Lenovo ThinkPad T500 review
All work and no play makes the Lenovo a happy laptop indeed. A business classic
Set amongst notebook style icons such as Dell’s Adamo or Apple’s Macbook Pro 13, the Lenovo T500 looks strikingly out of place. Indeed, like a time-traveller from the 1980s shot unceremoniously into 2009, the T500’s dowdy, textured black physique could almost be a museum exhibit of how laptops once used to look.
But although the ThinkPad's styling might be archaic, it screams practicality from every corner. The lid tilts back and forth on sturdy hinges, which prevent it from flapping about unduly, and tugging on the well-constructed base elicits barely any flex.
It’s not even especially portable by today’s standards, but while its 2.59kg weight won’t be something you want to carry about every day, you’ll be glad of its excellent display and the supremely comfortable keyboard, trackpad and trackpoint combination.
The keyboard boasts the usual ThinkPad quality. A spacious, uncluttered layout goes hand in hand with slightly concave keys which boast a light but responsive feel – there are few laptops, business-oriented or otherwise which can match the ThinkPad for ergonomics.
The T500 also ignores the fad for 16:9 ratio panels, sticking with the tried and tested 16:10, 15.4in format. The matte display minimises reflections, too. The only disappointment is the 1,280 x 800 native resolution, which can feel a bit cramped at times. Consider a model with a higher resolution panel if serious multitasking is on the agenda.
There’s certainly no lack of power for such tasks. The Core 2 Duo P8400 is a capable performer and it managed a fine 1.15 in our benchmarks. The same can’t be said of 3D performance, though: the Intel integrated graphics are only up to the most basic of rendering tasks.
Meanwhile, with 7hrs 53 minutes of light use battery life, the T500 can spend most of the working day away from a mains socket.
The T500 cements its credentials with a range of business-friendly features. A fingerprint reader comes paired with a TPM 1.2 chip, and there’s no shortage of connectivity either. ExpressCard/54 rubs shoulders with the older PC card standard – something that’s bound to please many IT departments loath to throw away old hardware. There's a 4-in-1 card reader, three USB ports, mini-Firewire, plus D-SUB and DisplayPort outputs.
That’s not to mention the all-round brilliance of the ThinkVantage software suite. Handling everything from software and driver updates, to ensuring that you backup your system on a regular basis, ThinkVantage has it covered. Even if the operating system should fail to boot, you can always dab the ThinkVantage button and rescue precious files to an external disk.
A pricier version of Lenovo’s T500 has been our second-choice A-list business laptop for some time now, and this model follows in those footsteps. It isn't stylish, but if you want a practical, comfortable business laptop that’s built to last, you won't be disappointed by the Lenovo T500.
|Warranty||3 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||358 x 256 x 37mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core 2 Duo P8400|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel GM45/47|
|SODIMM sockets free||1|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,280|
|Resolution screen vertical||800|
|Resolution||1280 x 800|
|Graphics chipset||Intel GMA 4500MHD|
|Graphics card RAM||32MB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||233GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Hard disk||Seagate Momentus 5400.4|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Optical drive||Matshita UJ862A|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||yes|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||1|
|USB ports (downstream)||3|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||Fail|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad, trackpoint|
|Audio chipset||Conexant HD Audio|
|Speaker location||Above keyboard|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||7hr 53min|
|Battery life, heavy use||1hr 38min|
|Overall application benchmark score||1.15|
|Office application benchmark score||1.23|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||1.22|
|Encoding application benchmark score||1.01|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||1.12|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||5fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows Vista Business|
|OS family||Windows Vista|
|Recovery method||Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs|
|Software supplied||Lenovo ThinkVantage suite, Microsoft Windows XP Professional downgrade disc|