What does it take to make a
Dust is perhaps the most insidious threat to laptops. It can find gaps that you didn’t even know existed, then lodge itself far beyond reach. This chamber coats ThinkPads with fabric or sand to see how they hold up against a horde of tiny particles.
This room is also used to test radio interference. The giant antenna beams radio frequency at the devices on the far side of the room, stress-testing them to ensure they don’t fall victim to errant radio waves.
Do you know what this machine does? If you’re stumped ... well, so were we. Engineers explained it’s a fan test that bakes the fans at up to 80 degrees Celsius while also swinging them back and forth. It’s every laptop fan’s worst nightmare.
What you can see is twelve ThinkPads on a rack. What you can’t see is the temperature – a brisk zero degrees Celsius. Lenovo uses this gigantic refrigerator to make sure ThinkPads can endure a night out in the cold.
Shout all you like! You won’t make much racket in this noise-isolating room, called an anechoic chamber. As you might expect, ThinkPad engineers use it to test noise from system fans under load. Too loud, and it’s back to the drawing board.
This isn’t a hypnosis machine, despite the pinwheel. In fact, this little block simulates the human body, letting ThinkPad engineers test radio frequency absorption. That’s important, since too much RF can make you a tad uncomfortable -- and the European Union, United States, and most other countries regulate it.
Just looking at this photo makes us queasy, but the purpose of the test is apparent. Laptop displays often take the brunt of accidental bumps, so ThinkPad engineers test durability by giving the screen a twist with this machine.
Have you ever jammed away on a keyboard, only to feel it flex and quake like a gummy worm? This machine helps ThinkPad engineers stop that problem cold. Only a Terminator could clamp a key with more force than this rig.
Once a ThinkPad is hammered into submission by the previous tests, engineers put it through an X-Ray machine to look for damage. This is a quicker, better alternative to physically taking the machine apart -- though engineers sometimes do that, too.
ThinkPads are locked into this machine’s grip. Once there, it thumps away on the ThinkPad’s lid and chassis to simulate what happens to a laptop stuffed in luggage or a backpack with other loose, heavy items – like books or groceries.
Now it’s time to bring out the heavy equipment! ThinkPads locked into this powerful machine are repeatedly bumped and thunked, as might happen if you haphazardly drop your backpack with your ThinkPad in it.
Most of ThinkPad’s lab tests are scientific, but this one doesn’t require much calibration – except, perhaps, the weight of the engineer conducting the test!
Static electricity is more than an annoyance. A sudden zap can actually fry a laptop. ThinkPad engineers guard against that in the most entertaining way possible – they shock laptops with a bolt of electricity!
Interference from nearby electronics can cause serious problems if a computer isn’t properly shielded – it could even make the PC crash. A foam sheet embedded with active antennas is used to make sure ThinkPads won’t succumb to such issues. ThinkPad?
You might point to the iconic black “bento box” design, the TrackPoint, the concave keyboard, or any number of other unique features. You’d be half right.
ThinkPad’s look, feel, and feature set remains unique in the world of PC hardware, but the brand is known for more than looks. Its durability is legend. Geeks who demand a reliable laptop almost always end up with a ThinkPad.
In celebration of the
ThinkPad’s 25th anniversary, Lenovo allowed Digital Trends a peek inside its Yamato Labs, located in Yokohama, Japan. The lab is responsible for a huge range of tests, from resilience against static electricity to hinge durability to radio frequency resistance. Every new ThinkPad goes through a gantlet of trials, and if a design doesn’t pass, the engineers have to take it back to the drawing board.
Check out the gallery above for an inside look at the lab that turns laptops into ThinkPads.