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IBM unveiled a completely updated line of ThinkPad notebook computers today, including new ThinkPad R50 and T41 models that include the world’s first automatic hard drive protection technology.

Because smaller, lighter, and more mobile systems are at a continual risk of being dropped and damaged, IBM developed a hard drive protection technology to help protect valuable data. The IBM Active Protection System, in general similar to the technology used in automobiles to deploy airbags upon impact, uses a microchip (accelerometer) on the system board to detect system acceleration, such as in fall. If the system detects “fall-like” acceleration, it responds by temporarily parking the drive’s read/write head until the system is stabilized. This rapid response can help prevent hard drive crashes that could occur in some falls, to help prevent total data loss and reduce warranty costs.

Some insurance and analyst reports indicate that more than 10.5% of notebooks in a corporate enterprise are damaged annually, and that accidental damage accounts for the majority of PC loss claims. Of the three notebook components most prone to damage -- hard drive, display, and keyboard -- hard drive damage results in the loss of valuable information and productivity.

The new ThinkPad R50, available in 14” and 15” models, has a travel weight of less than 6 pounds and measures 1.3”. The ThinkPad R50 features a long-life battery, and by adding a second system battery option users can achieve almost 10 hours of battery life, IBM claims. Select ThinkPad R50 and T41 models are available with Intel Centrino Mobile Technology or with integrated IBM 802.11a/b/g wireless. Both the ThinkPad R50 and T41 feature select models with the IBM Embedded Security Subsystem.

All new ThinkPad models are available immediately through IBM web-site. IBM personal computers are also available through select business partners. Prices for the ThinkPad R50 start at $1529; prices for the ThinkPad T41 start at $1649.

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