Semi-OT: Thinkpad T400s initial impression

Madison Kelly linux-5ZoueyuiTZhBDgjK7y7TUQ at
Thu Sep 3 20:56:02 UTC 2009

Hi all,

   I think a couple people asked, so here is my initial impression of my 
new Lenovo Thinkpad T400s.

- IT IS AWESOME! Probably the best built laptop I've ever owned or even 
worked on. The only thing more solid is the Toughbook, but you trade off 
a lot of weight and money for that.

I find the most useful opinions being those that also share what they 
don't like, so let me start there.

Things I don't like:

- The hard drive is a 1.8" drive with a micro SATA connector. At this 
moment, I can't find a third party vendor of these drives. I am hoping 
this will change in the relatively near future as SSDs move into the 
mainstream, but this is a bit of a gamble. I wish now I had splurged for 
the 250GB drive and foregone the 2GB Drive Boosted instead.

- The touchpad is larger than the ones normally found on Thinkpads and 
it's nearly flush with the palm rest. I've found myself bumping it with 
my hand now and then and having the cursor jump. However, there is a 
Fn+F8 option to turn it off (actually, cycle between the nub, the 
touchpad, both and neither). At the moment though, this doesn't work 
with (Ubuntu 64-bit) Linux out of the box... Not sure what it will take 
to sort this out.

- The lid closes a little different from old style Thinkpads. It's fine, 
just takes a bit of getting used to.

- The speakers are quiet. I knew this before I bought it, and they 
weren't kidding. Expect to use external speakers or headphones.

Things I've not yet tested under Linux:

- Not sure about all Fn+Fx keys... I know that wireless/bluetooth works 
though. Not sure about the fingerprint reader yet, either.

Now then, the things I love!

- Typing on this keyboard is simply amazing. It has the best, firmest 
tactile feedback of any laptop I've ever used. I wouldn't be surprised 
to find that there are actual bumpers under the keys instead of the 
usual pieces of plastic. It's just unreal how good it is.

- The screen is very, very bright at it's full brightness. I find myself 
turning it down when indoors! I didn't have any trouble on the Go train 
this morning and I really doubt even direct sunlight would be a problem.

- It runs very, very cool. I'd gotten so used to all laptops running hot 
enough to make my lap uncomfortable... I didn't think it was still 
possible to get a cool running laptop! As an example, I dd'ed the HDD 
yesterday then bzip2'ed it with level 9 compression. While compressing, 
I started gparted and shrank the Vista partition and installed Ubuntu. 
So under nearly 100% load on one CPU core, the other core under active 
load and the (platter) HDD going full out for well over an hour the 
laptop never got more than a few degrees over ambient.

   It's hard to overstate how impressed I am with this machine's ability 
to stay cool. With a 64-bit, dual-core 2.4GHz Centrino2 in it, we're not 
talking about a slouch of a laptop either.

- It has both logical (Fn+F5) and a hard switch for turning 
bluetooth/wireless on and off. This is a little thing but it makes 
quickly turning the antennaes off and on a lot easier... no guessing 
which mode it's in.

- It's light. For a full out laptop with even a DVD-RW, it's only 3.9 
lbs. By comparison, my "travel" netbook, The ASUS Eee 10" is 3.3 lbs! 
It's full sized though... no compromising on keyboard or screen size. 
I'll still take my Eee for travel because of it's physical size, but it 
certainly makes this one be not far behind.

- It's solid. I mean, it feels like I could fend off a mugger with this 
thing and then go right back to work. The keyboard has almost no flex... 
I have to press /hard/ to get anything out of it. Picking it up from the 
corner of the palm rest with the screen open also shows no flex or give.

- One thing that has bugged me on the Eee is that the base is about the 
same size and weight as the monitor. So when I try to open my screen 
one-handed, the base lifts up. I need two hands to open it. Not on this 
T400s though. I can easily open the screen with one hand and the base 
doesn't lift. It's another small thing, but it is nice.

So to summarize;

This thing feels very polished. They thought of everything and spared 
nothing. It's an amazing laptop and I wouldn't feel bad recommending it 
to anyone looking for a work laptop.


PS - If there is interest, I'll post a followup when I finish working 
out the few Linux bugs. Though I wouldn't be surprised to see the Ubuntu 
9.10 already fix any remaining issues.
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