It is with regret that I am writing this review. I sit looking at a laptop that I am about to replace. I have owned my Thinkpad R61 for 4 and a half years and have never had cause to complain. However I have now cracked the screen and realise that it is probably time I updated.
Ok, lets be honest, none of the Lenovo range are going to win awards for looks. It is square and boxy in a nice rubberised matt black finish. The battery protrudes from the back like a spoiler on a car! The keys are a glossy black plastic with a trackpad that is top and bottomed by mouse buttons and the ever present "nipple" living between the keys that allows you to track with the mouse.
The screen has a matt finish which makes it difficult to see in bright light conditions. In addition there is a power brick which is approximately 15 cm * 6 cm by 4cm. The leads attached to this are a little on the short sizde meaning you will need to be sat close to a power outlet if you want to charge or run on mains.
For it's time this was a bit of a powerhouse being one of the earliest dual core laptops with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor runnig at 1.8GHz giving ample processing power which is backed up with 2Gb RAM which allows you to run a reasonable amount of applications at once. I am sure this is further upgradeable but I am reviewing this as I have it which is straight out of the box! The Hard drive is a modest (nowadays) 160Gb which in real terms once the OS is stored and you lose the inevitable bit for formatting allows you approx 120Gb of storage space. Not toos habby in it's day!
Loads of options here with Firewire, Bluetooth, 3*USB ports, VGA out, and built in wireless. All in all not too bad. Couple that with the DVD ROM drive and you have a machine that can handle most things. Oooh I just remembered it also has an SD card reader, a godsend in terms of speeding up photo transfer from my various cameras.
I find this machine a breeze to use, the keyboard is well layed out with the trackpad being nice and responsive. The screen brightness is one winge and the maximum resolution is not as high as I would like. It is not the lightest of laptops with the battery being particularly heavy, however a single charge will happily give 5 hours usage. The sturdiness is one of it's defining features, It has been nudged, dropped and generally abused for 4.5 years and I finally finished it off by leaving a pen on the keyboard when closing it!
I will miss this laptop, the newer thinkpads have abandoned sturdiness for looks and I think that is a mistake. Sturdiness defines this laptop along with the cutting edge tech when it was released. If you still have a working one of these, enjoy it. One day you too will mourn it.
This is the laptop that I use and support at work. My job is that of an IT Desktop Support Analyst and therefore I need to have quite an in depth knowledge of the product.
This laptop can be used both with windows XP and Windows Vista. The machine comes with 512mb of Ram installed by default, but this is expandable if you wish to put more memory into the machine. My laptop has now has 1gb installed in it due to the pressure we put on it in the working environment.
The machine has a powerful processor in the machine as well. This is a intel duo core processor which has a clock speed of 1.8 ghz. The duo part of the processor is the how and why vista can be run on the machine and compared to previous models of laptop we have used the processor is nearly double the speed of other machines.
The machine also comes with a 60gb hard drive which provides ample space to save data in a work environment. As with most laptops these days the machine comes with an inbuilt wireless network adapter, which can be switched off and on by sliding a button towards the front left hand corner of the machine as you look at it.
The machine comes with an inbuilt CD-RW and DVD Rom drive.
I personally think the laptop has two main advantages. The first of which is that the laptop has a wide screen 15.4 inch display which is highly noticeable and makes looking at the screen all day easier. This also allows you to watch DVD's on the laptop with a decent display size if required while looking at your documents is made that bit easier.
I think the biggest advantage of the machine is the Battery life. In the modern world where you try to minimise the energy impact of your daily working environment I feel this is vitally important. Firstly the battery life of the machine is top notch.
This model also has an inbuilt power management system. This allows you to adjust the settings of your laptop to maximise the amount of time that you laptop battery will last. For example tonight I increased by battery life (which was at 60% when I started this) from just over 70minutes to 130 minutes by changing the settings from maximum performance to maximum battery life.
The only difference you will notice from this is that the screen doesn't display as brightly.
The DVD drive. This is attached via a USB connection and although the screen size allows you to watch DVD's on it, the noise that is made by the DVD drive on the machine whilst performing such a function means that you will probably avoid doing this.
The weight of the laptop is a major concern. I am used to machines of this size, but no machine I have had have been this bulky. The machine coupled with a power pack is quite heavy and discourages many people from using this machine as a laptop and simply storing the machine in one place unless the machine is by the user in another office. Many of our users used to take home their laptops and used applications for home working, however I feel this happens less with this model.
Trying to build/image the machine - Ok if you get this laptop your probably going to get it pre-built from PC world or IBM themselves, however let me tell you now, finding drivers for this model, or in fact any IBM machine is much harder then Dells or HP's. If you build the machine from a windows disk you are left with around 10 unrecognised devices, getting drivers for half of these was easy and was easily done by the IBM site. However the final five proved to be much harder. In fact three of the drivers were installed via the same package which we only found by hunting around on the IBM forums for a couple of hours.
What would I do to improve the machine?
A few suggestions I have for this machine are
- Replace the CD/DVD drive
- Upgrade the memory in the machine to at least 1gb for windows XP or 2gb for windows vista.
- Only use the battery in one location IE keep the battery at home or in the office. This will make the model far lighter for carrying around
This is a good laptop for a work environment. However I feel that for a home situation you can get better from other suppliers. The machine battery life is a a very good selling point and the wide screen makes looking at a machine to do your work a little bit easier.
However the weight of this laptop spoils the machine to me. Also from my IT support perspective Trying to build a machine is a lot harder then other models of machine.
Overall, I would probably avoid this model of machine. Simply because I know that a newer model of IBM laptops is available (R400) which is far lighter and does not seem to give the DVD drive problems.
Thanks for reading
ThinkPad R Series are affordable and lightweight notebooks with great performance, outstanding battery life and large, bright displays. ThinkPad R61 widescreen models feature a thinner, lighter design for enhanced mobility and are the coolest and quietest R Series models ever.