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MacBook Pro or ThinkPad T61

I'm in need of a new laptop, and I'm struggling deciding which to purchase- the Apple MacBook Pro or the Lenovo ThinkPad T61. So, I'm looking to my readers for some help. Here are the pros and cons that I have outlined of each:

Lenovo Thinkpad T61:

Pros:

  • Impressive hardware, built like a tank.
  • 801.11 a/b/g/n built in.
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Cheaper per component than the Macbook Pro.
  • 9 cell battery option.
  • Excellent keyboard.

Cons:

  • Microsoft Tax (is it possible for a refund?).
  • 1680x1050 best resolution.
  • Not sure if Ubuntu will work out of the box or not.
  • A bit hefty and slightly large with the 9 cell battery installed.

Apple MacBook Pro:
Pros:

  • 1900x1200 best resolution (YES!).
  • Mac OS X (I don't mind this tax).
  • Light and slim.
  • Backlit keyboard.
  • LED backlit display.
  • MagSafe power adapter.
  • Builtin camera.

Cons:

  • Funky keyboard layout.
  • A bit expensive per component.
  • Trouble getting Ubuntu installed.
  • Slot loading DVD/CD-ROM.

I think ultimately, I am leaning towards the ThinkPad T61. Every review that I have read online about it has been nothing but positve positive positive. The hardware is solid, the wireless is top notch and the keyboard fabulous. I wish the screen resolution got a bit better, but 1680x1050 isn't bad. The price is a big factor. I can get a T61 with the options I want for about $1400. However, I do not want to pay the Microsoft tax, especially purchasing a notebook with Vista installed. If there is a way to get the operating system refunded, or to purchase the notebook without an operating system, that would be optimal.

I love the display of the MacBook Pro giving me the option to do 1900x1200 and I like the LED backlit display adding life to the battery. The MagSafe power adapter is the coolest thing since sliced bread, as well. And, unlike Microsoft, I don't mind purchasing a computer with Mac OS X installed. It's a solid operating system. The Achilles heel, however, is it's keyboard. The option key, and apple key, are wasted keys. And using a function key to utilize PageUp/PageDown/Home/End is just ridiculous. Also, $2000 for a base laptop is a bit high, but I'll make the purchase if it proves worth it.

Both present their problems getting Ubuntu installed, which is ultimately the end goal. I imagine that I will have to do some tweaking and hacking to get Ubuntu to work properly. I'm okay with that. However, if lack of hardware recognition in Ubuntu keeps me from taking full advantage of my hardware, such as screen resolution or wireless, then I need to know before I make the jump.

Also, I've looked into the System76 notebooks, and they just don't offer what I want. The screen resolution is too small, and the price is too high. Dell selling Ubuntu pre-installed is an option, but I've heard that Dell hardware is getting pretty cheap these days, and I'm looking into something that will last. So, it looks to me like it's Lenovo or Apple.

Any thoughts?

{ 54 } Comments

  1. thebluesgnr using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Ubuntu | June 23, 2007 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    You can get FreeDOS loaded notebooks from HP and Dell, although Dell still only offers the D820 and D620 on their website (the D830 and D630 are the newer models based on Santa Rosa). The quality on the Dells and HP's for home users is not so great, but it's a different story with their business lines; the Latitude from Dell and the business laptops from HP are solid.

    I refuse to buy from Apple, btw. Instead of buying a $50 license from an Ubuntu competitor you're paying $2000 to an Ubuntu competitor, one that is much more "evil" than Microsoft in several ways. That, and I'm not a fan of what you get for your money with Apple.

    The ThinkPad T61 should work fine with Ubuntu, and there's a large community at thinkwiki.org that should be of help.

    So, between the two you selected I'd definitely go with the ThinkPad. Dell and HP also have good offerings, and they offer FreeDOS which is also a plus. I recommend you read a few reviews at http://www.notebookreview.com and spend some time on their forums before making a purchase.

