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ThinkPads dumped in High Street as IBM revamps

Don't buy a 240 from IBM Direct

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Sadly, our IBM ThinkPad 600 is dead. Well, not actually dead, but badly crocked, with the screen shattered. So we thought we'd wander down Tottenham Court Road, W1, to see if we could pick up a nice little bargain, maybe using a Pentium II, a Celeron or something like that. There are shedloads of ThinkPad 240s down there at the moment, in maybe five or six different shops, one of which is proudly displaying a letter from IBM UK saying that it has been appointed an official reseller of surplus stock. The truth, and it may be unpalatable to anyone who has just ordered an expensive ThinkPad in IBM's current range, is that many of the machines, including the 240 and the popular 600 (which Intel has standardised on), will disappear off the face of the planet come August time. The interesting thing here is that IBM's direct site, which you can find here, is selling the 240 at a price well above the shops in Tottenham Court Road. A banner on the site reads: "Take advantage of the Executive Promotion, and save 10% on the normal price of the bundled** accessories." IBM's direct price for a 240 using a Celeron 300MHz processor with 64MB of memory, a 6.4GB hard drive, Windows 98, and a 10.4in TFT screen is 1099 including VAT. That price includes an external CD drive and an external floppy. The direct price compares badly with the prices on Tottenham Court Road. The best deal we saw for the above configuration down there was around 850, including VAT. Prices for the same configuration were in the same league, with one or two shops, however, adding a bit of extra margin for floppy and CD drive. The reasons that the 600s, the 390s and the 240s are being dumped is that yesterday IBM introduced its ThinkPad A and T series. The A suffix stands for All-in-One, and the T for "thin and light", IBM says. Big Blue avoids the word dumped. Instead, it says the ThinkPad 390s are "transitioning" to the ThinkPad A20M, the 770 to the ThinkPad A20P and the 600 to the ThinkPad T20. It's all part of the IBM EoN strategy, the suits say. Why, I hear you ask, don't we just get our ThinkPad 600's screen repaired? The answer is that a TFT screen for this machine costs around 600 plus labour costs. Although it's still under warranty, the fact that the screen is broken, according to IBM's service centre, means that it's a customer problem and not Big Blue's. Strange, then, that the new ThinkPads have been fitted with a newer tougher casing to minimise the danger of shocks. The Register now has two expensive ThinkPads sitting in Vulture Central and the only thing that's wrong with them is that both have the same broken screen problem. It might just be a coincidence. So it looks like we'll have to resurrect our old Butterfly ThinkPad for when we're filing copy abroad next week. Like our 600, that too was a victim of CeBIT, but in the Butterfly's case the disease is not terminal...

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