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Keyboards & Touchpads: How good are the keyboards? Everywhere you go, thinkpad keyboards seem to be the gold standard. What makes them so good? I use desktops most of the time, do the keys feel like a regular keyboard? I've used other laptop keyboards before and I'm not a real fan. They are flat and have a weird spacing and there isn't much when you push them down. And for the thouchpads, which one is better? I've used touchpoints before and ehhh - I'm not use to them, I push it a little and my cursor is on the opposite side of the screen, f'ing impossible to press buttons or select text etc. I've used touchpads that can barely sense my finger. When people talk about the macbook keyboard, some people love it, some hate it. How does this all compare?
Quality: I looked at a iBook at a mac store years ago and it was the crappiest laptop - in some ways - I've seen, I don't know if it was because it was at a public place or if the whole thing is s'pose to feel and look chinsy. Thinkpads in pictures look like they are rocks, built strong, nothing would ever break off one.
Specs and price: Thinkpads go for 800-1300$, Macbooks 1100-1500$. Both of them have some kind of Core 2 Duo chip in them, gig or two ram, crappy graphics, etc. I like the fact that thinkpads can be a heck lot cheaper.
Eitherway, I'd use Windows XP on them, OS X has too much extra crap that I'd never need.
It's a completely personal matter of taste which one you pick up. I'd pick a Thinkpad myself; I've used them a lot and it just seems that though they're expensive (the models of them that are good; there are bad Thinkpads too), they're something worth paying for. Not all of them; there are "crappy" models, that do work but just don't make you feel like you're having the best machine around..but then there are a few models (that aren't the cheapest ones) that you wouldn't change for anything in the world. Well, maybe for a million dollars, but still.
Macs (all of them, really) tend to have their own "touch" when it comes to mouse, keyboard or touchpad (if they're Apple's cadgets, not some MS usb pc mouse you just plugged in). I'm fairly sure you get used to it and after that think all the "normal" pc equivalents are difficult or clumsy to use, but if you've only used normal pcs this far, I guess you'll be surprised the first time you set your hands on the Mac.
Suggestion: go to a (good) store, ask for a "test drive" for both machines (or if the store doesn't have both, you'll need to visit at least two stores). Stores that sell computers do have some "show machines" there that you can freely try; good stores anyway. And in good stores the salesman lets you test the machines' feel, see how it works. In bad stores you're told you can watch but not touch, and if you're not going to pay for something in a minute, you get thrown out. So go to a good store, set your hands on a Mac and on a Thinkpad of your liking, write some gibberish on them, let the mouse cursor roll forth and back for a few minutes (or few hours, if the salesman lets you) and see how you like it. This is really the best way, if you're more interested in the feel of the machine rather than the hardware (if hardware is a priority, then it's pretty clear to you already).
Hmmm ... well, it looks like you just ruled out the MacBook completely. XP doesn't run natively on Apple hardware.
Not quite true...
MacBooks have Intel processors that can natively run Windows XP. The only problematic difference is that the Macs have the "new BIOS" (EFI?)... So, you may have to have OS X and Boot Camp installed, but you can then configure the machine to always boot into Windows and never see Mac OS X...
As far as which is better, I feel that the Thinkpads are the best laptop out there with an x86 processor. MacBooks are nice, but the Thinkpads are better.
I own a thinkpad z61m, and the reason I bought it was for linux compatability and durability. It also does pro-audio under linux quite well. The only thing that is a pain to get working is the ati graphics; one must use fglrx.
I like the feel of the keyboard; for me it has to do with the spacing. The tactile response is similar to most laptop keyboards, but it 'feels' a little more solid.
If you are used to a two or three button mouse, keep in mind that the macbook has only a one button touchpad. My thinkpad has a touchpad and trackpoint and three buttons to boot (under the trackpoint).
If you want macos, then buy a macbook. If you have no interest in macos whatsoever (even a curiosity), then look at the thinkpads.
Do look higher up in the thinkpad line, and a Lenovo N series is not the same as a thinkpad. I have had positive linux experiences with my laptop, while I know of someone with a N series who has had a miserable time.
True, they are releasing sources and developing a driver (see here and here), but, presently, the fglrx driver is the way to go for newer ati graphics, ala the x1400 in my thinkpad. It is a bit a pain for me, since it does not work with aiglx and needs some tweaking for suspend.