Cursor manipulation is taken care of with equal style, and IBM has catered for both types of notebook user. Located between the G, H and B keys is a red TrackPoint, which, in my humble opinion, is the superior notebook pointing system. I love TrackPoints, but more importantly, I love IBM TrackPoints. Using an IBM TrackPoint is just so simple and accurate, while you never have to remove your hands from the keyboard. You can of course tap the TrackPoint to select, but personally I prefer to hit one of the selector buttons located below the Spacebar with my thumb. There are three buttons below the Spacebar – the left and right buttons do the same as the left and right buttons on a mouse, while the middle button is a scroll lock, and will allow you to scroll up and down through a document using the TrackPoint once it’s pressed. To remove the scroll lock fuction, simply press the middle button again.
If you can’t get to grips with a TrackPoint, and many people can’t, you’ll be glad to know that there’s a touchpad on hand too. Once again, it’s a top notch bit of kit, and moving the mouse pointer around is quick and simple. Below the touchpad are two selector buttons, so you don’t have to use the TrackPoint ones.
The T42 is finished in the standard IBM black, making it look very understated and stylish. Now, I know that some notebook users think that ThinkPads look dull and boring, but once the craze for white and silver notebooks dies down, I have no doubt that black will once again, become the new black. Just like every woman knows that a black dress is an essential part of a stylish wardrobe, so IBM knows that it’s sleek, black notebooks may not always be in fashion, but they will always be in style.
When the notebook is closed, the lid gives it a square angular look, while the tactile finish makes it feel that bit special when you’re carrying it, as well as making it less likely to slip out of your hands. Although the lid is secured tightly with two hooks, you only need to press a single catch to release them both.
So, we’ve talked about the design and the all important ergonomic attributes of the T42, but what’s actually going on inside that slick black chassis? The T42 is Centrino branded, so you’re getting an Intel Pentium M CPU, running at 1.7GHz, complete with 2MB of Level 2 cache. Backing up the processor is 512MB of PC2700 DDR SDRAM, which is adequate for pretty much anything you’re likely to run on a notebook computer. That said, if you do want more memory, the T42 can support a maximum 2GB of memory, which should satisfy even the most fanatical multi-tasker. Although, with only one slot free, you’d be limited to a 1.5GB total without throwing out the incumbent memory.
Storage comes in the form of a 60GB, 7,200rpm hard disk, while a CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive will let you backup important files. Graphics are also pretty well looked after by an ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 chipset with 64MB of RAM. This may not be the fastest mobile graphics solution anymore, but you’ll still be able to play the odd game when you’re not working on spreadsheets or reports.
The other part of the Centrino specification is an Intel wireless adapter supporting both the 802.11b and 802.11g standards. The wireless networking suplements the intergrated Gigabit Ethernet adapter as well as the 56k modem. The Gigabit Ethernet adapter will be particularly useful to corporate users, as the implementation of Gigabit networks has grown significantly over the past year or so. But if you can’t find a wireless or wired network to connect to, you can just get online using your mobile phone via the integrated Bluetooth adapter. Yet again, IBM has got every connectivity base covered.
The case isn’t as fully loaded as some notebooks I’ve looked at lately, but just about everything you’re likely to need is there. On the right hand side there’s the CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive, with a D-SUB port next to it. On the left you’ll find two Type II PC Card slots, the modem socket, the Ethernet port, an S-Video connector, two USB 2.0 ports, a headphone socket and a microphone port. At the rear is the power connector and a parallel port, while at the front you’ll find an IrDA port. The Parallel port is useful for anyone that still uses an older printer, and the IrDA port is still a great way to transfer data between the notebook and a PDA or phone.