  2. Darren using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Ubuntu | June 23, 2007 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    I was making the same decision 3 weeks ago and went with the T61, here's why:

    1) The MBP has an Atheros chipset which uses the madwifi drivers. The madwifi drivers report signal strength dramatically different than other cards so tools like Network Manager report strength around 40% less than an Intel card in the same location. By default the T61 has an Atheros card as well but you can order a Intel 4965 (Supported by the iwlwifi driver) or Intel 3945 instead.

    2) I have a T60 from work and it works great with Ubuntu and the T61 is not dramatically different. A great website is http://www.thinkwiki.org for information on setting up IBM laptops with linux.

    3) The MBP has only an Express Card slot, the T61 has a PC Card and Express Card slot. This was important to me since I have a Cingular Aircard that is a PC Card.

    4) The T61's are built like a tank compared to the MBP's... Of course they look like one as well but...

    5) If you get the Intel Video you can expect almost 5 hours of battery life on the extended battery.

    6) If you have kids who can sometimes damage things the Lenovo offers accidental damage insurance. Some CC companies offer this as well if you use their card so you may want to check on this.

    7) Ubuntu will work almost out of the box with a T61. The only items I think have issues are the Nvidia video (Need to download the proprietary driver from NV) and the modem (Need to pay for a driver from linuxant).

    8) The MBP does have a nicer screen than the T61, generally the IBM/Lenovo laptops lack a bit in the brightness area but they made some efforts to improve that on the T61 and it is noticeably brighter than my T60.

    9) Regarding the MS Tax I think it is unlikely you can get this refunded, you can try but it would be best to assume you cannot.

    A few minor points:
    1) The T61 can be ordered with a camera as well.
    2) The keyboard is not backlit on the T61 but in my testing the backlight was too bright and interfered with vision. The T61 has a keyboard light that works better in my opinion.
    3) If you order it soon their system is messed up and will give you an incorrect shipping date after you order it. It will default to 60 days which is incorrect, mine shipped in 8 days.
    4) IBM charges too much for RAM, I ordered mine with a single 1 gig stick and then ordered another 1 gig stick from NewEgg for $39 which matched it (Kingston ValueRam)
    5) If you work at your desk a lot never underestimate the value in a Docking station! The MBP does not have one as an option but the T61 has three different ones (The low end one does not have a DVI out on it)
    6) NEVER underestimate the value of the keyboard, the Thinkpads have the best Keyboards in the business and while the MBP's are decent they don't compare at all to the Thinkpad's.

  3. Christer Edwards using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Ubuntu | June 23, 2007 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    It does look like you're still leaning toward the ThinkPad but I thought I'd drop in my two-cents...

    The option key is the alt key, so that is still useful. The apple keys and the bottom-enter key I have simply reset to quick launch keys.

    Left-Apple key launches Thunderbird. Right-Apple key launches gnome-terminal and bottom-enter launches Firefox. Takes 'bout five seconds to make those keys useful again :).

  4. Alex using Konqueror 3.5 on Kubuntu | June 23, 2007 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    I have a T60 at work that has Kubuntu Feisty on it. Everything works fine, although way the mute button works is a bit odd (press the button to mute, press one of the volume-change buttons to unmute). I would go with the T61 in a heartbeat, even with the Microsoft Tax, which you might be able to get refunded.

  5. Nikhil using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Ubuntu | June 23, 2007 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Have you considered HP? The DV9000 series is pretty powerful and works well with Ubuntu, and might be a little cheaper.

  6. James using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on OpenBSD | June 23, 2007 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Doesn't Lenovo offer SUSE certified notebooks? I think if you call and ask about their linux laptop they offer a variety, ie some X and T series. I don't think SUSE comes pre-installed but you should be able to afford the microsoft tax. I think calling and asking about their SUSE options might be worth the phone call. On another note, I would highly recommend ThinkPads. I went from a 12in PowerBook to a ThinkPad X40 and couldn't be happier!

  7. Weeber using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Ubuntu | June 23, 2007 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Given the fact that you must have MacOS installed to install ubuntu I suggest you the ThinkPad. Apples Inc. is a propietary company at its best.

    Lenovo support Linux in some of its laptops you can support this option. Dell offers Desktop and laptops too. System76 (I have one myself) is the best out there, they have a 'Darter Edition' that have a display of 13'', just what I was looking for.

