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I'm looking for a new laptop and don't know what to choose - Lenovo Thinkpad T61(or similar series) or Macbook.

Area of usage: coding, surfing, no virtualization. That's it.

I don't need super powerful machine because mostly I'm gonna use it as a thin layer with SSH to main remote development machine.

What is important for me: good keyboard, decent touchpad, price(in this order).

What is NOT important for me: how it looks like.

What is your recommendation?

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closed as off topic by Sathya, ricbax, BinaryMisfit Nov 17 '10 at 7:01

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This question is very subjective. There can be no right or wrong answer. – Matt H Nov 17 '10 at 1:07

I have a Lenovo ThinkPad and I use it for coding, and I love it. The keyboard is great, much better than the MacBook's for coding IMO. It also has a TrackPoint right on the keyboard which you can use without having to move your hands away from it, if you're into that:


(I'm not a huge fan but I know a lot of people who are.)

MacBooks have really nice touchpads. They are also multi-touch and thus allow you to use multi-touch gestures, which I find really useful. Their battery life also tends to be longer than Lenovo laptops', although I wouldn't say the latter have a short battery life, either.

Really though, we can't tell you which keyboard/touchpad combination will feel better to you, so I recommend briefly trying both at a store and seeing which one you like more.

That said, I'd say the biggest difference between the two laptops is price. Is it worth paying for a MacBook if you are only going to be using it as a thin SSH client? Half of what you'd be paying for is looks, which you said don't matter to you, so I'd personally pick the Lenovo unless you think the multi-touch gestures are worth it.

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You can always use an external keyboard. – Koray Tugay Mar 8 '15 at 8:32

See my answer here: Help me choose a desktop/laptop for a Programming major

This is very similar to the debate brought up in that other question. Do you want to code mac specific software or iphone apps? Do you want/need Mac OS X? Everything else is subjective to every user and everyone prefers different things about keyboards/features. Know anyone who has either machine? Know any store that carries those machines so you can go see and feel in person? Either one will serve your purpose just fine, just pick one you like better and will serve your needs the best. No one can make that decision better than you.

Apple laptops now use the all-in-one trackpad/button combo with different 1/2/3/4 figure gestures that can be assigned to various tasks. Some people love it and others do not. It is very flexible though and can become very useful.

More things to compare:

  • Weight of various laptops. If you move around a lot, this can become useful to consider. If you don't need a powerful machine, you can find great small and light machines if that interests you.
  • The keyboard layouts. Some reduce key sizes to conserve space or will move things around. It might be a concern if you have big fingers.
  • With the apple laptop, you can use OS X and can install Windows easily. The reverse is not supported.

This is turning into a generic "how to choose a laptop" question and I am debating if this just needs to be closed.

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no. I don't have plans to switch to iphone/mac development so far.. But anyway thanks for your answer. I got your point! – user51940 Nov 17 '10 at 0:51
@user51940 Then it sounds like the only choice you need to make is between the different keyboards and trackpads. – Troggy Nov 17 '10 at 0:56
IMO, the Thinkpad has a far, far better keyboard than the latest Macbooks. Furthermore, you can use gestures with any capacitive touchpad - if you have appropriate software. I would go for the Thinkpad, especially since you'd likely get more power for the price. However, I haven't used one since IBM made them, so I don't feel qualified to post an answer. – user55325 Nov 17 '10 at 2:16

All the requirements you state are subjective matters, so you will just have to try using them yourself.

Personally, I find the isolated keyboards on Macs and Macbooks to be ergonomically appalling, but many people seem to like them. On the other hand, I find the keyboards on ThinkPads such a pleasure to use that I often prefer to use it than my Cherry MX-contact desktop keyboard when I am doing a lot of typing.

I prefer to use the TrackPoint than the TrackPad and so do many ThinkPad users (especially the ones that have used ThinkPads before TrackPads were available on them). It is much more quick and accurate and does not take much time to get used to.

The ThinkPad T410 would be the current equivalent to the T61. The T410s is thinner and lighter.

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If you want to use it for coding, Macs are pretty good *nix out the box and have a pretty GUI for when you're not slaving away. In my experience, they're easier to make play nice with other *nix boxes with things like FUSE, sshfs, built in Terminal and so on than Windows (assuming you're not putting Linux on the Thinkpad).

As others have said, though, most of the attributes you've mentioned are pretty subjective - you'll need to go and try them out for yourself. If there's an Apple Store near you, that's the go to place for trying the MacBook. I'm afraid I don't have any suggestions for trying the Thinkpad other than to make sure you do.

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