What's hot: Fast performance for productivity apps, music and video playback, solidly built.
What's not: Expensive multi-touch feature.
Reviewed October 22, 2009 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
The Lenovo ThinkPad T400s is the thinnest and lightest model in the ThinkPad T series. The 14.1-inch laptop also stands out in the series because it has an optional capacitive touch screen that works with Windows 7’s multi-touch capability. Our review unit was configured with the Intel Core 2 Duo P9600 processor with up to 8GB memory, Intel integrated graphics and an SSD drive. Standard features include a built-in DVD drive, WiFi, a 2 megapixel webcam and stereo speakers. The Lenovo can run Windows 7 64 bit a well as 32 bit, and comes with Lenovo ThinkVantage system tools. There are two flavors in the T400s series currently, the model with multi-touch screen sells for about $400 higher than the model without the multi-touch screen.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T400s is designed for business travelers who need something thin and light yet powerful. The notebook is super fast running productivity apps, installing software and copying content, playing video and surfing the web. As per usual for ThinkPads, the notebook has a solid build and an excellent keyboard. Though business users might not need the new multi-touch capability, the SSD option is a big plus in terms of durability and speed. If you don’t need the touch features, get the T400s without the multi-touch display option for a few hundred dollars cheaper and use the money you save to buy the SSD option!
Hardware and Performance
Our Lenovo ThinkPad T400s shipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU P9600 running at 2.53GHz with 6MB L2 cache and a 1066MHz FSB. The notebook has 4GB of PC3-8500 DDR3 SDRAM (1067MHz) installed with 8GB max capacity and two SODIMM slots. Our Lenovo has a 128GB SSD drive by Toshiba and the performance of the SSD drive is super fast as you will see in our benchmark results. The SSD option costs $240 extra from the baseline 120GB HDD. The ThinkPad T400s has integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics and this means the notebook is more than capable of handily performing productivity tasks but won’t be a gaming demon. The ThinkPad T400s comes with a recordable 8x max dual layer DVD drive in the Ultrabay Slim format.
We put the Lenovo through PCMark Vantage benchmark tests, and it went through with flying colors. The benchmark results beat out some great notebooks like the Toshiba Portege M750 convertible tablet (running the Intel Core 2 Duo P9600 processors at 2.66GHz) and year old greats like the Sony Vaio Z550. We ran the tests with the notebook plugged in with default power management settings enabled.
T400s, non-touchscreen model:
Here are the PCMark Vantage benchmark results of the Lenovo ThinkPad T400s and the Toshiba Portege M750 business notebook as comparison:
PCMark Vantage Benchmark results:
Lenovo ThinkPad T400s:
PCMark Suite overall score: 4586
Memory Suite: 2743
TV and Movies Suite: 2668
Gaming Suite: 3373
Music Suite: 5026
Communication Suite: 4012
Productivity Suite: 4670
HDD Test Suite: 7128
As you can see, the Lenovo scores very high overall and does particularly well for the processor, music playback and the hard drive tests thanks to the SSD. Large applications install quickly thanks to the SSD, and the notebook is fast performing MS Office tasks, playing music and video. DVD movies play smoothly, iTunes music and movies including HD movies also play smoothly on the Lenovo. We tested a WMV movie ripped at 1920 x 1080 resolution, 9600kbps bitrate and it played smoothly in Windows Media Player with very few frame drops.
Display and Ports
The Lenovo ThinkPad T400s has a 14.1 inch 1440 x 900 native TFT display with LED backlight. The screen supports 1 and 2 finger gesture support on screen (ours worked with 4 fingers but we’re not sure if shipping models have 4 finger touch enabled yet in the driver). Windows 7 adds significant support for capacitive multi-touch displays including inertia scrolling and pinch to zoom when viewing web pages and photos. The display looks fairly bright with saturated colors and is responsive to multi touch. It’s not as sharp, bright and saturated as the ThinkPad X200t with the outdoor viewable high brightness LED display, but that’s a hard one to beat. Drawbacks? The notebook can’t convert to a tablet form since there’s no swivel hinge, and the display wobbles a bit when you use the touch feature. The touch screen is certainly handy for those who use photo editing tools and other apps that utilize the multi-touch feature, however we don’t see users buying the notebook solely for the touch experience. The T400s doesn't have an active digitizer and EMR pen, so it's not the right machine for graphic artists. Consider the Lenovo ThinkPad X200t or ThinkPad X201t if you need the Wacom pen experience.
