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Lenovo ThinkPad T42 2378 (Pentium M 745 1.8 GHz review: Lenovo ThinkPad T42 2378 (Pentium M 745 1.8 GHz

Lenovo ThinkPad T42 2378 (Pentium M 745 1.8 GHz

Xiao Ming Wu
4 min read
IBM's first Dothan laptop is the thin-and-light ThinkPad T42, an update to the popular IBM ThinkPad T41. The T42 is almost as fast as the best-performing Dothan we've tested, the Dell Latitude D800. Battery life for the ThinkPad T42 was also good, although it wasn't able to outlast the HP Business Notebook nc6000 in our Labs' tests. But with an eye-pleasing sub-$2,000 price tag in its base configuration, the new ThinkPad T42 is perhaps the best value among laptops equipped with Intel's latest Pentium M upgrade.

For a laptop offering the latest in processor technology, the IBM ThinkPad T42 is strikingly modest in its design (which is par for the course for the all-black ThinkPads). We tested the larger model, which has a 15-inch screen and weighs in at 5.7 pounds (6.5 pounds with power brick and cord), measuring 13 by 10.6 by 1.3 inches. The smaller model has a 14-inch screen and weighs less than 5 pounds, but it is still a good deal bulkier than IBM's new ultralight, the X40. As on all IBM models, the metal hinges connecting the T42's lid to the body are tough as nails and well suited to day-in, day-out business use.


Lenovo ThinkPad T42 2378 (Pentium M 745 1.8 GHz

The Good

Great value; excellent performance; bulletproof IBM design; Gigabit Ethernet; great service and support.

The Bad

Lacks FireWire; no flash media slot; mediocre battery life.

The Bottom Line

The ThinkPad T42 is a good choice for business professionals looking for a top-notch laptop at a reasonable price.

The IBM ThinkPad T42's keyboard is broad and comfortable, with plenty of room toward the front rim for your palms. You get a touch pad and a pointing device that nestles in the middle of the keyboard. We also like the simple buttons above the keyboard, including volume controls and an Access IBM button that directs you to support and troubleshooting information.

In October 2004, IBM refreshed the ThinkPad T42, adding an optional fingerprint sensor for security. Hardly noticeable, the small, embedded sensor strip sits near the keyboard. By simply brushing your finger over it, you can log on to Windows without having to bother with typing in your username/password combination; you can also use it to protect the laptop at power-up.

The IBM ThinkPad T42's fingerprint sensor

The included security management software, which is easy to set up, wisely advises you to register more than one fingertip, should you injure the one that you use most often to the extent that the reader can't recognize it. (Our reviewer's documentation also informs us that because the sensor reads the electrical characteristics of your fingerprint, a severed finger will work on the sensor only for about 15 minutes, after which its electrical properties degrade. Good to know.) We found the sensor reliable, impossible to fool, and easy to program. It would often ask us to rescan our finger once or twice, which was slightly annoying, but it never locked us out or authenticated the wrong person.

The standard configuration for the IBM ThinkPad T42 includes a smallish 30GB hard drive and a combo CD-RW/DVD drive in the laptop's modular bay. For an extra $150, you can fill the bay with an IBM Multi-Burner drive that will read and write CDs and DVDs. Optional six- and nine-cell batteries are also available for the bay. Hard drive upgrades to 60GB or 80GB are shamelessly pricey, each costing more than $200. Around the rim, you'll find two USB 2.0 ports, a serial port for a mouse, an RJ-11 port for the T42's built-in modem, a Gigabit Ethernet port, audio-in and audio-out jacks, two Cardbus slots, a parallel port for a printer, and a VGA port for an external monitor. That covers the basics, but accoutrements such as FireWire and flash media slots are missing. You can add Wi-Fi for between $50 and $100, depending on which wireless adapter you choose.

Our IBM ThinkPad T42 came with Windows XP Pro, but IBM supports operating systems dating back to Windows 98 SE as well as the Red Hat and SuSE Linux distributions. Software for the ThinkPad T42 includes InterVideo WinDVD Creator and Norton AntiVirus 2004. The ThinkPad T42 also comes preloaded with IBM's new Rescue and Recovery platform, a secondary operating system that lets you recover data on your hard drive and access the Internet even when your primary operating system won't boot.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  
IBM ThinkPad T42

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate longer battery life)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes  
IBM ThinkPad T42

The IBM ThinkPad T42 is among the best-performing laptops we've tested in its weight and processor class, scoring 208 on our MobileMark 2002 tests. Its standard six-cell lithium-ion battery didn't do quite as well in our battery tests. If long battery life is important for you, consider the HP nc6000, or you can add a ThinkPad T40/R50 series high-capacity lithium-ion battery for $179.

The ThinkPad T42 comes with IBM's industry-standard service-and-support package, which includes the company's standard three-year warranty (one year for the battery). Alas, short battery warranties are both the industry standard and the Achilles' heel of laptop hardware. You can upgrade the three-year system warranty to include either onsite or depot repair for up to a maximum of five years. The reasonably priced onsite-repair option starts at $49.95 for one year and provides next-business-day service from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You get 24/7, toll-free technical support during your warranty period. After that, support calls cost $35 dollars per incident.