by Paul LaPota
The notebook under review here is a Lenovo Thinkpad T60. Following are the specs of this notebook:
Where, Why, and How Purchased
I bought the notebook directly from Lenovo. The reason I went with Lenovo directly was because I was able to configure the computer how I wanted it and I have family that works for IBM so I was able to get employee pricing. I did look at other retailers but they didn't have the specifications I wanted and Lenovo?s website was competitive on price as well.
This notebook was purchased for my wife, who is a currently a graduate student. She shares an office with other graduate students, which is equipped with computers, but there are never enough to go around (also, the computers are old Dells that are constantly having problems). She already had an Averatec notebook, but it just wasn?t getting the job done and causing more headaches and problems than if she just didn?t have a notebook. I?ll use the Averatec against the Thinkpad later just to give you a comparison. Here are some quick specs on the Averatec just for FYI:
The specific Thinkpad purchased was actually a bit more of a notebook than I wanted to pay for. However, I ended up getting quite a deal. Lenovo was having a sale on the T60 and was giving you free upgrades for a 100GB hard drive and a 9 cell battery. It was a nice deal, but I really wasn?t ready to buy yet. A little while later Lenovo announced the addition of the Core 2 Duo in their ThinkPad line-up which peaked my interest again. Then when they added a free upgrade to a DVD Burner it was a done deal. Normally the notebook would sell for $1,820, but with the sale and the additional employee pricing it checked out at $1,312 + tax. With all the extra savings I decided to upgraded the processor, screen, and graphics card from what I was originally planning to buy.
Other notebooks I considered purchasing included the Dell Latitude D620 and several comparable HP business notebooks. I specked and priced several configurations (every variation from least expensive to most expensive). I also read the reviews for all three manufacturers (I would read reviews for a specific notebook I was looking at and then other models to see if the quality standards carried through a model line). The prices Dell and HP had were actually the same if not higher than similar ThinkPads. This is why I went with a Thinkpad. If you are no longer looking at manufacturers in order to save a few bucks, then you are going to look at overall quality. The ThinkPad wins this hands down. Then through the extra security of an embedded security chip (Dell has a fingerprint reader, but no chip) shock mounted hard drive with active protection system, (Dell has shock mounted hard drive but no active protection system on the hard drive: this is not the true air bag protection they claim you get on their website), and the legendary ThinkPad keyboard I couldn't go wrong. It comes down to the little things that they put inside.
T60 next to 15" Averatec notebook (view large image)
T60 resting on top of Averatec 15" notebook (view large image)
When first looking at notebooks I also considered non-business models (Dell Inspiron and HP Pavilion) because the price was very attractive. However, I went down that road once before with the Averatec. When I purchased the Averatec I was working at Staples and was looking for inexpensive with decent features, and light weight. I read reviews on it and most people had a few gripes but the majority of what people said was it offered the best bang for your buck. But what I quickly found out is there is more to a laptop than just numbers. My thinking on this now is that you can pay $700 - $800 for a new notebook and need to replace it in a year, or pay a little more for a Thinkpad and be pleased for 2 to 3 years before needing to buy a new one.
Build and Design
T60 collapsed open (view large image)
This is where the Thinkpad has flourished. To describe the quality in one word; Excellent. You pick it up and immediately know this thing means business. The lid has no wobble, and no ripples from pressing on the back of the screen. I picked it up by the very corner and it felt solid and creak free. My Averatec on the other hand, you must use two hands, because if you were to pick it up from the corner it would droop like a wet noodle and you could hear the stress in the plastic from it. The ThinkPad comes with the before mentioned features of the shock mounted hard drive, active protection system, and roll cage. The shock mounted hard drive and active protection system help protect the hard drive. The hard drive is mounted on rubber and acts like a bumper. The active protection system acts like an "air bag" and pauses the hard drive if a quick or sudden move is detected. This insures that in case of a drop the hard drive will survive, leaving your computer to see another day, or at least be able to retrieve your data. Also, aiding in the event of a drop is the interior reinforcement of a magnesium chassis, or roll cage (see picture below). The wrist wrest is also very sturdy, I do not see any give when pressing down on it, only just slightly when an extreme amount of pressure is used. Another small detail I like is the clam shell two latch closing design of the lid. This ensures a complete enclosure and helps protect it when not in use.
