Thursday, October 6, 2011

Old Post: ThinkPad T20 Review

Found this one on my computer too!

IBM ThinkPad T20 Review

In this review, I will review an older laptop, made by IBM. It's the ThinkPad T20. What makes me love this enough to want to review it? Well you will just have to read on and see!

The model I will be reviewing is slightly upgraded. It's the 750MHZ model and contains 384MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive, a DVD drive, and a 14 inch XGA screen. This model originally ran on Windows 98 Second Edition. I use XP Professional with no problems.

First Impressions

You can't really appreciate how small this is until you see it next to a bigger laptop. After using this for the past 3 days, my Acer feels huge now. The laptop is fast for a Pentium III. The graphics card is also good for how low end it is compared to today's standards. The TrackPoint and ThinkLight are also a joy to use.

The case and ports

The top

The first thing you will notice is that the thing is covered in a rubberized sparkling black paint. There is an IBM ThinkPad logo on the lower right corner of the screen.

The bottom

Lets flip it over now... The bottom of the unit is a very busy place. At the top in the center, we have the docking station adapter. Next to that on the right side is a cover for the Mini PCI card. On the right of this we have the helpful IBM label. This ThinkPad was made in Mexico. On the left is the Windows sticker. Windows 98 Second Edition on this model. The bottom left corner contains the oh so helpful battery pack. Next to this on the right is the RAM cover. On the right of this, we have the hard drive coin screw, and part of the hard drive caddy.

The front

Lets move on to the front side. On the top on the hinge, we have a rubber plug covering the Ultraport. This is pretty much a USB interface with a different connecter. On the sides of this we have the screen latches. Both are slid over at the same time, but in opposite directions. Under this is the stereo speaker grill.

On the left side, starting with the lower corner... We have the 3 audio jacks. There's one for headphones, line in, and microphone. Next to this is the infrared data transmitter. This is primarily used for PDA syncing. This piece of plastic is also part of the hard drive caddy. Next to this, we have the PCMCIA/Cardbus slot. This can take either 1 type III or 2 type II cards. This will probably see its most use for a WiFi card. Under this is the in vent for the cooling system. Next to these is the out vent of the cooling system.

The back

On the back from the right side over... We have the PS/2 mouse port. This is used for older mice and those with USB to PS/2 adapters. Next to this we have the solo USB port. This is only USB 1.1 so it is a bit slow. Next to this, we have the all familiar power adapter input. Moving on, we have the LAN and modem connecters. This is used for Internet usage. Moving more to the right, we have the VGA out. This is for hooking up a second monitor or projector. Next to this, we have the parallel port. This is also known as the printer port. Then we have the serial port. This is great for those legacy PDA users. There is an S-Video TV out port. This will let you hook the IBM to a S-Video TV. Last but not the very least is the lock port. I have never had a use for these.

The Left

On the left and final side. we have the barest side of them all, yet most important. This is where the DVD drive is. On the corner there is a switch to eject the drive. That's all we have over here... The drive bay can take a few different drives, including a battery.

Wow, we still didn't even open the hinge yet! Inside we have the screen. The top holds a secret too... That would be a small LED known as a ThinkLight. This is activated by holding FN and hitting PgUp. The bottom on the screen contains the suspend switch. On the hinge is one of the LED panels, It displays battery, sleep, and UltraBay status.

What's this? Rows of keys? That must be the keyboard! Above the keyboard we have the second LED panel and surrounding buttons. There is also the ThinkPad button which when everything is installed, launches a manual of sorts. Next we have the volume down, volume up, and volume mute buttons. Moving on what we see here is that row of LEDs. From left to right, we have hard drive access, number lock, caps lock, scroll lock, and power. Then we have the power button. Your mouse is the little dot between the G, H, and B keys. This is the TrackPoint. You apply pressure to it in the direction you want the cursor to move. The mouse buttons are under the space bar. It's like a 3 button mouse, with the blue bottom one acting as clicking the scroll wheel. There is a small microphone under the right arrow key.

Key Features


The ThinkLight I mentioned is a small LED on the top of the screen assembly. This is used for typing in the dark. While this light is not blindingly bright, it serves its purpose of helping you see the keys. This is very useful for when working at night in a car.


The TrackPoint is your mouse. It works as a small joy stick. It doesn't move much, but your mouse cursor will! It will move the mouse cursor in what ever direction you push the stick. This includes circles.

They are extremely useful for in the car. Unlike a touch pad, these do not require much movement on your part. Since the mouse is in the same row as the home keys, they are preferred by touch typists. Personally I do not touch type, but I enjoy that I don't have to move my hand for the mouse.

The mouse buttons are located at the bottom on the space bar. This makes them very easy to press with your thumb. There are 3 buttons, 2 red and 1 blue. The red are left and right click, and the blue is the center button. This can also be used as a scroll wheel with the TrackPoint.

The keyboard

This is a joy to type on. There is enough travel to make typing comfortable. The keys have a little stiffness to them and are quite solid. This is also where the mouse is located.

The UltraBay

This is where your optical drive is located. The UltraBay how ever has the option of more then just a DVD drive. You can get ZIP and floppy drives for it. Need more power? There is the extended battery option too!

The Battery

I can not comment on this section as my battery is old. The quoted run times I have seen are about 3 hours.

The screen

I can not comment on this as it's an old unit. The screen is fine though. Still bright enough and color still looks OK.

The processor

This model contains the 750MHZ Pentium III. It has a power save mode speed of 600MHZ. For its age, it is still capable of running Windows XP Professional with only a few minor slow downs.


There are 384MB of RAM in my model. This is one 128MB and one 256MB stick. The hard drive is 40GB and is your standard laptop hard drive.


There is a modem and networking card built in to the laptop. This is the Mini PCI slot. It would be possible to add WiFi but there is no software to turn it on, nor is there an antenna. WiFi is provided through use of the PCMCIA slots. There is also an infrared port under the hard drive caddy. There is a window on the caddy to allow use of the infrared.


+ Small size with good screen
+ TrackPoint
+ ThinkLight
+ Great Keyboard
+ UltraBay allows for 2 batteries or to upgrade drives


- No built in WiFi, but that not a big deal
- ThinkLight could be brighter
- Would prefer 2 USB ports
- USB port is in a bad spot to me

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