A new computer to add to my collection

I have a new computer to add to my collection: a new Lenovo ThinkPad T430!

Lenovo ThinkPad T430 (Image from cnet.com)

Lenovo ThinkPad T430 (Image from cnet.com)

Okay, so mine doesn’t have a webcam or fingerprint reader, but it’s still a Lenovo ThinkPad T430.

I got it for a little less than $745, which is about $300 to $600 less than the average retail price. This isn’t a refurb, either! Lenovo had a 15%-off sale, plus I have a passcode to get into the “Friends” section of the site, which offers a further discount.

I’ve decided to name it “Penny“.

Some quick specs:

  • Intel Core i5-3230M Processor (3.20GHz, 3MB Cache, 1600MHz) with Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • Windows 7 Home Premium Professional, 64-bit
  • 14.0″ HD (1366 x 768) LED Backlit AntiGlare Display, Mobile Broadband Ready
  • 4GB memory (possible upgrade in the future)
  • 500GB Hard disk drive, 7200rpm
  • DVD Recordable drive
  • 6-cell Li-ion battery

Why a ThinkPad? Simply because everything else is annoying. As you may have noticed, I’m very particular about my user experience.



TrackPoint on a Lenovo ThinkPad

The lack of a TrackPoint is one of the reasons why I find other non-Apple laptops annoying. Although I’m more of a keyboard user, the pointing device is important. I don’t like using trackpads, except on Macs, because it seems only Apple has developed a proper trackpad (I’d even prefer to use a trackpad on an iMac). Using a mouse seems counter to the portability of a laptop. Tilting the TrackPoint moves the cursor in the direction of the tilt, with a speed dependent on the pressure applied.

The TrackPoint is placed in the middle of the keyboard, in the space between the G, H and B keys on a QWERTY keyboard. Mouse buttons for use with the TrackPoint are placed below the spacebar. This allows the user to move the cursor without leaving the home row on the keyboard. The less movement of the hands, the more productive one can be. Being a Vim user, I’ve gotten quite used to it.

TrackPoint and buttons

Position of the TrackPoint and the buttons on the T430

Although I’ll mainly use the TrackPoint, I won’t disable the trackpad. I’d prefer it if the trackpad was depressed instead of level with the surface, but this multi-touch trackpad does have some useful features I can take advantage of, including the silent tap-to-click feature (useful in quiet situations) and a slow-pointer mode.

The Keyboard

T430 Keyboard

The new keyboard on a 2012 Lenovo ThinkPad T430

The Lenovo ThinkPad T430 comes with a new island-style keyboard. I don’t know what it is about island-style keyboards that make them so popular nowadays, but as much as I’d prefer something like my Unicomp keyboard, I won’t bother replacing the keyboard. I agree with the conclusions on the T420 and T430 keyboard comparison on the LaptopMag blog post (that the new keyboard is better than the previous one except for the layout), except that I do miss the keys they eliminated. Apparently, some of their functions are still present with the following keystrokes:

  • Break = Fn+B
  • SysRq = Fn+S
  • ScrLk = Fn+K
  • Pause = Fn+P

My keyboard also comes with a backlight (two brightness settings), quite new for the ThinkPad. It’s nice, but any die-hard ThinkPad fan will use the ThinkLight, which is thankfully still included.

Keyboard illumination on a Lenovo ThinkPad X1

Keyboard illumination on a Lenovo ThinkPad X1

Included software

No, really, I don’t need it. Some of the useless software that came with the ThinkPad: Norton Antivirus trial, Lenovo SimpleTap, SugarSync, Skype, MS Office 2010 trial, MS Silverlight, and Google Chrome. I’m almost tempted to do a clean install of Windows to get rid of the stuff I don’t need.

Operating system

Nowadays, almost all new non-Apple computers will have Windows 8 preloaded. Not this one! Ordering from the Lenovo website, the default choice is Windows 7 Home Premium; Windows 8 is a free “upgrade”, and choosing the “Professional” editions of either OS is an additional charge. I don’t mind that it’s Home Premium because I can get Professional for free very soon (I already did). Having Windows 7 means I don’t have to deal with the numerous annoyances present in Windows 8, and dealing with Win7 annoyances is simplified because I’ve already dealt with them on DustPuppy.

