The Lenovo Thinkpad T400s is a slim 14-inch business laptop which has all the right things going for it -- be it performance, feature set, or just plain ol' rugged build quality. It is a very good candidate for a very well built business laptop for a jet-setting businessman, let's look why.
Lenovo's Thinkpad range of laptops are legendary for their tough build quality and roll-cage design. In the laptop world, a Thinkpad is seldom attractive (barring the 13-inch Lenovo Thinkpad Edge) or known for its looks, but it offers uncompromised ruggedness. Like the Thinkpad Edge and Thinkpad X301, the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s is very well built and has an industrial gray look. The T400s' screen is tightly fastened to the rest of the chassis with two tough metal hinges and it doesn't bend or buckle -- the same is true for the rest of the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s, a very well built business laptop. While on the go, the laptop can easily withstand a few bumps and knocks without any damage, and its screen can be locked to the rest of the chassis. The Lenovo Thinkpad T400s also has a spill-resistant keyboard and shock-resistant hard drive bay.
In the laptop world, a Thinkpad is seldom attractive (barring the 13-inch Lenovo Thinkpad Edge) or known for its looks, but it offers uncompromised ruggedness.
The Thinkpad T400s is not only very well built, in terms of toughness, it is also surprisingly thin and light for a 14-inch laptop form factor. With a standard six-cell battery, the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s weighs just 1.8-kg -- none of our Top 5 Mainstream Laptops weigh under 2-kg. It is a testimony to Lenovo's excellent product design to forge a laptop such as the Thinkpad T400s; one that's so light and yet so tough.
The Lenovo Thinkpad T400s has one of the best screen and input devices (keyboard and touchpad) to work with on a laptop. Its 14.1-inch LED-backlit screen supports a maximum screen resolution of 1400x900 pixels -- greater than most 14-inch laptops that limit screen resolution to 1366x768 pixels. What's more, the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s' screen is matte in nature, and it is ideal for extended hours of text reading. The laptop's screen isn't excessively bright but evenly lit and displays clear, crisp text. The Thinkpad T400s' horizontal viewing angles are very good but vertical viewing angles are average. Another advantage of the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s' matte screen over mainstream laptops' glossy screen is that matte screens are great for outdoor use -- unlike glossy screens which are nothing short of reflective mirrors under direct light, matte screens don't have any glare and therefore great for both indoor and outdoor usage.
No Thinkpad review would be complete without mentioning the laptop's keyboard and touchpad. And it's the same old story with the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s; it continues to uphold Lenovo's high standards in its implementation of an excellent keyboard and touchpad. There are no isolated, inwardly curved keys (re: Lenovo Thinkpad Edge) on the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s and its keyboard design and layout is typical of a Thinkpad. The keys are nicely packed together and great for typing -- there is no flex and every keystroke provides optimum tactile feedback. The keyboard has all the important keys like Space, Shift, Control, Enter, Delete and Escape in prominence. The Lenovo Thinkpad T400s' regular touchpad is nicely textured and very responsive -- its two isolated mouse buttons are great to use as well. However, if you've used a Thinkpad in the past you will recognize the Lenovo T400s' trackpoint navigation system. The red rubberized trackpoint sits between the B, G, and H keys, offering an extremely convenient way of moving the mouse around on the Thinkpad T400s' desktop. And the extra set of mouse buttons (above the traditional touchpad) on the T400s make sure you leave the other set virtually untouched and unused once you get hooked to the trackpoint navigation.
Hardware Specs & Other Features
The Lenovo Thinkpad T400s is feature-rich to say the least in terms of internal hardware and other ancillary features. For starters, it comes with an Intel Core 2 Duo SP9600 Core 2 Duo 2.53-GHz processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, 128GB SSD, and onboard Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics processor. For a high-end business laptop, these specs are very good. This will ensure that all your regular office apps and programs run smoothly on the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s, with the occasional movie thrown in to pass time during long flights or if you're plain bored. Apart from all your standard input-output ports (USB, Audio, Ethernet, DVD writer, VGA, ExpressCard slot, etc.), the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s also incorporates some high-speed communication ports: eSATA and DisplayPort, for e.g., placed at its back spine. There's also a powered USB port on the Thinkpad T400s' back spine, which allows you to charge USB-powered devices even when the laptop's switched off. Apart from Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n connectivity, the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s also comes with the most impressive set of wireless communication support available on a business laptop: WWAN with GPS, WLAN, WiMAX, UltraWide Band and Bluetooth. There's also a SIM card slot beneath its battery compartment that supports a 3G modem. The laptop also comes with a docking station at the bottom. However, most glaring omission on the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s' hardware is the inclusion of a card reader -- there is no card reader on its chassis.
