Even though I had hardly used it, my Dell Inspiron laptop broke after two years: now it will only run with the AC adapter plugged in and the battery removed. Even worse, I had to by a new AC adapter and a replacement battery to find out that it’s actually the laptop that is having issues.
Google also told me that this is rather common with Dell’s Inspiron models. As a laptop without battery is rather pointless, I decided it is time to start looking for a new one – so now I am the proud owner of a Lenovo ThinkPad SL500. ThinkPads have gained the reputation of being solid business laptops over the years, however the ThinkPad fan base has decided that the SL series is not worthy of receiving the ThinkPad brand – at least if the comments to this announcement are representative. A common theme seems to be to call the SL models ThinkBad laptops.
Now that I’ve been using my new laptop (the NRJAQGE edition with nVidia graphics and the higher LCD resolution) for a few weeks, my take on the SL500 is this: you get quite a load of laptop at a reasonable price. While I agree that it doesn’t feel as tough as for example an R61, it is still pretty solid. Some of the changes introduced with the SL series are questionable though: the glossy top is definitiley a good surface to collect hundreds of fingerprints but it fails to deliver the hip look Lenovo has probably tried to achieve.
I’m currently running Karmic on the SL500, which supports most of the hardware. What is not working at the moment is the UMTS card, the fingerprint scanner and the Lenovo buttons. There’s a patch available for the buttons and it looks like it could be included with the next kernerl update.