New Laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad T410

Since I left home to study abroad, I no longer had access to my old Athlon XP desktop and had to buy a new computer. I decided I would get a laptop since it just more sense to have something smaller and portable. In the end, I shelled out for a ThinkPad, which are all-business, rock solid machines with good build quality, and this post is just for showing some photos and thoughts on my new computer.

T410 open
The T410 opened and ready to work.

Let’s start off with the specs:

Lenovo ThinkPad T410

  • Intel Core i5 540M dual-core processor at 2.53GHz (up to 2.93GHz in Turbo)
  • 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 RAM with 1 open slot (8GB max)
  • 500GB 7200rpm hard disk
  • Nvidia NVS 3100m graphics card with 512MB memory
  • 14″ 1440×900 LED back lit display
  • Dual Layer DVDRW
  • Intel 6300 a/b/g/n integrated wireless networking
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 56K modem
  • Bluetooth
  • Ports: 4 USB 2.0 (1 powered), Firewire, eSATA, VGA, DisplayPort, headphones jack, ExpressCard slot
  • Multi-card reader
  • Integrated web cam and microphone
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Ultranav TouchPad and TrackPoint
  • 9 cell Li-ion battery
  • 4 years manufacturer’s warranty and accident protection
T410 closed
T410 with its lid closed.
T410 top
The lid of the T410. When closed, there are only two lights: one to indicate the laptop is plugged into the wall and the other to indicate that the laptop is sleeping.

It’s a pretty nice package. The hardware is not top of the line, but it’s above average for a current generation laptop and should be more than enough for my needs.  I can always upgrade the RAM to 8 gigs if I ever feel the need to. The 9-cell should provide ample battery life if I ever need to work on the go, and the four year’s warranty and protection plan should cover most if not all of my years as a grad student. This package isn’t cheap though. I probably could have bought a laptop with considerably faster hardware for the same price, but the build quality and warranty coverage might not be as good.

T410 bottom
Bottom of the T410, showing the battery and panels that hide some user-replaceable hardware (RAM etc.)

After using the T410 for a few weeks, my experience has been positive so far. I like the look of the machine. The all black matte chassis doesn’t stand out, but it’s a solid, all-business look. Solid is also the word to describe the build quality, since this thing just feels rigid. This computer can probably take some bumps without much damage, but of course I have no plans to let my new laptop bang around. As a 14 inch laptop weighing in somewhere between 5 and 6 pounds, the T410 is not too bad carry around. There is definitely some weight to this machine, but it’s not too heavy if I put it in the backpack. I mostly take the public transportation to school, so I probably don’t have to carry the laptop very far on most days.

T410 front
The front of the T410. Towards the right there is the opening mechanism for the lid and then the card reader.
T410 left
Left side of the T410, wich the VGA, Ethernet, DisplayPort and 3 USB ports.

My T410 has a 14 inch 1440×900 LED back lit display. Before buying the laptop I was wondering if 14inch would be too small since I’m used to desktop displays, but I found the T410’s display to be quite usable. The text isn’t too small, and there is still a decent amount of pixels. I’ve used a 1680×1050 display on a 14-15 inch laptop before and found the text to be too small, so looks like 1440×900 is the right resolution for me.

T410 keyboard
The T410's Keyboard

Moving onto the input devices, the T410’s keyboard is pretty good for the most part. The keys feels nice and the keyboard isn’t too small. The only complaint I have for the keyboard is the function key in the lower left corner. There are times when I want to use the left Ctrl key and ends up hitting that Fn key instead. The T410’s TrackPad has a slightly dimpled surface and support for some basic multi-touch gestures, and of course there is the famous ThinkPad TrackPoint, but most of the time I just plug a mouse in so I don’t use the TrackPad or TrackPoint much.

T410 rear
The rear side of the T410, showing the phone jack, the 9-cell battery and power plug.
T410 right
The right side of the T410, with the ExpressCard, eSATA, DVD writer, powered USB and Firewire ports.

My T410 came with Windows 7 64bit installed. This is first time I’ve used a Windows 7 machine, and I like what Microsoft has done at least in the visual department. The task bar grouping is pretty neat and helps keep the bar from cluttering up. Most of the common functionality isn’t too different from XP and Vista though, and that’s good since I don’t have to learn much to get started. I haven’t used Lenovo’s pre-installed management software much yet (other than turning off Bluetooth), so there isn’t much I can say about that.

That’s all I have to say for this post. Thanks for reading.

Update:
After a month or so of usage, the LCD’s backlight died. I don’t think I’ve abused my laptop and I thought ThinkPads were supposed to be solid, but apparently mine’s backlight decided to quit. Good thing I bought mine from my university so I have an identical loaner machine while mine is being repaired.

Update 2:
I got my laptop back and technician told me that only the video connector was reseated, which meant the internal video connector was probably loose. So nothing was really broken, but the fact that the video connector became loose after a month is a bit concerning. Hopefully my laptop will behave from now on.

Update 3:
Same issue happened again around a month after the first fix. Brought it back to the repair shop and got the same fix. Hopefully this doesn’t become a recurring problem.

Update 4:
After about 3 years of use, the laptop had stability issues due to heat. Good thing I had 4 years of repair coverage and so I got the problem sorted out. Apparently it required a complete dis-assembly of the laptop, so it was pretty serious.

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