Front side view of T60 (view large image)
Rear view of T60 with 9-cell battery in (view large image)
Left side view of T60 (view large image)
Right side view of T60 (view large image)
Underside of T60 (view large image)
The ThinkPad comes in any color you want -- as long as it is black. You will never have to color coordinate because black can go with anything. The black also gives it that business feel. Obviously it has worked for the ThinkPad, because you don?t see it changing colors every year to try and increase sales (see HP and Dell).
The skeleton magnesium chassis of the ThinkPad T60
Overall I believe this notebook is perfect for the purpose of my uses. My wife will take it back and forth from the office along with all of her books and research. The Averatec is a 15-inch and is advertised as an ultra portable at 1-inch thick and under 5lbs. However, the Thinkpad with a 14-inch screen and 9-cell battery is the same, if not lighter, than the Averatec. The Thinkpad X series is a true ultra portable, but I believe the 14? T series is a good middle of the road for people trying to decide between power and weight.
This notebook has a 14.1-inch screen with a resolution of 1400 x 1050 SXGA. I was perplexed on whether or not to spend the extra money on getting the extra resolution. I finally decided to go with it because I wanted the better graphics card. I am happy I went with it because it definitely is nice and crisp. Going from the Thinkpad to the Averatec or the junky LCD on my desktop allows me to really appreciate the extra resolution on the Thinkpad. Otherwise the screen is probably just average. The viewing angles are average; giving good view from left to right, but just okay viewing from top to bottom. There also seems to be a little light leakage on the bottom of the screen, but is only noticeable when it is black. Other reviews on this website have also mentioned these comments and have covered it sufficiently. It is better than that of my Averatec, but you would expect that.
Performance / Benchmarks
As far as performance, I am sure there are more powerful computers out there than this one. However, it can hold its own compared to similar notebooks in its class. It definitely is not a multimedia machine, noticeable by absent ports, but it has the capability to handle Photoshop, movie editing, and the occasional game. It is very snappy when being used for web and Office applications simultaneously. The CPU has never hung or even flinched at any of the stuff I've thrown at it: many browser windows, music, word, powerpoint, downloading updates, and downloading programs. I'm not a big gamer, so I don't have any games that would actually put stress on the computer.
The T60 under review has an ATI X1400 graphics card, here's how this T60 stacked up in the 3DMark05 graphics benchmarking tool:
|Lenovo T60 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1400 128MB)||2,265 3DMarks|
|Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB)||4,150 3DMarks|
|Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)||4,236 3DMarks|
|Asus V6J (2.16GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7400)||2,918 3DMarks|
|Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400)||2,264 3DMarks|
|ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400)||2,092 3DMarks|
|HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, nVidia GeForce Go 7400)||2,013 3DMarks|
The table below compares the T60 SuperPi score with some other notebooks:
|Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo)||1m 04s|
|Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo)||1m 02s|
|Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.00 GHz Core 2 Duo)||1m 02s|
|Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 16s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook A6010 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo T5500, with 667MHz memory speed)||1m 22s|
|Asus F3Jc (1.73GHz Intel T2250)||1m 28s|
|Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Due (T2300) with 533MHz memory speed)||1m 29s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
Below are some screenshots from the Everest benchmarking program:
Heat and Noise
Heat and noise, what's that? The Thinkpad is the quietest and coolest notebook I have worked with. My Averatec is probably helped keep my heating bill down with the hot air it blows just sitting there. Literally, the CPU fan will always run blowing hot and even hotter air. The Thinkpad is still comfortable after several hours of use in the lap. The underside where the processor is and the wrist rest where the hard drive is did get noticeablely warm, though it was not enough to cause concern for the health of the PC. Comparing the Thinkpad to other notebooks I worked with at Staples: it keeps the cooler than Acer, HP, and Toshiba notebooks. Just an FYI, Acer notebooks were probably the worst I have seen in terms of generating heat. As far as noise from the fan on the Thinkpad, the only audible noise I hear is the air movement. But don't let that make you believe the fan isn?t strong enough; I can stretch out my arm and still feel a breeze from the notebook (I'm 6'2").
Well, it does have speakers. They are located in the front on the bottom edge of the lip. I really have not seen any laptop that has had impressive speakers, and the T60 follows that trend by offering just mediocre sound.
Keyboard / Mouse
Keyboard (view large image)
The keyboard is great, it is a pleasure to type on. Once again, another cheap aspect to the Averatec is the keyboard; it feels like it is a fake, demo computer. I thought all keyboards were made equally on notebooks, until I actually paid attention to other notebooks, and by far the Thinkpad?s is the best. It is just like typing on my desktop PC.
