[ltp] newer ThinkPads are crap (was: Re: Too many choices!)

D. Hugh Redelmeier hugh at mimosa.com
Sat May 23 17:53:48 CEST 2020

| From: John Jason Jordan <johnxj at gmx.com>

| On Fri, 22 May 2020 21:09:01 -0400 (EDT)
| "D. Hugh Redelmeier" <hugh at mimosa.com> dijo:
| >| To: linux-thinkpad at linux-thinkpad.org

Unfortunately, when trimming what I was quoting, I unintentionally
removed the attribution.  The original message was indeed from John
Jason Jordan.

| I always buy new, and keep a computer 5-6 years.

This may be increasingly wise now that hardware improvements have
slowed down.  But maybe they will speed up again now that AMD is back
in the game.

All my ThinkPad purchases have been new.  But they've been
opportunistic: when Lenovo or a retailer has had a crazy sale.  It's
been some time: my latest is a T530.

| I paid US$3800 for my
| P73, but I included a lot of things that others might not think
| important. You can get a P73 for as little as 1700. In the past I've
| paid nearly US$5000 for a computer.

I haven't previously shopped for a P73.  Your prices seem more
reasonable than I currently see.  US prices are often lower than
Canadian ones (converted to US dollars).

|  But if you buy a 17" computer chances are that you don't travel
| with it a lot. Frankly, mine leaves the house only about once a month.

That gets to the important issue: how will you use a computer?
Everyone is different but we can each learn from others experience.
I'm learning from yours.

I have a desktop computer (including a 39" UltraHD TV set that I use
as its monitor).  That makes a 17" notebook less useful.  So I favour
10" - 13" inexpensive thin and light notebooks with serious screen
resolution.  Finally, FullHD is getting common on notebooks, even in
inexpensive ones.

My XPS 15 is an experiment.  What I've learned so far (for me!):

- 15" UltraHD isn't much more useful than 15" FullHD.  My eyes just
  aren't good enough (any longer?).

- Nvidia GPUs are not useful but are
  + expensive
  + annoying to configure in Linux (especially in purist distros like
    Fedora; Ubuntu makes it easier)
  + reduce battery life
  + demand fans

- 15" is probably larger than the optimum for how I use notebooks.

Because this notebook was an experiment, I wasn't willing to pay the
price of new.  It is a great notebook.  It isn't a ThinkPad; it has no

In unrelated experiments I've learned:

- 32" and 27" monitors UltraHD are not big enough for me.  39" is

- the key to using 39" UltraHD is to have fixed-focus glasses.  My
  normal glasses have "progressive" lenses.  With my normal glasses I
  have to move my head too much.  I first learned this with 1920x1200
  24" monitors.

- perhaps glasses with a different fixed focus would make a 15"
  UltraHD display more useful.

| I use the proprietary driver; nouveau is not even installed. By
| 'proprietary' I mean the driver in the Ubuntu repos, not the one you
| can download from Nvidia.

Ubuntu seems to make it mostly painless to use the proprietary driver.
On the XPS 15, I used Ubuntu (not a distro I like) until Fedora 32
came out.  Fedora 32's nouveau doesn't lock up on my XPS 15.

Fedora 31's nouveau did lock up during booting.  The only way to
prevent that was a kernel parameter.  If I remember correctly, it was

| I might add that initially I just used the
| Intel graphics and only later added the Nvidia driver.

It has taken Intel a long time to support UltraHD on HDMI (i.e. HDMI
2.0).  My XPS 15 doesn't support HDMI 2.0!  But Intel has supported
UltraHD over DisplayPort much longer.

DisplayPort is probably a better standard but HDMI 2.0 gear is
inexpensive and widely available.  For example, I have inexpensive HDMI
2.0 KVMs and TV sets.

Select TV sets are perfectly fine as monitors but no TV set comes with
DisplayPort.  Comparable monitors are perhaps twice as expensive.

DP -> HDMI 2.0 converters are a very mixed bag.

| You mentioned running at 200%, 150% and 100%. Are you sure that when
| you run at, e.g., 100%, you are really running at 1920x1080? I was of
| the opinion that it was  always still at 3840x2160, but that objects
| (including fonts) were scaled to different sizes. When I watch a UHD
| video in VLC it says that the resolution is 3840x2160. But I've made so
| many tweaks to the desktop that heaven only knows what I'm actually
| running.

Excellent point.  With some (perhaps most) applications under Gnome,
when running UltraHD with 200% scaling, you get finer rendering than
with FullHD and 100% scaling.  Pixels are not just replicated.

(I just checked this on Gnome Terminal, using a magnifying glass.)

In the past, I've always chosen information density over beauty.
Perhaps I now have all the information density that I can use and I
can spend the rest of the resolution on beauty.

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