Out of Box Experience - Lenovo ThinkPad T400

I have been promising to create a series of instructional videos regarding SQL, Crystal Reports, and Made2Manage for some time. I asked the SQL Community for suggestions for an excellent Laptop Configuration to record these videos.

I went with the IBM Lenovo Thinkpad T400 with several upgrades including more RAM, faster processor, and a SSD Hard drive. It arrived without incident and it looks great, it’s relatively light, etc.
I powered it up and answered the obligatory questions about windows startup, agree to some EULAs, etc. My first problem occurred approximately 10 minutes after start up. I attempted to use a Microsoft Bluetooth Mouse with the laptop so I turned on the Bluetooth and tried to add a device.



Don’t they test this crap? I used a current Microsoft Mouse with Windows 7 and it fails right out of the box. Doesn’t Lenovo test these images for compatibility?

Google to the Rescue

Being a computer geek, I fired up Google, searched for “AcWinHlpr.exe,” and received exactly three sites on the entire internet referencing it. They were all in Japanese. I used the Google translator and none of them had anything to do with my problem. Try it yourself.

Lenovo Support to the Rescue

I broke down and called Lenovo and waited on hold. I gave them all of my information, and the technician told me to restore the laptop to factory defaults. Think about that a moment… I had just taken the it out of the ^&*%*% box. However, when I flat out asked him, how he had come to the conclusion; he actually admitted that “when Google fails you, what else is there to do?” He instructed me that I could hit the ThinkVantage button and follow the prompts. I thanked him and hung up.

So Lenovo has built in a plethora of software to fix this stuff. I’ll just use that to fix it. I hit the ThinkVantage button and nothing happened. That’s right; the troubleshooting button wouldn’t work either. I restarted the laptop to no effect. I attempted to trigger it from the on screen icon and that didn’t work either.

Attempting to Create Restore Media

Rather than wait on hold with Lenovo again, I opened My Computer and found the expected restore partition on the hard drive. However, it wouldn’t allow me to begin a restore from there, only make media from it. It never ceases to amaze me that you can spend a small fortune on a laptop and they no longer give you a manual, nor will they throw in 50 cents worth of restore media. I attempted to create the restore media, which has two parts: recovery and application data. One of them failed in process, but I could not tell which one. I examined the contents of the DVD which had actually recorded properly, but it is not obvious which it was. So, started over and tried to create them one at a time so I would be able to label each one. I was then presented with the following message.


WTF. Really? Seriously? I can only make 1 copy of an operating system that is already crippled in that it will only work with this model of Lenovo laptop? Doesn’t the operating system need to be “validated” anyway? This is how Microsoft combats piracy?

I’m sure that counterfeiters in China, Russia, and elsewhere were really counting on using a ThinkPad laptop as their source of Windows 7. This is just silly.

So now I have DVD’s, whose individual purpose is not obvious. I was afraid to remove the recovery partition to reclaim space because I was not certain I could do another factory restore with the discs I have.

The good news is the full factory restore appears to have fixed the problem, though there is no rational reason why it should have. The laptop passed its full hardware and stress tests without incident.
After waiting on hold again with Lenovo they agreed to send me restore media. However, when I attempted to actually use the laptop, the “I” key on the keyboard would not work. Some of you may have seen my tweet:

!’m !nsanely !rr!tated. My Th1nkpad sh!pped w!th an !mpa!red ! key. !’m !mpatently wa!tng !ntently for !ts keyboard to be f!xed.

To their credit Lenovo sent a new keyboard, which I then had to replace myself. The new keyboard appears to work perfectly, and if nothing else goes wrong I should be posting videos soon.

I’m not complaining how Lenovo handled the issues; I’m just frustrated that the issues needed to be “handled” to begin with.

What disappointing “out of the box” experiences have you had?

4 comments to Out of Box Experience Rant- Lenovo ThinkPad T400

  • HAHAHA, the impaired key thing is hilarious. I used to buy refurb laptops because I found them to be more reliable than normal ones – at least they’d gone through more testing than the regular ones!

    My favorite out-of-the-box experience so far is the Lenovo tablet sitting next to me. I bought it in Sweden where almost everybody speaks English, and I thought the laptop would at least let you pick the language on bootup. It’s Europe – people speak all kinds of languages, and surely laptop mfrs wouldn’t build a separate box per country. Not only was it hard-coded to Swedish (and you can’t change languages in XP unless you installed the multilanguage version, and Lenovo didn’t) but also the power plug was exclusive to Sweden. I flew to another country the next day, and the power cable didn’t work. Thankfully I had the big battery version…

  • Ouch! I’m just shaking my head. Well at least you have a good attitude. You’re making lemonade out of your lemon.

  • Andrew

    Dude, that Bullwinkle ref is hilarious.

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