ThinkPad R40 on the Way, or Is It?

I've ordered the replacement to my deteriorating Inspiron, a ThinkPad R40 1.4GHz Pentium M with 802.11b and everything. That's pretty exciting. As you can see, the price is relatively budget-minded, since this was an unplanned purchase. Once I get it and see the RAM configuration, I'll order more memory to bring it up to at least 512M.

It could have a number of 802.11b cards, but I expect it to be the Centrino Intel Pro 2100, which has experimental support from Intel, or I can use ndiswrapper around the XP drivers. ndiswrapper is obviously a last resort, though I hear it does work.

I was terribly tempted to buy a Dell 600m from their refurb site, but from what I could gather, I'd be lucky to get half the battery life out of the Dell as I will the ThinkPad (6hrs!). ThinkPad's are supposed to be built like tanks as well.

I first got really interested in ThinkPads at IBM's certified used site, but the T40/T41s which interested me jumped $100 yesterday, then 2 of the 3 disappeared today, so I was sent scrambling to find one elsewhere. The R40 seems very similar to the T40 series, just not quite as lightweight.

Next-day shipping only costs $30 more, so I went for it. I couldn't really be expected to be patient to save that nominal fee. ;)

Update (11:25AM): Ugh! It's back-ordered! (!#$%#) I could "upgrade" to an R50 for $100 more, but I really preferred the R40's price, features, and battery life -- The R50 only gets 4.5 hours. It comes with the ipw2200 (802.11b/g) instead of the ipw2100 (802.11b), but the 2200 doesn't have as many features working in the Linux driver.

Update (12:54PM): I found the same machine at another retailer for $20 more. I shipped it ground, which is $30 cheaper, so I'm saving $10 for accepting 5-7 days ground shipping from NY. You'll notice that the 2 product listings look strangely similar. My guess is that ElectroDiscounts is a reseller for Marine Park, and they just use a customized version of the site, only MP knows they can deliver it. I'm back on track.

Update (19 August 2004 9:00pm): Not all that surprisingly, MP called and said they couldn't get the R40 model anymore. They too offered the less attractive R50. NewEgg has a the same refurbished R40, so I placed my order for a third time. They had the extra 256M of RAM I'd need as well, so I ordered that. Let's see if I actually get a notebook now. With any luck, it'll be delivered Saturday.

I must really want this particular model. No others quite compare for the price.

Update (20 August 2004 7:30am): My link above to the product has ceased to work, and I don't see it any longer in their listings. Did I get the last one or did yet another retailer yank it out from under me? Let's see if I get a phone call...

Update (24 August 2004): My order sat at NewEgg on the "Address Verification Pending" step for days. I called yesterday (Monday), they said they verified my address, and that it'll ship Tuesday (today). This morning, it still said "Pending", so I called again and they said I need to call from my home number on file with the credit card company. I had Claire call from home just now and the order is on track again.

I got no emails or phone calls stating this need, and the first CSR didn't didn't even tell me this was necessary and falsely told me it would be on its way. The first CSR did knock off the overnight shipping, but obviously didn't rectify the situation. I have no issue with having to call from home, but I really wish they would have let me know, so I could get my new notebook in a reasonable time.

I've still not ruled out the possibility that they'll call me back to tell me they sold them all out in the time they've been wasting. More likely, it'll sit for days in the "Preparing Order" state until I finally call, and they tell me it's out.

Update (25 August 2004): A little FedEx birdy told me that there's an R40 riding around in Lancaster this morning! w00t! I can't tell that the RAM is on its way yet, though. I can at least get started without it.

Update (5:00pm): The machine has been delivered, so I'm headed home to hopefully find everything in fine working order. I expect to see the extra RAM tomorrow.

The big question now, is "What should I name this new box?" Comment or email your suggestions.

Filed Under: Linux Toys Computers