Lenovo ThinkPad R52 review

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With its victory in the notebook category of our most recent Reliability & Service Awards, it’s clear Lenovo has continued in IBM’s footsteps when it comes to excellent customer support. The ThinkPad R52 is part of the company’s highly respected line of business notebooks and it locks the competition out this month with its dedication to security.

Pick it up and you’ll realise it’s not a light machine at 3kg, but it feels immensely robust and durable. Open up the sturdy lid and you’ll see a fingerprint reader accompanied by a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip inside to bolster security. IBM’s simple fingerprint utility is part of the Access IBM suite. Press the blue button above the keyboard and tools appear for system and security configuration, data protection and recovery.

But it doesn’t end there: the integrity of your data is further protected by the IBM Active Protection System, which parks the hard disk’s heads when it senses sudden motion or vibration. Finally, the ThinkPad HDD Shock Absorber acts like an airbag, providing impact protection to help protect your data from yet more dangers.

Every wireless technology is present too, including 802.11a/b/g, Bluetooth and infrared, and there’s a Type II PC Card as well as an ExpressCard slot. If there’s one gripe it’s that the DVD-RAM writer won’t write to dual-layer discs, but the UltraBay Enhanced slot allows a variety of devices to be swapped in and out.

The keyboard is a joy to use, with a great feel and well-laid out buttons. The choice of touchpad or trackpoint should keep everyone happy too. Other neat touches are the small keyboard light for use in poor lighting conditions, and the front of the chassis, which supports the wrists in a comfortable typing position.

The battery will last four hours under light use and two when pushed hard, making it one of the longest lasting on test. Plus, the R52’s preloaded software image is compatible with those of the R51, X31 and T41, simplifying deployment and image management if you choose to mix and match your ThinkPads.

The R52 isn’t the perfect ThinkPad, though. Despite sharing the same core components as several other systems, it achieved only 0.72 in our benchmarks. Also, the award-winning support is slightly diminished by the one-year RTB warranty. We’d prefer more than the meagre two USB 2 ports too. However, overall the ThinkPad R52 is a clear winner. And if data security is a priority, it’s an even easier choice.

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