IBM ThinkPad X40: Best-in-Class Ultraportable

By Bill Howard  |  Posted 2004-02-05 Print this article Print

With the arrival of the best-in-class IBM ThinkPad X40, other ultraportables have a lot of catching up to do.

With the arrival of the best-in-class IBM ThinkPad X40, other ultraportables have a lot of catching up to do. Even with a system weight of just 2.7 pounds, the X40 still has the features serious road warriors demand—notably that wonderful-feeling, full-size IBM keyboard. Best of all, IBM has priced the X40 very competitively: Prices start at $1,499 direct.

It isnt entirely magic how IBM undercut the 3.6-pound system weight of the X31, the previous class leader among ultraportables (which continues on in the IBM lineup). With the X40, the internal battery drops from six cells to four, the hard drive is downsized from 2.5 inches to 1.8 (limiting maximum capacity to 40GB), and the processor choice is initially between the 1.0GHz (ultra-low-voltage) Pentium M and the 1.2GHz (low-voltage) Pentium M.

You can order the X40 with either the four-cell battery or an eight-cell battery, which adds about an inch of depth to the 1.1- by 10.6- by 8.3-inch chassis and raises the system weight to 3.2 pounds. The AC adapter adds 0.6 pounds, and an external DVD-RW drive ($499) weighs 0.7 pounds. So even with these added, the X40 weighs 2 pounds less than the two-drive thin-and-light IBM ThinkPad T41, configured for the same 6 hours of battery life.

Physically, the X40 looks a lot like its ThinkPad siblings. The FireWire connector is gone, giving way to an IBM proprietary power jack for the external optical drive. There remains one PC Card slot and an SDIO slot that works with both flash memory cards and communications devices from the PDA world. Corporate IT departments will need a separate system image for the X40, since it uses a different graphics engine than previous ThinkPads (in this case its Intels integrated 855GME).

To read the full review, click here.
Bill Howard

Bill Howard is the editor of, the car site for tech fans, and writes a column on car technology for PC Magazine each issue. He is also a contributing editor of PC Magazine.

Bill's articles on PCs, notebooks, and printers have been cited five times in the annual Computer Press Association Awards. He was named as one of the industry's ten most influential journalists from 1997 to 2000 by Marketing Computers and is a frequent commentator on TV news and business shows as well as at industry conventions. He also wrote the PC Magazine Guide to Notebook & Laptop Computers. He was an executive editor and senior editor of PC Magazine from 1985-2001 and wrote PC Magazine's On Technology column through 2005

Previously, Howard spent a decade as a newspaper editor and writer with the Newhouse and Gannett newspapers in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Rochester, New York. He also writes a monthly column for Roundel, a car magazine for BMW enthusiasts.


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