The trackpoint and touchpad are also friendly to use. I have never used a trackpoint before, but have quickly come to like it. The touchpad is also nice, but could be a bit more responsive. I?m sure it probably has a setting somewhere I could change, but haven't looked yet because I've been using the trackpoint. Some people have complained that the touchpad is too small. It is small, but it has to be to fit the larger 7-row full sized keyboard on there. One of my biggest gripes with the Averatec was when I would try to type on it, I would always rub my hand on the touchpad and move the cursor. If the Thinkpad touchpad were any bigger I think it would do the same.
The Thinkpad comes with a good assortment or ports; 3 USB, VGA, 56k modem, Gigabit Ethernet, audio for headphones and mic, PCMCIA card slot and ExpressCard slot. Common ports missing in action are FireWire and a flash memory card reader. I have both of these ports on my Averatec and have only used the memory card slot once and the firewire I have never used. The ports given are at least the essentials. If they were to add ports, I?m not sure where they could put them unless they were to change the vent size and location. I would much rather have a cool notebook than more ports if that's the tradeoff.
The Thinkpad has an internal Intel a/b/g wireless card. It seems to get a decent signal, showing my own wireless network as 100% anywhere in my apartment. It does pick up several other wireless signals from neighboring apartments as well. This internal wireless is better than that of the Averatec. Because of interference at a previous residence I purchased a wireless Linksys pc card. This card has an overall better signal on other networks. The Thinkpad does come with its own Thinkvantage wireless network software which has a lot of neat tools to it. Because this will be my wife's laptop, I'll probably just stick to the Windows wireless manager because that's what she is used to.
This Thinkpad came equipped with a 9-cell battery. Under normal use of Wi-Fi on, USB drive being used, word processor, internet surfing, and normal screen brightness it got close to 5 hours before it said it had 1min. left on the battery. If trying to conserve battery life you could easily get 5:30 hours or more. I didn't test this because I would never really use the laptop like that. If you are trying to decide whether you want a light notebook or longer battery life, I would say go for the battery. I do not think the battery adds that much weight compared to that of a 6-cell and you will benefit in the long run from the 9 cell.
OS / Software
Windows XP Pro comes preinstalled on the notebook. The restore and recover is partitioned on the hard drive taking up about 5 GB. If this were an HP or Dell I would burn my recovery cds and delete the partition, but with the extra security given and the ability to restore the computer without a bootable OS I will leave the partition. It does come with a plethora of other software too: Google Toolbar, Desktop, and Picasa, Diskeeper Lite, and the Thinkvantage Suite. The Google toolbar gives you Google search capability from the taskbar; Desktop is a utility that is like the Windows find utility, but gives you your results as you would normally find using Google. I believe it is more user friendly than the Windows version. Picasa is Googles way to manage your pictures. Diskeeper Lite is a disk defrag utility. The Thinkvantage Suite has software for everything from security to wireless to files. I have not played with software much but it has some interesting tools. Overall the software loaded has some good value, but I will not use all of it. The taskbar is loaded with icons upon first boot and needs some tweaking for one's own personal preference.
I haven't had to talk to tech support, but many people say it is a good experience. I was worried about what people had to say about the shipping and customer support. When I ordered my notebook the customer service I got was great. They walked me through my order and confirmed each upgrade I wanted. He was also up front about how long it would take for shipping (see customer comments elsewhere about shipping). He told me how long each process would take and then summed it up and said 3 weeks. The great thing though was he was wrong, it took only a total of 12 days to my front door. I was very pleased with this; this was the one thing I was hesitant about when ordering from Lenovo.
In conclusion, the ThinkPad T60 is a great notebook. In every aspect it scores good to great. It has excellent feel and second to none quality. The ThinkPad is one of the most expensive brands, but the Thinkpad?s competitive edge is not based on price, it's all about quality. If you start competing on price, you will lose what you are known for; quality. The T60 is meant for the buyer who wants value, quality, and wants to use it for 3 to 4 years. Though you can find a notebook with similar specs for a couple of hundred dollars less, you will end up spending more by buying a new notebook before a Thinkpad?s life expectancy is done. I suggest investing a little more money now, and have a laptop that will last longer and have a higher value longer.
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