I have been the ecstatic owner of five IBM ThinkPads over the course of my life — the famous and beloved 701 Butterfly, a T21, a T23, a T41p and now, the absolutely greatest and the latest — and now openly branded as Lenovo — the IBM ThinkPad T43p 2668-Q2U!
The T43p is the best ThinkPad I have ever owned because it is fast, well-built and creak-less and above all, it stays completely cool at all times. I burned-in this machine for 48 hours straight will all settings set to Maximum Performance and the machine never once became hot. The screen had no corner hotspots. The superfast hard drive did not warm the keyboard. The entire machine behaved, heat-wise, as if it were not turned on and for that, I am grateful. The internal fan came on and stayed on several times during the burn-in test and warm air came shooting out of the machine on the left side but that is precisely how the machine is built to deal with effective heat dissipation.
IBM ThinkPads have always had the reputation of being tough business machines that would bankrupt you in purchasing — that is still true – but without giving you the best available video and hard drive options even at the top-of-the-line – and that is no longer true! Now when you open your deep pockets for a ThinkPad T43p you know you are not only getting a great machine, but a machine that can at last cut you on the bleeding edge.
15 inch Flexview Display
I am coming from a Toshiba Qosmio box — a heavy-duty 11 pound Media Center — with a bright and glossy screen. The T43p screen did not look as bright or glossy at first glance. The Toshiba (and Sony Vaio line) use TrueBrite/XBrite technology that gives you clear, deep screen color at any angle. The T43p has a matte finish on the screen and you have to adjust the screen just right to get the screen brightness just right. If you’re like me and you’re up and down all day long and you fidget in your chair a lot throughout the day you will find yourself adjusting the T43p screen more than you would using an XBrite screen. I suppose you could consider that T43p “Flexview” feature as a built-in privacy screen. I don’t mind that ongoing screen adjustment now that I know I must do it — for half a day I was disappointed in the brightness of the T43p screen until I fidgeted a bit and stumbled upon the brightest sweet spot that had been waiting for me there all along. The 15 inch Flexview screen feels bigger than my 17 inch Toshiba Qosmio screen and here’s why…
High screen resolution has historically always been a missing link with the ThinkPad line — most of the ThinkPad line was stuck at 1024×768 forever — and that is why I moved away from IBM over the last few years and went down the Toshiba road for awhile. Toshiba was offering better screen resolution and that meant I could see more and get more done in the same area of screen real estate. Now, with the rising of the T43p, I have an amazing 1600×1200 pixel resolution! That is a lot of screen packed into 15 inches of space! My Qosmio was able to provide 1440×900 so my screen was wider than it was long. With my T43p I now have a wide resolution of 1600 but now my depth is a whalloping 1200 pixels! That means I can see a full page of what I am working on without having to scroll down the page. I also see the screen easier because instead of having to move my head side-to-side to read a wide screen I now just move my eyes up and down the screen so the computing experience is easier on my neck and eyes.
Pentium M 780(2.26GHz)
This box blazes twice as fast as my Qosmio. You cannot beat this thing with a rocket. I run full-power all the time because I don’t want to be cheated in speed or beauty or brightness or power when I am mobile and I have to sacrifice nothing with the T43p.
You get a gig of RAM standard. RAM is so cheap now — gone are the days when you’d have to shuck over $800 for a gig of RAM — that I bopped over to Crucial and added another gig of RAM for $118 to max out the RAM on this machine. With 2 gigs of RAM this box not only sings, it dances!
100GB 7200rpm HD
The hard drive in this T43p is not only the biggest at 100 gigs and fastest I have ever used at 7200rpm, it is also the quietest and the coolest, too! There’s no longer a “ThinkPad” hard drive hotspot under the palm rest that would roast one palm over the other all day long. If you’re using a slower hard drive you need to get with the living and start moving your world at 7200rpm. You won’t want to go back again to anything slower.
128MB ATI FireGL V3200
Finally, the video card on a ThinkPad is worthwhile and excellent. I haven’t played any games yet, but PhotoShop and my other graphics programs snap into place now with 128MB of dedicated video memory and I don’t have to wait for the screen to re-draw while deadlines are impending.
The CD/DVD is fast and capable and installing software zings along better than ever!
Intel 802.11abg wireless (MPCI)
I can easily roam the house and the neighborhood and still be connected. I punched up the Wi-Fi power to full-bore from its native middling setting and I am writing this review from a park bench outside my house. I can go into Standby and the Wireless connection snaps right back to attention when I Resume.
