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My new (well, refurb) notebook

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I'm now the happy owner of a refurbished Lenovo ThinkPad T400 7417. Set me back all of $215.88, with free shipping.

This came about because, after I got our crummy emachines all upgraded with more RAM and a graphics card, and we got DSL, it seemed to be constantly in use. It's fast, it plays HD video, and somebody's doing something on it all the time.

I got to thinking, "I could get a basic wireless router and a cheap netbook, wouldn't cost that much. Then, when someone's watching DVDs or playing Bookworm, I could use that to check my e-mail and stuff". Shopping around, I found that the cheapest deal I could get was a Coby netbook for just under $200.00 with shipping.

Then I got a Tiger Direct e-mail, said name-brand laptops from $299.00. I wondered what kind of trash that was, but it was actually an off-lease Lenovo ThinkPad (very similar to the one I wound up getting). That one had XP Pro on it, and came with a 1-year guarantee. I was very tempted - but then I checked the feedback for that refurbisher, and found out their service sucks, and the laptops often arrived in lousy condition. Not somebody I wanted to do business with.

Now I wanted one, though - those are really nice laptops, I would never have thought you could get them for that little refurbished. So I shopped around, found there seems to be a lot of them available. I guess they're very popular for business use, and they get replaced after 2 or 3 years - so plenty of used ones to choose from. Forget the Coby (pretty sure they're junk), I was gonna get a good laptop!

The deal I went for was on Amazon. There's no guarantee beyond the regular Amazon 30-day return policy, but the refurbisher has great feedback, nobody who got a laptop from them had any complaints. They also were recommended by Angies's List, got an A rating from the Better Business Bureau...didn't appear to be much of a risk, especially since Lenovo ThinkPads have a reputation of lasting practically forever.

This one has Win 7 Home Premium (I never new there was a special refurb edition, but that's what it has), freshly installed, with a restore disc. Power adapter also included. The listing said it had an 80 GB HDD, but the one I got has a 160 GB. They described it as being ready to go right out of the box, and it was. Battery's pretty weak, but it's 3 years old, so no surprise there. Maybe they'll send a new one if I ask...

I've got my cheap Rosewill router hooked up, and everything's working great. Pretty good deal. :thumbsup:

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Closer inspection revealed that it's actually a T400 6475 with the RAM upgraded to 2 GB. Still a good deal, makes no difference to me. <edit> After further digging, found that it's absolutely stock. It's the MC2 variant, it's just the way it was equipped <end edit>

The battery turned out to not be that weak, after all - after a few charge-discharge cycles it's taking a charge much better, and it has more than 86% of its original capacity. Only a 4 cell, but still good for a few hours of use in battery-saver mode.

Strangely, though, it's putting out close to 16 volts instead of 14.4, according to both HWInfo 32 and Nirsoft's BatteryinfoViewer. Is that a problem?

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Sounds like you made a good choice. The weakest part of a second-hand or refurbished laptop will always be the battery and it's a lottery as to whether you get one (like yours) with most of its life left or you get one that's only just usable.

I have a second-hand ThinkPad X series, which is the lightweight version of the T series.

This one has Win 7 Home Premium (I never new there was a special refurb edition, but that's what it has), freshly installed, with a restore disc.

It's called the MAR program or, to give it the full title the Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher program for larger companies and for smaller outfits it's called Microsoft Registered Refurbisher. For a few years it's been around for re-installing a fully licensed copy of Windows XP and now, as you have discovered, for Windows 7, too. The refurbisher gets an OEM installation kit and a supply of CoA stickers, just like a manufacturer would.

Yeah, the ThinkPad series is popular in business and among system administrators and technicians and is said to be of high quality.

Having worked on repairing one or two laptops I can confirm that the Lenovo (formerly IBM) Thinkpads are popular because (1) they really are high quality (I'm ignoring the Value line) and (2) you can actually take them apart and repair them without breaking anything, because they are held together with proper screws and not just glued-together plastic.


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Yes, it's nice - metal case, metal hinges, all held together with screws. Been thinking I might upgrade the RAM, piece of cake to do - just take off the palm rest, held on by 4 screws. DDR 3 is so cheap...I could get a Crucial 4GB DIMM for $18.99 (no point in more than that unless I want to switch to a 64-bit OS. It can hold up to 8GB). For only $3.00 more, I could get 2x2GB and run in dual-channel mode, probably what I'll do at that price.

There was one bit of weirdness - when I tried to boot into safe mode to run malware scans (because I'm paranoid), I got a "stuck key" error message. Then a message popped up that this computer had some anti-theft tracking program installed (I forget the name), and a phone number to call for details. I can't get it to appear again, it now boots into safe mode normally.

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