Lenovo ThinkPad T60 Widescreen Review

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by Andrew Baxter

Lenovo has today announced a refresh to their T60 series notebook that introduces the widescreen form factor as an option. While many manufacturers have been shifting their business notebooks to widescreen, Lenovo will continue to offer the T60 in either a widescreen or standard 4:3 screen ratio format. Following is a review and discussion of the T60 widescreen.


Lenovo ThinkPad T60 widescreen version (view large image)

Why go wide?

Lenovo will include widescreen on its 15.4" T60 offering (no 14.1" widescreen T60 for now). There will be a WSXGA+ and WXGA screen resolution option. Lenovo has in a way been forced to offer their flagship T-series with the option of widescreen, there are basically three business reasons for the company deciding to offer widescreen on the T-series:

  1. This year Dell and HP shifted nearly all of their business line laptops to being widescreen. Because of this Lenovo looked like the odd man out and possibly "old-fashioned" for not having a widescreen offering in their T-series.
  2. Business buyers are becoming more and more interested in widescreen and since that group is the bread and butter of sales for the T-series, Lenovo had to cater to what the customer is asking for.
  3. LCD makers such as Samsung, LG and AUO that supply Lenovo with screens are pushing the widescreen format by offering better prices and focusing innovation on this type of screen.


T60 15.4" wide on the left next to a T43 14.1" standard on the right, notice the screen heights are almost exactly the same despite the fact the T60 has a larger overall screen (view large image)

The very important thing we must emphasize here is that the T60 is not converting entirely over to widescreen, this is simply an added option. Customers will be able to choose between having a widescreen or standard screen display. If you want to buy a Dell Latitude D820 15.4" business notebook or HP nc8430 15.4" screen business notebook your only choice is widescreen. So Lenovo deserves kudos for being flexible in now offering both widescreen and standard screen options within the same product line. I believe they’re the only company providing this option within a single product family.

So what’s better, T60 widescreen or T60 standard screen?

The discussion of whether widescreen (16:10 aspect ratio in this case) or standard screen (4:3 aspect ratio) displays are better comes down to personal preference and how you use your notebook. Let’s look at some arguments for using each.

In no particular order, here are some advantages to using a widescreen display:

  • If your screen resolution is high enough and you have a 15.4" size screen you can easily view two windows side by side when using widescreen, offering advantages for productivity.
  • Users that deal with large spreadsheets or databases can see more column data at a time and don’t need to horizontally scroll as much.
  • Adobe Photoshop power users and other designers can have enough room to place panels and buttons off to the side of the main design area window. This is preferable to placing them on top of, above or below the design window.
  • Viewing movies is more enjoyable, many movies are produced in widescreen format.
  • A widescreen display means a shorter screen, this can be advantageous in the tight quarters of a plane or train so that the seat in front of you doesn’t bump into your laptop display.
  • The extra screen width can be useful to place chat windows off to the side of the screen and not have to put them on top of your main window.
  • Extra keyboard width for possibly making the keys more full size and adding a number pad (assuming the laptop is a 15.4" or bigger).
  • Triple pane applications such as Microsoft Outlook or RSS readers such as Feed Demon can benefit from a widescreen because you can view more information by moving your eyes and not scrolling up and down.


Here’s a screenshot of the T60 SXGA+ widescreen, you an see that fitting two windows next to each other and being able to see each is quite possible. In this case we have the Lenovo.com homepage open and Outlook Express email client open next to it in a window (view large image)

Now to the standard screen display advantages, in no particular order:

  • Gaming graphics in widescreen format can sometimes get distorted or not fill the screen, especially in older games.
  • Text tends to flow more naturally when it’s more vertically oriented, in other words, it’s easier for your eyes to move to the next line when the rows of text aren’t extremely long like a widescreen would tend to lead to.
  • A widescreen notebook means a wider more rectangular shape to the notebook, if you’re working with a laptop on a small desk a widescreen may stick off of the edges if it’s a larger laptop, therefore a standard screen is better for small desk areas as it is more square.
  • Standard screen notebooks are more square and thus not as tall when placed on end into a backpack and so tend to fit better in most standard bags.
  • Many web pages are made at a fixed width and cater to standard screen displays, not widescreen.
  • Standard screen 4:3 aspect ratio has been around since laptops were first introduced, meaning that seamlessly connecting an external display or projector from a standard screen notebook is easy.
  • A taller screen can often mean less scrolling vertically when dealing with fixed width web pages or when viewing computer code that tends to flow more vertically than horizontally

No doubt, advantages for individual tastes and cases could make each list much longer, but you get the idea.

