Lenovo ThinkPad SL500 review

Does Lenovo's business machine do the job for the average user?

Lenovo ThinkPad SL500
The Lenovo's business roots are obvious, except for the glossy lid

TechRadar Verdict

Outstanding comfort and quality from this business machine


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    Good battery life

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    Great screen

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    Excellent usability


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    Not great multimedia performance

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    Boring design

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    Some missing features

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Lenovo's ThinkPad laptop range targets the corporate user, but of late the company has also tried to attract smaller businesses and regular consumers. The Lenovo ThinkPad SL500 (£519 inc. VAT) is a result of this, with consumer-friendly design features such as a glossy lid.

The 15.4-inch screen doesn't feature a glossy Super-TFT coating and it's by far the best for use on the move. Reflections and fingerprints are well suppressed and colour reproduction doesn't suffer as a result. Images are bright and vibrant, aided by LED backlighting, and it's a pleasure for both office use and watching movies.

In keeping with this machine's corporate aspirations, an integrated GPU is used to boost battery life. At 217 minutes, you'll be able to use this machine for the daily commute. It does restrict media use, however, and you should look elsewhere if you want to carry out 3D design work or play games in your spare time.

Excellent keyboard

One thing that's the same between the SL500 and more expensive ThinkPads is the keyboard – and in this case it's one of the best we've tried. Moving near silently, each of the keys are responsive and react with perfect precision, adding a sense of quality other laptops can't match.

You'll find a pointing stick in the centre of the keyboard – in addition to a traditional touchpad – offering an alternative way of controlling the cursor. There are mouse buttons fitted for each. The chassis itself is one of the toughest around, too.

Lenovo thinkpad sl500 keyboard

The glossy lid attracts scratches and fingerprints, and looks out of place on such a conservative design. Attention to detail is great, such as the recessed screen that prevents items from falling between the keyboard and display in transit.

Processing power is provided by an Intel Core 2 Duo chip, in this case backed by 2048MB of memory. We found it rapid in daily use, although performance slowed when running a host of different programs.

Though the 250GB hard drive is not the most capacious, there's plenty of space for business documents. You'll also find the fastest network connections currently available, and ports include VGA, HDMI and mini FireWire. It's one of the few laptops in this price range to omit an integrated webcam, however.

If you're in the market for a corporate laptop, at this price few are better than the ThinkPad SL500. The Toshiba Satellite Pro A300-2C5 may offer better multimedia performance, but the keyboard on this laptop is one of the best available, creating an excellent work environment.