IBM ThinkPad T42p mobile workstation
IBM ThinkPads are famous for the quality of their keyboards, and typing on the T42p is an absolute joy. No other notebook manufacturer has managed to emulate the feel of a ThinkPad keyboard - every single key feels individual and there isn't the slightest hint of keyboard flex, no matter how hard or fast you're typing. The layout is perfect too, with the Shift, Caps, Tab, Return and Backspace keys all large and easy to reach at full speed. The cursor keys are dropped slightly from the main keyboard, and the casing has three cut-outs leading down to them, so it's easy to slide your fingers into position without having to take your eyes off the screen.
The trackpoints on ThinkPads seem to feel better than those on other notebooks. Beneath the Spacebar are three buttons: the left and right buttons emulate the left and right buttons on a mouse, while the centre button is a scroll lock. If you prefer touchpads to trackpoints, the T42p has one of those too. Directly below the trackpoint buttons is a black touchpad with two selector buttons beneath it.
The T42p is a Centrino machine, so there's an Intel Pentium M CPU inside. This particular model has a 1.8GHz chip, backed up by 1GB of RAM, which definitely reinforces this machine's workstation aspirations. What's particularly impressive is that IBM has fitted a 1GB SO-DIMM inside the T42p, leaving the end-user a free slot to increase the memory without having to discard any.
Storage is taken care of by a 60GB hard disk, which is capacious enough for most uses, but it wouldn't hurt to have more capacity given the market the T42p is aimed at. If you want to free up some hard disk space, you can make use of the integrated DVD writer.
The T42p is well endowed with connectivity options. There's an Intel Pro/Wireless 802.11b/g Wi-Fi adaptor inside and Bluetooth, so you can connect to the Internet via your mobile phone as well. There's no physical switch to activate and deactivate the wireless networking, but pressing Fn and F5 brings up a menu that allows you to turn Bluetooth on and off, Wi-Fi on and off, or both.
Looking around the chassis, you'll find the DVD writer on the right, along with a D-SUB port. The front is Spartan apart from the IrDA port. On the left are two stacked Type II PC Card slots, microphone and headphone sockets, two USB 2.0 ports, an S-Video port, a modem socket and an Ethernet port. True to the market segment that the T42p is addressing, there's a Gigabit Ethernet controller inside.