If you're a regular reader of TrustedReviews, you're probably well aware that I'm a fan of IBM ThinkPad notebooks. Although many consider the design to be dull and lacking inspiration, I find it sleek, stylish and understated, but the way ThinkPads look represents only one of the many reasons that I'm partial to them.
About a year ago I proclaimed the ThinkPad T41p as the best notebook computer I had ever used and to be honest, I still haven't seen too many notebooks that I'd rather have. A little while ago I reviewed the ThinkPad T42p and discovered that IBM had pushed the T-Series forward with larger, higher resolution screens. The T42p has a 15in 1,600 x 1,200 screen that suited its mobile workstation market sector. But IBM still offered the T42 series with 14.1in screens for those who were more concerned with weight and portability than they were with desktop real estate.
Now I have a pre-production version of IBM's latest T-Series notebook, the ThinkPad T43. Short of the small T43 label positioned just below the screen, the T43 looks pretty much identical to the T42 before it. It has the same sleek black finish, the same IBM ThinkPad branding in the bottom right corner of the lid and wrist rest and the same solid feel as its predecessor.
Like the T42 before it, the T43 is available with both 15in and 14.1in screens. Either screen option can be specified with one of two native resolution options - 1,024 x 768 or 1,400 x 1,050. Personally, I think that 1,024 x 768 is too low a resolution for any screen above 12.1in, but I understand that a great many corporate customers want 1,024 x 768 coupled with a large physical screen size, and corporate customers make up a large portion of IBM's target market.
The model I have before me has a 14.1in screen sporting a 1,024 x 768 resolution, so it probably represents the workhorse machine for the corporate masses. The smaller screen also makes the whole notebook thinner and lighter, with the 14.1in T43 weighing in at 2.1kg with dimensions of 311 x 255 x 26.3mm, compared with the 15in model, which weighs 2.6kg and sports dimensions of 329 x 268 x 36mm.
The lid is secured by two sturdy hooks, so there's no chance of the T43 opening up by mistake. Despite the double hook mechanism, there is still only a single spring loaded switch that releases both hooks simultaneously. It may be a small point, but the single release catch means that the T43 is opened easily with one hand - I have been contacted a couple of times during my career by notebook users that only have the use of one hand, so I'm glad to see that IBM is offering the best of both worlds, double catch security with easy access.
The keyboard is up to IBM's usual exemplary standard, although this prototype had a US keyboard, complete with reduced size Return key. Despite the somewhat unfamiliar US layout, the keyboard on this T43 is still a joy to use - the performance, feel and feedback from ThinkPad keyboards are unparalleled. Every time I use a ThinkPad I wonder why other notebook manufacturers cannot produce keyboards of the same quality, maybe one day they will, but for now, the typing experience on ThinkPad notebooks is second to none.