The affordable, all-purpose Lenovo ThinkPad SL400 laptops offer much of the look and feel you'd expect from a more expensive ThinkPad.

Another familiar ThinkPad trend: the Lenovo ThinkPad SL400 has both a touchpad and a touch-point navigation device; not many laptops provide both these days. A couple of multimedia shortcut keys appear on the left side of the keyboard, but alt-function keyboard combos handle basic volume controls and practically everything else (for example, Fn + down arrow is the combination for Play/Pause multimedia). The one button to rule them all: a helpful blue backlit key that links to the Lenovo Cares utility suite.

The depth and breadth of the Lenovo ThinkPad SL400's software bundle goes well beyond what you normally get at first powerup. Many laptops content themselves with a 60-day trial of MS Office or some obnoxious antivirus package. Here, you receive a beefy Lenovo Cares application suite, which provides handy shortcuts and user-friendly apps without getting in your way. Everything from the ThinkVantage GPS tool (which tethers to Google Maps by default) to the proprietary Sidebar gadgets points to a well-conceived package.

OUR VERDICT

Overall, the Lenovo ThinkPad SL400 is a sound business laptop. Although it doesn't pack the firepower of some high-end machines, it gets the job done handily. Its combination of performance and value places it near the top of our charts.