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Anyone who’s used a ThinkPad will know that IBM produces the best notebook keyboards in the business. The keys are full size and shaped to accept your fingertips. The travel on each key is just right while the break is perfectly weighted to spring your finger back up ready for the next key stroke. The Return, Backspace and right Shift keys are all large, just the way they should be, and the Spacebar is a good size too. The cursor keys are also in the right configuration and dropped slightly down from the main keyboard. IBM has also shaped the chassis in front of the cursor keys to make it easy to slide your fingers into place.
Pointer manipulation is again well catered for. Whether you prefer a TrackPoint or a touchpad, you’ll be equally happy since the T41p sports both. Personally I love TrackPoints and I think it’s a shame that more notebooks don’t use them. With the pointer controller located in the middle of the keyboard I never have to take my hands away from the keys. Just below the Spacebar are three buttons that work with the TrackPoint. The left and right buttons are identical to the left and right buttons on a mouse. The middle button controls scrolling. Pressing this once will allow you to scroll up and down through a document with the TrackPoint, while pressing it again will return the TrackPoint to its pointer moving duties. If you find it too much trouble to press the left button to select, you can tap the TrackPoint instead to elicit the same result.
Below the TrackPoint buttons is the touchpad which works equally well. Finished in a similar matt black to the rest of the case, the touchpad blends in with the overall design. Below the touchpad are its corresponding left and right selector buttons.
The third ergonomic hurdle to jump is the screen and it’s here that the earlier T41 stumbled. With a resolution of only 1,024 x 768, the screen on the T41 just wasn’t up to scratch compared to competing notebooks from the likes of Sony and HP. However, the 14.1in TFT screen on the T41p sports a native resolution of 1,400 x 1,050 which is much more acceptable and in line with other high-end notebooks. The higher resolution allows for a far easier working environment and it’s possible to have multiple windows open at once, making it easy to cut and paste between documents. The screen itself is a fine example of a TFT display with no dead pixels in evidence and bright, even lighting across the entire surface. The viewing angle is also particularly good for a notebook panel, so giving the odd meeting presentation with the T41p shouldn’t be a problem.
The T41p needs a good screen because the graphics chipset is very special indeed. Driving the graphics is an ATI Mobility FireGL T2 chipset and this is a very impressive mobile graphics solution. In fact, the Mobile FireGL T2 with its 128MB of dedicated RAM makes the T41p more of a mobile workstation than a notebook computer. This chipset excels under both OpenGL and DirectX environments. You can see from the 3DMark and Aquamark scores that this is a very fast notebook under a 3D environment. And the fact that we ran SPECviewperf at all, is an indication of this machine’s workstation leanings.