  8. Panayiotis using Firefox 2.0.0.1 on GNU/Linux | June 23, 2007 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    I have both a T41 and a macbook pro, both running ubuntu. I hate the macbook pro: stupid keyboard, useless one-button mouse, generates too much heat (especially with the lack of very good power manager for the macbook in linux), heavier. It also hurts my hands to type on it because it's flat.

  9. James using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on OpenBSD | June 23, 2007 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Afford in my previous comment (see #6) should be avoid!

  10. Amy Rose using Konqueror 3.5 on Kubuntu | June 23, 2007 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    I'd go for the Lenovo. Apple laptops are too funky for me, especially with having to use Fn for Page Up and Page Down...

    I generally prefer PC's myself because Apple computers are just too funky for me.

  11. Amy Rose using Konqueror 3.5 on Kubuntu | June 23, 2007 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    @ Darren: Thanks. I've been wondering why my Atheros wifi card thinks the signal is weak when I have no trouble on the wireless... But it's the only card we can get working on my college campus WiFi on Linux (Windows is NOT an option since I ditched it), so I'm happy with it.

  12. maniacmusician using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Ubuntu | June 23, 2007 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    I'd go for the T61 if I were you. I'm actually buying one as well...I can't decide between the 14.1 and 15.4 screen sizes. I'm torn!

    I agree that the resolution in the MacBook is enticing, but there are too many other compatibility problems to consider it seriously, IMHO. Getting Ubuntu installed is enough of a pain, but then there's the lack of a right click, which can be really annoying. As you noticed, they also have a weird keyboard layout and are quite overpriced.

    Oh, and there's an option for a built in camera on the T61 as well. As long as you go for the Intel wireless, it should be smooth sailing with Linux. I'm in love with the Thinkpad and can't wait to order mine.

    One shortcoming that it has is battery life. Thinkpads have been very good with battery life in the past, but with the introduction of the Santa Rosa chipset, power consumption has actually gone up, thus reducing the battery life. So, you need a larger battery to really get the most out of it. My solution for this is to buy it with a 6-cell battery (doesn't stick out too much) and keep an extra 9-cell battery on hand in case I need it.

  13. Michael using Konqueror 3.5 on Kubuntu | June 23, 2007 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    I'd go for the Thinkpad. I'm very happy with my T42 - everything worked ootb (except for the fingerprint reader, but I never expected it to).

    I got the fingerprint reader to work relatively painlessly with the thinkfinger driver. As of now, it only works for the command line (no gdm/kdm and friends support as far as I know).

    There's also a proprietary driver for the reader, but it requires more effort to install. The only real benefit is that it's better integrated with gui password stuff, but imho it's not worth the effort (especially considering the gui stuff is shaky at best).

  14. alephsmith using Swiftfox on GNU/Linux | June 23, 2007 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Remember that the 1920x1080 Macbook Pro screen is NOT LED backlit... Yet.

    As of yet only the 15.4" varieties have LED backlit screens and they max out at a resolution of 1440x900.

  15. Delegate Void using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Windows Vista | June 24, 2007 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    I installed Ubuntu on my MacBook Pro without any problems.
    xmodmap allowed me to take care of the "funky keyboard layout"

  16. Jerome S. Gotangco using Opera 9.21 on GNU/Linux | June 24, 2007 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    MBP, only because there are far more interesting stuff to play with compared to a Thinkpad ;-)

  17. Simon Huerlimann using Konqueror 3.5 on Kubuntu | June 24, 2007 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    I got a T60 some months ago while a housemate of mine got a MacBook (no Pro) at about the same time. While it took me less than an hour to get a nice Ubuntu System on my T60, and another hour or so to get things like the fingerprint reader working, it was more than a day for the MacBook.

    While I'm now a happy Lenovo user, my friend is still unsatisfied with all those typical Mac problems: Bad keyboard (both layout and feeling), single button mouse, noisy and hot...