And how is the quality of the widescreen display on the T60 wide?


15.4" WSXGA+ T60 display, notice the black bars on the side of this photo being displayed due to the extra screen width (view large image)

Lenovo does a good job of offering various scren resolutions and enhanced screen options. In the T60 series Lenovo offers XGA, SXGA, SXGA+, UXGA and now WSXGA+ and WXGA. Lenovo also offers what is called FlexView or IPS display on the T60, that display provides for superb viewing angles. Check out my review from earlier in the year of a T60 with such a display.


(view large image)

The widescreen WSXGA+ (1680 x 1050) display with the T60 I have doesn’t offer any fancy tricks or innovations, but it’s a solid display nonetheless. I found that the screen on my review unit is actually supplied by Samsung. It’s part # is LTN154P2-L05, Dell happens to use this screen in many of their widescreen laptops as well.

Overall the display is very good. Its brightness is good for a business notebook, certainly as bright as I’d need it to be, but you couldn’t call it blazingly bright. Light leakage is not a problem, the screen is evenly lit. Colors on the screen are crisp and bold. Reflection from the screen is almost non-existent as this is a matte screen, not glossy, matte screens are more conducive to working with and staring at for long hours. One downside of the display in this T60 wide review unit is that it has the same "sparkle" graininess effect that’s often complained about with the equivalent Dell notebook screens. This means that on all white backgrounds you can see what appears to be some dirtiness, in that the white isn’t pure white. Most people such as myself won’t notice or be bothered by this, but some will, as evidenced by discussion threads such as this in the Dell forum.

ThinkPad T60 Wide Build and Design

The build and design of the T60 wide hasn’t changed other than being wider but not as deep (wider and shorter). The build quality is top notch and I refer you to my previous review of the T60 for a more in depth look at this and various other features of the T60 that holds true for the wide and standard screen version. Notice that with the T60 wide the keyboard area obviously has more width. However, Lenovo has not changed the keyboard at all, you only get more space on the sides because of this additional horizontal real estate.


Widescreen T60 keyboard area (view large image)

 

Standard screen T60 keyboard area (view larger image)

While the T60 wide version is of course wider than the standard T60, it is still the same thickness at just over an inch and approximately the same weight of about 5.5lbs. While we don’t have a 15.4" T60 standard screen notebook to offer side-by-side picture comparisons, a side-by-side picture comparison with the ThinkPad T43 14.1" screen notebook we have in hand gives you a good idea of how the 15.4" wide is the same depth as a regular 14.1" but of course much wider.

 


In this image you can see a 14.1" standard screen T43 resting on top of the T60 wide (view large image)

 


Again the 14.1" standard screen T43 is resting on top of the T60 wide, you can see how the two notebooks are almost the exact same depth here, but the 15.4" widescreen T60 is much wider (view large image)


Front view of the T43 14.1" standard screen resting on top of the 15.4" T60 widescreen (view large image)

 

Most consumer notebooks by now have moved to the widescreen format. Dell long ago moved their consumer notebooks to this format. Below are some pictures comparing a Dell consumer type notebook, the 15.4" widescreen AMD powered Inspiron 1501, with the ThinkPad T60 wide.

 


On the left is the ThinkPad T60 widescreen, on the right is the Dell Inspiron 1501 15.4" widescreen notebook. Notice that the Dell 1501 is overall bigger in terms of height, depth and thickness (view large image)

In the image above, a direct view from the front of the T60 next to the Dell 1501, we see that the Dell 1501 is much thicker than the comparably slim ThinkPad T60, despite the fact they’re both 15.4" widescreen notebooks

 


The Dell 1501 on top of the ThinkPad T60 wide shows that both notebooks are the same width, notice the more convincing and strong thick steel hinges you see on the T60 (view large image)

 


A right side view of both the T60 and Dell Inspiron 1501 which again displays greater overall depth as it sticks out over the top of the T60 (view large image)


Front view of ThinkPad T60 with Inspiron 1501 on top (view large image)


Right side view of Inspiron 1501 on top of ThinkPad T60 (view large image)

