Laptops are getting thinner and lighter all the time… but does that mean they have to lose some of the features that were popular 20 years ago? Lenovo still offers some notebooks with a version of the company’s classic pointing stick in the center of the keyboard. But Lenovo’s David Hill wants to know if you’d be interested in a modern ThinkPad laptop with a truly retro design.

He’s posted some images of what a retro ThinkPad might look like, but isn’t promising that the company will actually build one.

retro thinkpad

So what separates this hypothetical ThinkPad from models that are currently on the market? Here are a few of the features:

  • Multi-colored ThinkPad logo
  • 7-row keyboard
  • 16:10 aspect ratio display
  • Dedicated volume controls
  • Rubberized paint
  • Exposed screws
  • Status LEDs
  • Blue enter key

The concept also includes two “ThinkLight” lights above the display which could shine down to illuminate the keyboard when you’re typing in the dark rather than a backlit keyboard.

The retro ThinkPad does have a few modern touches: it’s 18mm (0.7 inches thick) rather than 56mm (2.2 inches).

While Lenovo isn’t ready to spent the time and money needed to actually build a retro ThinkPad yet… but Hill is throwing the idea out there to see how much demand there would be for such as product.

What do you think? Would you buy a modern ThinkPad laptop with classic style?

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38 replies on “Would you buy a modern ThinkPad with retro design?”

  1. Yes, please. But since he´s asking for comments, how about making a survey so that potential customers can suggest and rate features?

  2. All the “Retro” stuff mentioned in the post is just cosmetic! What about bringing back the things that REALY matter? A user serviceable battery, a matte display you can actually read without glare, a user removable hard drive, upgradeable SDRAM, and a keyboard that actually feels like a keyboard. Today “Thin and Light” really means cheap build quality, unreadable shiny displays, no user serviceable/upgradeable parts, horrible plastic toy-like keyboards, and the worst thing of all: a battery the user cannot replace, which forces you to be tied to a charging outlet, and eventually renders the machine obsolete as the battery wears out (planned obsolescence).

    Bring us back machines we can live with, not machines we learn to hate.

  3. Forgot – do not put the Function key where CTRL is meant to go – that was awful!

  4. Yes do it….we love the old thinkpads. Don’t forget a full size Enter key for us brits.

  5. Actually, They should go back to making ‘Portable Unix Workstations’. Stick a powerPC 8 in it running at 4.5Ghz so it’s nice and toasty to melt your man junk.
    And just stick gig’s and gigs of ram in it

  6. hmm, really?? I dont really care about the logo, or the blue enter key. And the lights to illuminate the keyboard were always rubbish, you end up typing in your shadow. Backlit keyboard is the way to go. But if they actually did something interesting with the hardware. Like nix’ed the intel processor and just had multiple octacore ARM64’s and some funky FPGA’s and made it a processing workstation give it a point of difference rather than it just being another laptop. Oh and retained the 9 pin serial port …that’s important

  7. I’m holding onto an X200s here on my desk, praying they would regain their sanity at Lenovo before it finally failed. One more ask and I start begging for permission to issue the P.O…. a real honest to God docking station. Not some lame USB thing. At least give me GigE, two display connectors and some USB3 ports. An extra SATA drive bay or PCIe would be gravy but not a deal breaker if both of them are missing.

    Do not care what sort of logo is on it, just give me a real Thinkpad keyboard and pointer on the bottom and a decent non-glossy screen atop it.. The older school the better.

  8. take my money. im a thinkpad lover. trackpad is fine as long as retain the mouse click. the best reference i think its t43.

  9. If the trackpad is removed, then yes. Having a trackpad when the trackpoint is present is like having a car with a window crank even though it is equipped with power windows.

    edit to add: While we’re dreaming, how about a model with the “butterfly” keyboard of the TP701?

    1. Exactly… The trackpad is eating up valuable space and forced them to use the 6-row keyboard, instead of the traditional 7-row. Most ThinkPad users are accustomed to the trackpoint which works a lot better once you get used to it. One of the main selling points of the ThinkPad was the response/feel of the keyboard, which they kind of ruined with the Chiclet style.

      I’m still using a ThinkPad X61s as my main laptop because it still works and the new designs just keeps getting more convoluted. I still have older ThinkPad which even till this day still runs, X22 and a 600.