    I know I'm mostly repeating what other already said, and you seem to know by yourself. BUT: don't underestimate the annoyance these small Mac "features" will burden on you for the rest of the notebooks life...

  18. mike using Epiphany 2.18 on GNU/Linux | June 24, 2007 at 3:22 am | Permalink

    ... and you really think that fingerprint reader will really work for you? Lol, good luck. Although there might be drivers for it the rest will just suck.

  19. Paul cartwright using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on SuSE | June 24, 2007 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    I have a year-old Dell XPS laptop. It came with XP, and I made it dual-boot with SUSE at first, but right now it has Feisty 7.04. I have been on 45 trips with it around the US, since I got it in Jan 2006. I just installed the compiz eyecandy yesterday, cool!

  20. Tommy using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Ubuntu | June 24, 2007 at 5:05 am | Permalink

    For those of you who uses Atheros chipset, there is a patch to make it use standard strength % in networkmanager. For those interested you can find it at http://www.tommyandre.info/patch/ . This will make networkmanager give "correct" % information.

    Regards

  21. John using Firefox 2.0.0.2 on Windows XP | June 24, 2007 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    You'll be happy with the T61. You could also scan these forums for info on the upcoming T61p, which may have the screen res you want. Also, Emperor Linux will sell you a T61 without Windows.

  22. Matthias using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Windows XP | June 24, 2007 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    I was able to xmodmap all keys I want on the MacBook Pro.

    I don't get why "801.11 a/b/g/n built in." is a pro for the T61, AFAIK the new MacBook Pro has all these standards build in, too.

  23. Adam Petaccia using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Ubuntu 64 bits | June 24, 2007 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I didn't bother reading through all the comments, but:

    I work with T60s all day at work and they're nice solid machines. Occasionally the wireless will get flaky (strength: 75% -> 10% -> 80% without moving) but that may be our network and/or crappy Windows software. I got bored one day and stuck an Ubuntu live CD in one, and it worked PERFECTLY, even experimental desktop effects.

    And with the other note: the Microsoft tax is crap, but it may be useful to have that licence one day (VMWare image, or if you do any WINE testing, etc).

  24. john using Firefox 2.0.0.3 on Ubuntu | June 24, 2007 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    re the same choice - I ended up with Lenovo and quite happy after 6 mos. The MBP looks cooler and has great suspend support and that built in camera. No right mouse key:( But the Thinkpads are really good hardware too, perhaps even more reliable (I had to have my MBP keyboard swapped out in the first week) And I got a CD caught in the slot trap on the MBP. And being used to Linux, I found OSX harder to use plus all the proprietary stuff is a real drag. Even a license trial thing for text mate - give me a break - I just don't think the OSX fans know any better like the Ubuntu or Fedora. Sure you can load linux on a MBP. But why pay a lot more to run the same software? The Thinkpads should be close to 100% compatible with Ubuntu - most of the core developers run on them. I just wish Lenovo's website didn't stink so bad and was easier to buy from and have more 15" models to choose from. They just need a more non MBA marketing oriented management team.

  25. flavius using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Mac OS | June 24, 2007 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Get an MBP and help everyone by improving Linux support on Apple hardware :)

    If the price tag is a bit heavy for you, get an Apple Developer subscription (99 a year, cancel after the first one) and this will entitle you to a once in a live time discount (more the the price of the subscription) on the hardware you buy.

  26. Jeff Abbott using Opera 9.21 on Windows XP | June 24, 2007 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I was considering an MBP recently, too. I'm going with a Dell Latitude D630, though, for reasons similar to why people recommend the T61 above. I'm going with the Dell over the Lenovo because there are apparently some rather serious production backlogs on the T61, and I dislike the off-centered screen.

    I also noticed a misconception in your information about the MacBook that might help you sway away from the Apple even further. The 1920x1200 screen is only available in the 17" MBP, and those aren't LED back-lit yet. Myself, I wouldn't want a 17" laptop -- too big. In fact, the D630 I'm getting is 14.1" (as was the T61 I was looking at).

    And, as someone else pointed out above, Apple is a company hell-bent on control and proprietary lock-in. If you're interested in supporting Open Source software and open systems, Apple's not the way to go.

