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ThinkPad T510 Impressions
The T510 has a classic ThinkPad look and feel. The front bezel uses a single sliding lid latch, while on the right side you'll find a 5-in-1 card reader, ExpressCard | 34 slot, headphone / mic combo jack, optical drive, Ethernet jack and a Kensington Lock slot. The back of the notebook has a modem jack, battery bay, power connector, ventilation slot and a yellow-colored, always-on USB port that stays powered even when the machine is in standby or hibernation mode.
On the left side of the machine is another large cooling fan ventilation slot, DisplayPort connector, VGA port, two additional USB ports, eSATA port, 1394 FireWire port and a Wi-Fi radio switch.
Finally, the bottom of the Thinkpad T510 features a single battery latch and a separate lock and latch for the optical drive. There's a docking port connector and additional ventilation slots. We were happy to find individual panels providing easy access to the expansion bays, but not so thrilled about Lenovo including just a single memory slot on the bottom of the machine. This will force you to remove the keyboard if you need access to the second slot. Our test system came with 2GB of system memory, using both slots with 1GB modules which is obviously not a friendly configuration for upgrading afterwards.
Lenovo designed the T510 with a spill-resistant keyboard, so in the event that you spill liquid on your keyboard it should simply filter through the keys and drain out of these two slots. There are videos of this on YouTube if you want to see it in action.
Unlike the recently reviewed ThinkPad Edge, the T510 features a matte black outer lid that is much more repellant to fingerprint smudges. There are two LED status indicators on the lid - one for battery and the other for sleep mode. With the lid open, we find a 2MP webcam centered above the 15.6" display. To the right of the webcam is a ThinkLight keyboard light that can be turned on and off via a function key on the keyboard, while just below the display are two built-in microphones. The screen bezel is black plastic and seems to fit the display better than the one we found on the Edge.
The keyboard on the T510 follows the standard concave design, rather than using island-style keys, and its layout is also pretty standard except for a few additional system-specific buttons like the blue ThinkVantage button. Other additions include LED status lights on the Caps Lock, Mute and Mic Mute buttons.
I don't particularly like the placement of the Fn and Ctrl keys on the bottom left of the keyboard. I prefer a system with the Ctrl key in the far left position and the Fn key just to the right of it -- opposite to what Lenovo has done on the T510. Fortunately the manufacturer included an option to switch the behavior of these two keys in the system BIOS. While not a perfect fix, it is certainly nice to have this alternative and please all kinds of users.
Keyboard real estate is plentiful and all of the commonly used keys are full size, a luxury that smaller ultraportables and especially netbooks simply can't provide.
True to the ThinkPad name, the T510 features a TrackPoint pointing device between the G, H and B keys. Lenovo includes an extra set of mouse click buttons directly below the Spacebar for use with the TrackPoint, so you don't have to reach way down under the TouchPad to access them. Between these two buttons is a center button that can be used to scroll through documents or web pages, and can also activate a magnifying glass to enlarge items on the screen.
The T510's multi-gesture touchpad is narrower than the one found on the Edge by almost an inch. I found this to be more adequate for use considering that Edge's wider touchpad forced me to consciously take my left hand off the palm rest to avoid interfering with the mouse pointer when using my right finger to move it.
Our evaluation machine also carried a fingerprint reader and a spot for a color sensor, although the hardware for the latter doesn't appear to be installed.