The ThinkPad T-series is the Cadillac of business notebooks, but, as General Motors will tell you, nobody’s so good that that they wouldn’t benefit from a little trimming.
That’s exactly what Lenovo has done with the T400s, its latest revision to company’s popular T400. But Lenovo knows better than to screw around too much with a good thing.
Clad in that familiar black shell, the 14.1-inch laptop (screen resolution: 1440 x 900 pixels) has a case that’s only about 4/5 of an inch thick and just under 4 pounds, a whole pound lighter than the T400. Apparently the s tacked onto the end of T400 stands for “svelte.”
Performance is simply outstanding: While graphics are a tad weak due to the lack of a video card, the high-end CPU (the newest Core 2 Duo SP9600, running at 2.53 GHz), 2 GB of RAM and 128-GB solid-state drive give the T400s plenty of juice to power through general apps, running rings around nearly all other notebooks we’ve benchmarked this year. The screen, now backlit by LEDs, is also dazzlingly bright — one of the brightest on the market, especially in this size class. Netbook and MacBook Air users, take a back seat: There’s also a DVD burner.
ThinkPad geeks will most enjoy the little tweaks that Lenovo has given the T400s: The Esc and Delete keys are now double-sized for easier access, and though the speakers still suck, at least the unit features better volume controls, including a dedicated microphone On/Off button. A 2-megapixel webcam with dual microphones rests atop the LCD, and then there’s the textured, multitouch touchpad — now flush with the palm rest — that is possibly the most comfortable touchpad we’ve ever used.
Price is the one of the few nagging issues. Even without the SSD, the T400s starts at $1,600. Our test unit’s configuration hit $2,000, a tough sell even in a good economy.
But if the price isn’t an issue for you, this is a top contender for a business notebook. And by the way, after spending so much quality time with the T400s, we’ve figured out what the “s” really stands for. It stands for “sweet.”