    Thanks and enjoy the new laptop,
    Jeff

  27. Hub using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Ubuntu | June 24, 2007 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Warning: ATI video card. You know what you are NOT paying for: stable and free software driver.

    That alone disqualifies.

  28. oomu using OmniWeb v607.17 on Mac OS | June 24, 2007 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    macbookpro has wifi (b/g/n) integrated too

    only the mbp 15" has a led screen

    I use a mbp 17", it's a real solid machine and has many little details lacking in others products.

    it works fine with ubuntu.

    -
    apple touch on the keyboard is like the windows one, and you can use it on linux

    the "option" is alt. nothing more.

    --
    if you're living in reality , Apple is more opensource friendly then Lenovo, Dell or Microsoft.

    os x is half opensource
    Ichat can use jabber
    Safari is using khtml/webkit
    Xcode uses gcc

    itunes uses AAC mpeg4 by default, they works perfectly in linux + faac
    and so on. there are NO proprietary lock on. heck! even Mail.app uses common maildir storage.

    -
    Textmate is a shareware. why use it ? you can have emacs or a "aqua-emacs" . works fine.

    but still, Coda, an other shareware blows anything I know on linux. it has nothing to do with apple. it's a "panic" product.

    there are many great gpl software on os X.
    Adium
    Colloquy
    Growl
    and others

    I also use gimp on os X. no fuss.

    I would advice macbookpro because they reliable (never got a problem with a macbook pro or old powerbook) , thin and light, good battery, and many niceties (backlight keyboard, instant wake-up on os x, safe-magnet and so on)

    the latest can use 4go of ram.

    but, in the end, fuck whatever people said you about STUPID bias about free or proprietary companies, the main thing for you on ubuntu is VIDEO CARD chipset

    and sadly , ATI videocard is a NO-NO !

  29. thebluesgnr using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Ubuntu | June 24, 2007 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    hub, neither the MacBook Pro nor the ThinkPad T61 use an ATI card. The T61 can have either an Intel X3100 or the nVIDIA Quadro.

  30. Aaron using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Ubuntu | June 24, 2007 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    WOW! This brought in a good response! Thanks all for your comments! I can't respond to them all, but I can bring up a few points that have been mentioned.

    First, neither the MacBook Pro nor the ThinkPad T61 use an ATI chipset for the video, and, even if they did, I'd be fine using the free software driver provided by Xorg. This will be a development machine, and not a gaming machine.

    Second, I've heard that the majority of Ubuntu devs use MacBooks, ThinkPads and many other computers. I don't know what the case may be, but that really won't help me in my decision.

    Ultimately, I've heard from many that both the MacBook and the ThinkPad are very reliable hardware-wise. This is ultimately the deciding factor. I need good hardware at a reasonable price.

    Both companies have been known to give their fair share back to the open source communities. This is another reason why I have chosen these two competitors. I would like to support a company that gives back to Free Software. I think both are worthy.

    Really, it comes down to price, and how well Ubuntu, and other Free Software operating systems, will work on the hardware. I think Lenovo is winning, as they have a long reputation for linux-friendly hardware, while Apple does not.

    But, time will tell, as I continue to weigh advantages and disadvantages with both. I'll be sure to keep my readers posted when I make the plunge. The real question is what to do with my old laptop? :)

  31. Darren using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Ubuntu | June 24, 2007 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    To Tommy (Comment #20), that patch was actually added to bug #69709 by me (hence the home directory of darren ;-) ) but I did not write it, the real credit goes to Robert Love who posted it to the NM mailing list last year. I just updated it to work with 0.6.4.

    I even rebuilt the Ubuntu packages with that patch and they are available here:
    http://www.darrenalbers.com/networkmanager/

    However it still isn't perfect and the results can best be described as "Strange". Others have even reported to me that the results are even more skewed with some of the later releases of Madwifi. I think the Gnome applet makes an adjustment for the Madwifi cards so maybe I should look there and see if I can replicate the changes they made.

