IBM ThinkPad T42 Fingerprint Reader review

Price when reviewed

IBM has traditionally been big on security, adding its Embedded Security Subsystem to specific notebooks and desktops. Together with downloadable client software, the system manages passwords and digital certificates, and encrypts data. Now, built-in biometrics add another level of protection, although it’s so far only an option on ThinkPad T42 and T42p notebooks.

IBM ThinkPad T42 Fingerprint Reader review

It’s an elegant implementation; the tiny reader is set into the wristrest just below the keyboard’s arrow keys, and the T42 is otherwise physically unchanged. IBM says it chose a swipe reader – rather than one you simply hold your finger on – because it’s smaller and a finger doesn’t leave a recoverable print on the surface.

Fingerprints (up to 21 can be stored on the reader) can be used for power-on security, Windows logon, network access and encrypted file access. It’s also easy to manage multiple users sharing one machine. Best of all, it also integrates with the Embedded Security Subsystem, and IBM has finally added the client download to the hard disk and simplified its installation.

The fingerprint reader is a cinch to set up by itself, although it does take time to integrate the whole system. Nonetheless, it’s a tidy feature that adds yet another layer of armour to your data, and it’s cost-effective too.

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