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awalters_cawst
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Registered: ‎03-08-2016
Location: CA
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Message 1 of 11

Issue using the ports on the X280

The X280 claims to have the following ports:

  • 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (one Always On)
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C (Power Delivery, DisplayPort, Data transfer)
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C / Intel Thunderbolt 3 (Power Delivery, DisplayPort, Data transfer)
  • HDMI 1.4
  • Native RJ45 with dongle (sold separately)
  • Microphone/headphone audio combo jack

 

However, as can be seen in this picture  the Thunderbolt and the ethernet port (well, the port where you put the ethernet dongle) are *right* next to each other.  Using the specific ethernet adapter purchased from Lenovo with the laptop, part number SC10P42352, you cannot plug anything into the Thunderbolt port.  They're just too close together.

 

I tried contacting support about this, and they told me since nothing was broken it was a sales issue.  I talked to sales, and they said since it referred to the operation of the machine it was a support issue.  I'm just trying to find out - is there any way around this (other than using the dock, which is not an option)?  We purchased these machines with the intention of being able to use both of these ports, as there is no mention of them being mutually exclusive.  Maybe there's a different adapter that would allow us to use both?

 

My hour+ of conversation with Lenovo directly was fruitless (the support person did not understand that Thunderbolt is an interface standard, not the name of their dock, and refused to be convinced otherwise.  He would *only* use the word Thunderbolt synomously with their dock - and the sales person said that I had to talk to support because it might be a driver issue...Smiley Frustrated), so I'm hoping anyone here might have these found some sort of workaround.

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Message 2 of 11

Re: Issue using the ports on the X280

Hi awalters_cawst!

 

I see the dilemma.

 

What you want is Thunderbolt 3 port + Ethernet port with Ethernet Gen 2 dongle, but mechanically they're mutually exclusive. How about Thunderbolt 3 port + USB-C port USB-C Ethernet dongle? The dongles are the same price, and it's still just one dongle, with the same functional result.

I don't work for Lenovo. I'm a crazy volunteer!
awalters_cawst
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Message 3 of 11

Re: Issue using the ports on the X280

Do you have a link for the dongle you're referring to?  The one I got was the only option it gave me when I configured the machine for purchase...

 

Thanks!

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Message 4 of 11

Re: Issue using the ports on the X280

The Accessory SmartFind;

http://accsmartfind.lenovo.com/

http://accsmartfind.lenovo.com/products/4X90L66917

 

The Options Compatability Matrix:

https://support.lenovo.com/us/en/solutions/accs-guide

 

 

I don't work for Lenovo. I'm a crazy volunteer!
awalters_cawst
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Message 5 of 11

Re: Issue using the ports on the X280

Ah...I misunderstood you.  I thought it was a USB-C adapter that had both USB-C and ethernet on the other end.  Unfortunately, the one you linked wouldn't work for us - we need the (USB-C) power, Thunderbird (one monitor, in addition to HDMI for other), and ethernet plugged in at the same time.  So using one of the USB-C ports solely for ethernet doesn't get us where we need to be.

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Message 6 of 11

Re: Issue using the ports on the X280

You can always use the USB 3.0 to Ethernet dongle. Doesn't the Thunderbolt 3 monitor provide power also, making the USB-C power redundant? Either way that seems like a lot of cables hanging out. What's your application again? Why won't a Thunderbolt dock work?

I don't work for Lenovo. I'm a crazy volunteer!
awalters_cawst
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Message 7 of 11

Re: Issue using the ports on the X280

The adapters we have that we want to use on the Thunderbolt port do not provide power, no (they are USB-C to USB-C and VGA.  Sadly, I tried chaining them - putting that one in, and then the power into it, and that didn't work).  We don't want a dock because it's an extra expense, and as a charity, we try to minimize those wherever possible.  Also, our staff often works in different parts of the office (breakout rooms, communal areas, etc...) so we'd have to have extra docks in all those places, which would only work for a fraction of the machines we have, or have people carry docks around, or sacrifice a monitor or ability to charge or bandwidth.  We do a large amount of video conferencing, so the extra bandwidth/stability of the wired ethernet is usually requested for that.

 

We've been able to use wired ethernet, power, and two monitors on every generation of X series laptop before this without a dock, so it's definitely been a shock to not find a way to do it here.

 

And regardless of why we want it - if the ports are advertised, they should all work.  If I have two ports, but can only use one of them at a time, I don't have two ports - functionally, I have one port that can serve two different purposes.

awalters_cawst
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Message 8 of 11

Re: Issue using the ports on the X280

Looking through the list, I could probably use the USB-C Travel Hub or the ethernet adapters plus the USB-C to VGA and power, but 1. we already have the USB-C to VGA adapters (we bought a bunch of them with our prior batch of X270s), and 2. it's still more expensive, though cheaper and less bulky than a dock.  So it's a better option, but still not ideal - and I still don't understand why they'd put two ports in a way that would preclude one of them from being used, and then misadvertise it.

awalters_cawst
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Message 9 of 11

Re: Issue using the ports on the X280

Spent another couple of hours dealing with Lenovo over the last couple of days, trying to get the ethernet adapters swapped out for the USB-C travel hubs.  I'm astonished at how I haven't yet dealt with a single person who has shown understanding of this being an issue, despite many pictures illustrating the problem.  Still waiting to hear back.  Also still trying to find out if the USB-C ethernet options will support PXE boot (it says it does for systems that support it, but still haven't found that info for the X280).  May have to have one of the RJ45 dongles around just for initial deployments.

 

But at the end of the day, this different cable is really just a workaround for the issue.  It seems like literally the only way to use both ports is to use the dock.  I still say this is very misleading advertising, and I wish they'd fix it, but given how no one I've yet spoken to seems to even grasp that people would actually want to plug cables into all advertised ports I don't see it getting changed any time soon.  Hopefully this post might be useful to someone else pre-purchase, at the very least.

psychedup74
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Message 10 of 11

Re: Issue using the ports on the X280

I guess I've landed in the same boat. My employer issued me an X280 laptop this week, which is a great laptop besides this issue. Since I was used to having a laptop display + 2 external monitors, and prefer to plug in an ethernet cable when I can... I bought a USB-C to HDMI adapter so I could continue using it that way, only to discover that with the Ethernet dongle plugged in, the 2nd USB-C port is blocked.

 

So I guess I will probably just use Wifi, or perhaps get a USB3 ethernet adapter, but it seems silly to not be able to use the built-in ethernet just because of this. I figured there must be some sort of combined USB-C / Ethernet dongle but I see no such thing in the accessories offered here.

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