  32. mjukr using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Windows Vista | June 25, 2007 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Hi there. Well, I have a MacBook Pro (2GHz), and I would suggest that you *don't* buy one for use with Ubuntu. I got this free for work, otherwise I would never have bought it.

    As you've probably read, getting Ubuntu to work properly requires a lot of tweaking. Honestly, though, it's just the simple things that aggravate. Like the single mouse button, for example. Also, and this may sound trivial, but quite frankly I cannot stand the metallic feel of the laptop under my palms. Especially when it's cold, it just feels strange. I'd much rather have a plastic chassis than a metallic one. That being said, it is a very well built piece of equipment, and the screen is gorgeous. But I would still suggest to go with the Thinkpad (or one of those new Dell laptops with Ubuntu pre-installed :) )

  33. jldugger using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Ubuntu | June 25, 2007 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    There's already a lot of comments, so I'll add that ThinkWiki has a lot of thinkpad related support topics, but I don't know of anything similar for MacBooks. Also, broadcom wifi is a pita so watch out which wifi chipset you're getting.

    But the real reason I'm posting is that I'd really like to see Ubuntu pick up better fingerprint support. There's already software out there; our sysadmin has a thinkpad with finger reader that he uses to authenticate with. My Toshiba laptop has the same hardware, but I haven't yet tried to make it happen. Finger print scanners are great for tablets, especially when you need sudo for something. It's interesting to read that the fingerprint stuff is proprietary-- I had thought the source was released to those tools.

  34. Andreas using Firefox 1.5.0.12 on Fedora | June 26, 2007 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    I really like the remote control ("appleremote") coming with the macbook pro. it workes out of the box with ubuntu and you can control rhythmbox and volume with it just by setting the keyboard shortcut settings.
    what i also like is the keyboard backlight of the mbp.
    the two finger scrolling feature of the touchpad is a very nice thing, but it does not behave as well as in mac osx, but that may be a configuration issue.
    one thing missing on the mbp is the second mouse button... i dont really miss it, but it could be missed..
    i like the mbp better, but i did not try thinkpad though.

  35. Ord using Debian IceWeasel 2.0.0.3 on Debian GNU/Linux | June 26, 2007 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    T61 for sure.

    The MBP keyboard is pretty poor I think - ease of input is half of a good computer. thinkwiki has super information about getting the most out of Linux on the T61 also.

    Also, the quality of the MB's isn't all so great these days. I've seen two cracked cases (on the front edge), yellowing around the palm-rests, poor battery life and high heat output on friends MBP's.
    Disappointment about the build-quality is generally pretty high with the MBP's it seems.

    The G3 was a different story - if only Apple still made portables like that these days!

  36. Steve Romanow using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Ubuntu | June 28, 2007 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    I have a Dell E1505 and have been very impressed. There parts availability is great. I purchased waith an ATI X1400, and regretted it. Happened to see an Nvidia Geforce 7300 GS listed for a shade over 100 bucs direct from dell for the machine. I am so impressed that this design has user replaceable cpu, video card, etc. so many times what you bought is what your stuck with in portable computers. Runs Ubuntu great (better now with Geforce _ compiz + fusion). The only gotcha Ive found is a vista related firmware update that vista installed to my Dell 350 bluetooth that kinda screwed it for ubuntu (its discussed on forums and launchpad). DOesnt have to be bulletproof as a Thinkpad with the appropriate warranty and part supply.

  37. Andy using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Windows XP | June 29, 2007 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Wow what a lot of comments. I was amazed at how close Aaron's reasons are to my own. I'm currently deciding on the MBP 15" vs T61 15".

    The MBP screen is superb, but I think the thinkpad widescreen is the next best 15" screen on the market for work (ie non gloss).

    The warranty on the Apple worries me. With the IBM I can option onsite and know that a tech will come out and fix it on the spot. Whereas with apple I understand the machine may be taken away. This would cost me a lot in productivity even with backups.

