The long-distance runner among notebooks, the ThinkPad X41 sprinted for 6 hours on the included extended battery that came with our test unit. Its 3.3-pound weight keeps you light on your own feet. Back at the desk, the ultraportable snaps onto the UltraBase Dock, a thin bottom slice that replicates ports and provides an internal bay that houses an optical drive. IBM says that this time around the dock comes standard with the system.

Unlike some other ThinkPads, which have both trackpad and eraserhead, the X41 has only the latter. Touch typists, however, will love the pitch-perfect layout and deep keystroke. Plus, there are a few extras. A dedicated button launches the Acrobat user manual; a fingerprint reader bypasses password entry. A combination keystroke activates IBM's patented ThinkLight, which is an LED in the top edge of the 12.1-inch screen that shines just enough light on the keyboard so you can identify the keys for typing. The ThinkLight is a nice extra that will come in handy if you spend a lot of time taking notes in dark places like conference halls or on red-eye flights.

Our 1.6-GHz Pentium M 725-equipped review unit with 512 Mbyte of RAM is an updated version of the ThinkPad X41 we first reviewed in September 2005. Right now, this is the fastest processor that you can get with the X41. The unit performed fast enough for mainstream applications, although its WorldBench 5 score of 66 was a few points lower than scores of other notebooks with the same processor and RAM. Port and network connections are basic, but the X41 is easily expandable, offering user-upgradable storage and memory.

While you needn't be a suit to appreciate a business notebook like the ThinkPad X41, you might need corporate backing to afford it. The price tag for a similar (1.5GHz) model to the one we tested, which includes a docking station and combination DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, is £1549.98.

Despite average performance, the X41 has long battery life with an extended battery, a light weight, and a great keyboard.

OUR VERDICT

Light weight and long battery life keep this laptop at the front of the pack.