Lenovo ThinkPad X41 review: Lenovo ThinkPad X41

Designed for corporate users, the ThinkPad X41 also offers some of the best data protection and security features you can find in a notebook. Like older X models, it has a dedicated internal security chip that can block access and encrypt key data. And although it lacks a smart-card reader, the ThinkPad X41 does feature a fingerprint scanner: not only can it assure a user's identity for the corporate network logon routine, the fingerprint reader can handle passwords for applications ranging from eBay to e-mail. After a little practice using the device, swiping a finger becomes second nature.

Whether you're purchasing 1 or 100 notebooks, it all comes down to price, and the X41 is one of the most expensive on a per-pound basis. At $2,149 (as of May 2005), our test machine, which included a dock with a DVD/CD-RW drive, is on a par with the ThinkPad X40 model, but it costs more than the Dell Latitude X1. Still, we think the ThinkPad X41 is the better choice for the corporate road warrior.

Based on Intel's latest-generation Centrino architecture, the ThinkPad X41 uses a low-voltage Pentium M processor that tops out at 1.5GHz, which is quite a bit faster than the Latitude X1's 1.1GHz Pentium M. Unlike the Latitude X1, the ThinkPad X41 has a cooling fan--it's not particularly noisy, but it doesn't prevent the bottom of the notebook from heating up. Our test system came with 512MB of DDR2 memory (it can hold up to 1.5GB), and a 40GB hard drive spinning at a pedestrian 4,200rpm. With a 1,024x768 native resolution, the 12.1-inch display is clear and sharp, but not nearly as bright as that of the Latitude X1.

All this high-powered hardware adds up to one of the top-performing notebooks in its class. Its performance in CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks was much faster than that of the ThinkPad X40 and was virtually tied with the Dell Latitude X1, which had a much slower CPU. However, the ThinkPad X41 delivered an excellent 5 hours, 26 minutes of battery life--about equal to the X40's span, but nearly twice as long as the Latitude X1's smaller battery lasted. Only the amazing 6-hour, 24-minute battery life of the Sony VAIO VGN-T250 runs longer in this class of mighty mites.

The machine comes with Windows XP Pro, as well as a phalanx of utilities for security, online connections, keyboard customization, and data backup. Happily, the system includes Watergate Software's PC Doctor, which can help diagnose problems with any of the computer's components. But its ace in the hole is the anachronous (given that IBM no longer owns the ThinkPad line) Access IBM button above the keyboard, which connects the machine with Lenovo's help desk or contacts your own company's support site, when you configure it to do so. The machine comes with a three-year warranty, and it includes lifetime support through a 24/7 toll-free hotline or via e-mail. While a tad complicated, the company's online support resources are complete and up-to-date, with spare parts, downloads, FAQs, and troubleshooting tips.

Mobile application performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  

Battery life
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes  

System configurations:

Dell Latitude X1
Windows XP Professional; 1.1GHz Intel Pentium M 733; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Intel 915GM/GMS, 910GML Express 128MB; Toshiba MK6006GAH 60GB 4,200rpm

Sony VAIO VGN-T250
Windows XP Professional; 1.2GHz Intel Pentium M 730; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Intel 855GME Graphics Controller up to 64MB; Toshiba MK6006GAH 60GB 4,200rpm

ThinkPad X40
Windows XP Professional; 1.2GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Intel 855GME up to 64MB; Hitachi DK13FA 40GB 4,200rpm

ThinkPad X41
Windows XP Professional; 1.5GHz Intel Pentium M 758; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM; Intel 915GM/GMS 910GML Express 128MB; Hitachi Travelstar C4K60 40GB 4,200rpm