ThinkPads are the three-piece power suits of the laptop world, delivering sturdy hardware and high-end components in an unassuming black chassis. The new Lenovo ThinkPad T400 is no exception. Excellent battery life and useful productivity applications are wrapped in a sturdy shell, offering business travelers an efficient platform for getting things done.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T400 unit we tested scored a 92 on our WorldBench 6 test suite, slightly outperforming the Acer TravelMate 6293 among top-of-the-line all-purpose laptops.
Applications load swiftly on the Lenovo ThinkPad T400's 7200rpm, 160GB hard drive, which uses an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.53GHz T9400 processor with 2GB of RAM and a 256MB ATI Radeon Mobility HD 3400 GPU.
Regarding the GPU, however, it's best to keep your graphics expectations low: in our tests, game graphics fell flat, as indicated by the Lenovo ThinkPad T400's frame rate of 16 frames per second on Enemy Territory: Quake Wars run at 1024 by 768 resolution. But that result isn't a huge shock; this notebook is strictly business.
Armed with a resolution of 1440 by 900 pixels, the Lenovo ThinkPad T400's 14.1in screen provides adequate real estate for multitasking. The LED-backlight display is easy on the eyes under standard flourescent lighting; and if you crank the brightness up, visibility is adequate in sunlight, in a pinch. The nine-cell battery protrudes uncomfortably from the rear of the case, but after you enjoy 8 hours of battery life on a single charge, you'll be inclined to forgive it.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T400's keyboard is typical Lenovo fare - excellent for hammering out lengthy prose, with ample room between the quiet keys. There are some notable shortcut keys, too.
A magnifier mapped to the spacebar lets you toggle the resolution to make small text readable; and a ThinkLight shortcut fires up an LED light on the top edge of the display's frame to help you spot keys in low-light conditions. The standard ThinkPad pointer nub is present, too, and the laptop's touchpad (for people who don't like the nub) rests right below it. Having both options is nice, but the dual sets of pointer-buttons can result in accidental button presses, if you're not familiar with the layout.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T400 provides few extras (for instance, the only productivity software you get is a 60-day trial for Microsoft Office), but all of the essentials are in place, including a webcam, a DVD/CD burner, VGA-out, and an Express Card slot.
You'll also find the standard 802.11 Wireless LAN, and Bluetooth connectivity options. And the Lenovo ThinkPad T400 we tested packed two much-anticipated new security features (Intel's Anti-Theft Protection and Absolute Software's Computrace technology), along with an optional fingerprint reader, for an extra digit of protection.
The machine's three USB slots - two on the left, and one on the right - are perpendicular to the case, allowing USB cables and peripherals to park alongside one another with relative ease. A four-pin FireWire port resides on the front of the chassis, along with the microphone and headphone jacks. You'll likely want to keep a pair of headphones handy: the speakers are loud enough, but sound quality is middling.