Lenovo Helix Keyboard Dock Fan Error Fix

In about 2014 we purchased a number of Lenovo Helix laptops for our workplace. It was a terrible decision. They're not suited to be used as workstations. They were designed to be portable, and they are: the battery life is okay (we get about four hours on a full charge, though they are a little old), the size is good for portability, and the keyboard, while not great, is sized well enough that you're not always accidentally stumbling over the keys. It was also designed to be a fully functioning Windows tablet, though I don't know anyone that I've worked with who prefers it as a tablet over a laptop. The only inputs are two USB ports, meaning hooking up peripherals or plugging in USB sticks can end up being a little problematic. We mostly have them hooked up to a powered hub so we can connect external monitors, keyboard, mice, printers, CD/DVD players, and other peripherals, which requires a separate piece of hardware and about a million cables. The trackpad is pretty lousy and hard to operate: it's nearly the height of the keyboard, so you're constantly brushing against it and sending your cursor all over the place. And they can get hot. Like, left in the back window of your car during August in Nevada hot.

I've deployed an extra one to myself for web design/programming/Python learning for the last few months. Having worked on one regularly, I'm not convinced they're a good purchase. Speed and performance are both fine, but it's still not something I would have picked.

There is also a recurring issue with some of the units that gives us a keyboard dock fan error during start up. This message gets displayed on the screen and the entire unit locks up. It took some googling, but I've found the cause and the solution, which is what this post is for (and you thought it was just a rant about hardware).

The keyboard dock fan error on the Helix shows up when the battery in the keyboard dock is completely drained. The solution is the remove the tablet from the keyboard dock, disconnect it from any power supply, and press the reset button on the back of the unit using a paperclip. Then you can reconnect everything and charge the battery normally. The keyboard dock fan error should disappear. You can check the battery status by clicking on the battery icon in the system tray.

Lenovo recommends updating your computer's firmware above 1.14, but I'm not convinced this actually does anything to solve the problem. My Helix is at 1.33, and I experienced this problem today (which is why this is going into the blog, in hopes of saving me future headaches).

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