Editors' note: Lenovo completed its purchase of IBM's PC division on April 2, 2005, so you will no longer see the familiar letters IBM in front of ThinkPad laptops--they are now known as simply ThinkPad products. Lenovo may introduce products under its name in the future. ThinkPad notebooks are being sold by the same outlets as before, and the same support staff will service both new and existing ThinkPads. (5/25/05)
Frequent business fliers who burn the midnight oil would do well to consider the ThinkPad X32. This ultraportable offers enough keyboard and screen space, battery life, and connectivity to get some serious work done on the road. Yet despite all of these perks, it still comes in at less than four pounds. The only mobile employees who might not embrace the ThinkPad X32 are those who require an integrated optical drive; for them, we recommend the Sony VAIO T250/L.
The ThinkPad X32 is slightly bulkier than its sibling, the ThinkPad X41; according to Lenovo, the larger form factor allows for higher performance, while the smaller model offers better battery life. Nevertheless, the ThinkPad X32's dimensions are on a par with those of the typical ultraportable notebook. It weighs a very manageable 3.7 pounds and measures 10.7 inches wide by 8.8 inches deep; it's 1 inch thick at the front and 1.2 inches at the rear. The system's 0.06-pound AC adapter is also of average size for an ultraportable, bringing the total travel weight to a wieldy 4.3 pounds.
The ThinkPad X32 has one of the nicest ultraportable case designs we've come across. Thanks to the full size of nearly all of the keys, we were able to touch-type comfortably for extended periods. One of our favorite laptop pointing devices--the ThinkPad's signature red-rubber pointing stick, with a broad, texturized top--sits in the middle of the keyboard. Two roomy mouse buttons are centered below the spacebar, with a handy scroll button between the two. The four buttons above the keyboard control the volume and link to a preloaded help utility. The 12.1-inch display, featuring a standard 1,024x768 native resolution, is big by ultraportable standards; many systems in this class include 10.4-inch or smaller screens. A built-in light above the screen shines down like a spotlight on the keyboard, helping to illuminate the board when the captain dims the lights. Lastly, the ThinkPad line's strong metal hinges connect the laptop's lid and bottom.
Several preconfigured versions of the ThinkPad X32 are available through various online resellers and the ThinkPad Web site or toll-free sales line. You can also configure your own system, but watch out: doing so can result in a higher overall price. For example, one version of the ThinkPad X32 costs $200 more if you build it yourself than if you buy it preconfigured with the exact same components. Find out about available components in our ThinkPad X32 series review.