Product review: Lenovo ThinkPad X61

6 Nov 2007

Laptops are becoming as ubiquitous as mobile phones and it is now rare to see executives travel without them.

Lenovo, which acquired IBM’s former PC division, has held rigidly to the company’s standard of producing high-quality, well-engineered devices.

For years the division manufactured highly specified machines aimed specifically at the corporate world and I still have visions of ranks of blue-suited executives marching smartly in step.

The devices had the same utilitarian look and feel and were built for practicality, not style.

The ThinkPad X61 marks Lenovo’s growing realisation of how individual the PC market has become. Every second TV ad or shop window now sports pink, lime-green or white laptops.

While Lenovo still comes in the standard matt black, some concessions to style have been made and some models can be ordered in leather or suede.

The X61’s primary distinction is its size; it weighs only 1.33kg and you can carry it in the palm or your hand. Because of this though, the CD/DVD drive comes separately and has to be attached via a lead.

Notwithstanding its size, the X61 is a fully functioning laptop with 120GB hard drive and a 1.60GHz Intel Centrino processor.

Designed primarily for workers on the move, the laptop can connect to the internet in several ways: by standard computer cable, wireless local area networking (Wi-Fi) and through a built-in Vodafone 3G card, with an aerial on the side. It also comes with Bluetooth for exchanging files between devices.

My first impressions of the device were marred by the usual, constant stream of customer registration pop-up screens and after I had boiled the kettle and made a cup of coffee the notebook was still booting up.

The X61 comes with a Windows Vista Business operating system, which has the intelligence to spot available wireless networks and get you connected pretty quickly.

For all its advantages of size (I have ruined the shoulders of many good suits dragging a laptop bag through airports), I found the keyboard a little restrictive at first.

But the X61 is a definite step in the right direction for Lenovo. While it panders to the individual’s sense of style, it is still a corporate monster, replete with fingerprint security.

It comes at an attractive enough price point, starting at €1,585 and rising to €2,432 depending on what extra features you require.

Pros: Convenient size, lots of software
Cons: Slow boot-up
Price: From €1,585

By John Kennedy