The Good Solid performance, thanks to the latest Core 2 Duo processor; extremely portable design; excellent keyboard; fingerprint reader; easy-to-use ThinkVantage utility; lengthy battery life with extended battery.
The Bad Lacks built-in optical drive; standard-aspect display feels outdated.
The Bottom Line The ThinkPad X61s provides excellent dual-core performance in a lightweight, compact package that's still comfortable to use.
Lenovo ThinkPad X61s
When you look at the latest ultraportable ThinkPad, it would seem that little has changed since we gave the Editors' Choice to the ThinkPad X60s last year. The ThinkPad X61s features largely the same design as its predecessor--it still lacks a built-in optical drive--but adds a low-voltage Core 2 Duo processor and Intel's latest Centrino Pro platform, plus new security and power-management features. The end result is a laptop that doesn't take up much room in a laptop bag and yet still packs plenty of performance oomph as well as a screen and keyboard that are comfortable for working long stretches away from the desk. (If you must have an ultraportable with an optical drive, look to competitors' laptops, such as the Fujitsu LifeBook P7230 and the Sony VAIO TXN17P/B--though both those models feature smaller screens.) About the only area where the ThinkPad X61s doesn't match its predecessor is battery life: whereas a year ago the ThinkPad X60s had the longest battery life we'd ever measured, the ThinkPad X61s posted a battery life that was still longer than average, but not chart-topping. Nevertheless, we'd gladly trade endless battery and the built-in optical drive for the ThinkPad X61s's great balance of comfort, performance, and portability.
The ThinkPad X61s is virtually identical in design to its predecessor. While the lightest ThinkPad X61s configuration weighs a spritely 2.7 pounds, our test unit, which included the "ultralight" display option but also a weighty extended battery, weighed 3.4 pounds (the extended battery also adds 1 inch of depth and 0.3 inch of thickness at the back). By comparison, both the Fujitsu LifeBook P7230 and the Sony VAIO TXN17P/B weigh less than 3 pounds and incorporate optical drives, though they feature single-core processors and smaller displays. Though it's clearly not the smallest laptop on the market, the ThinkPad X61s is one of the smallest Core 2 Duo options we've seen and is definitely compact enough to carry every day.
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