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Lightweight ThinkPad takes flight

Are miniature laptops back in vogue now that companies are hiring again and, presumably, more business flyers will be working in the clouds?

ThinkPad X41
Photo: IBM
IBM's ThinkPad X41 serves frequent fliers.

It's not a far-fetched conclusion, given that IBM on Tuesday joined Dell in launching a new featherweight laptop for frequent travelers.

Big Blue's PC arm--soon to become part of the new Lenovo--unveiled a 2.7-pound ThinkPad. The tiny machine, dubbed ThinkPad X41, incorporates the same fingerprint reader found in other ThinkPads, such as the ThinkPad T43. Fingerprints can be used to help identify a computer's owner and thus protect data from falling into the wrong hands, IBM says.

The X41, designed to be easily toted by frequent travelers, also comes with a 12.1-inch screen and incorporates Intel's 1.5GHz Pentium M 758 processor. The X41 will start at $1,999, a slightly higher price than that of its predecessor, the ThinkPad X40. IBM attributes the difference to the additional equipment. It will also continue to offer ThinkPad X40 models, which now start at about $1,500, for about another year, a company spokesman said.

Dell let fly its last week. The Texas PC maker specifically designed the X1, which weighs 2.5 pounds, to fit well in the snug confines of an airplane whose seats are not in upright and locked positions.