Lenovo ThinkPad L412

  • Editors' rating
    7.8 Very good
  • $1,559.00

Pros

  • Very solid hardware
  • Good power-management features
  • Admirable use of recycled materials
  • Highly user-configurable

Cons

  • Noisy keyboard
  • Chassis design makes it difficult to access ports
  • Rather chunky design

Lenovo's ThinkPad L412 is the greenest notebook the company has ever produced, including up to 30 percent 'post-consumer' content. Lenovo says materials like office water jugs and used IT equipment have been used to make parts like the LCD cover, wrist rest and top and bottom chassis. The ThinkPad L412 is also highly energy efficient and comes with management tools to help you monitor power consumption. The notebook also ships in nearly 100 percent recycled packaging.

If your company wishes to be a good environmental citizen, the L412 is worth considering — provided, of course, that it does its primary job as a notebook. We find that it does, as long as you don't need superb battery life.

Design
The ThinkPad L412 has a traditional look about it. With the lid closed, the chassis is brick-like, eschewing the tapered look that's more common these days. The smooth finish to the lid gives no indication that it's made from recycled materials: it's also extremely solid, offering excellent protection for the screen.

Inside, you'll find the familiar black, blue and red livery of Lenovo's 'classic' ThinkPad line — red for the TrackPoint and highlights on the two mouse buttons beneath the space bar. A third button between these two, when held down, lets you use the TrackPoint for vertical and horizontal scrolling.

The 14.1in. ThinkPad L412 has a 'classic' design with a traditional keyboard, and makes extensive use of recycled materials

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There's also a touchpad, which incorporates scroll zones on its right and bottom edges, withs some multitouch features including zooming. The touchpad has a textured finish that helps you find it easily — this is handy as it sits flush to the wrist rest. Beneath it is another pair of mouse buttons.

The keyboard is a traditional ThinkPad offering rather than the fashionable 'chiclet' style. Individual keys are raised and substantial. They depress well and make plenty of clatter as you type. A row full-size number keys is topped by a row of half-height Fn keys which ends, on the right, with a quartet comprising Insert, Delete, Home and End.

The Enter key is double height, wide, and blue in colour. The arrow keys double up as media playback controls with a Fn key combination, and the adjacent PgUp and PgDn keys have browser back and forward Fn functions. This is something we've seen before from Lenovo, and we like it.

There's room on each side of the keyboard for a vertical strip of buttons and indicators. On the right is the power switch and the ThinkVantage button, which accesses a range of system tools and utilities, plus various system indicator lights. On the left are volume control and mute buttons, and a button that mute's the device's microphone. The mic sits above the screen next to the optional webcam. There's a fingerprint scanner on the right side of the wrist rest.

The ThinkPad L412 has a 14.1in. screen with a native resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels, which is sufficient to have two document windows open on-screen side-by-side. The screen has an anti-glare coating so it's not distractingly reflective — although it's noticeably dull when playing video. Viewing angles aren't brilliant, but are perfectly adequate.

The L412 is a little on the portly side, but it's still perfectly bag-friendly. It weighs 2.4kg — not exactly lightweight, but perfectly totable.

Features
The Lenovo ThinkPad L412 can be user customised in several ways. The default configuration, which costs £687.46 (inc. VAT; £585 ex. VAT) has a 2.26GHz Intel Core i3-370M processor. You can specify Core i5 (three models) or Core i7 (620M) CPUs if you wish. Our review sample had a 2.4GHz Core i5-520M.

You will also want to change the preinstalled operating system from the default Windows 7 Home Premium to either 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 7 Professional. Our unit had 32-bit Windows 7 Professional.

The 2GB of RAM in the default configuration can be upgraded to 4GB, 6GB or 8GB. Beware that the top memory specification will add a huge £225.34 (inc. VAT) to the overall price.

Graphics are handled by the CPU-integrated Intel HD Graphics, and there's no option for a discrete graphics processing unit.

For storage, there's a 250GB hard drive spinning at 5,400rpm, which can be upgraded to 320GB or 500GB with both 5,400rpm and 7,200rpm options at both higher capacities. The optical drive is an 8x dual-layer DVD writer that sits on the right edge of the chassis and is not removable.

Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) is the default wireless connection, although our review unit had the 802.11a/g/n option (£10.11 inc. VAT extra). Wireless broadband is not available with this notebook. Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth come as standard.

The right edge of the chassis carries two USB 2.0 ports and a flash card reader as well as a physical switch for the notebook's wireless components. On the left edge there's a combined USB 2.0/eSATA port, a DisplayPort, an Ethernet (RJ-45) port, an ExpressCard slot, a headset connector and a VGA connector.

These left-hand ports are all rather squeezed together towards the front. Like the right-hand ports, these sit under a lip on the chassis, which makes them rather tricky to access. Icons are etched into the chassis to help you locate the ports, but you still have to crane your neck and look in order to insert whatever connector you're working with into its slot. This is irritating, as the lips on either side serve no practical use that we can discern.

The ThinkPad L412 comes with the usual set of ThinkVantage tools, including a well-featured Power Manager utility

Performance & battery life
Our ThinkPad L412 had a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 2GB of RAM, 32-bit Windows 7 Professional and a 250GB hard drive. The default battery is a 4-cell 2,200mAh Li-ion unit. If you need more uptime away from the mains, you can specify either a 6-cell (2,600mAh) or a 9-cell (2,800mAh) battery. Our review unit, with a 6-cell battery, costs £888.56 (inc. VAT; £756.22 ex. VAT).

The system's Windows Experience Index (WEI) of 4.0 (out of 7.0) is determined by the lowest-scoring subsystem — in this case, Graphics (desktop performance for Windows Aero). The highest score, 6.5, went to Processor (calculations per second), the remaining ones being 5.7 for Primary hard disk (Disk data transfer rate), 5.5 for RAM (Memory operations per second) and 5.2 for Gaming Graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance). Clearly, the system's weakest link is its integrated Intel HD Graphics.

