IBM has announced an update to its ThinkPad range of notebooks, featuring a smaller form factor and updated data protection technology. The new model is scheduled for release on 11 February, and will start at $2,699.
The 12-inch ThinkPad X40 features an Ultra Low Voltage Pentium-M 1.2GHz, thicker metal hinges, and a single panel that pops off to reveal the Mini PCI slot, modem and RAM. Other features include a powered USB port for connecting external drives, an SD slot and an 8-cell hybrid Lithium Ion battery that IBM claims can give up to 7.5 hours life, which can be extended to 10 hours with an extended life battery.
The sub-1.5kg weight makes it the smallest full-featured ultra-portable in the market, including Apple's 12-inch PowerBook. The X40 is available with 802.11g wireless, although this means these models don't sport the Centrino branding.
Another new feature is the IBM Active Protection System which protects the fragile hard disk -- the most common cause of faults in notebooks. A motherboard-mounted motion detector senses when the notebook is moving too fast, and within a tenth of a second, parks the hard drive heads to minimise any damage from the impact.
IBM also announced an update to its data protection and backup software for its entire range of Windows XP and 2000 notebooks. IBM Rescue and Recovery with Rapid Restore, which gives one-button access to the restore functions in case of an OS failure.
The tools provide diagnostics, file rescues, and can restore the system to a previously saved backup, even from an external drive. It does this via a hidden virtual partition on the hard disk, so it is still susceptible to a hardware failure.