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You have to hand it to Lenovo. While other vendors chase the latest laptop tastes and trends--Imprint finishes! Chrome edges! Brushed aluminum! A rainbow of color options!--Lenovo has kept the venerable ThinkPad's visage largely unchanged from the days of IBM. With its chunky but sturdy chassis, matte black finish, stellar keyboard (complete with blue Enter key), and the touch pad and red pointing stick duo, the 14-inch ThinkPad T410 looks only a little different than the ThinkPad your father (or you) lugged to work a decade or more ago. Underneath, however, the ThinkPad T410 is a very modern laptop.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T410 2522 features a dual-core Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of memory, which supplies competitive application performance. And with its extended-cell battery, the ThinkPad T410 runs for nearly 6 hours on a single charge. Though the youth set may still view the ThinkPad as a father's laptop, the ThinkPad T410 makes a great laptop for both home and office. It may not be the flashiest laptop in the coffee shop, but it's one of the best designed.
ThinkPad design, however, comes at a premium. You'll see the ThinkPad T410 2522 listed for $1,320 and up from online resellers. By comparison, another well designed 14-inch laptop, the HP Envy 14, features a similar CPU (the Core i5-450M) and a larger hard drive and switchable ATI graphics for only $1,149. The price comparison with the Samsung QX41-J01 is even more striking; it costs only $829 for a similar CPU (the Core i5-460M), double the hard-drive capacity, and switchable Nvidia graphics. The ThinkPad T410 2522 features a pedestrian 320GB hard drive and integrated Intel graphics, making it overpriced on paper, but still impressive in person.
|Processor||2.53GHz Intel Core i5-540M|
|Memory||4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz|
|Hard drive||320GB at 7,200rpm|
|Graphics||Intel GMA HD|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Dimensions (WDH)||13.1 x 9.4 x 1.3 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||14.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.3 / 6 pounds|
The 14-inch T410 follows the standard ThinkPad recipe of a durable plastic enclosure wrapped around an internal roll cage that protects the internal components, including the shock-mounted hard drive. The black plastic features a matte finish that is immune to fingerprints. Speaking of fingerprints, a small fingerprint reader sits just to the right of the roll cage, offering an added layer of security and convenience. The laptop feels very rugged and sturdy. The lid flexes somewhat, but the two hinges that connect it to the base of the laptop hold the display firmly in place.
The laptop weighs 5.3 pounds, which is a tad heavy for a 14-inch laptop. The Gateway ID49C08u, for example, weighs only 4.8 pounds, and the Toshiba Satellite M645-S4055 weighs 5 pounds. And the Acer Aspire TimelineX 4820TG-7805 is ultratrim, weighing only 3.8 pounds. Aiding the ThinkPad T410 portability is the tiny power brick, which brings the laptop's total travel weight to only 6 pounds.
ThinkPad keyboards have widely been hailed as industry leading for their comfort and responsiveness. The ThinkPad T410 proudly continues this tradition; the keys offer just the right amount of travel and don't wobble even when your finger hits them off-center. Really, it offers the best overall typing experience on any laptop this reviewer has ever used. Above the letter keys sits the standard row of Fn keys, but along the right half of the keyboard is an additional row of Function keys, which allows for the Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys to be arranged conveniently in the upper-right corner. It also allows for the Escape and Delete keys to be double-height, making it easier to hit these frequently accessed keys. On the left half of the keyboard above the Function keys are a mute key, a volume rocker, and a key to cut the microphone, along with a small ThinkVantage button, from which you can access Lenovo's suite of support, diagnostic, and optimization tools.
Though nearly every other laptop vendor has ditched the pointing stick in favor of the touch pad, Lenovo still stubbornly offers both, each of which comes with its own set of mouse buttons. Lenovo is most likely afraid of the revolt that would occur if it got rid of the red nub that sits at the center of the keyboard. The touch pad features a textured pattern of raised dots, which result in a very comfortable and responsive mousing experience. The touch pad, too, supports multitouch gestures such as two-finger scrolling
The display measures 14.1 inches on the diagonal and features a 1,440x900-pixel resolution, which is higher than the standard 1,366x768 pixels seen in most laptops this size. The display uses LED backlights, and it's one of the brightest laptop screens we have ever encountered. Inside a typically lit office environment, we dialed back the brightness setting to half. At full brightness, the image remains viewable in direct sunlight. Movies and photos look crisp and vivid, and the audio from the two speakers that flank the keyboard is passable for movies and YouTube if you're seated directly in front of the laptop. The audio lacks the depth needed for enjoyable music playback. A 2-megapixel webcam resides above the display.
|IBM ThinkPad T410 2522||Average for category [mainstream]|
|Video||VGA, DisplayPort||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone jack||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||4 USB 2.0, eSATA, FireWire, multiformat media card reader||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader, eSATA|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
The ThinkPad T410 serves up a fairly standard collection of ports. Its quintet of USB 2.0 ports is split on each side of the laptop; three USB ports sit on the left side and two on the right, one of which doubles as an eSATA port. A FireWire port is also onboard, which has become an increasingly rare connection. You won't find an HDMI port, but the laptop's DisplayPort will allow you to connect it to an HDTV. Other models in the ThinkPad T410 offer a mobile broadband (WWAN) option, but the only networking connections you'll find on the ThinkPad T410 2522 are Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n Wi-Fi.
The ThinkPad T410 2522 is based on the 2.53GHz Intel Core i5-540M, a dual-core chip that is part of Intel's current generation (Arrandale) of mobile processors. Along with 4GB of DDR3 memory, the laptop delivers competitive application performance. Performance felt peppy during anecdotal testing, even under heavy multitasking scenarios. In the labs, the ThinkPad T410 2522 was unable to put much distance between itself and competing models that feature Core i5-400 series chips. The only real difference between the Core i5-540M and the Core i5-460M found in the Samsung QX410-J01, for example, is the frequency the chips can ramp up to under Turbo mode; the Core i5-540M can go from its core clock speed of 2.53GHz to 3.066GHz, whereas the Core i5-460M can go from 2.53GHz to 2.8GHz. As our benchmark charts illustrate, this does not amount to much of a difference in overall performance.
Many laptops at or below its price offer graphics that can switch between dedicated (when more pixel-pushing power is needed) and integrated (for better battery life), but the ThinkPad T410 2522 offers only integrated Intel GMA HD graphics, which puts a damper on gaming. Some models in the ThinkPad T410 series offer switchable Nvidia Optimus graphics, but the 2522 configuration is not one of them.
Where the ThinkPad T410 2522 shines is with battery life. Its nine-cell (94 watts per hour) battery sticks out from the back of the laptop about an inch (it's shaped in such a way, however, that it makes a convenient handle) and ran for an impressive 5 hours 46 minutes on CNET Labs' demanding video-playback battery drain test.