The Lenovo Thinkpad T400s comes with a 32-bit Windows Vista Business operating system with the option of upgrading to Windows 7. Its keyboard is spill-resistant and its hard drive bay is shock-resistant, and the laptop comes with a fingerprint reader on the palmrest. All in all, the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s pretty good hardware building blocks and it has extensive wireless communication support -- my only gripe is it has only 128GB of hard drive space. The laptop comes with three years warranty.
The Lenovo Thinkpad T400s comes with Lenovo's proprietary ThinkVantage Technologies software suite which makes managing your Thinkpad a lot easier compared to other laptops. The ThinkVantage Productivity Center resides as a widget-dock to the left edge of the Thinkpad T400s' desktop screen, and it's your one-stop location from scheduling backups, finding wireless hotspots, to watching and editing a video file. Updating your laptop's drivers and software is taken care by just clicking on 'Update my system' on ThinkVantage Productivity Center menu. Maintenance of your Thinkpad T400s is also possible from ThinkVantage Center -- not only that you can also enable or disable hard drive protection. There's a separate hard drive partition on the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s for regular backups of your system -- it also comes in handy while restoring your system to a past date. You can also enable the laptop's TPM data encryption from here, and the laptop's biometric software to register your fingerprint into the Thinkpad T400s. ThinkVantage technologies tries to make sure that you are the only one accessing your data on the Thinkpad T400s, and that there's no unauthorized access at any stage. You can also get online support and other help through the ThinkVantage Center for your Thinkpad T400s.
The Lenovo Thinkpad T400s did very well in terms of overall performance. Through our slew of synthetic benchmarks, the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s managed a score of 99 in WorldBench 6. Even other benchmarks (PC Mark 05, PC Mark Vantage, Cinebench, etc) suggest the Thinkpad T400s to be a very good multitasker. Rest assured you will be able to do more than just work on your spreadsheets, browse the Web on your favorite browser, and listen to music simultaneously. But no gaming on the laptop's onboard video card.
Although the Lenovo T400s' screen isn't ideal for movie-watching, you can watch 720p and 1080p HD videos without any trouble on the business laptop. The Thinkpad T400s' onboard speakers -- placed vertically on either side of the keyboard -- are actually pretty good by laptop standards. Its screen is ideal for extensive text reading, as mentioned earlier.
At full screen brightness and high performance preset, its six-cell battery lasted just 1 hour 21 minutes in our synthetic benchmark test. However, on a power safe 'battery stretch' mode (one-third screen brightness, disabling bluetooth and other Wi-Fi radios and powering off the optical drive), the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s managed to last just over 4 hours 30 minutes of Web usage, which is quite good for a laptop of its class.
The Lenovo Thinkpad T400s range sells for Rs. 90,000. It also comes with three years' warranty. At that price, it's not targeted at the budget-conscious businessperson who will be buying the Dell Vostro V13 or the HP ProBook 4520s. Instead, the Lenovo Thinkpad T400s attracts small, medium business and enterprise customers who are interested in a robust, rugged, light, slim, easy-to-carry 14-inch laptop that offers decent performance, has a very good keyboard-touchpad combo, and comes with useful proprietary software to better manage their laptop and secure the data on it.
We will never understand why it doesn't come with a card reader, but the Thinkpad T400s is still highly recommended for jet-setters and businesspeople on-the-go interested in a fully-featured, fully-functional 14-inch laptop.
Note from Lenovo: The Lenovo Thinkpad T400s is getting replaced by the Thinkpad T410s laptop. Read more about Lenovo Thinkpad's T Series of business laptops.