Lenovo ThinkPad L412

Lenovo‘s new L-Series ThinkPads –of which the L412 is one–are attractively priced, business-oriented laptops with a green twist: They’re made with up to 30 per cent post-consumer waste and shipped in almost 100 per cent recycled packaging. The professional-looking L412 has a decent screen and speakers, and its low starting price makes it an ideal choice for the eco-conscious businessperson.

Our review unit, which costs $804 (as of June 28, 2010; the price goes up depending on options and add-ons), features a 2.26GHz Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) Core i3-350M processor, 3GB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and Windows 7 Professional as the operating system. The 14.1-inch notebook weighs 5.2 pounds (with the included six-cell battery) and features a 1366-by-768-pixel LED screen with a built-in 2-megapixel Webcam and microphone, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth and 3G connectivity, a fingerprint reader, and a DVD Dual-Layer Recordable drive (8X).

The Lenovo L412 ThinkPad–like every ThinkPad–is not exactly a laptop for the fashion-conscious user. It measures 13.5 inches across by 9.2 inches deep by 1.4 inches thick (at its thickest), and is designed in the style of previous ThinkPads–blocky and sturdy, with a soft, matte-black texture.

Besides having, as mentioned, recycled materials in its makeup, the L-Series, according to Lenovo, is also 40 per cent more energy-efficient than previous ThinkPads.

The L412 gives you lots of ports and connectivity options. For business users on the go, adding Bluetooth connectivity costs $20, and adding 3G is another $150. Besides Wi-Fi, the notebook also includes three USB 2.0 ports and an eSATA/USB combo port, an Ethernet port, an ExpressCard slot, a DisplayPort, and a 5-in-1 memory card reader. Along the left side of the keyboard are volume buttons (up, down, and mute), as well as a mute-microphone button. You’ll also find the power button and the blue “ThinkVantage” button, which opens up the “ThinkVantage Toolbox” for updates and security.

The L412’s flat keyboard is comfortable to type on. All keys are appropriately sized, except for the arrow keys, which are a bit small and out-of-the-way. The arrow keys are also right next to the PgUp and PgDn keys–you’ll often find yourself “paging down” when you just want to go one space to the right. The keyboard, while comfortable, is really loud–not great if you want a laptop that you can take into meetings with you. Typing on this notebook is sure to bother coworkers who are close by.

The trackpad is great: textured, roomy, and responsive to multitouch gestures. The L412 also has a red ThinkPad TrackPoint pointing device in the middle of the keyboard, in case you want to kick it old-school style (and helpful for those who want to use the mouse without leaving the home keys). While I’m not usually a fan of textured trackpads–I often find them lacking in smoothness–the L412’s trackpad is very responsive and allows for smooth, quick scrolling. The TrackPoint is also hypersensitive for those who want something even more responsive than the trackpad. The buttons are large, easy to press, and soft and noiseless (unlike the keyboard).

The 14-inch, 1366-by-768-pixel anti-glare high-def LED screen is decent: It’s not glossy, and the viewing angles are pretty good. Three people can comfortably watch streaming video without losing too much detail in blacks. Video streaming is also good; an episode of America’s Got Talent from Hulu played seamlessly and smoothly. Colours are sometimes a bit washed out, and, at times, a lot of artifacts appear in the darker parts of the video, but overall the experience isn’t bad.

The speakers, which are located underneath the screen, are fairly loud. This is useful, perhaps, if you’re planning on giving presentations that include audio off of this laptop.

Aside from the ThinkVantage Toolbox, the Lenovo L412 comes with basic software. You get a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office Home & Student, Corel DVD MovieFactory, Microsoft Research AutoCollage Touch 2009, and Norton Internet Security 2009. The ThinkVantage suite has several nice features–including a password vault, power controls, enhanced backup and restore, factory recovery disks, and a system health and diagnostics toolbox.

The L412’s only real drawback appears to be the keyboard, which is so loud that you should really think twice about toting this laptop to conferences and meetings. Other than that annoyance, however, the L412 delivers–it’s quick, sturdy, and professional-looking, and even has decent multimedia playback for those long business trips.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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