The ThinkPad has undergone a radical makeover in its latest iteration, with the thin-and-light Z60t. The formerly all-black laptop now features an optional silver-titanium lid, a wide-aspect display, and a low starting price--especially for a ThinkPad--of $799. Clearly, Lenovo has begun its pursuit of the consumer multimedia audience, in addition to the business market, and to good effect. Though we also like the more business-focused ThinkPad T43, we're more fond of the ThinkPad Z60t's design, and found our pricey high-end $2,299 test unit equally well cut out for productivity tasks and more entertainment-focused pursuits--on the road or at home.
The ThinkPad Z60t measures a wieldy 13.1 inches wide by 9 inches deep by 1.2 inches high, but the weight of the unit depends on how you configure it. With the traditional black-plastic lid and a 4-cell battery, it weighs a light 4.5 pounds; our loaded $2,299 test unit, which featured an exceptionally sturdy titanium lid and a 7-cell battery, weighed a pound more. For the sake of comparison, the 5.9-pound Dell XPS M140 costs $2,040, and the 5.3-pound Sony VAIO VGN-FJ170/B goes for $1,499. The ThinkPad Z60t's two-prong adapter adds just under a pound to its total travel weight.
Like the company's other thin-and-light, the more business-focused ThinkPad T43, the ThinkPad Z60t is extremely well designed. Its excellent keyboard offers a comfortable layout, and like most ThinkPads, it has the traditional red eraserhead pointing stick and a sufficiently sized touch pad, both of which include an adequate set of mouse buttons. There are four handy buttons for controlling the volume and summoning system help. Although the system lacks the dedicated multimedia buttons found on the XPS M140, the ThinkPad Z60t's arrow keys do double duty as disc-play controls when used with the Function button. In a nice design flourish, the Z60t has two drain holes underneath for accidental spills on the keyboard. Aside from the typical spinning of the internal fan when you start up the laptop, the system runs quietly.
The ThinkPad Z60t's 14-inch wide-aspect screen works well for watching DVDs and working with two documents side by side; the 1,280x768 native resolution is typical, though it lacks the glossy finish found on more multimedia-oriented thin-and-lights. The two speakers on either side of the keyboard sounded clear but flat.
Like the Sony VAIO VGN-TX670P, the ThinkPad Z60t has a 3.5-inch-long WWAN antenna on its right screen edge. The antenna helps the laptop's internal Sierra Wireless EVDO card connect to Verizon's cellular wireless network. In theory, it's a great feature that keeps you constantly connected wherever the Verizon network is available. Still, the feature suffers from the general drawbacks that plague WWAN: expensive service plans (Verizon's unlimited plan costs $79 per month if you don't have a voice plan through the company, and $59 per month if you do) and often finicky throughput speeds.
Business and home users will find most of the ports, jacks, slots, and bays they need. The front edge features an IR port, headphone and microphone jacks, a Secure Digital card slot, and a Wi-Fi on/off switch. The right edge accommodates one Type II PC Card slot, a four-pin FireWire port, three USB 2.0 ports, and a swappable bay for the optical media drive you choose (our system came with a DVD burner). A lone S-Video-out port sits on the back edge, while the left edge includes 56K modem and Gigabit Ethernet jacks along with a VGA port. Helpful icons line the sides of the keyboard, marking the corresponding ports on the system's edges. Business users will appreciate the ThinkPad Z60t's security features, which include a fingerprint reader and an Embedded Security Subsystem, a hardware security feature that is similar to a Trusted Platform Module.