We used the bundled copy of InterVideo WinDVD 5 to watch a movie and found that playback was smooth but the image quality was affected by the screen as it has a very narrow viewing angle. You only have to move your head a few inches for the colours to shift to an unacceptable degree. To add to our multimedia woes the SoundMAX HD audio is let down by the speakers. There’s no reason why a business laptop should play movies especially well but Lenovo has included an LG DVD-RAM drive and WinDVD software yet the results are disappointing.
Although the NVS 140M chip is a Shader Model 4 part you won’t get the benefit of DirectX 10 as the operating system is Windows XP Pro and not Windows Vista. While we’re not massive fans of Vista for desktop PCs it seems the better software for a laptop and it would seem to be especially suited to a ThinkPad. Lenovo has included a fingerprint reader in the T61 which links to the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip as part of the grandly-named Client Security Solution which is laid on top of XP. Other models in the T61 range use Vista Business Edition, which seems like a better idea as that version of Vista uses BitLocker encryption to protect your data.
The rest of the ThinkPad T61 package has been superbly designed and oozes quality and attention to detail. The blue ThinkVantage button above the keyboard opens up a menu of options that controls a stack of ThinkVantage utilities and settings including, yes, the ThinkLight. This is a small light that lives in the bezel above the screen that is angled down to illuminate your keyboard when the conditions are a bit dim. Nice idea, rubbish name.
On the front of the T61 there’s a flick switch that disables the wireless as a handy visual check when you’re about to take a flight. With the wireless switched on you can use the ThinkVantage Access Connections software to control the Intel 802.11a/b/g/n wireless and Bluetooth independently of each other, and you also have the wired options of Intel Gigabit LAN and a modem.
Other ports consist of PC Card and ExpressCard slots, three USB ports, VGA output, one mini Firewire port and a Kensington lock.
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.