Windows 7

Thankfully, my ThinkPad came with Windows 7, not Windows 8!

I plan to dual-boot it with Arch Linux when I get a chance. I want Arch because it will give me much control over my system. I start of with a minimal base and install what I want, and update when I want. openSUSE (the Linux distro on TODD) comes with programs I don’t need and wants you to upgrade the whole OS to get major updates for programs. Arch will also help me learn a little more about Linux without building it completely from scratch.

Arch Linux logo and wordmark

I plan to dual-boot Arch Linux

Following my “tradition” of naming my computers per OS after a comic strip/cartoon character, I’ve decided to name my Windows installation Penny, after Penny Gadget in Inspector Gadget. Anyone who has watched the show would know that Penny is really good with technology and almost always ends up solving Inspector Gadget’s cases for him without him knowing.



My future Arch Linux installation will be named after Jason, after Jason Fox of Bill Amend’s FoxTrot. Jason and his friend, Marcus, once set up a Linux server in 30 seconds, but it would have been quicker if Marcus hadn’t tangled the cables.

Jason Fox



Some people think that the exterior of the ThinkPad is plain, blocky, and old. Yes, the exterior of the ThinkPad hasn’t changed much since its introduction by IBM in 1992, but it is still elegant nonetheless. Being a Windows Classic user (and not for performance reasons), I’d prefer it no other way. Keep in mind that the ThinkPad was black in a time when computers were beige.

A closed ThinkPad

A closed ThinkPad

The design of the ThinkPad was inspired by the Japanese Shokako bento box. As the post on the Lenovo design blog says, “When closed, the Shokado lunch box is a simple lacquered black box, but opening it reveals an orderly and beautiful arrangement of delectable foods (like the functions of a ThinkPad).”.

ThinkPad-themed bento box

This bento box is inspired by the ThinkPad, but the ThinkPad design was inspired by the bento box.


The ThinkPad is very durable. It comes with a lid latch — which can be opened with one hand — to keep the lid from accidentally opening, plus ridged edges to protect the screen and metal hinges that last long. Just to prove how durable the ThinkPad is, a Lenovo team brought a T400s along storm-chasing…

The ThinkPad T400s Goes Tornado Chasing by lenovovideolibrary [YouTube]

… and ran one over with a 13-ton truck …

ThinkPad T400s Gets Run Over by 13-ton Truck by lenovovideolibrary [YouTube]

Don’t try this at home, it will void your warranty.

The ThinkPad has also been used in space and is the only notebook certified for long-term use on the International Space Station (contrary to popular belief, the GRiD Compass was the first laptop in space, not the ThinkPad, unless you don’t consider the GRiD a laptop).


Can your laptop do this?

Fully extended screen on a ThinkPad T430

The ThinkPad T430 with the screen fully extended

Yes, that’s right: the screen extends to the full 180°!

The Lenovo ThinkPad is almost perfect; I love it! I am going to have a lot of fun with my new Lenovo ThinkPad T430!

  1. shelbiwan said:

    It’s beautiful :’)

    • It is, isn’t it? The funny thing is, none of those images are of my laptop, either!
      The first thing I did was leave it on AC power for 24 hours before my first boot, then drain the battery completely. It’s supposed to be good for the battery, and it helps the cycle monitor calibrate itself.

      Just for kicks, I think I’ll add a DOS/Win95 installation, too.
      That’s 500MB that I’ll never use… oh well, I placed the partition where I can easily reabsorb the space if I need to.

  2. melboro said:

    install gentoo

    • I considered it, but I find that Gentoo places too much emphasis on building from source (although looking around, I’ve noticed a few binary packages around). I’ve been meaning to install and play around with Gentoo in a virtual machine, but I haven’t had the chance to do so yet.
      I’m very happy with Arch, though, and I think it suits me well.
      Are you a Gentoo user?

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