Lenovo ThinkPad SL400 review

Great build quality and value for money, but not the fastest of machines

The styling of the SL400 hides away the ports around the sides of the casing, which limits damage during transit, but also means it can be fiddly to find ports

TechRadar Verdict

A great little laptop for on the move, this machine does simple tasks very well


  • +

    Sturdy build

  • +

    Impressive battery life

  • +

    3G connectivity


  • -

    Basic performance

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The Lenovo ThinkPad line is aimed at business users, but the new SL range is targeted solely at small businesses and home workers looking for business styling, but also more mainstream features.

You'll find the usual ThinkPad styling and attention to detail, but there is less emphasis on commonality of peripherals.

The Lenovo ThinkPad SL400 (£579 inc. VAT) is the smaller model in the range and uses a 14.1-inch Super-TFT panel as opposed to the 15.4-inch screen on the SL500. The screen helps keep the weight down to a portable 2.6kg. Battery life is to the fore, as the SL400 managed to last for 282 minutes, under test.

Heavy surround

The lid has the usual ThinkPad styling and recessed bezel, but it has no latch to hold the lid closed. The overall build quality of the laptop is great, with thick plastic used throughout. There is a high-gloss lid, but the main body has a standard matt finish.

The keyboard on this smaller model feels slightly cramped in comparison to the larger SL500. However, the keys feel amazingly robust and the action is firm.

There is a Pointing Stick as well as separate touchpad and there are also two sets of mouse buttons.
When it comes to performance, this is one of the slower machines in this test. Based around Intel's latest Core 2 Duo processor, you'll find the T5670, which runs at 1.8GHz, is adequate for daily tasks, but doesn't offer a great deal of headroom to run multiple tasks comfortably.

The 2048MB of memory it ships with is adequate to load and run the Windows Vista Business OS, but we'd suggest adding more memory if you really need more performance from this laptop.

Cool running

Graphics are handled by an integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD solution, which is part of the Intel chipset. Integrated graphics help keep power consumption down and we found this a quiet and cool-running laptop. Even after using it for long periods of time, it still felt cool to the touch around the keys, as well as on the base.

The styling of the main chassis hides away the ports around the sides of the casing, which limits damage during transit, but also means it can be fiddly to find ports. There is a fingerprint scanner built into the palm rest, which adds an extra layer of security to the laptop.

As with all the latest ThinkPad models, a 3G module is fitted as standard and comes with 30-days free access using Vodafone.

The Lenovo ThinkPad SL400 will not suit everyone, as its performance is basic, but it makes up for this in being compact with a great battery life.