  10. Absolutely, although I’d prefer a backlit keyboard rather than the ThinkLight as it’s less disruptive to others in the dark.

    1. Agreed. Everything on that device, especially the keyboard, expandability/ports, and aesthetics is perfect. But a backlit keyboard is definitely a must-have feature. I definitely don’t have a bit of nostalgia for my old ThinkPad with its feeble ThinkLights circa 1999!

    2. I *regularly* use the thinklight and I *never* use backlighting. I don’t use the keyboard light so I can see what keys are where, I use the thinklight to look at things that are not my computer when I’m in the dark (e.g. briefly consulting a paper sheet of notes).

      A backlit keyboard is useless for people who know how to type. A thinklight is versatile.

  11. The one thing that might be missing from those specs is the relative ease of repairing a classic ThinkPad model, something that comes with the greater thickness helped with. (It should be noted that the T series from the T40 to the T430 on were more like 1.2 inches thick, not 2.2.) A great thing about them was always that you could keep one runnning for 8 or more years, something that might be more difficult with a thinner design that’s harder to service at home.

    That said — I’d absolutely buy one, or at least when I decide it’s time to replace my five year old X201, in 2018 or so.

  12. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

    And, yes.

    They also need to bring back the old-style Thinkpad USB external keyboard too. I’m still upset that I didn’t pick up a couple of spares before they were discontinued a couple of years ago. Clearly there’s still a demand for them, since they can fetch up to $200 on eBay (over three times what I paid for mine).

  13. Multi-colored ThinkPad logo — who cares?
    7-row keyboard — yes
    16:10 aspect ratio display — sure, fine
    Dedicated volume controls — yes
    Rubberized paint — yes
    Exposed screws — who cares?
    Status LEDs — only useful with an hdd. Who is going to drop the cash for a ThinkPad and hobble it with an hdd?
    Blue enter key — who cares?
    Thinklight — Bad idea. I’ve used both backlit keyboards and clip-on lamps; backlit keyboard is superior. If I need ambient light for paper documentation, I switch on a desklamp or break out my trusty headlamp. My experience with clip-on lamps designed to illuminate the keyboard is that the keyboard lighting is uneven, it’s hard to eliminate reflections and screen glare, and there’s just not a wide enough field to illuminate the paper dox off to the side. Stick a Lenovo-branded usb-chargeable headlamp in the box and call it a day.

    1. I’ve occasionally used the Thinklight to look at or read other stuff instead of turning on a light somewhere. You can do that with the screen too, but it’s not as good. Probably not enough to justify it, but it’s not completely useless.

      1. I also like the thinklight better than a backlit keyboard. You do see the keyboard better if it’s backlit. But I regularly use my Thinkpad on backstages as a light controller with GrandMA software, and when I need to read the rider in the dark, I prefer the lamp.

    2. I also prefer the backlit keyboard to the ThinkLight. The ThinkLight was great, but when I work in dark, the backlit keyboard just works better. I use a T430, and have both, and almost always use the backlit keys instead of the ThinkLight.

      I wonder if the non-chiclet keyboard would work with a backlight? 🙂

  14. I’ve been touting the idea on reddit. I think the old form factors had great qualities. Keyboard, sturdiness, balance.

    1. The old 486 Butterfly IBMs were still arguably the best typing experience I ever had on a laptop. Certainly back in 1995 or whenever those were available.

  15. Yes, in a heartbeat, if only for the non-chicklet keyboard and the dedicated hardware controls. Make it a whole new segment – we’ve already got the P and S variant models of the TXXX series. Why not a ThinkPad T450C?

  16. Nope. I want as thin and light and small as possible.

    A blue enter key? Multicolored logo? seriously? anyone cares about that?

    I have an older Lenovo computer that I keep around just for the heck of it. I can probably count on one finger the number of times I used the little rubber pointing device thingy.

    1. Whereas in contrast I’m using a trackstick right now. 🙂

      Just out of curiosity, do you prefer trackpads or are you one of those touchscreen-only guys? :O

        1. Oh wow! I remember using one of those on a laptop, way back in the day… Lenovo, you have to go retroer.

          1. it’s not attached to the computer. It’s a Kensington wireless trackball with a USB receiver.

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