Design and Build Quality
That said, rigidity comes at a cost with Lenovo, and that cost is design. Some users adore the all-business, classic styling of a ThinkPad, while others will be turned off by the lack of glitz and flash. There's no denying that the T400s Multi-Touch is a plainly styled machine, with a matte black finish all around, pointy edges and hardly any color accents to break up the dark expanse. This one was clearly aimed at business users who don't really care what their notebook says about them as a person, but then again, having a ThinkPad says that you take your notebook seriously and consider functionality and sturdiness to be more important than sheer style.
We have to admit that the T400s Multi-Touch is surprisingly thin for a ThinkPad. It's extremely light, easy to transport and never a burden. It's perfectly sized for a coach-class airline seat, and it fits well in the lap when working on the go. The keyboard is, yet again, remarkably rigid. We noticed only the slightest flex in the middle, and we had to mash down really hard to find any at all. During normal typing exercises, you'll never notice any "give" in the keyboard, and each keystroke feels fantastic.
The trackpad on this machine is also an interesting one. Unlike most, this pad has a very noticeable "grid" on it. You can literally feel the lines crossing paths, and while some may enjoy the extra texture, we found it somewhat difficult to get used to. It didn't really hinder our work per se, but just having to think about how odd it felt didn't really increase productivity, either. "Nub" fanatics will appreciate the inclusion of a keyboard nipple here, and two left/right buttons are included atop the trackpad for those that prefer that input method.
The sides edges of the machine are fairly standard, with our model packing a built-in DVD drive, card reader, DisplayLink, VGA, eSATA, Ethernet and USB sockets. The display hinge allows the screen to fold completely flat, which could be helpful if working at odd angles. The display itself is the star of the show here, as the 14" matte panel (1,440x900 resolution) accepts multi-touch inputs through Windows 7. It responds to finger taps, twists, zooms and pinches, with one or two fingers. If you've ever manipulated a web page or photo on an iPhone, that's the exact type of functionality that Lenovo has added here. Lenovo ships the machine with a built-in widget manager of sorts that lets users double tap the screen at any time to access an array of touch-friendly shortcuts. Users can dim/brighten the screen, adjust volume or even add web page shortcuts and app launchers, all of which can be triggered with a single finger press.
T400s Multi-Touch Simple Tap UI; Click To Enlarge
We found the LCD to be nothing short of marvelous. It was bright, crisp, and easy to read, and it did an outstanding job of resisting fingerprints. We adored the matte finish, as it made the screen easier to use outside, shunned reflections and really kept the fingerprints at bay. Even though the panel was designed to be touched, it was a gem to look at at all times. Touching the screen was also a joy, with the "mushiness" factor being kept to a minimum and the input recognition software being accurate around 90% of the time. In other words, it sometimes thinks your input is a bit below/above where you actually mashed, but in the majority of cases, it's spot-on. We're sure advanced calibration and future updates will make the touch input even more accurate, but we loved what we saw so far.