Lenovo ThinkPad SL500 review

£506
Price when reviewed

In typical Lenovo style, the SL500 isn’t the most attractive laptop we’ve ever seen. Lenovo has made some attempt at injecting it with a bit of pizzazz with a glossy black lid, but otherwise you’re left with the usual ThinkPad looks.

Lenovo ThinkPad SL500 review

It’s a touch heavy too, weighing in at 2.89kg, not including the 560g power supply. But, thanks in no small part to its thick chassis and solid display, the SL500 feels well up to resisting the knocks and scrapes of day-to-day travel.

It’s a good thing too, as Lenovo’s capacious battery helped it to last 5hrs 9mins away from the mains. And even more impressive given the price, Lenovo has also managed to squeeze in Gigabit Ethernet, draft-n wireless and an HSDPA modem (albeit locked to Vodafone).

If there’s a weakness with the SL500, it’s the display. There’s nothing wrong with the 15.4in screen size, nor the 1,280 x 800 resolution, but colour reproduction and contrast levels are inferior to that of the Sony. A lack of brightness and a tendency to leave colours slightly muted are the worst of its traits, so it’s far from dreadful.

Lay hands on the Lenovo, though, and any concerns about its display will soon disappear. The keyboard is slightly spongier than the very best Lenovo’s range has to offer, but it’s still superb by any other standards, and makes for confident touch-typing. The trackpoint and trackpad combination is a surprising find on such a budget machine, but it’s very welcome.

In fact, the only price you pay for the Lenovo’s generous roster of abilities is marginally inferior performance. That said, the Intel Core 2 Duo T5670 is far from underpowered for most tasks, and with 2GB of memory it cruised to 0.89 in our benchmarks. It was only the Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics that disappointed, reducing our Crysis benchmark to a 5fps slideshow.

Whether you’re looking for a capable all-round laptop for the home or a budget laptop for the office, the SL500 presents simply unbelievable value for money. Just note that this model, the NRJ4DUK, is due to be replaced with the £40 dearer (but 0.2GHz faster) NRJAJUK soon, so stocks are becoming limited.

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 390 x 358 x 39mm (WDH)
Weight 2.890kg
Travelling weight 3.5kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T5670
Motherboard chipset Intel GM45 Express
RAM capacity 2.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.4in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,280
Resolution screen vertical 800
Resolution 1280 x 800
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 4500
Graphics card RAM 96MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 160GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Fujitsu MHZ2160BH
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive HL-DT-ST GSA-T30N
Battery capacity 5,200mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 1
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
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
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad, trackpoint
Audio chipset Conexant HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
TPM yes
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 5hr 9min
Battery life, heavy use 2hr 0min
Overall application benchmark score 0.89
3D performance (crysis) low settings 5fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Business 32-bit
OS family Windows Vista
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied Windows XP Pro downgrade disc

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