Field Tested: Lenovo refreshes T, X, and Z ThinkPads with their 60 series devices, and yes, we tested all of them!
March 14, 2006
Back in January, we reported on Lenovo's announcement of their T60 and X60 series ThinkPad notebooks. Since then, we've had a chance to test the new devices as well as the new Z60 widescreen models.
The ThinkPad Legacy
For over a decade, ThinkPad notebooks have been the gold standard for business PCs. And since the devices originally emerged in the marketplace, the Lenovo's design team (which was formerly IBM's) has been making steady improvements to the line. Their latest generation maybe the most significant leap forward to date. The T60 and X60 devices are based upon Intel's new Core Duo processors, and sport integrated high speed 3G wireless service, and a more rigid internal structure. While these new hardware features are quite impressive, it's the integrated software power management, and network control that really adds the last bit of polish to these impressive, iconic business devices.
The ThinkPad T60p
The T series device that Lenovo sent us to test was their highest end T60p. Equiped with Intel's fastest T2600 dual core processor, a 15" 1600x1200 display, and ATI FireGL 5200 graphics processor. Lenovo has also integrated a trio of radios for 3G mobile data, WiFi, and bluetooth. Add to that a battery life that far exceeds what we were expecting in a high end notebook, and you end up with a must have device for any power user or status conscious corporate executive. 3G service is running on Verizon's US network, but Lenovo will be offering a GSM/HSDPA version in the coming months as well. While this 15" T60 is the largest of the dual core devices, and sports the highest resolution screen, by no means should you get the idea that the device is particularly large, somehow Lenovo has managed to squeeze the device down to the dimensions of a mid-sized notebook.Although we haven't tested it, there's also a 14.1" version of the T60 that reduces the size and weight a bit, but can only be configured with maximum screen resolution of 1400x1050.
The ThinkPad X60s
The X series device that we tested was equipped with Intel's L2400 low power dual core processor, and although the 12" 1024x768 screen wasn't as high resolution that we'd hoped, this new device sports the same trio of radios as the the considerable larger T60, and an impressively long running time on it's extended battery. Size is simultaneously an asset and a liability for the X60. While users will appreciate the unit's diminutive size, we found the the smaller keyboard was hard to type on, and the included docking station, which makes the device twice as thick when attached), was a poor substitute for actually having an integrated DVD drive or even using an external USB powered DVD drive. But with that said, if the "full size" T60 leaves you wondering how they fit everything in the package, the smaller X60 just seem like a miracle of miniaturization. Lenovo is aware that the small keyboard may be an issue for some users, back at CES we were shown a demo of a next generation "butterfly keyboard" that could be used in future ThinkPad laptops (see Gizmag article 5164), so we expect that the small keyboard won't be a problem forever. We're also hoping there will be higher resolutions added to the product mix in the future.
The ThinkPad Z60t and Z60m
Several months ago Lenovo introduced their Z series wide screen notebooks. These devices are intended to be a bit more multimedia friendly, and sport SD card readers, and s-video output, as well as (obviously) wide screen displays. These devices led the charge into this next generation, and were the first to offer integrated EVDO 3G network service as an option. They were also the first ThinkPads to use Lenovo's new 20V/90W power standard, which is needed for the more power hungry dual core processors that the T60 and X60 uses. This is one of the reasons why we're pretty confident that we'll see dual core versions of the Z series pretty soon. Overall we liked the smaller Z60t as a travel notebook that was "coach seat friendly". With it's short depth, we found that it fit nicely on the smaller coach tray table, even when the person in front of you decides to recline their seat. The larger Z60m is more suited to being used as a desktop replacement than a notebook you'd travel with. It's considerably thicker and wider than the Z60t or even the T60 ThinkPads, but sports a larger 1680x1050 display.
Forget about using your old ThinkPad accessories
Starting with this generation, Lenovo has upgraded the power supplies for all their ThinkPads. The new power "bricks" supply 20V at 90W, and Lenovo has changed the "tip" so older ThinkPad power supplies won't accidentally be used. We looked around for third party air/auto travel adapters, but none of the vendors we contacted had compatible products yet. Additionally, batteries from previous ThinkPad generation won't fit.
Overall, we're very impressed with these devices, in fact the T60p we tested is the best notebook PC we've seen to date. All these devices are top notch performers that clearly show the design insight bred from over a decade of being the best notebook provider in the industry. Lenovo's latest generation is a fitting heir to the ThinkPad throne, and we're left with little to be critical about. While DVI is supported via a docking station, we would have liked to have seen the external VGA ports on all these devices upgraded to DVI-I. Just the fact that we have to go that far down on the feature list to find a fault says worlds about our impression of the product line. At Gizmag we see lots of products, and these are the notebooks we want.
In the old days, the saying used to be, "Nobody ever lost the job by buying IBM". It seems that a year after Lenovo's sucessful integration of IBM's PC division that they've managed to continue this tradition of execellence. We're pretty sure you can't go wrong with any of these new ThinkPads. We're sitting on the edge of our seats waiting to see what they'll come up with next.