Lenovo Vs. Mac (Unbiased opinion please - Travelling to harsh conditions)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by makiva, Jun 16, 2009.

  1. makiva macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2009
    Right now, I’m in the market to buy a new laptop. However, I’m going to work in an underdeveloped country for a long time, and I need a new laptop to type out articles while I’m there. From what I hear, the place I’m staying is pretty dusty and muggy.

    With that in mind, I narrowed my choice down to two very respectable laptops:

    1. The Lenovo T500 (formerly the IBM Thinkpad) 15.4 inch

    2. The Macbook Pro 13 inch

    I’m primarily focused on the build quality and durability over specs (though I’m looking to spend approximately $1000 dollars, so I would imagine the 800$ Thinkpad would be more robust internally than the Mac after upgrades).

    If you have any firsthand experience with either laptops (or are really knowledgeable about the models), please give me your opinion of which laptop I should choose. Remember, I'm looking for build quality, reliability, and sturdiness over all else. Scratching is expected, and I'm not one to sob over a scuffed chrome lid of a macbook or dinged lenovo - just as long as it won't die out on me under harsh conditions.

    Additionally, if you were a PC maniac who recently converted to the apple OS, tell me your story too; is it more reliable, easier, intuitive?

    Thanks once again
  2. mthrash1978 macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2009
    Lenovo Vs. Mac (Unbiased opinion please - Travelling to harsh conditions)


    First off, I'm NOT an expert but since I own both a Thinkpad and a MBP, I thought I'd give you my 2 cents.

    My wife and I have, two Lenovo's and my MBP (last Gen). My Lenovo is a T62 (the version prior to the T500 you're considering) and my wife's is an Ideapad. They are two completely different machines. My T62 is very sturdy and the Ideapad is simply a consumer class machine. The T-series have always been great but some think that the quality is decreasing since Lenovo purchased them. I've had both, a T42 by IBM and now the Lenovo and I can't tell a difference. I think the T500 would be a very good choice for you and probably more cost effective.

    I purchased my MBP (DC 2.5 with 4GB RAM) in December on a huge discount as the new generation came out. I absolutely love it. I think it feels very sturdy compared to other laptops including the plain Macbook and I think it would also provide you with a very sound option. The only issue I have with it is that it gets HOT.

    I think the question is more along the lines of OS and what you'll use it for. If you're just typing on a word processor or checking e-mail on the web, then I think you'll be fine with either but I would prefer the Mac. I've only had it for a few months and haven't figured out everything but the stuff I have learned to use, I love. It's so much faster to boot/shutdown/recover from sleep, etc then Windows that it makes me cringe to have to reboot my Windows machine (which I have to do often). I probably haven't restarted this more then 10 times in the 6 months I've had it.

    My recommendation would be for the Mac if it fits the budget. Obviously, a solid state hard drive would be ideal for a harsh environment but they are still pretty pricy.

    Just my 2 cents...
  3. eVolcre macrumors 68000


    Jan 7, 2003
    Why not just get a netbook - more durable, throw it in bags and worst case scenario - if it gets lost, stolen or damaged - you can pick up 2 more for the same cost as the Lenovo/Mac. Battery life would be longer as well if you're going to be out of power range

  4. Andrew Henry macrumors 6502a

    Mar 4, 2008
    Id like to throw in my 2 cents, if you are going to Iraq or Kuwait, Ive been there twice now, and brought my MBP and it was just fine, you just need to take a can of compressed air and blow it out once in awhile. Im not sure about Lenovo computers, but I do know that a MBP or similiar will more than likely be just fine.
  5. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Id get the mbp. (Mine has been in iraq for awhile now).

    Lenovos are really not that great of machine. I'm baffled at why people think IBM makes good laptops but maybe its because I'm constantly repairing them.
  6. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    Haven't seen that PC in person, but I can say you will fall in love with the MBP once you see it :)

    Really, when you place this MBP and some PC laptop side-by-side, you'll get what I mean ;)

    But, whichever you decide, don't get a netbook. Cramped keyboard and tiny screen will quickly become a pain to use (speaking from experience of 2 friends from my university)
  7. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    1. You're going to what used to be referred as the third world with possibly harsh conditions and no tech support.
    2. Your stated needs are rather basic.
    3. Cost is a factor.

