Lenovo's ThinkPad SL line of notebooks is aimed at the business side of things, and the latest ThinkPad SL410 looks and feels just right for this segment. You get the vaunted ThinkPad reliability, build and bundled software, without having to pay through the nose. Of course, you won't be getting discrete graphics and other fanciful consumer level stuff, but that's a business notebook for you.
Sure, this unit isn't quite as slim as the more expensive offerings, nor is it quite as light, but it does convey a very solid impression. You just know it won't break on you no matter how much abuse it has gone through. And while its exterior may be glossy and a fingerprint magnet, the interior sticks to the familiar Lenovo/IBM ThinkPad design of yore. This means no glossy fingerprint smudged interior for the palm rest and keyboard, but we do have to point out that the screen is not your typical business matte but of the reflective glossy variant.
Moving downwards, the keyboard may look like a standard ThinkPad keyboard, but it feels much softer, without the satisfying feel of a normal ThinkPad keyboard. If you've never used a ThinkPad before, you'll probably won't feel anything amiss. If you do, then the difference may be quite obvious to you. Don't get us wrong though, it's a decent keyboard, just not as good as what you normally get from the ThinkPad line.
As for the trackpad and trackpoint, both function pretty good, with the trackpad and its soft raised points ensuring that using the textured trackpad was a breeze. Lastly, located on the sides of the keyboard are quick access buttons to the volume controls on the left, while the right side has a ThinkVantage button and indicator lights.
We don't quite expect top of the line performance from this notebook - no, the notebook's not meant for this, but it will give you decent performance for use in the office. Packing an Intel Core 2 Duo T5870 (2.0GHz) processor, 2GB DDR2 RAM and running on Intel's integrated graphics, the Intel 4500MHD. This doesn't seem like a package for high performance scores, but it should be more than enough for office needs.
On PCMark Vantage, the ThinkPad SL410 scored just 3256 PCMarks, which puts it close to Intel CULV based notebooks. As for 3D performance, without a discrete graphics option, the unit scores just 904 3DMarks on the 3DMark06 test. When it comes to its battery life, the SL410 has no issues here with a nice 3 hours 23 minutes on a DVD playback test. That's definitely enough for travelers who need a portable machine with business centric functionality.
Currently, it seems that the retail units have been given a hardware bump over our review set. These units are slightly faster but still very much affordable. The ThinkPad 2842RR9 SKU sports a slightly faster Intel Core 2 Duo T6570 (2.1GHz) processor but otherwise remains the same as our review unit. The cost? A very reasonable $1149 that remains very affordable, making it ideal for a growing, small and medium business office.