Product Review: Lenovo business notebook

4 Sep 2007

We’re entering an era where the notebook PC you carry says as much about you as the mobile phone and whatever annoying ringtones you choose to assail the world with.

Stickers, skins, brash colours, ultra-light, tablet PCs, you name it, it’s all about the individual. I’ve seen machines decked out in hot pink and even tiger stripes.

In this era of individualism, the Lenovo R61 panders more to company bosses thinking of kitting out a team of salespeople with adequately powerful but affordable notebook PCs rather than a hotshot into self-expression.

My first impression of this machine was its incredibly slow boot-up followed by a host of “user enrolment” options that the average PC buyer looks on with the same suspicion that they would if someone came to their front door asking them to sign up for a religion that wants to take all their money.

But once I had successfully declined all these registrations and advances I moved on to the ultimate acid test for any good PC today – the ability to get connected straight away.

The machine automatically detected the presence of the nearby Wi-Fi network in the house and I was up and running on the internet without any hassle of messing with settings. It also comes with Bluetooth and infra-red options if you want to shift documents between a colleague’s machine.

One of the handy things about ThinkPad PCs is the options you have in terms of mouse devices. You can either use the rubber nubbin on the keyboard – which some people detest – or you can use the conventional touchpad-type mouse that dominates on all notebooks today.

The advantage of modern business laptops is the ability to speedily get connected wherever you are. If you’re in an airport and you need to switch on, file a report and shut down quickly to board your plane and maybe switch back on again in-flight, most notebooks comply.

But speedy internet access aside, this is where I became troubled with the R61. When I shut it down, a sleeping light remained on and when I switched it back on again the battery was almost drained and needed to be recharged. No good if you’re travelling all day long.

This surprised me as I made sure that I was shutting the machine down correctly – not hibernating – and again there was the slow boot-up experience.

As a business notebook, the R61 is genuinely intuitive and boasts the latest Windows Vista Business operating system and the latest Microsoft Office family. From that perspective, kitting out workers with this device would be ideal for cost-conscious bosses.

But it is a uniform, non-descript machine that favours business users who march in step. But this is the era of the individual notebook user. Most notebooks do exactly the same things so appearance and style are everything.

I know that Lenovo is producing more stylish machines than this that are slimmer, lighter and some that even come leather-bound and will excite individual business buyers who like Gucci and first class seats. Let’s see more of these please.

PROS: Solid internet experience
CONS: Slow boot-up
PRICE: From €940 ex VAT

By John Kennedy