Lenovo ThinkPad T61
Still a brand to be reckoned with
Review When the world ends in a nuclear glow or a flood of melted icecaps, the final remaining life will be bacteria in the vents of undersea volcanoes and the last piece of technology to give up the ghost will surely be a ThinkPad.
When Lenovo took over IBM’s PC and laptop division it raised a question about the future of the ThinkPad brand, so your reviewer is as pleased as punch to get his hands on his first Lenovo-made ThinkPad.
Lenovo's ThinkPad T61:
Let’s start with the important stuff. The T61 looks and feels like every other ThinkPad you’ve ever seen with build quality that appears immaculate. It has a fabulous keyboard and provides both a TrackPoint mid-keyboard joystick and a touchpad. The result is a laptop that is slightly chunky - its dimensions are 335.5 x 237 x 27.6mm - that weighs 2.34kg ready to travel.
The T61 family is extensive and covers a range of laptops that start at £1000 and head up to £2000 depending on your choice of screen, processor, graphics and memory. Our review model was dubbed the ND219UK, and it comes with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 processor on an 800MHz frontside bus with a GM965 chipset and 1GB of 667MHz DDR 2 memory in a single module. Instead of the integrated Intel GMA graphics core Lenovo has chosen an Nvidia Quadro NVS 140M chip to power the 14.1in screen with its 1440 x 900 (WXGA) resolution.
Although the Quadro NVS 140M sounds like it should be a hardcore workstation graphics chip it's actually rather feeble and has a specification that is only just adequate for the task in hand. Despite its name it's actually a mainstream business graphics chip. The maximum digital output is 1600 x 1200 with support for an analogue output of 2048 x 1536, which is presumably the reason why the T61 has a VGA port for a projector or external display but no DVI.
T61p is a good value
The T61p offers 1920x1200 resolution, includes Vista Ultimate (Bit locker drive encryption is good), and a faster CPU.
I've run XP Pro SP2 and Vista Ultimate on the same hardware and found Vista (with power management set correctly) offers on average 30-45 minutes more battery life with my 9 cell extended battery.
Yes, I bash Vista a lot - but the fact still remains it's improving with every driver update and patch from the mothership.
I replaced my development laptop, a T41, with a T61 a couple of weeks ago and I'm pleastantly surprised with it. The keyboard is a joy to use compared to that on the T41 so much so that I don't use a full size keyboard anymore when in the office, and I'm glad to have my Windows key back !
Re: Active Protection
Not really an accelerometer, but a rate gyro. So the only thing it really can tell is rotations. If you open the real time status for APS you can hold the laptop on some bizarre angle, and it will reset thinking that is normal upright. (An accel would still be able to determine what the orientation the laptop is in from g) It works then by detecting the signs of a fall.. eg tipping off the edge of the table, or bed. But if you managed to drop it straight down, with no tilting on the way, APS won't stop the drive. It's better if you rock it a few times to get the auto-ignore repetitive shocks going. (yellow triangle)
The Thinkpad Disk protection works by having an accelerometer in the laptop to detect if the laptop goes into free fall (i.e it is dropped). It then parks the hard disk while the laptop is in mid-air. I am not sure what hard drives Thinkpads currently use, but the Seagate datasheet states that their drives are good for a 250G shock while operating or a 900G shock when they are not operating. This significantly increases the chances of your data surviving the impact, even if the laptop does not.
Why no 1600x1200 anymore?
Must admit, the first thing I did when I got my T60p was de-install active shock protection and most of the other junk that was pre-loaded. Does that APS stuff actuall "do" anything? Call me a bit sceptical but I mean if I drop my lappy, what good is that stuff going to do? Also I couldn't believe how much memory was being used up by all the "value-added" software Lenovo installed on it.
Two of my buddies here are running Ubuntu on theirs, I'm running XP but I do find hard disk access seems a bit slow despite having a 7200rpm drive. It takes ages to boot. :-(
But I really miss the 1600x1200 display on my 4 year old Dell C-series laptop. This T60p has a 1680x1050 which can be really annoying at times as I got so used to the 1200 vertical res on my Dell. Why oh why don't manufacturers do a 1600x1200 screen anymore? You can't seem to get them anywhere now.