IBM ThinkPad T42 review
If you need one notebook to do two jobs - to be portable, yet powerful in the office - this superbly built machine will deliver.
Review Date: 20 Sep 2004
Reviewed By: Roger kirkwood
Price when reviewed: (£1,722 inc VAT); Delivery £7 (£8 inc VAT)
IBM's notebooks are regular inhabitants of our A List, with representatives currently occupying the Business and Ultra Portable categories. Those craving the ultimate in portability are better suited to IBM's X series, but they have to make concessions by accepting a 12.1-inch screen, modest storage capacities and the absence of a built-in optical drive. If you want portability but still need power, it's the ThinkPad T series you should turn to.
The T42 comes in many different versions, with either 14.1in or 15in TFTs. The smaller size is a good option if you travel frequently, with the latter giving greater clarity in an office environment. Our review unit (UC22VUK) sports a 15in TFT, but this is still an eminently portable unit, weighing just 2.66kg. IBM has gone to great lengths to keep the weight down, with an Ultrabay Slim housing a bespoke 9.5mm combo drive to keep the machine's overall depth to a travel-friendly 37mm.
Given that, the battery life of four hours, 43 minutes under light use is slightly disappointing, especially since ThinkPads usually excel in this area. Intense use dwindled to one hour, 28 mins, so you can expect to finish a comprehensive presentation away from the mains, but you may find yourself keeping a close eye on the battery meter during a long journey.
There's no compromising on power though. Built around a Dothan 1.7GHz Pentium M 173 processor, the T42 shows its best results with office applications, where the 2MB of Level 2 cache speeds up frequently repeated tasks. Other components also focus on performance. The 512MB of PC2700 SDRAM runs at 333MHz to complement the processor, and the 60GB Hitachi hard disk spins at 7,200rpm - currently the fastest spindle speed found in laptops.
With these top-notch components we'd expect good benchmark scores, and the T42 didn't let us down. The fast hard disk pushed our intensive database test to an excellent 1.90, and the Dothan's boost for office applications took the WP/Spreadsheet test to 1.94. With this level of performance and an overall score of 1.76, this notebook should serve you well into the future.
IBM has fitted an ATi Mobility Radeon 9600 graphics card with 64MB of video RAM. This will handle more than your standard PowerPoint presentation - scoring 37fps in Unreal Tournament 2004 at 1,024 x 768 - so there's enough power to slay a few demons after hours.
The screen itself runs at a restrained 1,024 x 768 pixels. It's disappointing at this price - we'd expect more like 1,400 x 1,050 pixels - but it's a respectable example of its type, and it does mean that readability remains high. The definition is crisp but the vertical viewing angles are a touch narrow, giving minor brightness variations top-to-bottom.
As usual, IBM's keyboard doesn't disappoint, with the commensurate layout and satisfyingly firm key action making the keyboard a joy to use - the only notable omission is a Windows key. The trackpoint can be used without moving your hand away from the keys, and there's also a responsive touchpad.
If you prefer to use a mouse at a desk, be aware that the T42 offers only two USB ports - you'll have to opt for the docking station to get more. There's more flexibility elsewhere though, with the two stacked Type II PC Card slots also accommodating a larger Type III card. With both D-SUB and S-Video outputs, there's scope for easily attaching a projector, external monitor or compatible television. It's all sensibly laid out, with only the parallel port relegated to the back of the machine. Connectors for gigabit Ethernet and a 56K modem complete the line-up, with the inclusion of Intel's PRO/Wireless 802.11b/g card earning the T42 a Centrino badge. Bluetooth is fitted as standard, with a software switch activated by function modifier keys.
- Child abuse showdown "hijacked by ignorant MPs"
- Government wheedles more funding for online child protection from ISPs
- AMD’s "Seattle" ARM chips set for 2014 release
- Microsoft offloads cheap Surface RT tablets to schools
- Outlook.com to ditch linked accounts over security fears
- Adobe’s subscription-only Creative Cloud goes live
- Skype rolls out free video voicemail
- Spotify confirms UK outage
- Google builds system to identify child abuse images
- Google balloons beam broadband to remote areas
- Huawei Ascend P6 review: first look
- Adobe Illustrator CC review: first look
- Let MPs tell us what they really want ISPs to block
- Adobe Photoshop CC review: first look
- WWDC 2013 and iOS 7 launch: live blog
- Sony VAIO Pro review: first look
- Want child porn blocked? Meet the IWF
- Is it worth upgrading a media centre to Windows 8?
- Flickr redesign: is it enough to tempt photographers back?
- Hands on with the new Google Maps
- Manage a mailing list with MailChimp
- Best Linux distros for 2013
- 36 best Android apps
- How to track a stolen phone, laptop or tablet
- The man who teaches the world to Google
- 38 best iPad apps
- Moving PC made easy
- 35 best web apps
- Software subscriptions return us to a life of servitude
- Dropbox: everything you need to know
- Facebook "click on the photo" scams: how they work
- Three alternatives to Word's spelling and grammar checker
- Google two-step verification: a must for business email
- Microsoft Office and the death of upgrades
- The ICO's shame-faced u-turn on cookies
- Start8 and ModernMix: making Windows 8 work on a desktop
- How to boost your mobile reception
- How to fix Facebook: Social Fixer
- Taking the stress out of WordPress updates
- Where to download free web fonts
There are dozens of exciting prizes up for grabs on PC Pro Competitions. All our competitions are free to enter. Try your luck.ENTER NOW