IBM ThinkPad R40

This is currently the machine which I use the most, despite the fact that my desktop system is more powerful. It was a refurbished unit (in mint condition), purchased from IBM Canada's web site. It's currently got 768MB of RAM in it. The need for more than 256MB of memory was the major reason for the upgrade from the T21. The other factor was getting a notebook with a display resolution higher than XGA (1024x768). Running any IDE on an XGA display leaves very little room for actual code on screen.

I've still got the New Media Bus Toaster SCSI PCMCIA card I got for the 760E. It never got used with the T21, and it will almost certainly never be used with this unit, but it's still cool, and I figure it isn't worth selling anymore.

This is now my fourth consecutive ThinkPad. Considering the specs I was looking for, I was seriously thinking after the T21 I'd have to give up and resort to some other brand, but then this capable machine turned up on IBM Canada's refurbished sale page for a much better than expected price, so I couldn't turn it down. Although this notebook is a little bigger than it should be (about a half an inch off the length and width could apparentely be easily taken off), it really packs a wallop. My only real concern is that the keyboard is too stiff for me to type quickly on. It has even been causing me some discomfort at times after prolonged periods of typing. Either it will have to loosen up quickly, or I will have to get it replaced (under warranty or not). I certainly hope they aren't all made like this... genuine IBM always comes at a high price, even when you buy refurbished, and I expect top quality parts for what they charge. As is clear below, this machine has fallen short of my expectations.

(Speaking of warranties, for some reason IBM is no longer offering extended warranties on refurbished machines. On the last two ThinkPads I bought from them, I had extended warranties thrown in for free, and now I can't even pay for an extended warranty if I want to? If refurbished units are "as new", what reason is there not to warrant them as new?)

(March 19, 2004) I got a replacement keyboard for this unit today (the place where I got it done ordered it yesterday -- quick service!). Unfortunately, it is essentially the same as the one that came with it. Perhaps it is not quite as stiff, but it rattles and squeeks much more. Almost all of the keys need to be hit squarely, and softly, or all sorts of nasty crunching and squeeking sounds will be produced. The crunching sounds come either from the two little hinges below each key hitting each other on the way down, or from the underside of the keycaps hitting those hinges on the way down. I have not been able to tell for sure. I'm not sure precisely what the squeeks come from either, but it is some plastic part rubbing against another plastic part. Some of the keys, most notably the right cursor key, will not even be read unless they are hit right. It makes fast error-free typing impossible. I would gladly pay more for a quality replacement keyboard, even if I have to buy it out of warranty, but I don't know what I can do after getting a second dud. I have no idea whether I have simply been very unlucky, or if all R-series keyboards are poorly made. Because IBM generally doesn't sell through retail stores, and I don't know anyone else with an R, I have nothing to measure against.)

(May 31, 2004) I got another replacement keyboard today. Although this keyboard is better than the last replacement I got, it is not the same as a T-series keyboard. This one isn't as squeeky-wobbly as the last one, but it has the same chicklet feel to it (like the old Apple Macintosh LC keyboards - the worst keyboards ever made by any company since the 8-bit days). Keys also occasionally snap, while typing, probably when the scissor hinges below them obstuct each other on the way down. Clearly, there is no point in replacing this keyboard again, but it would be nice if at least one of the people at IBM who I contacted about this knew their keyboards were not all built to the same standard. I will now think twice, before buying anything other than a T-series notebook from IBM in the future... I only hope the T keyboards are still true to their original quality.

(Aug 1, 2005) I have just seen another ThinkPad R40, and tested its keyboard. I can attest to the fact that not all R-series keyboards are of poor quality. Apparentely, there was a batch of bad ones, and I got one of those. I would still like to replace the one I have, even though the machine is out of warranty, but I'm not sure I want to take a chance paying for the job, if I end up with yet another dud.

(Aug 14, 2005) I have been experiencing problems with the battery in this machine for several months now. Initially, it began to very slowly drain, while the machine was running on AC (as it almost always does). Over the span of about two weeks, the battery dropped from 100% to about 2%, and stayed there. It stayed there for weeks, until one day, it started charging, and then a couple of hours later, it was back at 100%. Some time later, it started the slow drain again, and it's been down to 5% now for weeks. I've tried removing and replacing it, to no avail. I believe the battery is fine, as it was capable of recharging fully the last time it started to recharge.. but now the machine just won't charge it.

(May 7, 2006) For some time now, the DVD/CDRW drive in this unit has been flakey. The unit will almost always hang on startup if the drive is plugged in to the bay. If I remove it, the machine will always boot reliably, and it will detect the ROM drive if I plug it in once the OS has loaded. It will, however, occasionally vanish without me removing it. Physically removing it and re-inserting it at this point fixes the problem. Until this problem started, I never once removed the ROM drive, so I am sure that it is not a bent pin or otherwise damaged connector.

(Mar 22, 2007) Finally, this machine was replaced by a very nice T60. Considering the state of this machine, with a wonky battery charger and ROM drive, I don't think I'm going to bother trying to sell this machine. I really don't know what I will do with it, but it's probably worth keeping.

Links of interest:

IBM Corporation
The IBM ThinkPad R40 Type 2722-GCU support page
Forum discussion of good and bad ThinkPad keyboards.

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