Review: Lenovo ThinkPad T400s
July 29, 2009
In late June 2009, Lenovo announced the ThinkPad T400s 14.1-inch widescreen, which is based on Intel's Montevina/Centrino2 notebook platform. The ThinkPad T400s adds a new extremely lightweight (sub 4 pound) 14-inch form factor to the ThinkPad line but does not replace the ThinkPad T400 for most users.
Design and Changes
The ThinkPad T400s is a combination of the design of the ThinkPad T400 and the ThinkPad X300/X301. It inherits the X300/X301's basic design brief (extremely thin and light but still relatively full featured), but adds the additional screen size and modular bay of a T400.
The T400s also includes evolutionary but not revolutionary modifications to the ThinkPad T-series keyboard, trackpad, and other input sources. In particular, the Escape and Delete keys are larger, the trackpad has multi-touch capability and a slightly dimpled surface, and the accessory buttons have been redesigned. The only display choice for the T400s includes an LED backlight.
What is missing compared to a ThinkPad T400 is the option of discrete graphics, some expansion choices, and some build-to-order choices - like UltraWideBand (UWB) and WiMax. Unlike many of Apple's most recent professional systems, the T400s retains an ExpressCard/34 slot as an option.
The ThinkPad T400s is EPEAT Gold-compliant and Energy Star 5.0-certified.
Several considerations when ordering a ThinkPad T400s:
See ISC's Notebook Purchasing Guide for more configuration hints. As of July 2009, configuring a ThinkPad T400s to the Lightweight Notebook specification can be done for approximately $1,450 to $1,800. The University's Computer Connection (PennKey authentication required) has two T400s configurations available; one with a hard drive and one with a solid state drive (SSD).Naming Conventions
In 2008 Lenovo moved to rationalize the naming conventions and marketing strategies of its ThinkPad line: in the case of the T400s, T is for the model line, 4 is for the screen size (14 inches with the 1 truncated), and s is for thinnest and lightest. It seems reasonable to expect that the model following the T400s will be the T401s.
Windows Vista Performance
ISC tested a ThinkPad T400s with 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo P9500, 1066 MHz 3.0 GB RAM, integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics, and 250 GB/5400 RPM hard drive. It received a Windows Experience Index base score of 3.8, with individual scores of:
These scores suggest that Windows Vista performance will be quite good for most users on a ThinkPad T400s configured in this manner.
ISC sees the ThinkPad T400s as an interesting new form factor, giving users who prefer a 14-inch screen a substantially lighter choice than before (the T400s weighs a minimum of 0.9 pounds less than the T400, depending on the T400's battery configuration). Please note that the T400s has the same resolution (1440 x 900) as the ThinkPad X301 - the pixels are larger and thus more comfortable to some eyes.
The biggest compromise in the ThinkPad T400s is the Intel integrated video, which is not competitive with the NVIDIA integrated video most notably available in Apple's MacBooks and MacBook Pros. If Intel's next generation integrated video (due in early 2010) is a substantial upgrade, ISC may be willing to consider the next version of the T400s as a mid-weight desktop replacement.
ISC expects to see many features of the T400s (such as the keyboard redesign and the docking solutions) in future versions of the ThinkPad T400 and T500.
When correctly configured to the lightweight notebook specification in the Notebook Purchasing Guide, the ThinkPad T400s is approved for general use at the University.
ThinkPad T400s graphic courtesy of Lenovo
--John Mulhern III, Lead for Client Technologies, ISC Technology Support Services (July 29, 2009)
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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