It doesn't seem that long ago that I reviewed the IBM ThinkPad T41p. It was a truly excellent notebook and I was very sad when it had to go back to IBM. If it wasn't for the fact that it was very expensive, I might have considered buying one for myself. But now I have the T42p sitting in front of me, and it's more than likely that this could become the object of my mobile desires.
However, the notebook I'm typing on right now is a pre-production unit, so I can't run any benchmarks on it. What I have is a near-finished sample that gives me a very good idea of what the production model will look like when it ships in a few weeks time.
The first thing I noticed about the T42p is that it's a bit bigger than the T41p I reviewed. The main reason for this is the slightly larger screen at 15in instead of 14.1in. Now, notebook manufacturers have a habit of playing a numbers game when it comes to screen size - adding an inch just to look that bit better than the competition, even though the resolution stays the same. Thankfully that isn't what IBM has done with this little beauty. The screen on the T42p sports a resolution of 1,600 x 1,200 which is pretty impressive for a display this size.
Some people may think that such a high resolution on a 15in screen will make everything too small, but I have to say that this is one of the best notebook displays I have ever used. Yes, the icons are a bit smaller than on a 1,400 x 1,050 screen, but the extra desktop real estate is huge bonus. When I use a notebook I usually have multiple applications open at once and can often be cutting and pasting from one window to another. Having such a high resolution makes my job a lot easier. That said, I don't think I'd want to be running a resolution any higher than this on a 15in screen.
Because the T42p is more of a mobile workstation than a notebook computer, that fantastic screen is coupled with an ATI Mobility Fire GL T2 graphics chipset, complete with 128MB of memory. So if you happen to be a CAD designer or even a 3D modeler, this could be an ideal mobile companion for you. Oh, and of course the Fire GL T2 chipset will make the T42p a pretty good gaming notebook as well, for when you're not working.
IBM has definitely raided the top shelf for the core components inside the T42p. The CPU is Intel's latest 1.8GHz Pentium M 745, or Dothan as it was known before launch. Not only is this the fastest Pentium M in terms of clock speed, but it also sports a whopping 2MB of on-die cache, which will push the performance that bit further. The increase in cache size has been made possible by a reduction in fabrication size - the Dothan chip is manufactured using a .90nm process. In this review machine the CPU was backed up with a generous 1GB of RAM, which should allow it to handle anything you'd want to throw at a mobile workstation.