Software. Lenovo continues to lead the market when it comes to eschewing crapware in its ThinkPad products. Aside from the sad junk that ships with Windows 10 Pro, the T490s is delightfully devoid of unnecessary fluff. There are a few innocuous third-party utilities for such things as the Intel graphics, Thunderbolt 3, the audio system, and the TrackPoint. And then Lenovo’s recently-updated Vantage app, which provides support services and driver downloads. That’s it.

Pricing and configurations. The Lenovo ThinkPad T490s starts at about $1200. For that price, you get Windows 10 Home, an Intel Core i5-8265U processor, 8 GB of RAM, a 128 GB M.2 PCIe-NVMe SSD, and a 14-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display that emits a relatively dull 240 nits of light. You can choose other configurations or customize to improve all of these components, up to Windows 10 Pro, an Intel Core i7-8665U vPro processor, 16 GB of RAM, a 1 TB OPAL 2.0 M.2 PCIe-NVMe SSD, and 500 nit IPS display with HDR for a price north of $2100. The review unit, with its Core i5 processor, 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB SSD, and 400-nit non-touch display retails for about $1800. But remember that Lenovo’s prices can fluctuate a lot, and various systems are often on sale.

Recommendations and conclusions. I’m not surprised to report that the ThinkPad T490s is a delight to use and travel with. It’s an excellent option for mobile professionals who desire the style of the X1 series but need more in the way of expansion. As a premium offering, you’ll pay top dollar for a T490s, but the device’s durability, style, and portability will make it a worthwhile investment. The ThinkPad T490s is highly recommended.

The 18650 cell has become a ubiquitous standard in the lithium battery world. From power drills to early Tesla vehicles, these compact cells power all manner of portable devices. A particularly common use is in laptop batteries, where they’re often built into a pack using the Smart Battery System. This creates a smart battery that can communicate and report on its own status. PackProbe is a software tool built to communicate with these batteries, and you might just find it comes in handy.

The code runs on the WiFi-enabled Arduino Yún by default, but can be easily modified to suit other Arduino platforms. Communicating over SMBus using the Arduino’s I2C hardware, it’s capable of working with the vast majority of laptop batteries out there which comply with the Smart Battery System. With that standard being minted in 1994, it’s spread far and wide these days.

It’s a great way to harvest not only the specifications and manufacturing details of your laptop battery pack, but also to check on the health of the battery. This can give a clear idea over whether the battery is still usable, as well as whether the cells are worth harvesting for those in the recycling business.Microsoft seems unable to catch a break with its Surface slab-tops: a software update appears to have broken Wi-Fi for some users, while bulging batteries cause grief for others.

How's your Surface? Swell, just swell
The bulging of batteries is not an unheard of thing. As devices become ever less repairable and manufacturers strive to slice that extra half millimetre from a slab's thickness, battery technology has struggled to keep pace, and there comes a time when something has to give.

Overcharging, manufacturing defects, and damage from a drop are among causes fingered in the case-warping failures, which can range from annoying to downright dangerous as gasses within the battery heat up, resulting in the thing attempting to make a break for it from its tight confines.

Case in point is the anonymous Register reader who got in touch regarding Microsoft's Surface fondleslab. A sucker for punishment, the chap had picked up both the underpowered Surface 3 and premium Surface Pro 3 within a few months of each other, doubtless warming the cockles of Satya Nadella's heart.

Fast forward to now, and bizarrely both devices began to suffer from a swollen battery, sufficient to cause the screen to detach from the case (see picture below).Our hero trotted into Microsoft's recently opened London store and was given a brand spanking new Pro 6 in exchange for the bulbous Pro 3, no questions asked. However, the Surface 3 was a different matter, with staff offering him the opportunity to hand it over to be safely disposed of and would he care to purchase a replacement?

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