The X40 doesn’t ship with an optical drive, so you’re going to have to either invest in an Ultrabase with an optical drive but since the DVD/CD-RW combo drive that shipped with this review unit costs £225.60, you might as well buy an external USB optical drive instead. Alternatively, you can just share an optical drive on your desktop PC and install all your applications over the network.
You also get the usual ThinkPad extras like the Active Protection System to stop your hard disk getting damaged if you drop or knock the notebook while it’s on. The Rescue and Recover with Rapid Restore utility is also very useful and allows you to recover from a corrupted Windows environment or restore an image of your OS and data. The Embedded Security Subsystem 2.0 will also keep the more paranoid mobile users among us happy.
As far as performance goes, the X40 isn’t going to break any records, but an ultra-portable notebook isn’t aimed at the power hungry user. That said, I have happily used the X40 for the past few weeks, running everything from Word to Photoshop without any issues. What is important with a slim and light machine is battery life, and here it’s a game of two halves. Using the standard battery, the X40 turned in a time of two hours and 41 minutes. But when you add the base-mounted extra battery, this rises to five hours and 13 minutes. If you’re desperate for battery life you can get an extended battery that replaces the standard battery and still attach the base-mounted battery. The base-mounted battery adds 358g to the overall weight, and raises the X40 to a sloped typing angle that remains comfortable. The base-mounted battery will set you back £170.37, but if you’re serious about working on the move it’s worth the expense.
With a street price of £1,416.73 the X40 looks like pretty good value, especially when compared to the Sony X505VP, but then you did get a DVD writer with the Sony. If you do have to factor in the cost of an Ultrabase and optical drive, the price of the X40 will start to become less attractive, but if you’ve got a network set up at home or in the office, you should be able to install applications over the network and save on this expense. And if you don’t have a network, you can just get an external USB DVD writer for around £150.
IBM has come pretty close to producing the perfect ultra-portable notebook in the shape of the X40. The slightly slow boot up time and lack of 802.11g support are annoying, but still take little of the shine off this machine. Ultimately, as I said at the beginning, if I was going to buy a slim and light notebook computer, it would be this one.
The X40 is slim, stylish, light and ergonomically superior to every other ultra-portable machine I’ve used. If you want a lightweight traveling companion, the X40 should be top of your list.