By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2004-03-08 Print this article Print

IBMs ThinkPad x40 blends portability and usability in a compact yet feature-rich package that is impressive enough to earn eWEEK Labs Analysts Choice distinction.

Although it weighs only 2.7 pounds, the ThinkPad X40 is anything but lightweight. This latest ThinkPad bristles with handy features, as well as impressive battery life and a full-size keyboard.

The ThinkPad X40, which shipped last month, is competitively priced starting at $1,499. The X40 sports a 1.1-by-10.6-by-8.3-inch chassis, making it 20 percent lighter and 25 percent smaller than its predecessor, the ThinkPad X31 (which will remain in the ThinkPad lineup).

The X40 owes its small dimensions to an internal battery that holds four cells instead of six. The processor has also been downsized, to an ultra-low-voltage 1GHz Intel Corp. Pentium M or a low-voltage 1.2GHz Pentium. The hard drive is a diminutive 1.8 inches, limiting capacity to 40GB. The X40 offers a choice of wireless technologies, including Intels 802.11b chip set or IBMs 802.11b/g or 801.11a/ b/g chip sets. The laptop also has Bluetooth capabilities.

Considering the small footprint of the X40, its slower processing speeds are something most business travelers are willing to overlook.

The X40 includes a proprietary IBM-powered USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 port, a Secure Digital slot and a PC Card slot. Road warriors looking for expansion can find it in a new $199 locking X4 UltraBase Dock, which adds three USB 2.0 ports and a swappable bay for a battery or an optical drive. With an optional $499 DVD/CD-RW combo drive installed, the dock brings the weight of the X40 to a little more than 4 pounds.

In battery tests, we saw about 2.5 hours of run time from our four-cell machine. Mobile users looking to work through a coast-to-coast flight will want to consider adding an eight-cell battery (at $199), which adds about an inch to the unit but delivers more than 7 hours of performance.

The X40 includes new Rescue and Recovery tools that are accessible via the blue Access IBM button on the keyboard. The suite is contained in an embedded emergency operating system that provides access to the hard drive, Internet and CD drives. The tools enable users to recover in the event of the blue screen of death, viruses or other failures.

After deleting Windows XP Professional files from our test machine, the Rescue and Recovery tools quickly restored our test machine to its out-of-the-box configuration. The utility allows a user to store as many as six backup configurations.

The X40 features wireless security management tools and IBMs Embedded Security Subsystem, which provides a secure repository for storing sensitive keys, identity information and data.

The X40 includes IBMs Active Protection System, which temporarily "parks" the hard drives read/write head in the event of a fall, preventing data loss.

Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at anne_chen@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.

As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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