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I am looking for a new laptop, preferably a Lenovo, and pondering what the difference was between the Lenovo Ideapad lineup and it's ThinkPad lineup.

So far what I have seen was:
In Ideapads, in general seem to have better hardware.
In Thinkpads, in general seem more durable and not as elegant as Ideapads.

I know there's probably more detail differences that I'm not seeing like hardware expandability, additional features, look and feel (i.e. mouse track pad and keyboard), and screen types.

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Ideapad is geared toward retail sales, ThinkPad is Lenovo's premier business line of laptop. – Moab Jul 27 '10 at 15:01
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Actually, you already seem to have spelled out some of the biggest differences. The IdeaPad line is Lenovo's entry into the consumer market. This usually means less durable plastics, different warranties, and possibly not offering the same packed-in software.

The ThinkPads are a continuation of the previous IBM orientation towards businesses. The internal components and plastics may be of a higher quality, the warranties might have different conditions, and there are usually better purchasing options for businesses.

Many computer manufacturers follow suit, evident in the differences between the Dell Inspiron, Latitudes and Vostro products, and HP's business class and consumer class products. It's just that for a while Lenovo was unique in offering ONLY business class, with no consumer-grade offers. Their IdeaPad line changed that.

To sum up, the differences are just general quality, purchasing options, and possibly warranty differences.

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To oversimplify, IdeaPads are a budget consumer model - the hardware is cheaper, the build quality is less, and the functionality is not as fancy.

The actual hardware specs, expandability, etc, of these machines can vary wildly depending on the specific model, but in general expect a ThinkPad to be much more expandable than an IdeaPad.

So, basically, IdeaPads are for casual use - ThinkPads are for heavy and/or business use. I'm not sure where you got the impression that IdeaPads have better hardware or are more elegant because that's simply not true - frankly, ThinkPads are the best laptops money can buy and IdeaPads are trash compared to them. Unless you REALLY want a glossy finish on your machine, I guess...

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