Making The ThinkPad Crash Proof

IBM Monday released two new laptops that include a detection technology similar to the one used in automobile airbags.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based computer maker said its new ThinkPad R50 (USD$1529) and T41 (USD$1649) models will come with the automatic hard drive protection technology because frankly, notebook owners are a clumsy lot.

“If you’re rushing to finish a report in an airport and you accidentally drop your notebook, with any other machine you’d face a greater potential for losing all your data,” IBM PC division vice president Peter Hortensius said in a statement.

According to IBM’s own insurance and analyst reports, more than 10.5 percent of notebooks in a corporate enterprise are damaged every year. Of the three notebook components most prone to damage — hard drive, display, and keyboard — losing your hard drive is the most devastating.

To better beat the odds, IBM is including its patented Active Protection System in the two new models as well as its Rapid Restore Ultra technology, which is a one-button recovery method for software crashes.

“The Active Protection System chip on the system board has a sensor that senses a fall or a drop or a quick change in motion,” IBM worldwide product manager Bill Iori told “If there is a drastic or quick jerky change, the chip moves the hard drive in to the park position. The process takes about 500 milliseconds and then it returns to normal operation after it senses the movement has stopped.”

Iori said the on-system chip could be configured to acclimate to continuous moving scenarios, say if you are traveling on a train, plane or automobile.

IBM is selling the new ThinkPad R50 and T41 models with Intel Centrino Mobile Technology or with integrated IBM 11 a/b/g wireless.

“The neat thing is that we are adding these features so there is no cost moving on to our end users,” Iori said.

Big Blue also announced updates to its ThinkPad X31 (USD$1449), R40 (USD$1129), R40e (USD$1449), and G40 (USD$899) (transportable chips up to 3GHz) models featuring faster processors, integrated wireless technology on select models, and some of the latest ThinkVantage Technologies.

The new portables also come with IBM’s Embedded Security Subsystem, consisting of an integrated security chip and downloadable IBM Client Security Software. The company also said its ImageUltra Builder feature support of out-of-date images by creating, verifying, modifying, and migrating images for discontinued hardware.

While the novelty of anti-crash technology and the other bells and whistles may not be the final selling point for the new ThinkPads, IBM is well aware that they lag behind Dell and Hewlett-Packard in notebook sales.

Currently, IBM ranks between 3rd and 4th in U.S. market share and cites the Asia Pacific region as its best selling area in terms of volume.

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