There aren't many "firsts" with the T400s touch-screen, but its many enhancements will please mobile pros. For example, the Esc and Delete keys are larger, as is the touchpad (which is also multitouch-enabled).
During my tests with the T400s touch-screen, it was much easier to use the touchpad than it was with previous Lenovo models, including the x300. The touchpad is now flush-mounted with a textured surface, and Lenovo has improved the palm rejection technology, so that unintended contact between the palm and touchpad during normal typing does not generate stray mouse movement.
Recognizing the increased use of VOIP (voice over IP) applications, the T400s touch-screen includes a microphone mute button and larger speakers. The laptop uses dual microphones at the top of the display and a characteristically quiet keyboard to minimize key-click noise while taking notes during conversations. The microphone mute button has an orange LED indicator that made it clear when I was in "listen-only" mode during a call. During tests, the mute button worked when using the built-in microphones and speakers, and when using an external USB headset.
Lenovo has made minor changes to the way the ThinkVantage "blue button" works. Pressing the button brings up the TVPC (ThinkVantage Productivity Center), with links to useful on-board and over-the-Net services. It's simple to find a wireless network or backup using the TVPC. One change that longtime ThinkPad users may not like is that driver updates are now subscribed to using an RSS feed. In the past, the blue button also facilitated the driver update process.
As with other ThinkPad systems, the T400s touch-screen uses an internal magnesium-alloy roll cage to protect the display. I expect that the durability I've seen in other ThinkPad models will be preserved using this engineering design, even given the T400s touch-screen's slim form factor.
This is literally one of the coolest ThinkPads I've used, thanks to the SSD and the 25-watt processors. There were none of the "hot palm" problems that I've experienced with almost every other laptop I've tested. I was able to use the system for up to 30 minutes before it became uncomfortably warm.
The T400s touch-screen includes an integrated fingerprint reader and a built-in TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip. These security tools are well-established in the ThinkPad line and worked as expected in my tests.
The system I tested had one side-mounted USB 2.0 port and a slot for either an Express Card or a five-in-one media reader card. Along the rear of the system you'll find a second USB 2.0 port, a Display Port, an eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port, a powered USB 2.0 port, an RJ-45 network jack and a VGA port. The powered USB port provides additional power to run peripheral devices such as a mobile printer, scanner or bar-code reader, making this ThinkPad a serviceable companion for mobile users. IT managers will like the fact that it is possible to use BIOS settings to disable any port that can move data off the T400s touch-screen.
Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at [email protected]