If you've been waiting for a ThinkPad R51 with improvements, you'll like the R52, a very similar black business laptop with a slightly faster processor. Lenovo (which bought IBM's PC business) has updated the processor, but not much else with the ThinkPad R52. It does have a couple of new connections, including a ExpressCard slot, which takes the place of a second PC Card slot.
- ThinkLight LED to illuminate keyboard in dark environments, solid battery life
- Speakers not all they could be
The ThinkPad R52 is a decent but bland Pentium M notebook.
Price$ 2,049.00 (AUD)
The R52 has dual pointing devices: a well-behaved touchpad and a comfortably squishy stick embedded in the keyboard, each equipped with its own deep-depressing mouse buttons. The keyboard is firm and quiet, topped by a launch button for Lenovo's excellent animated manual and a handy set of volume-control buttons; unfortunately, audio from the front-mounted speakers is not especially robust.
A squarish unit with a gently bevelled front, the R52 offers most of its connections on the left side, with a parallel port for legacy peripherals as the sole rear connection. A FireWire port is included for fast video downloads. The modular right bay can accommodate any one of three devices: an optical drive such as the combination DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive in our test unit, a second battery, or a second hard drive. A pop-out tab release built into each device lets you swap it in and out using one hand. The unit's hard drive and memory are user-upgradable, although only one DIMM slot is accessible.
No wide-screen wonder, our review R52 came with a sensible 14.1" screen capable of a native 1024 x 768 pixel resolution (models with 15" screens at 1024 x 768 or 1400 x 1050 are also available). The screen has one thing most others don't, though: the tiny ThinkLight LED embedded in the top edge to illuminate the keyboard in dark environments. The ThinkLight may not be the most exciting invention, but I find it quite useful.
On our benchmark tests, the 1.73-GHz Pentium M 740-equipped R52 performed like the typical 1.7GHz Pentium M laptop. The R52 earned a WorldBench 5 score of 77, which was near the average for notebooks using the same processor. Battery life in our tests was a solid 3.5 hours.
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