Lenovo Thinkpad T500 Review
Copyright © 2009-2010,2012 by Zack Smith .
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IntroductionThe Thinkpad T500 was a continuation of the winning Lenovo tradition that has lasted years and will continue for many more.
The model I am reviewing (type 2242-8QU) has a 15.4 inch LED-backlit display and a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor. It has integrated graphics in the form of the Intel 4500MHD.
The T500 typically comes with either Windows 7 or (via downgrade) Windows XP.
AppearanceThe T500 is an attractive black laptop. Other manufacturers keep changing the style of their laptops every year but Lenovo and formerly IBM hit upon a design that just works and have kept with it, at least for this product line.
Build qualityMany reviewers have noted that Lenovo has switched to cheaper plastic for the case. I can confirm that this is true. If you search on Youtube for reviews of the T500 you will find a video where the reviewer pushes his finger deep into the plastic of the T500, as if it were made of Jello. That video is entirely fake. The plastic bends, but not much.
Keyboard qualityIBM and later Lenovo laptops have been reknowned for the excellent quality of the keyboards. This continues for the most part in the T500 but, as other reviewers have noted, the company has removed a thin metal sheet that used to serve as a backing to Thinkpad keyboards. As a result, there is a little bending (not much) and in the corner for instance near Page-Up you may find that keys stick because of this.
You can, if you want, open up the laptop and install your own meta sheet in the same spot. At least one Youtube video shows how to do this.
Screen qualityThe LED-backlit display is excellent and uses only half the power that former CCFL-backlit displays did. It is a very bright and readable and sharp.
AntennaSome have noted that the plastic on the left hand side of the T500 screen is wider than the plastic on the right hand side. This is true. It's to make space for the optional antenna for accessing 3G mobile networks. I thought it would annoy ment but actually I rarely notice it and it's actually kind of nice in a way.
Battery lifeOften when running on the battery I've been surprised to see Windows XP report that I have 7 hours of battery life left. This is a testament to the many different approaches that have been taken to save power, from SpeedStep in the processor to the LED backlight to the ability to power down the DVD drive. But in general, I get 3 to 4 hours of use on a full battery.
SpeedMy T500 has a 2.4 GHz processor with dual cores and a 3 megabyte L2 cache, so the laptop is never very slow. The causes of slowness when I observe it are mainly the Internet, occassionally the integrated graphics, the hard drive or the DVD. The 32-bit operating systems are also visibly slower than 64-bit.
WindowsI have installation discs for both Windows 7 and Windows XP, both are 32-bit. After experimenting with Windows 7, I finally realized that I cannot stand it and switched back to XP. XP is faster.
WeightThe T500 weighs about 6 pounds. Because power savings features are so effective, there is usually no need to bring the AC adapter with you if you go out for just a few hours, even with only a half-charged battery. This definitely improves the usability of the laptop.
Touchpad qualityThe touchpad on the T500 is not as deep than those of other laptops but it is wide and thankfully it is smooth and slick-feeling like Teflon. The touchpad buttons have some travel and are easy to press down. They do not click loudly like, for instance, the buttons on Toshiba laptops. Thus it is a good quality touchpad.
Security featuresSome T500 models have a fingerprint reader, built-in webcam and face recognition program. Mine only has the fingerprint reader, which I disabled in the BIOS and then covered with black electrical tape. No need to let Big Brother snoop. I mean really, do you actually trust that Microsoft or whoever is not going to provide your fingerprint to the government?