IBM ThinkPad X40 – Ultra-Portable Notebook Review - IBM ThinkPad X40 Review

The last part of the ergonomic puzzle is the screen and the X40 sports a 12.1in display running a resolution of 1,024 x 768. As far as notebook resolutions go, this is pretty low by today’s standards, but with a screen this size it’s fine. I used the X40 as my only computer while I was in Taiwan for a week and I had no problem working with the screen size or resolution. Obviously I’d always prefer to have more desktop real estate, but then I also want a notebook that’s small and light, so you have to accept this trade off. As far as screens go, this is a good example with bright, even lighting and vivid colours. So, when it comes to ergonomics, the X40 has got everything right.

Looking to overal design, you either love or hate the ThinkPad range. Personally I really like the matt black finish, and the lid has a pleasing tactile rubbery feel to it. Unlike the ThinkPad X31 that I reviewed a few months back, the X40 has a single latch securing the lid. However, the single latch is connected to two locking hooks, so the lid will still stay securely shut, but you don’t have to press two latches to open it.

Inside the X40 you get a 1.2GHz Intel Pentium M backed up by 512MB of memory. There’s one free SODIM slot available so you can, in theory, expand the memory to 1.5GB. For storage there’s a 40GB hard disk which is capacious enough, but unfortunately with a 4,200rpm spindle speed it’s a little on the slow side. This is borne out by the fact that the X40 does take quite some time to boot up. Graphics come courtesy of the integrated Intel Extreme Graphics 2 chipset, so you won’t be playing any games, but that’s not really what a machine like this is for.

Wireless connectivity is well catered for with both integrated 802.11b and Bluetooth. It’s a little disappointing that the newer 802.11g standard isn’t supported, but most of the WiFi hotspots you’re likely to run into will more than likely be 802.11b. The reason why this X40 doesn’t have 802.11g is that it conforms to the original Centrino standard; however, certain X40 models ship with 802.11b/g or even 802.11a/b/g as standard, if you’re not worried about the Centrino badge. Bluetooth is always a useful inclusion and allows you to get connected to the Internet using a suitably equipped mobile phone. Of course if you don’t have Bluetooth on your phone, you can still connect via the IrDA port. Although many notebook manufacturers are dropping infrared, it’s good to see that IBM is still supporting the standard.

Taking a quick tour around the chassis you’ll notice that there is a surprising amount of connectivity integrated into the X40. On the right side there a single Type II PC Card slot, headphone and mic sockets, an SD card slot, an IrDA port, a USB port, a modem socket and an Ethernet port for the 10/100/1000 gigabit network adapter. On the left there’s a powered USB 2.0 port, a D-SUB connector, and the power socket. The rear is completely empty, since this is where the battery is mounted.

There is no optical drive built into the X40, and you don’t get one with it either. The optional X4 Ultrabase sits underneath the X40 and houses an optical drive as well as acting as a port replicator. The idea is that the Ultrabase will stay at home or in the office, and you plug the X40 into it whenever you are there. As well as housing an optical drive, you can keep your home/office network cable and power adapter plugged into the Ultrabase, so all you have to do is place the X40 onto it without having to fiddle around with cables. The Ultrabay retails for £158.62, so the convenience carries a pretty hefty price tag.

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