ThinkPad R52 review: ThinkPad R52

The ThinkPad R52 earned a respectable performance score in CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks. The laptop finished our benchmark 12 percent faster than the Toshiba Tecra M3 and 8 percent ahead of the Sony VAIO VGN-S260, which has a slower processor. The ThinkPad R52 delivered fairly long battery life in our drain tests, holding out for 217 minutes--better than the Tecra M3's 184 minutes, though a bit shy of the VAIO VGN-S260's 229 minutes.

Where ports and slots are concerned, the ThinkPad R52 includes enough of both for the average employee. The case has two USB 2.0 ports, one ExpressCard/54 slot, and one Type II PC Card slot as well as parallel, S-Video-out, standard VGA, Ethernet, 56Kbps modem, and audio in/out ports. Our test system had a DVD/CD-RW drive in its internal, swappable bay; CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, and DVD-RW drives are also available. The ThinkPad R52 ships with the Windows XP Professional operating system. Like most business laptops, it doesn't come with a productivity suite. But the company does provide useful applications for CD and DVD playback and recording, including InterVideo WinDVD 6.0 and WinDVD Creator 2.0, DLA, which allows you to drag and drop files directly to CD or DVD, and Sonic RecordNow 7.0.

Data protection has long been a ThinkPad strong suit, and the ThinkPad R52 is no exception. The laptop's Embedded Security Subsystem functions like a Trusted Platform Module, offering a hardware-based data lockdown. And the Active Protection System stops the hard drive from spinning when the laptop is dropped or bumped, preventing damage to the drive.

The standard warranty for the ThinkPad R52 lasts a long three years. Various extension plans, which include options such as five years of free service and next-business-day repairs, are available for up to $550. Toll-free telephone support is available around the clock for the length of your warranty. We appreciate the troubleshooting information listed on the IBM support Web site, but we wish the site also featured a user forum and the option to chat with a tech rep.

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

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

System configurations:

IBM ThinkPad R52
Windows XP Pro; 1.73GHz Intel Pentium M 740; 512MB DDR SDRAM; Intel 915GM/GMS 910GML Express 128MB; Hitachi 5K100 40GB 5,400rpm

Sony VAIO VGN-S260
Windows XP Home; 1.7GHz Intel Pentium M 735; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 32MB; Toshiba MK6025GAS 60GB 4,200rpm

Toshiba Tecra M3
Windows XP Pro; 1.73GHz Intel Pentium M 740; 512MB DDR SDRAM; Nvidia GeForce Go 6600 TE/6200TE 64MB; Toshiba MK6025GAS 60GB 4,200rpm

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