Vanilla Lenovo notebooks don’t have the TrackPoint that ThinkPads continue to use, instead they rely on just a trackpad. I know some people prefer to use ‘the red nipple’ but trackpads are now ubiquitous so saving some money by dropping the TrackPoint makes sense. The tracking surface is a pleasure to use giving good accurate response. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the corresponding buttons. They are so stodgy that Riyad proclaimed pressing them is like putting your finger in jelly and I wouldn’t disagree.
Above the keyboard are five silver buttons for controlling power, turning volume on/off, up and down, and accessing the Lenovo care facilities. The first four buttons are self explanatory but the last one may need some elaboration. Pressing this at boot up will enter the ThinkVantage suite where you can perform backup and system restore operations, map network drives, run a diagnostic utility or even access a web browser. You can also access most of these features from inside Windows by pressing the same button. The great thing about ThinkVantage is that a systems administrator can configure workers’ notebooks to backup every time they connect to the company network, thus ensuring that there is a regular snapshot of everyone’s notebook, without the end users even knowing it’s happening.
Around the edges of the chassis are convenient little icons that indicate the position of the various ports – useful for preventing excessive fumbling in front of a client. On a more stylish notebook these might ruin its sleek look but for a business oriented device, where ease of use is paramount, they make a lot of sense.
Along the left edge is a single USB port, a four pin (mini) IEEE.1394 Firewire port, a 10/100 Ethernet port, an Express Card slot, a 5-in-1 Multi-card Reader (SD/MMC/XD/MS/MS Pro), and a securing point for attaching a notebook lock. The positioning of the multi-card reader below the Express Card slot may result in it being blocked if a particularly large expansion card is used but otherwise this layout seems sensible enough.
The front edge houses a small panel containing three LEDs for indicating sleep status, hard drive activity, Bluetooth status, and wireless status. To its left is a switch for turning the wireless connections on and off. There is only one switch for both though, which is slightly inconvenient because it means you need to fiddle about in Windows to control these independently. As I mentioned above, the WiFi is not draft-n but does conform to a/b/g standards so you’re good for casual browsing, emailing and small file transfers.
On the right side you’ll find three further USB ports, two 3.5mm jack sockets for a microphone and headphones, a 24x dual-layer multi-format DVD rewriteable drive, and a VGA port. Again, nothing too spectacular here, it’s just ticking all the boxes. A 1.3 megapixel webcam sits above the screen where its just right for video calling. Rounding things out, a 56k Modem and S-Video socket can be found along with the power socket on the back of the hinge.
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