Old ThinkPad Niches
This page gives an overview of some old, but useful features or traits that were only available in the older models. The models listed below are the latest models to contain a certain feature/trait that some might see as desirable or useful enough to warrant a trade-off in performance or security. A small summary is also provided to give some insight on the reasoning of the specific niche being listed here.
All of the modern models ditched the 4:3 aspect ratio for the 16:10 aspect ratio, which caused some minor anger to arise, but it wasn't as bad as the 16:10 to 16:9 transition.
Models with a 4:3 display panel
Models with a 16:10 display panel
Nearly all of the newer models with the exception of the 25th Anniversary model came installed with a 6-row chiclet keyboard. This particular change caused even the most persistent apologists to snap and demand their 7-row keyboards back, unfortunately to no avail (although models such as the W530/T530/T430/X230 could be fitted with a 7-row keyboard with some modifications). There were also some minor changes that were done during the 7-row keyboard's lifetime, which didn't cause as much as an outrage as the 7th row's removal, but there were still complaints.
Even after the 6-row chiclet keyboard was introduced, more complaints arose due to the inclusion of a numeric keypad on 15.6-inch models with the 6-row chiclet keyboard.
Models with a 6-row non-chiclet keyboard
- SL300, SL400, SL400c, SL410, SL410k, SL500, SL500c, SL510, SL510k, L410, L412, L420, L421, L510, L512, L520
Models with a 7-row non-chiclet keyboard
- W520, T420, T420i, T420s, T420si, T520, T520i, X220, X220i, X220 Tablet, X220i Tablet, Template:ThinkPad 25
Models with a 7-row non-chiclet keyboard without the vertically elongated Escape and Delete key
Models with a 7-row non-chiclet keyboard without the Windows Keys and the vertically elongated Escape+Delete key
Most of the older models did not come with an UltraNav (the trackpad itself), and some saw it as a bonus instead of a disadvantage. Unfortunately for those who think that way, all newer models did not have the option be ordered without the UltraNav.
Some of the older, premium models tend to come with a ThinkLight installed, however they have gone in the way of the Dodo due to the ever decreasing thickness of the lid. This practically made it impossible to add a LED that could still provide sufficient lighting. As this was still considered to be one of the highlights of ThinkPads, some thought that the removal of this feature was blasphemy.
Models with a ThinkLight
Dedicated headphone and microphone ports used to be commonplace on older models, unfortunately, they have gone extinct to make way for a combined headphone + microphone port. The idea behind that was to either conserve space or to make the models easier to use with headphones or earphones with built-in microphones. While this side-effect could be easily solved with an adapter, it was not to some who saw it as an annoyance.
Models with a headphone port and a microphone port
Line-in ports, stereo or mono, used to be common on very old models. However, they began disappearing on newer models to likely promote the docking stations, as they did contain the line-in port. This was not the end of it yet, though. Fast-forward to 2007, where the line-in port has completely disappeared even from the docking stations, another problem arose.
The T61 and its counterparts had its stereo mix functionality disabled through hardware and software, which made it impossible to record songs or sounds coming from the system itself. Most blamed the RIAA for such a move, and it could've been them who had forced this to happen.
Models with a stereo-line in port
Models with a working stereo mix function
During the Mobile Pentium 3-era, this port used to be on some models for extra expandability. However, its largest drawback quickly made it useless afterwards, as it was proprietary technology. Not many people are aware of this port, but some are and they took advantage of its potential of being a USB port to add fancy devices to it.
Models with an UltraPort
Ultrabays used to be common on most of the older models, although some didn't feature them due to cost-cutting. The newer models do feature them still, however they are rapidly disappearing in favor of using the Ultrabay space for a bigger battery or more ports. While the removal of the Ultrabay did spark some frustration, the Ultrabay itself was already nothing more than a former shadow of itself, so most did not care after it had gotten axed.
Models with an Ultrabay
Possibly the most unused port after dial-up was no longer common, this port used to be on nearly every old model. In an effort to remove under-utilized ports to free up space for newer ports, this port was removed. There were some small chatter about newer models lacking this functionality.
Models with an RJ-11 modem port
These ancient, but still partially useful ports used to be the equivalent of seeing USB back in the old times. As most models were getting smaller and more compact, these ports were removed and transferred over to the docking stations. Unfortunately, the newer docking stations no longer feature them.
Models with a Serial Port
Models with a Parallel Port
Models with a PS/2 Port
Still common and in-use for projectors and other old video equipment, these ports are still very useful in some ways. Although, the lack of space (in terms of height) has forcefully removed it from most newer models. Additionally for some strange reasons, the workstation models do not include them either. Instead, the only option is to use an adapter, which causes some annoyance for people that try to not rely on adapters.
Models with a VGA Port
Mostly featured in older models with some variance, as they were not particularly popular as the USB port or as versatile. These ports may be of use to very specific devices, or require high-speed bandwidth to allow quick file transfer purposes. Not many cared about them, although FireWire had some attention over its loss.
Models with a Firewire Port
Models with an eSATAp port
These slots were featured in many models of different generations, one being ISA-based, second being PCI-based, and the last being PCIE-based. They are extremely useful for expandability purposes, even allowing extreme forms of adaptability to exist. Unfortunately, they were removed due to space constraints. The ExpressCard slot had gotten a lot of attention due to its removal in newer models, as it allowed external GPU adapters to operate.
Models with a PCMCIA slot
Models with a CardBus slot
Models with an ExpressCard slot
An interesting replacement for the Ultrabay battery's demise, the Power Bridge is a recent implementation that was quickly removed due to 'space constraints'. This caused a noticeable outrage over the loss of it, with some apologists jumping in to calm the fans down.
Models with Power Bridge
In recent years, Coreboot has been making great progress at replacing proprietary BIOS and UEFI. Support for a particular system has become a selling point among free software enthusiasts. The last ThinkPad capable of having all its proprietary code replaced is the T60p / X60. Some newer ThinkPads work with Coreboot but are still closed source due to Intel Active Management Technology (AMT).
Models without the Intel Management Engine
Models without the Embedded Security Subsystem
- This model requires the Ultrabay Slim Serial/Parallel Port Adapter.