Bluetooth, I am convinced, is the bane of our technological existence and a prank being played against the willing. I have never been able to get Bluetooth to reliably work on any machine or device I have or have had. Bluetooth is an unfriendly and obnoxious technology that should die a slow and flaying death. I could not get my Samsung a900 phone to communicate with this T43p and I’m not blaming the box, I am blaming the ugly Bluetooth technology.
Unlike Bluetooth, the Ethernet connection works without an instant of hesitation or worry and for that, we thank the world of technology for small miracles.
ThinkPads have always done mousing really well. A ThinkPad is the only laptop I’ve used that makes computing without a separate mouse just as easy as computing with a separate mouse. You not only get the famous IBM red nubbin pointing stick stuck between the “G” and “H” keys, you also get a touchpad and both mousing alternatives have their own dedicated mouse keys. Fun! Joyous! Easy!
The embedded secure chip in the T43p works better than it did in my T41p because the security check is faster and actually, finally, usable. Who wouldn’t want a hardened laptop with extra-tough security? The answer to that question is you only want that kind of security if you don’t have to wait all day for the machine to process your logins through that chip! I think the reason the security chip feature is finally usable by ordinary people is because the CPU speed is so much faster. Now everyone can lock down their T43p boxes without a moment’s wondering about a speed or access deficit. For jobs in medicine or defense systems that require absolute privacy by law or local mandate, the T43p is the machine to use because other than setting up your security chip pass phrase, no extra steps need to be taken to be in compliance.
In addition to my hatred of Bluetooth in general, I must now add in the specific my hatred of the new “Fingerprint Reader” feature included on many of the newer ThinkPads and advertised as a great way to securely login to your computer with a single swipe of your finger. To that I say, “Ha!” The Fingerprint Reader does not work. I updated the software. It still doesn’t work. First my finger was too far left, then too far right then I was sliding my finger across the reader too fast… it was a comical hour of trying to get a single finger registered and after what appeared to be three successful scans, I was then told when “putting all three scans together” to create a password, the fingerprints did not match! Uh… same finger… BAD MACHINE! The Fingerprint Reader sounds fun and makes great advertising copy, but in the reality of your life it is a big, fat, waste of your time and your money. Just type in your password like a regular person and delete the Fingerprint reader software — and delete it you must because I was getting device errors with the software installed but “not active” — you’ll still have the fingerprint reader hardware embedded in your wrist rest and that’s okay because you can use it for drinking games and to impress people you meet on the train.
9 cell Li-Ion Battery
You get the “big battery” bundled with the T43p and that means you can work full power for around 2.5 hours. If I wanted to work longer and slower I could stretch that time to around 4 hours. I am wirelessly surfing, writing this review, reading blogs, processing email every five minutes, listening to streaming internet music and Bluetooth is on and seeking and I am at 50% of battery capacity and I’ve been working full steam for an hour and a half. Okay, at 2 hours and 10 minutes of running at full blast on battery I’m now getting a 10% capacity remaining warning and I need to find an outlet fast! Recharging the battery takes around 3.2 hours.
WindowsXP Pro is bundled with the machine and setup was fast and easy. You can also create a secure partition on your drive to easily restore your machine if you need to do a quick fix or reinstall software. I was pleased to find few third-party icons on my installed desktop. There were no gaudy AOL or MSN icons bothering me and the only thing I saw installed that I immediately uninstalled was Norton Anti-Virus. I instead purchased and installed Grisoft’s outstanding AVG Anti-Virus because Grisoft’s software invisibly gets along with everything and Norton’s does not.
Hard Disk Active Drive Protection
One feature of the ThinkPad you might not immediately recognize because it is hidden away in your Control Panel Applets — working, lurking, and protecting you — is a program called “ThinkVantage Active Protection.” That applet monitors your hard drive and if a jolt or a fall is detected your hard drive automatically goes into a safe mode to protect your data from damage. That is a welcome default feature to have on a laptop that lives on the road.
Buy One Now!
If you’re interested in getting your hands on a T43p you might have to root around a bit to find a good price and an available machine. I use the incredible Bill Morrow over at ThinkPads.com for all my ThinkPad needs. You should expect to pay anywhere from $3,600 to $3,900 for the ThinkPad T43p 2668-Q2U I reviewed here. If you decide to see what kind of deal Bill can offer you, be sure to mention this review and I’m sure he’ll hook you right up into your bliss with a fair price and a great deal on a ThinkPad T43p.