 

Core 2 Duo and ATI X1400 Benchmarks for T60 Wide

Since doing my last review of the ThinkPad T60 the Core 2 Duo processor has been released and is now available in the T60. With this review unit the hardware specs of the notebook are as follows:

  • ThinkPad T60 Wide CTO-1 {8741-4VU} (Serial # L3AA166)
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz
  • Graphics: ATI X1400
  • Display: 15.4" WSXGA+
  • Memory: 1GB SDRAM
  • Hard Drive: 120GB 5400RPM Fujitsu hard drive
  • Optical Drive: DVD / CD Multiburner
  • Wireless: 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless (Atheros)

Given the higher specs, it’s worth running the benchmarks again for this T60 to see how it performs.

Super Pi Benchmark Results

Below are comparison results for running the program Super Pi that forces the processor to calculate the number Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy, the Core 2 Duo is clearly a champ at this and improves upon the original Core Duo.

 

Notebook Time
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 03s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 02s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Toshiba A100 (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 18s
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo) 1m 29s
Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86GHz Pentium M) 1m 53s
IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz Pentium M) 1m 45s
HP dv5000z (2.0GHz Sempron 3300+) 2m 02s

 

3DMark05 Benchmark Results

Futuremark’s 3DMark05 graphics benchmarking software gives a good idea of a notebooks graphics processing capabilities. Below is a comparison table of how the T60 wide with an ATI X1400 card faired:

Notebook 3D Mark 05 Results
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,465 3D Marks
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,092 3D Marks
Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB) 4,236 3DMarks
Alienware Aurora M-7700(AMD Dual Core FX-60, ATI X1600 256MB) 7,078 3D Marks
Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 1,791 3DMarks
Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI x700 128 MB) 2,530 3D Marks
Fujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,273 3DMarks
HP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M, ATI X700 128MB) 2,536 3D Marks
Dell XPS M1210 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7400 256MB) 2,090 3D Marks

 


(view large image)

 

PCMark05 Benchmark Results

PCMark05 gives a good idea of overall system performance, below are comparison results for the T60 with Core 2 Duo compared to other notebooks:

 

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1400) 4,177 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (1.83 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1300) 3,197 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook A6010 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA 950) 2,994 PCMarks
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks
Toshiba Tecra M6 (1.66GHz Intel T2300E, Intel GMA 950) 2,732 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, Nvidia Go 7400) 3,646 PCMarks
Sony VAIO FE590 (1.83GHz Core Duo) 3,427 PCMarks

 


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Cinebench CPU Results


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Cinebench is a good rendering benchmark tool based on the powerful 3D software, CINEMA 4D. Its rendering tasks can stress up to sixteen multiprocessors on the same computer. It is a free benchmarking tool, and can be found here: http://www.cinebench.com.  The basic CPU test provided the following results, you can see the T60 Core 2 Duo was able outperform the older ThinkPad T43 and edge out the Dell e1505 Core 2 Duo laptop:

Test Lenovo ThinkPad T60 Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz ThinkPad T43 Pentium M 2.0GHz Dell e1505 Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz
Single Core rendering mode 327 CB-CPU points  222 CB-CPU points 325 CB-CPU points
Dual Core rendering mode 592 CB-CPU points   not available 592 CB-CPU points

 

Everest Benchmarks and Report

Everest is an application that runs a full analysis of a notebooks components and drivers and creates a report, we ran this on the T60 wide, here is the report Everest produced.

HDTune Hard Drive Benchmarks

HDTune is used to run benchmarks against a notebook’s hard drive, following are the results gained from the Fuitsu 120GB 5400RPM drive the T60 has:


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Conclusion

While the introduction of the Z-series carried the ThinkPad line into the world of the widescreen format last year, many look upon the current Z1m and Z61t notebooks as being somewhat consumer oriented. The T-series is all business, and it’s a sure sign of the times that Lenovo has decided to create an offshoot of this model that evolves into widescreen. Widescreen is just where things are going right now. The widescreen format really does offer a productivity advantage for some people in the work that they do, it’s not just about being able to watch movies more favorably.

Although some ThinkPad fans will say a widescreen T60 is a weird mutation and not evolution, a majority of people will welcome the extra choice. While some would like to see a 14.1" widescreen offering, that may come in time if the 15.4" widescreen T-series format is a success.


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