Lenovo ThinkPad T500 review

9 Sep 2009

All work and no play makes the Lenovo a happy laptop indeed. A business classic

Lenovo ThinkPad T500
Price when reviewed 
940
5

Set amongst notebook style icons such as Dell’s Adamo or Apple’s Macbook Pro 13, the Lenovo T500 looks strikingly out of place. Indeed, like a time-traveller from the 1980s shot unceremoniously into 2009, the T500’s dowdy, textured black physique could almost be a museum exhibit of how laptops once used to look.

But although the ThinkPad's styling might be archaic, it screams practicality from every corner. The lid tilts back and forth on sturdy hinges, which prevent it from flapping about unduly, and tugging on the well-constructed base elicits barely any flex.

It’s not even especially portable by today’s standards, but while its 2.59kg weight won’t be something you want to carry about every day, you’ll be glad of its excellent display and the supremely comfortable keyboard, trackpad and trackpoint combination.

The keyboard boasts the usual ThinkPad quality. A spacious, uncluttered layout goes hand in hand with slightly concave keys which boast a light but responsive feel – there are few laptops, business-oriented or otherwise which can match the ThinkPad for ergonomics.

The T500 also ignores the fad for 16:9 ratio panels, sticking with the tried and tested 16:10, 15.4in format. The matte display minimises reflections, too. The only disappointment is the 1,280 x 800 native resolution, which can feel a bit cramped at times. Consider a model with a higher resolution panel if serious multitasking is on the agenda.

There’s certainly no lack of power for such tasks. The Core 2 Duo P8400 is a capable performer and it managed a fine 1.15 in our benchmarks. The same can’t be said of 3D performance, though: the Intel integrated graphics are only up to the most basic of rendering tasks.

Meanwhile, with 7hrs 53 minutes of light use battery life, the T500 can spend most of the working day away from a mains socket.

The T500 cements its credentials with a range of business-friendly features. A fingerprint reader comes paired with a TPM 1.2 chip, and there’s no shortage of connectivity either. ExpressCard/54 rubs shoulders with the older PC card standard – something that’s bound to please many IT departments loath to throw away old hardware. There's a 4-in-1 card reader, three USB ports, mini-Firewire, plus D-SUB and DisplayPort outputs.

That’s not to mention the all-round brilliance of the ThinkVantage software suite. Handling everything from software and driver updates, to ensuring that you backup your system on a regular basis, ThinkVantage has it covered. Even if the operating system should fail to boot, you can always dab the ThinkVantage button and rescue precious files to an external disk.

A pricier version of Lenovo’s T500 has been our second-choice A-list business laptop for some time now, and this model follows in those footsteps. It isn't stylish, but if you want a practical, comfortable business laptop that’s built to last, you won't be disappointed by the Lenovo T500.

Details

Price ex VAT £817
Price inc VAT £940
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 3 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 358 x 256 x 37mm (WDH)
Weight 2.590kg
Travelling weight 3.0kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo P8400
Motherboard chipset Intel GM45/47
RAM capacity 2.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 1
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.4in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,280
Resolution screen vertical 800
Resolution 1280 x 800
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 4500MHD
Graphics card RAM 32MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 250GB
Hard disk usable capacity 233GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate Momentus 5400.4
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive Matshita UJ862A
Battery capacity 5,300mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem yes
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 1
PC Card slots 1
USB ports (downstream) 3
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports Fail
Parallel ports Fail
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad, trackpoint
Audio chipset Conexant HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM yes
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 7hr 53min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 38min
Overall application benchmark score 1.15
Office application benchmark score 1.23
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.22
Encoding application benchmark score 1.01
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.12
3D performance (crysis) low settings 5fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Business
OS family Windows Vista
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs
Software supplied Lenovo ThinkVantage suite, Microsoft Windows XP Professional downgrade disc