IBM ThinkPad T43
The latest iteration of IBM's corporate thin-and-light, the ThinkPad T43, features the same sturdy case as that of the previous model, the ThinkPad T42--a CNET Editors' Choice. The T43 also features some new components, including Intel's latest-generation Centrino chipset. The new parts contribute a small performance gain in exchange for battery life that's about 30 minutes shorter than that of the T42. Both models are good buys, but if you want the longest battery life, choose the T42; if performance is your top priority, pick up the T43.
Our ThinkPad T43 test model measured 12.2 inches wide, 10 inches deep, and just 1 inch thick. At 5.5 pounds, the ThinkPad T43 is of average weight for the thin-and-light category. The blackboard eraser-size AC adapter adds another 0.8 pound to its overall travel weight.
It's far from the sexiest laptop on the market, but the ThinkPad T43 is well designed, and it has a number of thoughtful touches, such as a spill-proof keyboard with drain holes. The notebook includes IBM's signature red eraser-head pointing stick, which has a nice, flat top that supports your finger better than the rounded tops on most pointing sticks; two corresponding mouse buttons and a handy scroll button sit just below the keyboard. Below its keyboard, the ThinkPad T43 also features a touch pad with its own two mouse buttons, which are a bit too small. The keyboard itself is wide and comfortable to use. Though there aren't many multimedia controls here--this is a business laptop, after all--you do get external volume controls, including a mute button, as well as a blue IBM button that brings up support information. Our ThinkPad T43 test unit featured a fingerprint sensor on the right-hand side of the wrist rest; swiping your finger over the sensor logs you onto the notebook in lieu of typing in a password (for more details about this biometric security feature, check out).
IBM's laptops are highly configurable, and there are dozens of different models available from a number of online resellers, local computer stores, or IBM's own Web site. CNET's ThinkPad T43 series review offers an overview of your choices.
Priced at $2,049 (as of April 2005), our ThinkPad T43 test unit featured a nice array of higher-end parts, including a fast 1.86GHz Intel Pentium M 750 Sonoma processor; 512MB of speedy, 533MHz RAM; and an ATI Mobility Radeon X300 graphics chip with 64MB of dedicated video memory. Also onboard was a 60GB hard drive spinning at a swift 7,200rpm; a 14.1-inch screen with a fine, 1,400x1,050 native resolution; a multiformat DVD burner in a hot-swappable bay; and an Intel 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi card. Configured this way, our test unit cost hundreds more than competing corporate thin-and-lights we've reviewed, such as the Dell Latitude D610 and the HP Compaq nc6230--both of which included 2GHz PM processors, 512MB of 400MHz memory, 64MB ATI X300 chips, 14.1-inch SXGA+ screens, 80GB 5,400rpm hard drives, and DVD/CD-RW drives.