The IBM Thinkpad, in one guise or another, has been the mainstay of the mobile corporate user for years, outliving any number of newer, shinier, silver and grey laptops. Many notebooks come and go but the no-nonsense black brick seems to go on for ever; the latest skew on a very successful theme is the Thinkpad T41 (model TC12FUK), a slim-line unit weighing 2.2kg.
As with most modern Thinkpads, it’s what you don’t see that is sometimes more impressive than what you do, and the Thinkpad T41 has a gem of a hidden surprise – intelligent hard drive protection. Or, as IBM calls it, Active Protection System.
A very clever feature, this detects when the notebook is falling and automatically stops the hard drive to prevent damaging the disk platters. The even more clever part is that the system adjusts itself when it monitors repetitive vibration such as you get from a train or car journey, so allowing you to carry on working as normal.
IBM offers the Thinkpad T41 in a range of options, with processors ranging from a 1.7GHz Pentium M down to the 1.4GHz Pentium M that powered our review sample. This is supported by a disappointing 256MB of PC2700 memory (333MHz DDR). 512MB is nearer the norm for a notebook these days, but there is an additional SODIMM slot should you need more, up to a maximum of 2GB.
The graphics are a little surprising, in that they are of a standard above what your normal corporate user requires. ATI’s Mobility Radeon 7500 chip provides the horsepower for the graphics and while the Thinkpad T41 certainly isn’t a gaming notebook, the graphics controller lets you have a stab at all but the most recent games.
This controller sends its output to a 14.1-inch TFT screen which has a 1,024 x 768 pixel native resolution. In today’s market this is so-so; there are plenty of notebooks out there with the same size screens offering resolutions of 1,400 x 1, 050 pixels. Having said that, the screen is clear and bright with good viewing angles.
Storage is provided by a 5,400rpm, 40GB hard drive, backed by a 16x/10x/24x/8x CD-RW and DVD combo optical drive. Should you need extra external storage then there are two Type II PC Card slots.
A full Centrino model, the Thinkpad T41 comes with Intel PRO 802.11b wireless LAN. It also has Bluetooth, an Intel PRO/1000 Gigabit Ethernet card and a 56Kbps, V.92 modem built in. There are also two USB 2.0 ports.
As with all Thinkpads, the keyboard is a joy to use and its positioning is spot on. It comes with both a Trackpoint and a Trackpad, so it should suit everyone, and has mouse buttons for both options.
The Centrino technology helps to get the best out of the Lithium Ion battery, with a very respectable battery life of four hours and fifteen minutes in our tests; among the best in its class.
IBM has equipped the Thinkpad T41 with the full suite of ThinkVantage technology. An IT manager’s dream, this is based around Access IBM, a collection of tools to help to keep the notebook secure and running properly, as well as helping to bring the system back to life should it be attacked by viruses or other malware. Access Conections is a tool which allows easy shifting between all forms of Network connection through a single interface.
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