Review: Lenovo ThinkPad T510

If you read “Searching for a New Laptop (Part 1)” then you know that I have been looking for a new laptop for some time. Well the search ended with an online purchase of a Lenovo T510 ThinkPad (pictured) which arrived less than a week later. It was a “Black Friday” special that Lenovo was featuring with up to 35% off, so how could I refuse?

My love affair with ThinkPads goes back a number of years now. My first one I purchased used off of eBay and it ran Windows 3.1, but I managed to get Windows 95 to run acceptably on it.

My first brand new ThinkPad was purchased in 2005, an R51 that was ‘Vista-ready’ but came preloaded with Windows XP. My wife now happily uses it since I had replaced it with a Dell Inspiron in 2006. I liked the Dell well enough, but I just had to take one more look at Lenovo before I decided on any other brand. Thank goodness for Black Friday, is all I can say!

The OOBE (out of the box experience):

IMG_0945Here is everything that came in the box: laptop, power adapter, battery and a quick start sheet and a diagnostic & hardware manual. No backup or restoration CDs; you have to make your own, so be sure to do that. Lenovo has apportioned part of the hard drive as a recovery partition, so you can backup and restore to it, but if you cannot access this area at boot up, then the discs are your only option, so create some and put them in a safe, accessible place.

After inspecting all the items, I inserted the battery in the underside of the ThinkPad, connected the AC power cord and opened the lid.

 Initial Start-up

The T510 has a clean, professional, all-business look about it. Some laptops are all glossy black and shiny, but the ThinkPads are designed to let you focus on your work, not on bells and whistles and lights on the keyboard area. As such, they have a slightly textured surface around the palm rest area and the touchpad surface, while being flush with the palm rest, has a rougher surface area that may take some getting used to. Personally, I like the Trackpoint on ThinkPads, so I primarily use it along with the right and left thumb mouse buttons just below the space bar.

ThinkPad keyboards are a pleasure to use. They continue the traditional ‘clicky’ feel that I liked so much about the old IBM keyboards. One thing I have to get used to is the function key (Fn) in the lower left corner of the keyboard to the left of the CONTROL key. On my Dell, these keys are reversed, so I find myself hitting Fn+ whatever key to perform an operation that requires Ctrl+ instead, like Ctrl+V to paste.

Upon pressing the power button, the laptop starts and Windows 7 installation finalization begins. Once Windows 7 has all the information it needs, it will restart and then the Lenovo fingerprint software will initialize, combining your fingerprint with the Windows logon password you have set previously. You can pick which finger you want to swipe as well.

Next, you are offered to activate Office 2010 that comes “preinstalled” on the T510. It is not really the full Office that is installed, just a stub that will download the version of Office that you want to purchase. (When ordering my T510, I chose not to have Office 2010 preinstalled since I already have a copy of Office 2010 I was going to use). So I chose to skip this screen. The next screen offers me Norton Internet Security which I also decline because I have a new copy of Norton AV 2011 at hand. Finally we get to the Windows desktop:

IMG_0956I quickly changed the vibrant blue desktop wallpaper to the black version. Then, I setup my wireless connection, installed Norton AV and updated Windows 7.

Preinstalled software

The T510 does not come with a lot of preinstalled software. It does come with Windows Live 2011, Corel Burn Now and DVD Movie Factory, InterVideo WinDVD 8 and Skype software. That’s all the third-party software included on the T510. There is also the requisite Lenovo ThinkVantage software that will keep your ThinkPad updated and running smooth, alert you with messages regarding any updates, etc and supply you with information on your machine.

Impressions

Since I already owned a ThinkPad from 2005, I was curious to see how the newer model would compare. The T510 is definitely lighter, but still well-constructed in my estimation. The metal screen hinges are still present and the fit and finish are worthy of a business-type PC. There is a built-in webcam and fingerprint reader, and aside from the usual ports, there is one always-on USB port on the rear of the T510 so you can charge your  smart phone, mp3 player or other USB devices, even when your notebook is in standby or hibernate mode or when your system is off but plugged in using AC power.

I am definitely happy with my purchase (especially after the Black Friday 35% discount!) and I would recommend the ThinkPad line to anyone who needs a good dependable well-made laptop for home/business/travel. These are not laptops for gamers or those into heavy multimedia, but they are for those who use or prefer a laptop over a desktop and are wanting a laptop that will last for years to come.

For a good in-depth review of the T510, complete with benchmarks, see the review at notebookreview.com.

My T510 specs:

  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit