ThinkPad to lose weight, gain features

IBM Corp. is planning the release of a new ultraportable device designed to bring extended battery life, a new recovery toolset and better manageability in a smaller footprint than the company’s previous offerings.

Set for release at the end of this month, the IBM ThinkPad X40 weighs in at 25 per cent less — 14 ounces — than its predecessor, the ThinkPad X31. According to the company, the weight loss is equivalent to three cell phones, a bottle of water or two digital cameras, a point the company thinks will hit home with today’s road warriors and business travellers.

“Typically if you are an ultraportable user, you are in and out of meetings, on the road or on a plane,” said Harry Wttewaall, national ThinkPad sales manager for IBM Canada Ltd. in Markham, Ont. “There is a big movement away from desktops to notebooks. The costs (of notebooks) are going down, the battery life is longer and productivity goes up. When you look at the X40, for the average office worker, this can definitely replace the desktop.”

Despite its trimmed down design, IBM said the X40 doesn’t scrimp on functionality. The new ultraportable features a full keyboard along with IBM’s ThinkVantage Technologies including Rescue and Recovery with Rapid Restore — a revamped toolset in an embedded, pre-boot emergency system that enables one-button recovery from common PC issues like virus attacks. In addition, the model features IBM’s Active Protection System, which uses a microchip to detect the movement of the notebook and, in the case of a fall, dynamically “parks” the hard drive’s read/write head to prevent system crashes.

The X40 also features an Intel Pentium-M processor for increased mobility and extended battery life, while select configurations are available with Intel’s Centrino mobile technology, which enables wireless connectivity along with extended battery life.

Big Blue said the X40 offers wireless connectivity flexibility, allowing users to take advantage of wireless technologies including Intel 802.11b, IBM 802.11b/g, IBM 802.11a/b/g via Access Connections 3.0 software, which eases the management of wireless and wired network settings and lets users switch between network environments.

Although the X40 is new to North America, the model has been thriving in Japan since last year, Wttewaall said.

“What we found in North America and Europe is that customers are more focused on value and are more calculated in how they purchase and roll out new products,” he explained. “What has finally come about in North America is that they…are ready for thinner, smaller notebooks that do not sacrifice any of the usability features.”

The IBM ThinkPad X40 will be available in Canada Feb. 24 and will sell for around the same price as the X31, which retails for approximately US$1,499 for the base configuration.

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