Many companies look for brand as much as for features when selecting their laptops. They want a brand?and a laptop design?that says ‘We are a no-nonsense organisation which chooses only the best for our staff. We buy the right tools for the job and they enable us to work well for you.’
Lenovo plays to this market well and its laptops are often well specified with a no-nonsense physical design. At the higher end of the Lenovo range, laptops such as the T410s are equipped with go-faster features and management utilities. But that doesn’t stop the T410s having an innovation or two up its sleeve, too.
What is it and who is it for?
Lenovo’s T410s is unashamedly an executive-level laptop. High-end specifications such as an Intel Core i5 processor mean it is up to tasks that require a fair amount of oomph, while mobile broadband enables users to keep in touch while out and about. A Web camera nestled beneath the screen is the ideal tool for video conferences with clients and colleagues. The security conscious will like the fingerprint scanner and TPM support, too.
There is a price premium to pay for all these business-positive features though, and the Lenovo T410s costs from around £1062 (ex. VAT). This may be enough to ensure that this particular laptop only appears on the desks of top executives and not in the bags of middle-ranking businesspeople.
Does it do it well?
There is a lot to like about the T410s. Its 14.1-inch screen is sharp and clear, with a matte finish that makes it easy to work in a wide range of lighting conditions. The 1440 x 900 pixels make it possible to have two working documents opened at once with ease, too.
Lenovo has incorporated touch sensitivity into the display. You can control Windows 7 Professional entirely by touch if you wish, though some icons are a little small for total accuracy. For example, we found minimising applications a bit of a challenge.
Lenovo has built in a service it calls SimpleTap to provide easy access to some features. You tap at a tab in the top right of the screen to open an overlay onto the screen which allows you to mute/unmute the speakers, use the Web camera, lock the laptop down to the sign-on screen, and so on. The activities on offer are all readily accessed in other ways, but it is a nice touch (if you’ll pardon the pun).
The keyboard is a joy to use. Large, very solid under the fingers, and with a good return, touch typing at full speed should not be a problem. For those businesspeople who need to work on aeroplanes or in other conditions where lighting can be poor, a light sits next to the Web camera. This is easily turned off and on with a key combination and it provides adequate illumination for the keyboard.
The speakers are surprisingly good delivering a lot of volume at fair quality. It would be entirely possible to deliver multimedia presentations to a group of clients sitting round a table direct from the laptop.
Ports and connectors are generous and include three USB 2.0 slots, one of which is powered. This means you can charge a mobile phone through the T410s and so don’t need to carry a separate mains power cable. There is also a 5-in-1 CardReader, Display Port, 1GB Ethernet connector, HD audio connector, and VGA-out port. Lenovo offers its standard one year depot warranty on the T410s. There is Rescue and Recovery software included to help you make regular local backups.
Where does it disappoint?
There is a multitouch feature in the touchpad which is potentially handy for zooming while Web browsing. You hold one finger down, and swivel another around to zoom. We found it a little awkward to get along with.
The 250GB hard drive may feel a little small to some people. If you are going to use this as your main computer and need to store lots of data, it could get squeezed for space.
This is quite a large laptop. It measures 337 x 241 x 21mm. It is heavy, too, at 1.77kg. Many businesspeople may find it a chore to carry something that weighty every day. And that is before you add in a second battery, which you are likely to want to do as life from the provided 6-cell battery proved pretty poor. We achieved less than 2 hours’ of video playback from an untweaked balanced performance/power plan.
Lenovo does try to offer some flexibility by way of power management. Its utility called Battery Stretch offers a range of settings for you to configure including minimising the screen refresh rate and disabling the wireless LAN. By default it dims the screen so far as to be unusable so you will need to play with this to get it to function to your liking.
A second application, called Power Manager, gives you control over areas like CPU speed, fan, and graphics. If you fiddle with both of these you may be able to extend battery life, but no amount of tweaking will be as effective as adding a second battery, which slots into the space occupied by the DVD drive.
There is one other annoyance which Lenovo can’t really be held accountable for. The touchscreen means that the display easily gets covered in finger-smudges. We suspect many users will stop tapping the screen fairly quickly both because it doesn’t offer anything special and because they’ll want to avoid those smudges.
Would we recommend it?
The Lenovo T410s is an impressive laptop as long as it remains tethered to mains power. It may not be ideal for you if you need long life away from mains power, but for the occasional out of office client meeting or stint working on the train it may be ideal. But then again, at the price, it is only like to be a viable option for the top brass.