    As much as it pains me to say this, a new mac may not be the best choice for you. I second going with a netbook for cost reasons, you can probably pick one off of CL for a bigger savings. Or, I'd look at CL for a used panasonic toughbook. Either should serve your purposes.
  8. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    ...I'd get the Asus eeePC1000HE @~$385 from newegg.com and a couple spare batteries for your basic needs going to the harsh conditions...
  9. shoppy macrumors 6502a

    Mar 4, 2007
    My macbook pro has been to Iraq with me and my UMB was out in Kenya with for 12 weeks, my new 13" MBP will be out in Afghan with me. All I would say is take compressed can of air with you. To blow the machine out once every 2-3 weeks.
  10. DFTU101 macrumors member

    May 16, 2008
    Lenovo vs Macbook

    I also have both a Macbook, MBP, and a Thinkpad. The 13 inch MB (especially the new 13 in MBP) has the glossy screen which is easier to see. I have found the screen on the Thinkpad to be much dimmer and matte appearance (you get use to it but will be jealous when looking at the Macbook screen). The Thinkpad feels better in overall sturdiness and has a great keyboard feel. Lenovo Thinkpads are built for business class people who travel alot and toss their laptops around. There's built in hard drive protection (I'd go for an SSD if you can afford it) and fingerprint security with the Thinkpad. Service with the Thinkpad is excellent but I have found the service with Mac good also. If I were a consumer with multimedia needs-Mac. If I were a business person with basic needs as word processing, spreadsheet, internet access and wanted one of the most sturdy and rugged laptops-Thinkpad. If you can get an older X300-great portable laptop-very lightweight-13 inch screen (which is what I have) on Ebay or something, that's the best laptop for frequent travel (get it with XP and not Vista)
  11. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    ...or look for the x200 with winXP and the 2.4 Ghz processor, should be sub $1K by now brand new...
  12. MyMcMac macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2008
    Lenovo never produced a T62
    You need world wide warranty. Compare both world wide warranty offers from lenovo and apple and decide on these.
  13. hajime macrumors 601

    Jul 23, 2007
    You should first find out which company has local support/service center in the country you are going to stay. I have owned several Thinkpads and Apple laptops for many years. As I have only used Thinkpads made by IBM, my comment is based on experience of laptops built by IBM and Apple only. Over 10 years ago, both companies made excellent products. However, I have seen a dynastic drop in quality of Apple laptops in recent years. For instance, I bought the MBP two years ago. I have had the entire laptop and then the motherboard, LCD screen and battery replaced. If the country is developing, I suppose you can find parts for Windows based systems more easily. You should also consider laptops made by HP.
  14. mmulin macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2006
    Lenovos are not made by IBM. Lenovo bought the ThinkPad trademark, production, and the know-how. Since then, with each generation less influenced by the IBM legacy, the brand IMHO is becoming tarnished.
  15. mmulin macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2006
    I am often in the same situation, traveling during my work to 3rd world jungles and desserts for lengthy months. I recommend neither. The ThinkPad is not the IBM ThinkPad you would know, lets say 3, 4 years ago before Lenovo took over the brand. The MBP is a nice machine but dust and hard hitting is certainly not its favourite environment. Although, the unibody construction and the keyboard architecture do give some benefits. It all depends on the damage you are likely to throw at your computer of choice.

    Personally, I use a PB2400c running Linux. It is old, indestructible but perfect for *niX administration, some writing, internet, surfing, etc. Nobody eyes at it (see following..).

    Also, in some places, the newer and shinier your equipment is, the more likely it will disappear while you distracted squashing a mosquito, gone with some corrupt airport official, or with the roadblock specially in your honour. Trust me!

    My point, either get something old and reliable, something cheap (aka netbook) you don't mind returning without or in whatever state, or look into more suitable offers for such settings. Panasonic's Toughbooks (http://www.panasonic.com/business/toughbook/toughbook-products.asp?0) are a good choice for the elements. Some colleagues use those. What also helps is full body amour for your laptop.

    Tip: Always take care of your equipment however rugged it is and get a USB thumb drive. At least you can return with all the data ;)
  16. Truffy macrumors 6502a


    May 9, 2005
    somewhere outside your window...
    I've used both a Lenovo laptop and an Apple PowerBook. The one thing I'll say in favour of the Lenovo: it's less likely to get stolen (at least by me). :p
  17. Pundle macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    I can't really say I'm unbiased - after all, I am posting on a Mac forum - but I work with a lot of Lenovos so I thought I'd give you my 2 cents.

    I own a 2007 13" MacBook and have used 15" Lenovo ThinkPads at work. As others have said, it really depends on what you want it for. I will say that like a lot of others I have experienced some cracks in the white plastic of the MacBook. But you should know that although the Lenovos look tougher because they're uglier, it isn't necessarily true: I've seen my fair share of cracked and damaged Lenovos. When it comes down to it, they're pretty similar at surviving harsh conditions if you don't care how they end up looking. You may want some form of external protection for the laptop; there are a few options out there for MacBooks but I don't know of any for Lenovos: since they change their shape every revision and don't have as big a market share as Apple, fewer third-party vendors will make a special fitted sleeve.

