Fixing the Lenovo tablet. Again.


    The hard drive on my Lenovo had died. It would not even pass the BIOS level hardware test during the tablet’s startup. I had an external case for EIDE drives which I had used in the past when my drive on my laptop at home died and I brought it in to see if the drive was at all salvageable. I did not remember having anything on it which had not been backed up, but wanted to be sure.

    Of course the drive was not EIDE, so my case did not work. It was a SATA drive (for those non-hardware folks, EIDE uses a wide cable to connect the drive to the computer, SATA uses a narrow cable. Among other benefits, the wide cables were actually starting to restrict the airflow inside computer cases causing heating problems. The SATA cables do not block the airflow) and would not fit. Gary came by and pointed out the obvious – I could connect the drive to my desktop Dell. I powered the Dell down, disconnected the power and cable to the CD player and plugged in the drive from the tablet.

    For some reason, I started thinking "This is like Star Trek – I’m re-routing the thing to bypass the other thing." Anyway, it worked, and the Dell booted. Windows 2008 immediately wanted to run scandisk on the drive (which was just sticking out of the case – there was no where to bolt it). 118 errors later, it reported it had fixed the drive. I powered the machine down and reconnected the drive to the Lenovo. Now the BIOS would allow the machine to boot, but Windows XP would not load due to some missing DLLs. I copied them over from another machine I had at a command prompt, and lo and behold, the Lenovo started! It wanted to run scandisk as well, and found about 25 more errors, including 4 bad sectors.

    At least it started, though. While we have a pretty good budget for hardware, I don’t want to keep spending it on replacement hardware – I would much rather "move forward" and get newer devices rather than replacing old. I’ll keep this thing until it really dies, which, honestly, could be any minute. I don’t have too much faith in the hard drive at this point. I already keep it backed up so I won’t lose more than one day’s worth of work when it dies.

    One thing that was pretty interesting was the "shock resistance" the Lenovo uses for its hard drive. Their television commercials make a point of saying the drive can survive a fall from a few feet. When I pulled the drive out it had a pair of rubber sleeves on each side of it to provide shock absorption. Here’s the photo:

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    Notice the pull tab on the drive as well. That is simply a nice touch and makes it very easy to remove. Lenovo really puts its attention into little details like this. I just wish this one particular machine was better and not such a lemon.

    Another thing I noticed was the drive is a 100MBB drive, but was only formatted to hold 80GB. The paperwork which came with the machine also said 80GB, and my first thought was Lenovo devotes 20% of the space to its backup system. I looked at the drive with Windows Server 2008 and saw about 10GB of unpartitioned space, so I have no idea what is going on. I resized the partitions to take advantage of the extra space, but since the drive is giving me problems, I don’t expect any real benefits.

    In fact, I’ve already gotten one "No Disk Error" since re-assembling the tablet. Oh well.

    Questions, comments, concerns and criticism always welcome,

    John

Comments (6)

  1. Seth says:

    The Lenovo "shock resistance" is a bit more complicated than just the rubber tabs.  These systems usually have hardware and software that detect the orientation of the laptop.  When this changes suddenly, the software assumes the laptop has been dropped and the hard-drive is told to park its heads.  The software reduces its sensitivity if there is consistent shaking in a small time frame, like if you have it on your lap in the car.

  2. JohnGuin says:

    The hardware that detects the orientation of my machine is one of the other broken items on this particular device.  Additionally, the sensor which detects if I have rotated the screen randomly decides I have, and my screen rotates 90, 180 or 270 degrees now and then.

    But I get your point about the hardware – Lenovo goes the extra step to make their machines work well.  And I wonder if the unformatted area of the hard drive is the location the heads move when the system detects a need to park them somewhere…

    John

  3. Seth says:

    It could be that their marketing dept. told them they needed two drives at two different price points, but that they found it cheaper to manufacture only one piece of hardware.  I’ve seen stranger things.  Used to be you could get an intel 486 with or without a math co-processor, at two different price points.  They both actually had co-processors, but the cheaper one had a disabled co-processor.

  4. Dan Walker says:

    I received my x61 Tablet through an eBay Seller who has been very difficult to deal with…  The computer was drop shipped for the eBay Seller using Ingram Micro… And, although FedEx delivered, the outer box showed signs that the box had been dropped on the corner and believe it or not, it was sent without insurance…  Who does that???  When I opened the box (already falling open) and inspected the contents I immediately suspected the system had been refurbished as the screen was dusty and the power adapter seemed to be wrapped up by someone in a hurry…  The computer smelled burnt, and the fingerprint reader didn’t work with the power adapter plugged in.  Because I also purchased the 3 year warranty, I have been spending a lot of time on the phone trying to get the defective device replaced…  So far, I have generated 5 trouble tickets, receiving wrong parts and still don’t have use of the fingerprint reader…  The eBay Seller; bunnypan (Viva-Revol Corp) and Lenovo sales rep have advised me that there is no way to have this machine exchanged for a working unit unless I can convince the Warranty department that I was sold a lemon…  I have that process started, but I have now invested days of what seems to be non-productive time on a system that (for the price) should work perfectly out of the box… Lenovo was my last hope for a descent system… Does anyone have advice on how I might get this problem resolved???  I have yet to deal with anyone who has a  reasonable level of customer service…

    When did Lenovo start using sub standard Fujitsu drives and low quality Samsung memory in there systems???  I was under the impression they used better parts and  components; Hitachi drives and Micron memory…

    Dan

  5. phantom76 says:

    One of my online acquaintance also had the same problem of receiving a faulty Lenovo Ideapad S10 which won’t boot beyond the bios. He had to send it back for a replacement unit.

  6. I got an email asking for more details about how I have OneNote "set up" for my daily work here at MS.