IBM Thinkpad T23

Latest ThinkPad T-Series notebook boasts fastest Intel processor and a huge (48GB) hard drive

WHAT'S HOT: Like its predecessor, the T22, the ThinkPad T23 offers a 14.1-inch screen with 1400 by 1050 resolution and weighs just 5.5 pounds (without the AC adapter)--a dynamite combination. When you swap out the internal DVD-ROM drive you get at this price for a hollow travel bezel ($20 extra from Compu-Lock), the T23 tips the scales at less than 5 pounds. The bay can hold any one of six other interchangeable devices, too, including a bundled floppy drive, an optional second battery, and an optional second hard drive.

T-series laptops include all legacy connections and great built-in sound with handy volume controls--rare features in two-spindle notebooks. The 48GB hard drive is the biggest we've seen in a laptop. Equipped with Intel's speedy mobile Pentium III-1133/733-M processor and 256MB of RAM, the T23 pulled down a PC WorldBench 2000 score of 212, 13 percent higher than the average for similarly configured Pentium III-1000 laptops.

WHAT'S NOT: At $3367, the T23 is expensive. Printed documentation consists of one slim troubleshooting manual, but you can peruse tons of additional documentation on the hard drive and CD-ROM. A parallel-port cable for attaching the floppy drive externally costs $49 more, and free technical support ends after three years.

WHAT ELSE: Identical in appearance to the last several generations of T series notebooks, the T23 boasts the same beveled black case, solidly constructed keyboard, comfortable mouse buttons, and fire-engine red eraserhead that ThinkPad fans already recognize. An S-Video port lets you plug the notebook in to a television set. IBM's ThinkLight, a small LED mounted on the screen frame, helps make the keyboard visible in dark rooms. The UltraPort, a modified USB connection located atop the screen under a small rubber plug, accepts any of four small, extra-cost devices sold by IBM. These include a basic digital camera, a Compact Flash card reader, and an infrared port (each priced below $100), as well as a digital microphone for $199. IBM now provides two USB ports, in place of the previous model's one.

Thinkpad T laptops are no longer the lightest portables to carry a 14.1-inch screen. Several competing 5-pound Windows laptops, including those in the Acer TravelMate 600 series, now offer screens just as big; and Apple's 5.3-pound PowerBook G4 beats them all with a whopping 15.2-inch screen. Overall, however, the T22 offers a higher level of design sophistication and more small luxuries than the others.

UPSHOT: For businesses and well-heeled individuals who prefer the eraserhead pointing device and can afford a top-of-the-line lightweight laptop, the T23 is a best-of-breed winner.

By Carla Thornton

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