Thinkpad Series T410-T520 – Which one to buy?

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Thinkpad Series T410- T520 – Which one to buy?
Given the bewildering array of models within each series, making an intelligent selection, is not an easy task. Nevertheless I think that, following the 3 steps given below, will simplify the process to some extent.

  • Step 1: Select the screen size you are comfortable with. Is it 14″ or 15.6″?. Because the Thinkpad T410 through T520 comes in only these two screen sizes.
    If you choose screen size -14″, you can narrow down your selection in series T410, T410S, T420, T420S
    If you choose 15.6″ you can limit your search in just two series T510 and T520.
  • Step 2: Since all of the Thinkpad T410 through T520 laptops have differentiating features classified under 7 broad categories, your choice can be narrowed down to looking under which ever category or categories that appeal to you most.
    1. Core Technology – If performance is your overriding concern then you need to focus features listed under this category. For information click on the tab Core Technology in the following table and select the series
    2. Display and Graphics – If great visuals are important to you, than features listed under this category are important to you.
    3. Security and Protection: If data contained in the laptop is more important and if you must be absolutely sure that it does not fall in the wrong hands, then pay close attention to the features listed in this category.
    4. Multimedia Features: If you are a social butterfly or into photography or music, movie or used to make Internet calls through the computer, then features listed under here is important
    5. Built-in solutions and convenience: If ease of use and peace of mind is all that care about, then the features listed here are important
    6. Connectivity: If you are a professional ‘on-the-go’ and need to be connected to the Internet or your head office wherever you are, then the features listed here deserve close scrutiny.
    7. Environment and energy: Finally, if you care about the environment and the impact this laptop you intend to buy has on it by way of its manufacture or its use then look into the features listed here. At least you will save on your power bills if not the environment.

    Note: if you are not clear about any feature under a particular category say Core Technology ( the current active tab colored red) tab that shows that it is active
    then click on the tab(right next to it- to the right I mean, which turns blue as you move your mouse pointer over it) ‘features explained’ to get an explanation.

    Here is your much awaited table:

    Core Technology
    Core technology
    Lenovo Enhanced Experience 2.0 for Windows® 7NONOYesYesNOYes
    Windows® 7 Lenovo Enhanced Experience PCYesYesNONOYesNO
    2nd generation Intel® Core i series processorsNONOYesYesNOYes
    Previous generation Intel® Core processor technologyYesYesNONOYesNO
    Microsoft Office Starter 2010YesYesYesYesYesYes
    Solid-state storage drivesSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect Models
    SuperSpeed USB 3.0 portsNONONOYesNONO

    Features Explained
    Core technology
    Lenovo Enhanced Experience 2.0 for Windows® 7
    Identify those Lenovo PCs that have superior functionality using this certification. Such Enhanced Experience 2.0 PCs employ Lenovo’s RapidBoot technology. System files, processes, and hardware settings are optimized for performance; Example: Booting into Windows and shutting down the system is made noticably faster ( on an average startup time reduced by 20 secs).
    Windows® 7 Lenovo Enhanced Experience PC
    Similar to the one above but with emphasis on faster start up and connection times and with additional entertainment and business features.
    2nd generation Intel® Core i series processors
    Select T series models that come with 2nd generation Intel® Core i series processors benefit with the later version (2.0) of Turbo Boost Technology. End result: Better performance and improved built-in visuals.
    Previous generation Intel® Core™ processor technology
    As the name implies the technology employed is an older version but still tuned towards impressive mobile performance, longer battery life through energy-efficient processes.
    Microsoft Office Starter 2010
    All models within the series T410 through T520, come with the free Microsoft Office Starter 2010 productivity suite. The suite comes Word and Excel, but with the limited functionality. Powerpoint or Outlook are not included. The cost of the software is offset with advertising. Option is there to upgrade to a full-featured, comprehensive suite, free of ads through purchase Product Key or DVD.
    Solid-state storage drives
    Solid-state storage drives that replace the current magnetic storage hard drives, use Flash memory to store data. Because these drives have no moving parts, they are lighter, consume less power, offer improved performance(faster boot times, faster access to stored data) and reliability.
    SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports
    Out of the many series listed only T420S comes with latest USB 3.0 interface. The USB 3.0 port is distinguished from the other USB 2.0 ports through its unique blue color. Since USB 3.0 interface is capable of transferring data @ roughly 4.0 Gbits/ Sec (which is 10 times faster than the traditional USB 2.0 ports) it is particularly suited for very fast transfer of large files. USB 3.0 is backward compatible with USB 2.0 interface thus enabling connection of USB 2.0 devices in USB 3.0 port.