The standard US keyboard feels very ergonomic thanks to the large keys with good travel and spacious palm rest as well as two sets of mouse controls. The ThinkPad has the traditional Trackpoint joystick with two comfy mouse buttons, and a touchpad with two additional mouse buttons. The T400s has dedicated launch keys for Lenovo ThinkVantage toolbox, mute and volume keys. It has a fingerprint reader on the right side of the palm rest and the speakers flank the keyboard. Everything is conveniently located and the power button lives right above the keyboard near the center.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T400s has 3 USB ports, a VGA out port and a mic in and a stereo out jack. The ExpressCard 34/54 is standard, and you can add a 5-in-1 media card reader for $10 extra. The notebook has ThinkPad WiFi BGN, and the Intel WiFi Link 5300 sells for $40 extra. The notebook doesn’t come with built-in Bluetooth, but you can add the option for $20. Lenovo also offers integrated mobile broadband, AT&T 3G with GPS and Verizon 3G with GPS upgrade options.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T400s runs Windows 7, an operating system that has made lots of improvements over Windows Vista. One of the biggest additions in features is the support for capacitive displays. The T400s takes advantage of this support with a screen that works with multi-touch. The multi-touch support allows you to control applications with gestures such as pinch to zoom, like on the iPhone. As long as the applications support it, you can pinch to zoom a photo or a web page or a text file, and drag your finger to scroll pages. You can read more about Windows 7’s support for multi touch in our article with video here.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T400s has a SimpleTap interface that allows you to launch hardware settings with a simple finger tap. Tap on the large red dot on the screen to launch the SimpleTap interface which has large finger-friendly buttons for turning the webcam on and off, turning the reading light on/off, speaker on/off, mic on/off and more. The interface allows you to add a quick launch button for any application installed on your machine. Though the T400s is set up more like a traditional notebook, the SimpleTap Interface really shows off how finger-friendly touch can be.
Here's a video of SimpleTap in action:
The Lenovo ThinkPad T400s also comes with Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 that includes tools and games that show off multi touch features. Our particular favorite is a version of Microsoft’s cool surface technology made into an application. Additional software includes InterVideo WinDVD for DVD playback, Roxio Creator Business Edition as well as Lenovo ThinkVantage Toolbox powered by PC Doctor which provides applications tour, networking access and settings, system health and diagnostics tools. The notebook also comes with a trial version of MS Office 2007 and 30-day trial of McAfee VirusScan Plus. The Lenovo has a recovery partition for system recovery and restore.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T400s is one of the first Windows 7 notebooks to have a multi touch display, and it’s fast at running most productivity applications. It has the signature ThinkPad look and solid build, a great keyboard and a good camera for web conferencing. Though not the center of the design for a business notebook, the multi touch feature shows lots of potential and the Lenovo SimpleTap interface demonstrates that well. The ThinkPad has great power for video and music playback. We highly recommend that you get the SSD option for fast OS tasks and multimedia. If you don’t need the multi touch screen however, get the other model in the T400s series that’s a few hundred bucks less.
Drive: 120GB 5400 rpm serial ATA drive. SSD options available. DVD max dual layer drive, Ultrabay Slim.
Software: Windows 7 Business Edition 32/64-bit operating system. 60-day trial of MS Office 2007 and 30-day McAfee VirusScan Plus with SiteAdvisor. InterVideo WinDVD for DVD playback, Roxio Creator Business Edition and Lenovo ThinkVantage Toolbox.
Expansion card slots: ExpressCard slot. Media card reader optional. Has docking port.