IBM's thin-and-light ThinkPad T42, is a 'Dothan' Pentium M-based update to the popular ThinkPad T41. The T42 is almost as fast as the best-performing Dothan we've tested, the Dell Latitude D800. Battery life for the ThinkPad T42 was also good, although it's by no means the best we've tested in this regard. But with a reasonable £1,280 (ex. VAT) price tag in its base configuration, the ThinkPad T42 represents good value among notebooks equipped with Intel's latest Pentium M processor.
For a notebook offering the latest in processor technology, the ThinkPad T42 is strikingly modest in its design (which is par for the course for the all-black ThinkPads). We tested the smaller model, which has a 14.1in. XGA screen and weighs in at 2kg, measuring 31.1cm wide by 25.5cm deep by 2.66cm high; the larger model has a high-resolution (1,600 by 1,200) 15in. screen and weighs 2.6kg. Both are a good deal bulkier than IBM's new ultralight, the ThinkPad X40. As on all IBM models, the metal hinges connecting the T42's lid to the body are tough as nails and well suited to day-in, day-out business use.
The IBM ThinkPad T42's keyboard is broad and comfortable, with plenty of room toward the front rim for your palms. You get a touchpad and a pointing stick that nestles in the middle of the keyboard. We also like the simple buttons above the keyboard, including volume controls and an Access IBM button that directs you to support and troubleshooting information.
IBM has recently refreshed the ThinkPad T42, adding an optional fingerprint sensor for security. Hardly noticeable, the small embedded sensor strip sits on the right-hand side of the wrist-rest, below the keyboard's cursor keys. By simply brushing your finger over it, you can log on to Windows without having to bother with typing in your username/password combination; you can also use it to protect the notebook at power-up.
The included security management software, which is easy to set up, wisely advises you to register more than one fingertip in case you injure the one you regularly use to the extent that the reader can't recognise it. Our reviewer's documentation also informs us that because the sensor reads the electrical characteristics of your fingerprint, a severed finger will work on the sensor only for about 15 minutes, after which its electrical properties degrade -- good to know. We found the sensor reliable, impossible to fool and easy to program. It would often ask us to rescan our finger once or twice, which was slightly annoying, but it never locked us out or authenticated the wrong person.
The standard configuration for the IBM ThinkPad T42 includes a smallish 40GB hard drive and a combo CD-RW/DVD drive in the notebook's modular bay. If you're prepared to spend £326 (ex. VAT) extra, you can fill the bay with an IBM Multi-Burner UltraBay Slim Drive that will read and write CDs and DVDs; if it's more battery life you're after, £137 (ex. VAT) gets you an UltraBay Slim Li-Polymer Battery. A hard drive upgrade to 80GB costs £317 (ex. VAT). Around the rim, you'll find two USB 2.0 ports, a serial port, an RJ-11 port for the T42's built-in modem, a Gigabit Ethernet port, audio-in and audio-out jacks, two Cardbus PC Card slots, a parallel port for a printer, and a VGA port for an external monitor. That covers the basics, but accoutrements such as FireWire and flash media slots are missing. You can add Wi-Fi for between £43 and £67 (ex. VAT), depending on which wireless adapter you choose -- our ThinkPad T42 came with Intel's PRO/Wireless 2200BG Mini-PCI adapter.
Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2 was loaded on our review unit, but IBM supports operating systems dating back to Windows 98 SE. Software for the ThinkPad T42 includes InterVideo WinDVD Creator and Norton AntiVirus 2004. The ThinkPad T42 also comes preloaded with IBM's new Rescue and Recovery platform, a secondary operating system that lets you recover data on your hard drive and access the Internet even when your primary operating system won't boot.
The ThinkPad T42 is among the best-performing notebooks we've tested in its weight and processor class, scoring 201 on our MobileMark 2002 test -- in fact, our highest recorded score for any notebook is 216. The standard six-cell Li-ion battery didn't do quite as well in the battery rundown test, lasting for 3 hours and 37 minutes. However, if long battery life is important, you can add a high-capacity lithium-ion battery for £144 (ex. VAT) and/or fit the £137 (ex. VAT) Ultrabay battery.
The ThinkPad T42 comes with IBM's industry-standard service-and-support package, which includes the company's standard three-year warranty. You can upgrade the three-year system warranty to include either on-site or depot repair for up to a maximum of five years.
Tags: Laptops Computers