    Display and Graphics
    Displays and graphics
    NVIDIA® Optimus™ technologySelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect Models
    LED backlit displaysYesYesYesYesYesYes

    Features Explained
    Displays and graphics
    NVIDIA® Optimus™ technology

    Some select T series models employ Optimus technology for graphics. As the name implies, it optimizes power consumption by switching between CPU driven graphics and discrete NVIDIA graphics depending on the application. Graphic intensive applications like 3D games, high-def videos are run with discrete NVIDIAgraphics while applications like typing out email or word processing is driven by on-board graphics adapter. Net benefit: longer battery life with out compromising performance.
    LED backlit displays
    All the models in all the series listed use the newer LED backlit technology. Compared with traditional CCFL technology which uses a flourascent lamp to light the LCD, LED technology consumes less power while providing the same level of brightness.

    Security and protection
    Security and protection
    Roll-cage technologyYesYesYesYesYesYes
    Hard/storage drive impact protectionSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect Models
    Shared docking station with other ThinkPad SeriesNONOYesYesNOYes
    Long battery-life for all-day computingNONOSelect ModelsSelect ModelsNOSelect Models
    Combined hardware/software securityYesYesYesYesYesYes
    Integrated Fingerprint ReaderSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect Models
    Password management softwareYesYesYesYesYesYes
    Intel® Anti-Theft protectionYesSelect ModelsYesYesNOYes

    Features Explained
    Security and protection
    Roll-cage technology
    It is a collection of features that enhances durability. Thanks to the magnesium alloy frame that surrounds ThinkPad parts, any shock the notebook suffers on accidental drops is absorbed – reducing failures and improving durability and reliability.
    Hard/storage drive impact protection
    Sometimes the data stored in the hard drive is more valuable than the laptop itself. So care is taken to give an added level of protection to the hard drive by encasing the hard drive in a metal cage and using rubber isolator. In addition there is an Active Protection System™ (on models with traditional magnetic hard drives) that uses an accelerometer to detect movement of the system , stop and lock the hard drive in a safe position. Example:unusual acceleration (due to gravity) when the notebook is accidentally dropped
    Shared docking station with other ThinkPad Series
    This features saves on equipment costs by enabling the sharing of docking station used by this (T) series with other Thinkpad series like X, L and W.
    Long battery-life for all-day computing
    Some select models in the T420, T420S and T520 series come with extra long life batteries. Select models in T420S have battery life as long as 9 hrs and with an external slice battery on the models under T420/T520 series battery life can be as high as 24 hrs.
    Combined hardware/software security
    Select ThinkPad® models feature the Trusted Platform Module 1.2, Client Security Solution software and the integrated Fingerprint Reader for a seamlessly integrated security package. Additional available security features include 32-byte pre-boot passwords and the ability to disable input/output ports at the BIOS level.
    Integrated Fingerprint Reader
    Fingerprint Reader grants access to your password protected system with a simple swipe of the finger. It also works with the TPM hardware and Client Security Solution.
    Password management software
    Password Manager safely stores the various passwords in use and retrieves as and when required. There is an option to make it work with the Fingerprint Reader.
    Intel® Anti-Theft protection
    Intel® Anti-Theft protection (AT-p), an extra layer of security and manageability incorporated with Computrace® Data Protection™ and Intel vPro™ technology. Thanks to AT-p, your PC and the data contained therein is secure if it is stolen or lost.