We tested the supplied 6-cell battery by asking it to play a movie from a full charge. We chose the maximum lifespan power plan, which caused the notebook to automatically stop movie playback after 1 hour 45 minutes — although the notebook kept going for a further 1 hour 14 minutes, giving a total battery life of 2 hours 59 minutes.

Sound output is very good — loud and clear, and good quality.

Conclusion
The Lenovo ThinkPad L412 is a chunky notebook and you'll need to add a few upgrades from the entry-level specification to get a business-ready configuration. Keyboard clatter might be a problem if you work in a particularly quiet environment, and the lips on the chassis make it trick to access ports and connectors. We admire Lenovo for its use of recycled materials, and would like to see more of this.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
Cellular WAN connectivity Avoid spotty WiFi with this laptop's installed hardware that enables Internet access to more reliable subscription-based WAN cellular broadband networks.
Notebook type Midsize, HD display
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core i5 520M / 2.4 GHz
Max Turbo Speed 2.93 GHz
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Cache 3 MB
Chipset Type Mobile Intel HM55 Express
Features Hyper-Threading Technology, Intel Turbo Boost Technology, integrated memory controller
Cache Memory
Installed Size 3 MB
RAM
Memory Speed 1066 MHz
Memory Specification Compliance PC3-10600
Configuration Features 1 x 2 GB
Technology DDR3 SDRAM
Installed Size 2 GB
Rated Memory Speed 1333 MHz
Storage
Interface Serial ATA-300
Optical Drive DVD-Writer fixed
Type none
Type portable
Memory
Max Supported Size 8 GB
Technology DDR3 SDRAM
Speed 1066 MHz / PC3-10600 - 1333 MHz
Form Factor SO-DIMM 204-pin
Slots Qty 2
Empty Slots 1
Display
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
Widescreen Display Yes
Monitor Features anti-glare
Type LED
Diagonal Size (metric) 35.5 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation HD
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics
Memory Allocation Technology Dynamic Video Memory Technology 5.0
Integrated Webcam Yes
Sound Stereo speakers, microphone
Audio Codec Realtek ALC269Q
Hard Drive
Spindle Speed 7200 rpm
Type HDD
Capacity 320 GB
Input
Type TrackPoint, UltraNav, keyboard
Features multi-touch touchpad, spill-resistant
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1
Wireless Controller Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200
Wired Protocol Gigabit Ethernet
Features Gobi2000 Technology
Wireless Broadband (WWAN)
Generation 3G
Cellular Protocol CDMA 2000 1X EV-DO Rev. A, GPRS, HSPA, WCDMA
Controller PCI Express Mini Card
Service Provider Verizon Wireless
Navigation
Navigation GPS receiver
Processor
CPU Type Core i5
Processor Number i5-520M
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 2.4 GHz
Optical Storage
Drive Type DVD-Writer
Type DVD-Writer
Form Factor fixed
Floppy Drive
Type none
Battery
Cells 6-cell
Technology lithium ion
Run Time (Up To) 4.7 sec
Card Reader
Type 7 in 1 card reader
Supported Flash Memory Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, MultiMediaCard, SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, xD-Picture Card, xD-Picture Card Type H
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
Connections & Expansion
Slots 1 x ExpressCard/34 (1 free)
Interfaces 2 x USB 2.0
PoweredUSB
USB 2.0/eSATA
DisplayPort
VGA
LAN
Headphone/microphone combo jack
Memory Card Reader 7 in 1 (SD Card, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, MultiMediaCard, xD-Picture Card, SDHC Card, xD-Picture Card Type H)
Header
Brand Lenovo
Product Line Lenovo ThinkPad L412
Model 0553
Localization English
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Software
Microsoft Office Preloaded Includes a pre-loaded image of select Microsoft Office 2010 suites. Purchase an Office 2010 Product Key Card or disc to activate preloaded software on this PC.
Networking
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth 2.1, Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n
Wireless LAN Supported Yes
Wireless NIC Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200
Monitor
Diagonal Size 14 in
Miscellaneous
Color black
Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip, fingerprint reader
Features ThinkVantage Active Protection System, administrator password, hard drive password, power-on password, security lock slot (cable lock sold separately)
Compliant Standards RoHS
System
Notebook Type notebook
Platform Windows
Hard Drive Capacity 320 GB
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip
Security Devices fingerprint reader
Dimensions & Weight
Width 13.5 in
Depth 9.2 in
Height 1.4 in
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 3 years warranty
Audio Output
Compliant Standards High Definition Audio
Mainboard
Chipset Type Mobile Intel HM55 Express
Environmental Standards
EPEAT Level EPEAT Gold
ENERGY STAR Certified Yes
Physical Characteristics
Weight 5.07 lbs
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
Type Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Corel Burn.Now Lenovo Edition, Corel DVD MovieFactory Lenovo Edition, Corel WinDVD, Fingerprint Software, Lenovo Password Manager, Microsoft Research AutoCollage Touch, Norton Internet Security 2009 (30 days subscription), Skype, ThinkVantage Access Connections, ThinkVantage Power Manager, ThinkVantage Rescue and Recovery, ThinkVantage System Update, ThinkVantage Toolbox
Video Output
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics
Graphics Processor Series Intel HD Graphics
Video Memory
Memory Allocation Technology Dynamic Video Memory Technology 5.0
Notebook Camera
Integrated Webcam Yes
Service & Support
Type 3 years warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Location pick-up and return
Full Contract Period 1 year, 3 years
Sustainability
Greenpeace policy rating (Nov 2011) 3.8

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