IBM is set to unveil the new ThinkPad X40 as the lightest notebook ever built by the company as well as the first to incorporate file recovery technology. Europe wil pay more for it, and get a slightly limited range, however.

The X40 is currently available in Japan and other countries in Asia, but IBM is now releasing specifications for the product, which will be available worldwide as of 24 February, said Grant Shenk, worldwide product manager.

IBM shaved about 14 ounces (410 grams) off the weight of the X31 in order to produce the X40, he said. The new notebook weighs just 2.7 pounds (1.2 kilograms) and measures 26.8 centimetres long by 21.1 centimetres wide by 2.7 centimetres thick, but comes with a full-size keyboard.

A base configuration costs US$1,499 with a 1.0GHz Ultra Low Voltage Pentium M processor from Intel, 256MB of memory, a 20GB hard drive, a 12.1-inch display, and Intel's Pro/Wireless 2100 802.11b chip. Preconfigured versions of the notebook will be available on Monday, and customers can also build their own systems, Shenk said. In the UK, the entry level is slightly higher, and the price is more.

The base configuration comes with a four-cell battery that provides up to 3.5 hours of use under normal circumstances, but an eight-cell battery that lasts for up to 7.5 hours is also available, Shenk said.

The X40 is IBM's first notebook to come with Rescue and Recovery with Rapid Restore, Shenk said. This feature allows users to access a protected area of the system in the event they are unable to get Microsoft's Windows XP to load properly, he said.

Pressing the Access IBM button during the initial boot process takes a user to a troubleshooting screen where they can determine what is wrong with their system, recover critical files and download them to external media, or access the Web through a built-in browser, Shenk said.

IBM also plans to announce new X31 models with faster Pentium M processors and support for the Rescue and Recovery feature, Shenk said. The X31 was previously the lightest notebook in IBM's product line at 3.6 pounds.