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I got a new ThinkPad with the built-in fingerprint reader. At first I thought it was silly, but then I thought, hey, this could save me typing my password every time I boot up.

Is anyone using it? Does it work as advertised or does it sometimes fail to recognize your finger? And, for extra credit... will it work with Windows 7 (64 bit)?

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closed as not constructive by random Nov 9 '11 at 23:38

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Wouldn't it also be interesting to know whether it's secure? Will it correctly fail to recognize other people's fingers? – innaM Sep 16 '09 at 6:33
It is not really secure as any other fingerprint reader. They will happily accept a printed on paper version of your fingerprint. – vava Sep 16 '09 at 10:36
By the way, I would suggest to roll in more than one finger. First of all it is sometimes convenient use other hand to authenticate, and then it saves you from trouble when you cut your finger and forgot a password. – vava Sep 16 '09 at 10:39

15 Answers 15

up vote 7 down vote accepted

A friend of mine is using Windows 7 on a ThinkPad T60 with the fingerprint reader. Sometimes he needs to swipe his finger twice (probably due to going too fast, or dirt on the lens), but thats about it. Usually works perfectly fine. Under Biometric Devices in Control Panel you can configure it.

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Yes, I use it on my T61p and I have Windows 7 (64 bit). Works like a charm. I don't have to type my password any more, so it saves me a lot of time.

The fingerprint reader has 2 levels: Convenient and Secure. As the names imply, the Secure level is more strict about errors while scanning than the Convenient level. I use the Convenient level. The only time it doesn't recognize your fingerprint is when your finger is wet, or you do no scan your finger properly.

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I second the problems with wet fingers. I always have problems if I try to use it directly after washing my hands. To be clear: I dry my hands after washing, so they are not actually wet but the little bit of soaking that takes place while washing is enough to cause problems with the reader. But the problem only lasts about a minute. After that it actually works like a charm. – Turismo Sep 16 '09 at 6:29

I'm on a T400 at work, and have used the fingerprint reader from day one with no problems. One time in fifty it says "Too fast", but by then I've saved MINUTES of typing, and don't mind doing a second swipe. As for the reader getting dirty over time - think about it - it's the only part of the PC that gets dusted off ten times a day. With clean hands it should never be an issue.

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I've used the fingerprint reader on both my T40 and T61p laptops. I waited over a year before even trying it, but once I started, i was instantly addicted. I've used on windows XP, and about 3 years ago, made the shift to Linux as my host OS (using windows only in VirtualBox). I've used the fingerprint reader in Fedora 8 - 10 and now Ubuntu 8.10 and 9.04. I have essentially no experience with Win7, but I'd frankly be shocked if it didn't work.

EDIT. The utility is beyond just logging in - any time you need to autheticate or perform a task requiring admin rights, it's a quick swipe away. Sweet.

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I had used it religiously for a while, but after a few months it became more of a pain, having to swipe repeatedly, especially if my fingers were sweaty (sorry for the image). I am now happily using passwords and awaiting the mass-produced retinal scanner.

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Oh yeah ... can't wait for that one. One more thing to poke various forms of light into my eyes :) – Rook Sep 16 '09 at 4:26
Doesn't light only come in one form, just different wavelengths? </pedantry> – xdumaine Nov 7 '11 at 15:56

No. I've tried it some time ago, and on the first sight of trouble (having to swipe finger several times, doesn't work when dusty ...) gave up on it.

On the other hand typing a password was never a problem to me ... expecially if you make a password which you can type in one sweep (e.g. "olup") - with one hand ...

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My dad has a Lenovo X200 and loves the fingerprint reader. This is on Windows XP. Works like a charm for him. I think ever once in a great while he has to swipe twice. But I don't recall seeing that actually take place.

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When I was at IBM, I knew several people that used the fingerprint scanner tied into single-sign on to the company intranet (ldap based), mainly with T42's but some T60s (this was a few years ago). Most of them were using Linux, but it also worked on Windows XP. There was a special driver feature that allowed it to do the LDAP sign on, which also worked with the VPN software.

So yes, it works, at least on older models but probably better on newer.

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It would probably be very convenient if it worked. I'm on Windows 7 (32 bit) and it hasn't worked from day 1 for me. I try to enter my password to configure it and the "submit" button simply doesn't work.

Also I think the Mythbusters tested the security of these systems and were able to hack in to it, albeit with a lot of trouble.

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I use mine instead of a password on my X200, although it's Vista, not Windows 7.

It does require a little bit of getting used to - you need to move your fingertip at the right speed. You get useful feedback though (too fast/too short/too far to the left), and so although I sometimes need to swipe twice, I reckon that it's still faster than Tab + password + Enter.

I have certainly felt no need to go back to typing passwords in.

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I use the fingerprint reader on my Thinkpad X301 with Vista Enterprise. There are only a few instances when it fails to recognize my finger, usually due to swiping too fast or not getting my whole finger.

As for Windows 7, it may not work right out of the box; you may have to track down the proper drivers. Check out this discussion thread: X301 and Windows 7.

The finger-print reader is handy, but the there is an annoying delay right after the Windows log-on screen appears while it says "please wait to swipe your finger..." I believe it's loading the finger-printer reader software.

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While I don't have much experience with the Thinkpad fingerprint readers, I have used them on HP laptops and I suspect that from a hardware point of view they're very similar.

They do get gunked up with dirt over time so for accuracy it's important to keep them clean.

They do sometimes fail to recognize the finger, requiring a 2nd swipe, and generally this is due to not swiping enough of the fingerprint or possibly being off-center. I find if I look while swiping I get nearly 100%.

I originally thought the readers were gimmicks too but what turned me on to them was that, depending on the software, you can use the reader for web site authentication, Outlook logon, etc. If it was just for the daily Windows logon I wouldn't be as interested.


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Here is a guide for you on how to setup Windows 7 Biometric Devices I'm sure that will help you out. It worked nicely on Windows 7.

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I've got one with my T400 but I disabled it because the Authentec drivers don't integrate well with Windows 7 and its faster for me to type my password.

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I've used the fingerprint reader on my X41 since 2005 and it used to work great, but I have noticed that it has become increasingly sensitive. This is probably from wear, since cleaning it doesn't help. So, they work great but when you keep the same laptop as long as I do, the lifespan of the reader will probably be shorter than the lifespan of the laptop.

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