. Amanda says:

    Any input on the Lenovo X series? From the website it looks comparable to the T series you recommended but in a more lightweight/portable design.

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