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ThinkPads put brakes on crashes

IBM introduced on Monday two ThinkPad notebooks with an automatic hard drive safeguard. The ThinkPad T41 and ThinkPad R50 include the IBM Active Protection System, a new feature that uses an accelerometer chip and software to help avoid damaging the hard drive when the ThinkPad is dropped or falls.

When the system detects acceleration or deceleration--such as when a ThinkPad is falling--it signals the hard drive to park its magnetic heads. The maneuver holds the heads, which read and write data, in place so they cannot contact the drive platter, where data is stored. This avoids causing damage to the platter, which would result in lost data, IBM said. The company is building the Active Protection System at no extra charge into the two ThinkPads, as it believes the system will help it save on warranty costs. The 4.5-pound ThinkPad T41 starts at about $1,650, while the 6-pound ThinkPad R50 starts at about $1,530, according to IBM.