Lenovo ThinkPad T43 Review

Lenovo ThinkPad T43 Review

That’s right folks, I finally have purchased my own laptop, to keep and use, and it is not a MacBook or MacBook Pro. I chose to buy a Lenovo (IBM) ThinkPad T43. I add the IBM because it has the IBM logo on it rather than the Lenovo branding that their 3000 series has. A tough business machine, with reasonable specifications. In this Core Duo world, can an older Pentium M still stand out?

Specifications

  • Intel Pentium M Processor 1.7GHz
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • 60 GB 5400RPM Hard Drive
  • 512MB DDR2 Memory
  • CD-RW/DVD Combo
  • 14.1″ TFT Display
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • ATI Mobility Radeon x300 64MB Graphics
  • Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG 802.11 b/g
  • Integrated Fingerprint Reader

I also received an additional 6 Cell Battery and an additional A/C Adapter. I am still waiting on my Organizer Carrying Case, as they currently don’t have any. Hopefully, it will be here soon, as wrapping it in a towel and putting it in my backpack is not the most fun way of lugging my laptop around safely.

Hardware
I chose the to get a ThinkPad rather than anything else due to some of the product reviews I have read, any my previous experience with IBM machines when I worked in the corporate world. I was really impressed with their build quality back then, and I still am. When you open the machine for the first time, it feels strong. You can see the metal hinges and the screen feels reinforced. There is no noticeable flimsiness to the machine, and that makes me feel like I purchased a machine that will last.

I chose the 14.1 inch model, rather than the 15 inch model because of price, weight and battery savings. Battery life to me is of utmost importance, and so gaining an inch of screen to lose any amount of battery life did not seem worth it to me. The resolution on the screen might put some people off as it only displays at a maximum of 1024×768, which is fine by me, though I find myself getting much more used to my 1280×1024 on my desktop at home, making the laptop seem cramped and objects rather large.

The outside of the machine is clad in a matte black finish that while professional looking, it also makes me think old fasioned, as it is not as slick looking as many of the Dell and Apple machines out there today.

The weight of the machine is a reasonable 5.2lbs, which actually feels rather light compared to some of the machines I have looked at lately. The overall size of the T43 is not bad either, and I have found it easy to hold, and move around without fear of dropping it.

On the outside of the machine there are two USB ports, but they are both on the left hand side of the ThinkPad, which I find a little odd as the connection for my mouse has to go around the back of the machine before meeting up with my hand on the right hand side. This won’t really be counted as a negative though, as most corded mice have a cable long enough, and it won’t matter to wireless mice at all which side the USB port is on, but I just fount it a little odd.

On the left hand side it also has connector ports for S-video, a v.92 56k modem, gigabit ethernet, an ExpressCard slot and your headphone and microphone jacks. Along the back you have a printer port (Parallel connection) and A/C adapter connector ports. The right hand side has the VGA out, and the CD Burner/DVD Rom combo drive. In the front you can see the small Infrared port which I have yet to use for anything, but it is always nice to have the option.

The six cell battery currently lasts me around three and a half hours with the wireless on, meaning that between the two batteries I can make a full seven hours without recharging, which while good, is not as much as I hoped to get from each charge, but enough to do almost all I will need in a day. If I was not going to get the extra six cell battery, I would have opted for the larger nine cell battery to get closer to around five hours on a single charge with the single larger battery.

I have found the wireless is really decent on this machine, as I have used it at great distance from my wireless router, and have been able to still connect. I have found though that when on battery it will sometimes lower the power to the wireless radio, meaning a drop in connection speed or a total drop in connection, which can be a bit frustrating, but if you jump through the myriad of options in IBM’s software, you can change its attitude and get your connection back properly, though it will take a fair bit of battery life to do so.

One of the most interesting and fun features to play with is the fingerprint reader. With one swipe of any finger I have entered into the system, it logs me into Windows. Sometimes I swipe too fast or too slow, or at an odd angle, but most of the time it works flawlessly, and is much quicker than pushing CTRL+ALT+DEL and entering in my username and password. It also provides that bit of “wow” factor when people see me do it after my computer boots up. Apple users either think its nifty and wish they had it or that it is gimmicky and silly, but I really like it. Anything that makes my life a bit easier is good in my books, and swiping my finger once rather than typing twenty characters or so, is golden in my book.

Software
The ThinkPad T43 came with Windows XP Pro with Service Pack 2 already installed as well as a variety of IBM Software which is to help me with a variety of tasks, including setting up the fingerprint reader. It also comes with a 90 day trial of Norton Antivirus, but other than that, the machine is relatively empty. No other business software, word processors, or anything.

Overall
I really enjoy having the ThinkPad T43 in my life. I am still confused on if I should call it an IBM, as the branding on the machine says, or Lenovo, as that is who I bought it from and who will be providing support for me, but identity issues aside, the T43 makes a great anything machine. I can watch DVD’s on its combo drive, easily carry it from place to place without worrying it will fall to pieces, and it handles every work-related task I throw at it with ease. I highly recommend the ThinkPad T43, and hope to continue to enjoy it for years to come. While the world is going through Intel Core Duo craziness, and MacBook Pro obsession, the ThinkPad T43 is that quiet wonder, and those that own one will not be left wanting anything else.

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