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IBM ThinkPad T41 TC12FUK - IBM ThinkPad T41
The T41 is well endowed in the wireless department sporting both WiFi and Bluetooth functionality. Having both WiFi and Bluetooth may seem like overkill to some, but they both serve different purposes and are both very useful. Obviously the corporate user that IBM usually aims at will be able to take advantage of the WiFi if they have a wireless network in the office. It also means that you can make use of the ever-growing number of WiFi hotspots around the world. Bluetooth on the other hand can keep you connected while you're on the move, assuming that you have a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone of course. Unfortunately there's no hardware switch to enable and disable the wireless features. There is an 'Fn' associated button to turn Bluetooth on and off, but WiFi has to be configured through software.
The T41 may be aimed at the mobile user, but IBM hasn't skimped on the ports and features. The right hand side of the chassis is dominated by the DVD/CD-RW combo drive, but there's also a D-SUB connector lurking there so you can hook up to an external monitor.
The left side of the case is crammed full of goodies. First up you'll find two Type II PC Card slots, although you can also fit a single Type III device in there. It's quite impressive to see two stacked slots in a device this slim, and even though almost everything you're likely to need is already integrated into the T41, it's good to have the best possible expansion options.
Also on the left you'll find headphone and mic sockets, an S-Video output, two USB 2.0 ports and a connector for the 56K modem. The final port is for Ethernet, but unlike any other notebook I've looked at, the T41 has a Gigabit Ethernet adapter inside it. Again this harks to IBM's traditional corporate market, where the implementation of a Gigabit network is more than likely, and with the T41 you'll be able to communicate with the office network at full speed. The rear is populated only by the power connector and a parallel port.
The T41 managed to turn in a SYSmark score of 148 which is 18 points behind the Sony Z1, but the Sony's slightly faster processor and 512MB of RAM account for this. The IBM does however excel in it's chosen arena of mobile computing, by turning in a battery life score of four hours and nine minutes, which should keep most road warriors happy.
So, the only thing left to talk about is the price. Since the T41 is a new product, IBM gave me an estimated street price of £1,739 inc VAT. I did however find the T41 for sale for £1,608.58, making it slightly better value proposition. However, you still can't hide from the fact that this is a very expensive notebook.
The T41 is a beautifully constructed mobile computer that's an absolute joy to work on, but the price is very high considering the meagre memory complement and, more importantly, the low resolution screen. I really like the T41, but if I'm honest I'd find the screen resolution limiting when working with spreadsheets or just multiple windows. Of course the corporate market isn't quite so price sensitive, and I'm sure that there will be a great many orders for T41 ThinkPads from blue chip companies. After all, as the saying goes, no one was ever fired for buying IBM.
There's so much that I love about the ThinkPad T41, but the resolution of the screen is just too low considering the price point. If the native resolution was 1,400 x 1,050 I'd be saving up my pennies to by a T41 myself, but as it stands the screen resolution takes it off my wish list. However, if you're happy with 1,024 x 768 and have a large budget, I doubt you'll find a better slim line notebook than this one.