Editors' note: Since original publication, the text and Editors' Rating of this review have been revised to reflect the results of additional testing.
A little more than a year ago, Lenovo shocked the laptop world by announcing the first wide-screen ThinkPads. Apparently the new display was well received, because the latest iteration of the ThinkPad T60, one of the most popular ThinkPad models, now includes the option of a 15.4-inch wide-screen display. We certainly can't complain--we like having more real estate for spreadsheets, movies, and other vital business tasks--and the addition of a Core 2 Duo processor, along with the characteristic ThinkPad construction and business-friendly support features, give this new ThinkPad T60 tremendous appeal. But Lenovo's more consumer-oriented ThinkPad Z61m, which offers the same components and a similar feature set in a slightly thicker and heavier case, nudged ahead of the ThinkPad T60 on some of our performance benchmarks and costs $185 less. Unless you need to save every inch of room and ounce of weight in your laptop bag, we recommend that you save a few bucks and get the ThinkPad Z61m.
Despite stretching the T60's display, Lenovo kept the slim, sleek profile common to its business-friendly thin-and-light laptops. The familiar matte-black case measures 14 inches wide, 10 inches deep, and 1.1 inches thick. The ThinkPad Z61m, by comparison, has the same size footprint but is 0.3 inch thicker; the HP Compaq nc8430 is about the same size as the Z61m. At 5.8 pounds, the ThinkPad T60 is certainly the lightest of the three and a full pound lighter than the Z61m, which includes a weighty titanium lid. With its compact AC adapter, the ThinkPad T60 weighs a still-manageable 6.7 pounds.
This wide-screen version of the ThinkPad T60 retains the best design features from its predecessor, such as sturdy steel hinges, drain holes for accidental spills onto the keyboard, and a shock-mounted hard drive and internal roll cage that holds components in place. We're running out of synonyms to describe the excellence that is the ThinkPad keyboard, which offers an extremely comfortable typing experience. The T60 also includes both an eraser-head pointing stick and a sufficient-size touch pad, each of which has a set of mouse buttons (the top set includes a scroll button in the middle). Above the keyboard are three handy external volume buttons--the extent of the ThinkPad T60's dedicated multimedia controls--and a blue ThinkVantage button, which summons Lenovo's helpful preinstalled support-and-configuration utility. Below the keyboard sits a fingerprint reader (which adds $30 to the price) for quick, secure log-ons.
Like the ThinkPad Z61m, the ThinkPad T60 features a 15.4-inch wide-screen display with a 1,680x1,050 native resolution that affords a large amount of screen real estate (nearly 26 columns and 51 rows on the default Excel spreadsheet) but can make text appear small. Users who fall behind on their Vitamin A supplements can configure the T60 with a 1,280x800 resolution display. As with all ThinkPads, a reading light tucked into the bezel above the screen lets you illuminate the keyboard when working in dark environments. The T60 lacks the built-in Webcam found on the Z61m's display bezel.
The ThinkPad T60's slim case doesn't allow for much by way of ports and connections, though you will find the basic ports that a completely business-focused user will need. These include VGA and three USB 2.0 ports (two stacked), plus headphone and microphone jacks and slots for PC Cards and the latest ExpressCards. Missing from the mix are S-Video out and FireWire ports, as well as a media card reader, all of which are found on the Z61m and the HP Compaq nc8430. Our T60's swappable media bay came filled with a sweet double-layer DVD burner. Networking options include a 56Kbps modem, Gigabit Ethernet, and 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth; unlike other ThinkPads, integrated WWAN is not available as an option on the T60.
Our $1,849 ThinkPad T60 review unit cost $185 more than the Z61m with identical specs: a midrange 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 processor; an ample 1GB of quick 667MHz RAM, an ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 chip with 256MB of VRAM, and a huge 120GB hard drive rotating at 5,400rpm. The T60 unsurprisingly matched the Z61m's performance on CNET Labs' iTunes and Photoshop benchmarks. On our Multitasking and Office Productivity tests, though, the T60 trailed a bit behind the Z61m. To account for the seemingly inexplicable performance difference, we had to drill deeper into the components; the laptops' hard drives, though built to the same spec, came from different manufacturers, and thus could have performed differently. The T60 also has a different motherboard and a different BIOS than the Z61m, which could have caused additional discrepancies in performance. Nevertheless, even the Z61m fell behind competitive models that were configured with 7,200rpm drives; the otherwise identical HP Compaq nc8430 ($1,799) raced ahead of both ThinkPads. As with the Z61m, the T60 didn't feel particularly slow while doing typical productivity work, but users with a strong need for speed should consider upgrading its hard drive to the faster speed ($40 for 100GB). In our initial battery-drain tests, the ThinkPad T60 lasted an above-average 3 hours, 46 minutes--identical to the Z61m and just 7 minutes less than the larger battery on the HP Compaq nc8430. Additional testing outside the lab saw the T60's battery last as long as 4 hours, 8 minutes on some runs, so we'd expect to see an average of 4 hours of battery life.
Lenovo provides a one-year warranty with the ThinkPad T60, which, though it's the standard for consumer laptops, is shorter than the three-year term that covers most business laptops. You can choose from several different affordably priced warranty extension options; 24/7, toll-free phone support lasts for the length of your warranty. The preloaded suite of ThinkVantage applications helps users troubleshoot problems, configure their networking options, and enhance data security. The company's support Web site also displays troubleshooting information yet lacks helpful elements, such as a user forum.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)