    Multimedia features
    Multimedia features
    Integrated webcamSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect Models
    Multiformat memory card readerYesYesYesYesYesYes
    Voice-over IP (VoIP)-optimizedNOSelect ModelsYesYesNOYes

    Features Explained
    Multimedia features
    Integrated webcam
    This is a feature available in select models that contribute to a great video conference experience. Those models that sport this feature has a 720p HD camera capable of 30 frames - per - second display and has a low light sensisitivity.
    Multiformat memory card reader
    All models of T Series include an integrated memory card reader, perfect for easily accessing photos and other files stored on a variety of memory card formats.
    Voice-over IP (VoIP)-optimized
    720p HD webcam , noise reduction technology that reduces background noise from different sources (even while typing- say from the keyboard) plus well placed multimedia keys - all together contribute to an exceptional VoIP experience while on Internet calls.

    Built-in solutions and convenience
    Built-in solutions and convenience
    Backup and recovery toolsYesYesYesYesYesYes
    UltraNav® multi-pointing systemYesYesYesYesYesYes
    Multitouch touchpadYesYesYesYesYesYes

    Features Explained
    Built-in solutions and convenience
    Backup and recovery tools
    ThinkVantage® Rescue and Recovery®, an industrial strength system-backup and recovery tool to help preserve your data and settings is a feature available in all the ThinkPad® systems. An one-button recovery feature that employs a single key on the keyboard makes restoration a snap.
    UltraNav® multi-pointing system
    This is a feature available in select models of T series. The red TrackPoint® button works in tandem with the UltraNav touchpad and mouse/scroll buttons for greater flexibility.
    Multitouch touchpad
    Use simple one- and two-finger gestures to zoom in and out, rotate images and scroll—right from the touchpad

    Industry-leading connectivity optionsYesYesYesYesYesYes
    Network connection softwareYesYesYesYesYesYes
    Mobile broadband (WWAN)Select ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect Models
    GPS capabilitySelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect ModelsSelect Models

    Features Explained
    Industry-leading connectivity options
    ThinkPad® T Series gives you the best wireless performance with a variety of connectivity choices, including mobile broadband readiness, Ultra-Wide Band Bluetooth®, and WiMAX readiness.
    Network connection software
    ThinkVantage® Access Connections™ software can manage your wired and wireless connection settings so you can easily connect to a network wherever your work takes you. Includes a variety of security and customization options.
    Mobile broadband (WWAN)
    Mobile broadband lets you stay online through a mobile network connection provided by a third-party mobile phone carrier.
    GPS capability
    ThinkPad® T Series models feature a wireless WAN option that uses native GPS functionality built into the system.

    Environment and energy
    Environment and energy
    Cool and quietYesYesYesYesYesYes
    EPEAT® Gold environmental ratingNOYesYesYesNOYes
    EPEAT® Silver environmental ratingSelect ModelsSelect ModelsNONOSelect ModelsNO
    ENERGY STAR-compliantYesYesYesYesYesYes

    Features Explained
    Environment and energy
    Cool and quiet
    Third-generation fan and Adaptive Thermal Technology combine to make the ThinkPad® T series the coolest and quietest ever. Owl-wing inspired designed blades push more air at a very low audible level. Advanced thermal design with tuned airflow provides cooler systems and balances temperatures across the system. As a result, ThinkPad base cover temperatures run lower than any previous generation's.
    EPEAT® Gold environmental rating
    Under the federally funded EPEAT® program in the US, manufacturers declare their products' conformance to a comprehensive set of environmental criteria. EPEAT Gold products must meet all 23 required criteria and at least 75% of the optional criteria.
    EPEAT® Silver environmental rating
    Under the federally funded EPEAT® program in the US, manufacturers declare their products' conformance to a comprehensive set of environmental criteria. EPEAT Gold products must meet all 23 required criteria and at least 50% of the optional criteria.
    ENERGY STAR-compliant
    Energy star compliance means lower operating costs, less overall energy use and reduced heat emissions. All Lenovo notebooks carry the ENERGY STAR label attesting to this compliance.

  • Step 3: Now that you have narrowed down your choice to just one series say T520 click on its hyper link on the table above to take you to the models listed under this series and go from there.

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