ThinkPad in the East

Cleo Lee
 
ThinkPad has been in the industry for decades and consequently there are numerous ThinkPad fan and support groups in many languages which can found through searching the internet.  Some of the largest are in English or Chinese.  ThinkPad has a very strong position in the Chinese market.  Below is a screenshot taken from ZDC of ZOL Chinese website.   It shows the overall Lenovo Notebook popularity in the Chinese Market.   Lenovo was depicted as having a  30.8% of the market in 2nd quarter, 2009.

ZDC_ZOL Since part of my job involves following the Chinese blogosphere  including several prominent forums, I'm greatful for the opportunity to meet a few influential and esteemed bloggers and forum moderators along the way.    They've known the ThinkPad long before I was introduced to it, since I have been working at Lenovo for  only about 18 months, and frankly speaking most of my ThinkPad product experience began on my first day at work.  While I may not have a long history with the product, I've quickly begun to appreciate many of the design points which make it unique, and I enjoy hearing from those who have been users of the earliest models and have been with ThinkPad throughout it's long evolutionary journey. While ThinkPad is well-known in the Malaysian business industry, my prior work experience had been in  relatively small scale companies, therefore my exposure to ThinkPads was minimal.  Other PC manufactures hold a more prominent position in the consumer market, and have been used by individuals and small business.   However, the recent efforts from the Lenovo Sales team is changing that - ThinkPad is gaining broader attention from Malaysians.  Establishment of Lenovo offices in Malaysia contribute to a higher exposure to ThinkPads, especially for Lenovo employees, friends and families.  Some Malaysian media, for instance the famous media in Malaysia TheStar, have cited a few of the new products that were launched in Malaysia recently, and some bloggers have begun to spread awareness of ThinkPads and other Lenovo products as they share their experiences. In Taiwan, we are thankful to have galaxylee to share ThinkPad experiences and product review with the Chinese.   Galalaxylee, a nickname used in the blogsphere, is the owner of TPUser unofficial site in Taiwan.   In addition to keeping his blog up to date, his site also hosts a discussion forum.  He is extremely well versed in ThinkPad history, features and anything , and I mean just about anything ThinkPad related.   Besides being famous in the Taiwan region, galaxylee is widely recognized by forum members of 51nb, the high traffic forum about ThinkPads in China Mainland, too. From his article writing style, it is evident that he is a techie person and has gained readers’ respect and admiration.   I've come to admire him as well. 

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His articles always elicit comments from the loyal readers.  The feedback is almost always constructive , with an in-depth discussion about a particular  feature of a product.  Recently he covered the release of the new ThinkPad USB Keyboard with TrackPoint, and has drawn focus to the previous  hot topic of Fn and Ctrl key as discussed in David Hill’s blog posts. Recently, I was able to catch up with Galaxylee online and he was gracious enough to entertain my request for a brief interview.   Making connections with interesting people in the broader Lenovo community is central to the heart of this blog, so I was greatful for the opportunity.

Cleo: How long have you been using or knowing ThinkPad?

Galaxylee: Oh it’s been 10 years history. I started to know of ThinkPad when I was in the 3rd year of university. That was year 1997. But I was only able to own my first ThinkPad 570 two years later in year 1999.

Cleo: Do you consider yourself as ThinkPad lover or fan?

Galaxylee: Haha… of course I am! I also wish that ThinkPad can keep on accompanying all the ThinkPad lovers around the world.

Cleo: How many ThinkPad do you own and why?

Galaxylee:I have about eight ThinkPads but I’ll just name a few here.

• ThinkPad 570: It was actually for graduation celebration. I got some earnings after taking up a part time job during summer. ;)

• ThinkPad 600E: Specially purchased when performing a military service for 20 months. On top of that, I had written about “The Days ThinkPad Joined the Military Force”, too. But it is in Chinese version.

• ThinkPad T40: For commemoration. Code name “Rome” was the newest product from Yamato Lab.

• ThinkPad x200 Tablet: Just purchased it recently because very interested in the x200 series design. Now I am exploring this machine.

Cleo: What do you normally use ThinkPad for? Could you share some of the extraordinary ways of using ThinkPad?

