Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (76765CM)
- Battery life, lightweight and portable, excellent build quality, Vodafone 3G internet connection
- An optical drive is not included
The ThinkPad X61 is well-built and very portable, which makes it suitable for the road warrior. However, it doesn't ship with an optical drive.
Price$ 3,699.00 (AUD)
Weighing just 1.68kg and featuring a built-in Vodafone 3G mobile Internet connection, Lenovo's ThinkPad X61 is an excellent choice for the mobile-minded business person. It runs Windows Vista Business Edition, and it ships with an 8-cell battery, so it will last a long time while on the road. The only downside is that an optical drive is sacrificed for mobility and, in fact, no optical drive is included in the package at all.
At the heart of the ThinkPad X61 is a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 CPU, 1GB of DDR2 RAM (that can be expanded up to 4GB), and a 160GB hard drive. Being such a small and lightweight unit, it doesn't have an optical drive built in, nor does it ship with an external one. Purchasing an external DVD burner from Lenovo will cost you $299 on top of the notebook's already hefty price of $3699.
The X61's embedded Vodafone SIM card is what really sets this notebook apart from many competing ultra-portables. The embedded SIM in the X61 is tucked away behind a panel on the bottom of the unit, while an inconspicuous aerial sits flush against the right edge of the display - it's barely noticeable when not in use. With a Vodafone account and the included software, it's simple to get yourself online. During our tests, we achieved similar results to Vodafone's Mobile Connect HSDPA USB Modem and attained an average speed of about 80KBps. Vodafone's coverage also extends beyond the Oceania region to Asia, Europe, America and Africa, but be sure to check with Vodafone for plan costs. If you don't require the Vodafone internet connection, standard Wireless networking (802.11a/b/g) is included, in addition to wired networking via a gigabit Ethernet port. In situations where broadband isn't available, the built-in 56Kbps modem can be used to connect to the Internet.
The X61 produced a WorldBench 6 score of 64, which is fairly standard for a machine with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo CPU and 1GB of RAM. It relies on integrated graphics (Intel Graphics Chipset), so it exhibited unsurprisingly poor scores of just 4208 in 3DMark2001 and 463 in 3DMark2006. These scores aren't a concern though, as this system isn't designed to run 3-D applications. The 12.1in screen has a resolution of 1024x768 and we found it fairly clear and crisp, although it lacks the brightness we've seen from some competing notebooks.
Connectivity is plentiful with two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, headphone and microphone jacks, a standard 15-pin D-sub port, for connecting an external monitor, and Bluetooth 2.0. The X61 also includes a biometric fingerprint scanner that can be used with any application that requires password authentication. It worked well in our tests and we like the fact that it can be used with a number of different applications.
Physically, the design of the X61 is plain, but it's sturdy, light and the screen exhibits minimal flex. It has been manufactured with rugged, high quality, matte black plastic. The keyboard light pointing down from the top of the screen is a handy feature that it makes it easy to type at night time. As for typing, keys near the edge of the unit are cramped, but all other keys are comfortable to use, and the volume and mute controls above the keyboard are a nice touch. To save space, a well-positioned track-point is employed instead of a track-pad.
When on the road, the X61's battery should last a while. In our worst-case scenario test, the battery lasted 4hr 36min. We tested by looping a DivX-encoded video file, as the unit doesn't have an optical drive for watching DVDs, so this means that at least a couple of movies can be watched on the unit while on a flight, for example. It will last even longer when the CPU and graphics chip aren't being used to process movie files. It's also an extremely quiet unit when it's running; we only managed to make out fan noise during load times. The unit didn't get noticeably hot either, so it will remain comfortable to use after long periods of time.
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