    But the big issue may be support. I know Apple has worldwide support; I purchased mine in the US but have had no trouble getting service in Australia. I'm not sure if it is possible to get a worldwide warranty on Lenovos though, as a colleague of mine has one he also bought in the US but the warranty didn't cover a repair he needed in Australia. I'm not sure whether he was just being cheap and didn't buy the worldwide warranty, but I thought it unusual. So that is certainly something to look in to.

    I also have some experience with NetBooks, and while they are OK at web surfing they are absolutely rubbish for word processing unless you lug around a keyboard as well.

    When it comes down to it though, it depends what you plan to use it for. If you expect it to get beaten up, maybe go with the Lenovo since they already look ugly :)
  18. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604

    Oct 13, 2008
    This is the communist government of CHINA! and I don't appreciate it being talked about here! Their goal is to destroy this counties industrial base! They got apple making it's products there and thats bad enough! I would never make a mockery out of U.S. industry by buying a lenovo product.
  19. nefan65 macrumors 65816


    Apr 15, 2009
    I think it boils down to support only. Personally, I'd think a UMB MB is more rugged than a plastic case Lenovo. Remember, they're not IBM anymore.

    Oh, and the Lenovo parts are made in CHINA. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise...
  20. sishaw macrumors 65816


    Jan 12, 2005
    .02 from a netbook (MSI Wind) owner. I love my netbook for its light weight and portability (you can actually forget it's in your pack), but it in no way is the right computer for a harsh environment. The casing is light plastic and the battery pops out by itself sometimes. The build quality is not tight. It's very good to carry around town and use in a normal environment like a cafe or library, and for normal airline travel it's great, but I just don't think it would stand up to harsh treatment over time.

    Maybe some of the other netbooks are tougher.

    Don't get me wrong, I love the MSI Wind, but I'd sooner take my 4-year old iBook if I were going to a difficult environment.
  21. Signal-11 macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    2nd Star to the Right
    Where are you going (what country) and what will be the nature of your job?

    The answer to what is appropriate will depend on where you go.

    For example, while the suggestion of many of the posters on this thread about worldwide warranty might be helpful, NO worldwide warranty will help you if you are really going to be working in the bush. If you're somewhere in the Sudan or Niger and your power supply blows, that's it. Game's over and you're not going to have a functional laptop until a colleague brings you a replacement part.

    That said, I've taken my 15" PB and 15" MBP all over the world to very isolated and extremely harsh environments for weeks, months and up to a year at a time. If you take care of your equipment and take proper precautions, you should be okay.

    Your number one and number two priorities should be electricity issues and storage/transportation.

    For example, let's say you are in some town with mains power a couple hours a day, generator power in your compound with a nice battery backup. That's a LOT of potential for spikes, especially when switching between sources. Unplug your stuff if you see or know the power source is changing. Get yourself a good MPU/surge protector before you go.

    Transportation/storage. Get yourself a nice dustproof/waterproof case. (I wrote a review of some here on MR.) Store in it when not in use.

    Now, THAT said, if you are not a gotta-have-my-mac kind of person, you're better off with the Thinkpads. Generally more durable and replacement or "good enough" substitutes are much easier to find if something goes wrong.
  22. Pundle macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    Sorry for the slight thread Necromancy, but I just realised the OP is talking about the 13" MacBook Pro.

    In this case, I would definitely recommend the MacBook Pro. The unibody construction makes it much more durable than the black plastic of the Lenovos. Additionally, you can protect against dusty and muggy environments with port protectors for the MacBook Pro, available from a variety of vendors. The frequent changes to the Lenovo port layout and relative popularity mean there are fewer of these protection options available to Lenovos.

    Combine this superior durability with the better warranty options I mentioned before and I believe the choice is easy.
  23. Cyrax89 macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2009
    Get neither.

    Look into a tough book. Those things are army grade and survive anything. You can run it over with a truck and it be fine. Look into it.
  24. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Lenovo T500. My brother has a T400, and it's great. Even if the Lenovo is only a bit tougher, it's still that much tougher. At least dust won't just go through the keyboard. Surely the spill-resistant lining will also prevent dust from going in.

    Perhaps it's all just marketing, but read this anyway.

    Have you seen the new T400s?? Awesome. :)
  25. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW

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