Galaxylee: At the beginning of work, I was using ThinkPad 600 whenever going oversea or outstation for working purpose as well as desktop pc when I was in office. However, I gave up using the conventional desktop pc later. I replaced it with ThinkPad Mini Dock matched with ThinkPad, and hooked up the external keyboard, mouse and 19’ inch of Lenovo LCD monitor. I also set up the same at my house for working purpose as well. It’s actually very simple. You just need to place your ThinkPad on the mini dock and it is ready to use without laying your hands on cables. Therefore I am very passionate and relentlessly promoting my ThinkPad docking solutions to everyone ;) . Actually I personally thought the ThinkPad screen display is rather low and not good if working long hours in front of a notebook. Therefore, I strongly recommend notebook users to use ‘ThinkPad Adjustable Notebook Stand’ for a good office environment. At the same time, match it with external keyboard just like the latest new release of USB Keyboard with TrackPoint. I thought this solution is very useful and practical as well because it is important to maintain a good body posture.

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Cleo: What is/are the attraction point of ThinkPad that make(s) you so into ThinkPad?

Galaxylee:Well it incorporates so many factors that make me so into ThinkPad. I can see the persistency showed by Yamato Lab about an Ultimate Business Machine by taking ThinkPads as reference. Affordable price along with the variety of different series, ThinkPad is still able to keep its excellent thermal management, machine structure, the comfortable and nice to use keyboard together with its installation guide, firm and durable roll-cage as well as the software and drivers. All of these are very vital for a business machine. It sets my mind at rest and do not have to worry much about it.

Cleo: Which ThinkPad do you think is most impressive for you?

Galaxylee: I am very much impressed with the one that was only announced in Asia Pacific, the S30 series. Check out the pictures here;)  This mini ThinkPad with only 10.4’ inch has a special design and an elegant look on top of the lid. It is just like the SL series that has piano kind of surface on the lid. Unfortunately, this series can no longer be found. After years of announcement, Asian ThinkPad users are still wondering what ThinkPad would be if S30 design was re-developed again. In Taiwan, you can only find S31. But I did not have the urge to buy at that moment because it had no WLAN. Who would know it has now become a precious one? Am really regret for not getting one that time…

Cleo: I know you have led Taiwanese ThinkPad fans to visit Yamato Lab last year and this year as well. Can you share some experiences with us?

Galaxylee:  TPUSER has organized 3 trips to Yamato Lab in year 2003, 2006 and 2008. You must have thought we had free trips but it was not the case. We were willing to pay ourselves for this valuable trip because it is like once in a life time thing! Anyhow, transportation from Tokyo to Yamato city, Kanagawa was taken good care by TW IBM or Lenovo TW. So we felt relieved. The trips were really rewarding as we got to know the substantial information about ThinkPad. Most importantly we had a chance to have an in-depth discussion with ThinkPad designers! Exciting, uh? Yamato Lab has diligently arranged and organized these 3 trips just for us. They prepared slides and meals. They were really hospitable to us. I learnt how rigorous the Japanese are whenever executing a task, just like these events.

Cleo: How do you obtain the information that nobody knows of yet?

Galaxylee: Actually all the information is from the announcement in Lenovo website. The difference is the information is widely spread in different website in different language.

Cleo: What drive you to share ThinkPad discussion each and everyday consistently?

Galaxylee:  Haha… because I am a ThinkPad lover! But I don’t wish to be like salespersons introducing ThinkPad everywhere or forcing others to buy ThinkPad. I would like to use another approach instead. I hope the passion for ThinkPad can be spread to others through the power of internet, particularly my website. I feel so much honored to have the opportunities to help others in my TPuser website. ThinkPad is worth to take our time to experience it ourselves. But before that, we need someone to share with us the features of a product, reviews and stuffs like that. At least we can know if the product suits our needs before placing an order. Cleo: If there was a chance for you to sit in with different ThinkPad fans of the world, what topic of discussion would it be?

Galaxylee:   I wish to have a talk about the future development of ThinkPad and its possible new series. I know a lot of people is missing the older model of ThinkPads very much. For example, I really miss ThinkPad 600 and S31. But it is pointless if sharing only the memories we had with ThinkPad in the past and not looking forward. On the contrary, we should gather our thoughts, our idea, for the sake of new generation of ThinkPad that everyone dreams off! I hope it gives you some insight of the ThinkPad in the heart of a Chinese in the East. How about ThinkPad in your country?