Lenovo T400s Review

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With better ports, a slimmer profile and enhanced wireless capability the T400s deserves your full consideration.

Lenovo’s thin and light ThinkPad T400s is an evolution in a line of workhorse laptops that is worth putting at the top of any organisation’s shortlist for regular road warriors.

The latest addition to the Lenovo T-series laptop family weighs 1.77 kg with the optical drive and measures 13.3 by 9.5 by 0.89 inches (34 x 24 x 2.2 cm) when used with the 6-cell, 5.5-hour battery. The T400s uses either an Intel Core 2 Duo SP9400 (2.4GHz) or SP9600 (2.53 GHz) processor. Other battery options are rated at up to 8.5 hours of operation.

The T400s starts at $1,599 (£975). The unit I tested priced out at $1,868 (£1140), including the optional 128GB solid-state drive (SSD) and Bluetooth support. My test system was also equipped with the Intel Wireless Wi-Fi 5100 for B, G and draft-N wireless network connectivity. Lenovo also offers optional WiMax and wireless broadband network hardware.

Pleasing Enhancements

There aren’t many “firsts” in the T400s, but its many enhancements will please mobile pros.

For example, the Esc and Delete keys are larger, as is the multi-touch touch pad.

In addition, during my tests with the T400s, it was much easier to use the touch pad than it was with previous Lenovo models, including the x300. The touch pad is now flush-mounted with a textured surface, and Lenovo has improved the palm rejection technology, so that unintended contact between the palm and touch pad during normal typing does not generate stray mouse movement.

Recognising the increased use of VOIP (voice over IP) applications, the T400s includes a microphone mute button and larger speakers. The laptop uses dual microphones at the top of the display and a characteristically quiet keyboard to minimise key-click noise while taking notes during conversations. The microphone mute button has an orange LED indicator that made it clear when I was in “listen-only” mode during a call. During tests, the mute button worked when using the built-in microphones and speakers, and when using an external USB headset.

Lenovo has made minor changes to the way the ThinkVantage “blue button” works. Pressing the button brings up the ThinkVantage Productivity Centre (TVPC), with links to useful onboard and over-the-Net services. It’s simple to find a wireless network or backup using the TVPC. One change that long-time ThinkPad users may not like is that driver updates are now subscribed to using an RSS feed. In the past, the blue button also facilitated the driver update process.