    Th eother clincher that will see me order a thinkpad tomorrow is that whilst a T61 is similar in price to the MBP (in Australia at least). I can get an R61 with exactly the same features for a lot less and only 3.5mm thicker and .2lbs heavier. Made the decision easier :>

  38. James using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on GNU/Linux | July 9, 2007 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I would have to disagree with anyone who claims that Apple gives back as much as IBM does with respect to Open Source. IBM has contributed huge amounts of code to the Linux community, everything from core kernel technologies (SMP support, JFS file system, etc) to an amazingly useful development environment (Eclipse). I know Apple uses a lot of BSD style open source code in their products, but what have they given back to the community? I still can't (officiall) play quicktime movies in Linux. I still can't use iTunes or the iPhone under Linux. So what's left? Not much, unfortunately.

  39. Aaron using Firefox 2.0.0.4 on Ubuntu | July 9, 2007 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    James- Apple has been committed to OSS projects, such as bash, apache, FreeBSD, gimp, OpenSSH, the KHTML rendering engine, Darwin and many others (http://www.apple.com/opensource/). Although, I definitely agree that IBM has contributed more to the community than Apple.

  40. color man using Firefox 1.5.0.12 on Mac OS | July 19, 2007 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    I disagree that the MBP 15" displays are superior. They suffer from extreme sensitivity to view angle - so much so that moving your head slightly from left to right or top to bottom drastically affects the relative brightness in different areas of the screen. Also, even at the most optimum, perpendicular position you can find, there has been more unevenness of brightness across the display than most pc displays I have been used to using. It is very distracting. One of the MBP displays had noticeable flicker, but only when using solid grey light as a background color. Very odd.
    I consider OsX a big plus, but the MBP hardware a minus, and I have been comparing it with the Lenovo T60P as well. The keyboard is not as good, there is no provision for easy docking when using it as a desktop. It runs hot, and it isn't as sturdy as the Lenovo.
    I really did want a laptop I could run any OS on, but I'm reluctantly feeling that I can't live with the MBP's display (the new, LED backlit on that has gotten such good reviews). I've had to send two back, and the inflexibility of Apple as a company makes it impossible for me to buy a machine without having to accept a display blind.
    Why isn't it possible to run OsX on a PC intel platform yet?

  41. undecided_again using Firefox 2.0.0.1 on Mac OS | July 24, 2007 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    did you ever end up making the plunge, as you put it? i am in the same place. although def. leaning more towards the lenovo... only now deciding on t61 v r61...

  42. Mike using Firefox 2.0.0.5 on Ubuntu | July 28, 2007 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    So what was your decision?

  43. Aaron using Firefox 2.0.0.6 on Ubuntu | August 6, 2007 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    @Mike- I have decided to purchase the ThinkPad T61, although, I have to receive my checks in the mail that I'm waiting for to make the plunge. I expect the ThinkPad to be purchased sometime this week, or next, however.

  44. James using Firefox 2.0.0.6 on Windows XP | August 8, 2007 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Nice to hear you got a ThinkPad; I made the same decision myself.

    Installing Ubuntu on it is a nightmare, though.
    Some tips I have are:
    •Use 7.10 (Gutsy) because 7.04 uses the wrong graphics drivers (assuming Intel GMA965) by default.
    • Install using the alternate CDs - 7.04 requires text mode and 7.10 will install but not launch the windowing system correctly with the normal CD.

    I'm seriously considering Solaris, but I hear that it has terrible hardware support as well...

    And yes, go with a ThinkPad (Atheros) card. It's the best out of the three.

  45. chris using Firefox 2.0.0.6 on Ubuntu 64 bits | August 11, 2007 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    If you haven't actually committed yet, I can vouch for Dell's D630. The 630 is their 14" while 830 is 15" screen. The hardware seems similar to your specs. I paid ~$1200 for mine. Installing kubuntu took a few tries, but I've got a recipe that works well -- and all functionality of laptop works. It's on ubuntuforums or I can share if interested.

  46. Mike using Firefox 2.0.0.6 on Ubuntu | August 18, 2007 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    Aaron did your experience installing Ubuntu on the ThinkPad mirror James?

    I am a long time ThinkPad user and have just started using Ubuntu on our old tired XP desktops at home, The one I am using now is a very old EMachine headed for the trash that works just fine.

