IBM ThinkPad T43 review

£1600
Price when reviewed

On the outside, IBM’s new ThinkPad T43 looks the same as existing ThinkPads. The styling is immediately familiar, and you can have any colour you like, as long as it’s matte-black. That’s no bad thing, since the company has refined its designs into a tried-and-tested formula. The inside, however, has been given a Sonoma makeover.

IBM ThinkPad T43 review

Our 1.86GHz Pentium M 750 processor isn’t the only option, since speeds range from the 1.6GHz 730 to the blistering 2.13GHz 770 chip. DDR2 memory is used, and 512MB of PC4200 (533MHz) SDRAM came with our T43. Although a 64MB ATi Mobility Radeon X300 PCI Express card was fitted, Sonoma’s integrated Graphics Media Accelerator 900 is also an option. Lasting four hours, eight minutes on a light load, the T43’s battery should manage a whole day of meetings.

The pre-production T43 wasn’t ready for benchmarking when we saw it, but there’s no doubt that the 1.86GHz processor will shift, and the X300 will provide a moderate 3D boost.

As with other ThinkPads, hard disks benefit from IBM’s Active Protection System to park the heads if the notebook is dropped. The 40GB 5,400rpm Fujitsu unit is a typical business choice, but options include a 100GB drive or a 7,200rpm 60GB device. Data can also be protected by IBM’s Embedded Security Subsystem 2, and the BIOS passwords work in conjunction with an integrated fingerprint reader to provide tight security.

You can opt for a 15in display, or save about 300g with a 14.1in model. The back of our 14.1in, 1,024 x 768-pixel display isn’t as well protected as we’re accustomed to, but build quality elsewhere is typically high, and the keyboard reaffirms our opinion that ThinkPads have the best in the business. We weren’t disappointed by the 2.3kg chassis weight and 32mm thickness either.

It’s business as usual for the ThinkPad T43, since IBM has simply merged Sonoma with existing designs rather than creating something completely new – in contrast to what HP has done with the Compaq nc6220 (see opposite). We want to see better screen construction in retail examples, but overall it’s another solid, trusty business partner from IBM. The first UK units will appear in March, but initial pricing suggests there’s a premium to pay.

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