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

Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions390 x 358 x 39mm (WDH)
Weight2.890kg
Travelling weight3.5kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo T5670
Motherboard chipsetIntel GM45 Express
RAM capacity2.00GB
Memory typeDDR2
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size15.4in
Resolution screen horizontal1,280
Resolution screen vertical800
Resolution1280 x 800
Graphics chipsetIntel GMA 4500
Graphics card RAM96MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0

Drives

Capacity160GB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskFujitsu MHZ2160BH
Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical driveHL-DT-ST GSA-T30N
Battery capacity5,200mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0

Networking

Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapteryes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
Modemno
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots1
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)4
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readeryes
Pointing device typeTouchpad, trackpoint
Audio chipsetConexant HD Audio
Speaker locationAbove keyboard
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
TPMyes
Fingerprint readeryes
Smartcard readerno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use5hr 9min
Battery life, heavy use2hr 0min
Overall application benchmark score0.89
3D performance (crysis) low settings5fps
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows Vista Business 32-bit
OS familyWindows Vista
Recovery methodRecovery partition
Software suppliedWindows XP Pro downgrade disc

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