    I keep reading about "issues" with notebooks and wireless networking so I am interested in how you dealt with that.

    And why would you not consider the Dell notebook with Ubuntu preinstalled?

    Sorry for the newbie questions.

  47. Fabio using Internet Explorer 7.0 on Windows XP | August 24, 2007 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    have you recived your T61?I've the same problem in the choice between MBP and T61p...how does it works?Which kind of processor and graphic accelerator have you installed?
    nVidia Quadro?
    Can you please post a benchmark?

  48. Steve using Firefox 2.0.0.6 on Windows XP | August 25, 2007 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    I'm in the same situation myself. I read a few people noting the one button trackpad being an issue. However, you can enable a two-finger tap to be registered as a right-click. I sometimes wonder why this hasn't been implemented by other manufacturers.

  49. Sean using Firefox 2.0.0.8 on Ubuntu | November 10, 2007 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    I've owned a Macbook for over a year. Steer clear. I grew up using Macs. I've professionally repaired computers for over 6 years. Apple products are pretty but I have a lot of complaints, as do others. I own a Dell Latitude D830 with 1920x1200 Display and Ubuntu Gutsy is running flawlessly on it. I'm considering buying a Thinkpad T61 after I get rid of my Macbook.

  50. Dag using Firefox 2.0.0.8 on Ubuntu | November 10, 2007 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Interesting discussion! I'm just going through the same tough decision between MBP and T61. MBP disqualified itself by the extreme heat underneath - the word laptop get a dangerous touch.

    So I want a T61, but I'm a bit concerned about the USB interrupt problem - see https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux-source-2.6.22/+bug/126369.

    I'm also using projectors sometimes and want to get acceptable image without having to restart x.

    Another concern is suspend/resume that just MUST work. What I read in http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Installing_Ubuntu_7.10_%28Gutsy_Gibbon%29_on_a_ThinkPad_T61 didn't reassure me.

  51. Olivier using Firefox 2.0.0.11 on Windows XP | December 17, 2007 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Very well. I am going with the Thinkpad T61p then. The heat under, the ATI graphic card, the funny Wireless Card efficiency, PHP development software not supported on OSX rulled out the MBP.

    The Thinkpad T61p has a res. of 1900x1200px on a 15.4inch screen, Hawesome. EVERYBODY is stunned with the quality of the keyboard any forum I go.

    Thinkpad is much easier to upgrade to Linux when Adobe Software will be ready to move there when the time comes if ever. Whatever Linux system, any, Novell, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Red Hat (Shouting at Adobe!).

    The tough built Thinkpad is a plus too, although I will all the time stay concerned about the customer service since it became Lenovo until I buy one and experience it.

    All the best to all in this jungle !!

  52. Dmitry Kalashnikov using Internet Explorer 7.0 on Windows Vista | December 22, 2007 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I have t61p with 1920x1200! Its awesome. I've tried Ubuntu on it, now I am going back to FreEBSD. There are FreeBSD drivers for it directly from NVidia.

  53. Paul using Firefox 3.0b3 on Unknown O.S. | July 2, 2008 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Solaris works fine on a T61. That's what this is posted from. :)

  54. Dmitry Kalashnikov using Safari 525.20.1 on Mac OS | September 30, 2008 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Hey dude, I bought both :)

    I am typing this on my 17-inch mac. I also use T61P (1920x1200) for work and business. They're the best laptops on the market today. I use a mac for video editing (and just about everything else). I have Windows Server 2008 on T61P -- quicker then vista (same kernel), but I think OS retails for about $4000. BTW, Ubunto 8 works great on Lenovo (except for suspend/hibernate). My site has reviews of both ... etc.

{ 2 } Trackbacks

  1. [...] one of the Titans, son of Styx and Pallas. He is the god of strength and power. This new laptop (I chose the T61), is loaded with top-of-the-line hardware, full of processing power, and plenty of RAM. Kratos [...]

  2. [...] my new laptop came via UPS. I decided on the Lenovo Thinkpad T61, which it seems to me, has turned out to be a fairly popular laptop. [...]

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