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If I had the choice I wouldn't have looked twice at this laptop as it is a bit of an ugly beast and I'm not all that familiar with the Lenovo brand. As it was, this is the standard laptop given out at work and I have used it for just over a year.
The laptop is plain looking but is certainly robust. Everything about its looks suggests this is for people who choose functionality over style. It has taken some batterings in the time I have owned it but the black casing seems to be scratch proof. It is not the lightest laptop I have seen (2.4kg) but it is certainly thin and as such is easy to carry around.
To give you some facts and figures, the laptop comes with a 100gb hard drive. That's quite small by todays standards but is more than enough for a business machine was access to network drives. The intel Processor speed is 2GHz and the combination of that plus 1gb of RAM means that your applications will load up nice and quickly and can run alongside one another without everything grinding to a halt. Battery life is pretty good - initially it lasted over 4 hours from full to flat but 35 to 40 hours use every week has meant that this has reduced to 2.5 hours. Other features include bluetooth connectivity and wireless LAN and stereo speakers. Unfortunately the 1st two of these are locked down on my work machine and the last one is not really practical to use in an office setting so I will just have to take the manufacturers word for it.
On the right side of the laptop you will find a combined DVD reader and CD read/writer whereas the left has a pcmcia slot (who uses these any more??) a network port, modem port, vga video port and two usb slots. This really is not enough - if like me you want to plug the laptop into an external monitor then by the time you have plugged in an external mouse and keyboard into the usb slots you have nowhere left to plug in anything else. Also the usb slots are so close together that if you plug in a pen drive the body of it will overlap the adjacent usb slot making it impossible to use. Seeing that there are only headphone and microphone sockets on the front you would have thought they could have squeezed an additional couple of usb slots in.
When using the laptop in standalone mode i.e. not plugged into external monitors and keyboards etc you will find that the 15 inch screen gives a nice clear picture quality, although it is a bit of a dust magnet and is not all that great at dealing with glare. The keyboard is excellent, probably the best I have come across as it is soft to touch and only needs a light touch to respond. You will find a mouse joystick in the centre of the keyboard with the two mouse buttons for it just below the space bar. If you prefer to use the touch pad then this is immediately beneath those mouse buttons and it in turn has its own mouse buttons just beneath it. I prefer to use the keyboard mouse as the touchpad is a bit too small to be practical. That said the combination of the two sets of mouse buttons and the touch pad means that the base of the laptop extends well below the bottom of the keys, giving you a nice spot to rest your hands when typing.
If you want to buy the T61 it will set you back around £850. That's quite a sizeable chunk of cash - especially when you compare it to my Samsung netbook that delivers similar performance but only cost £280. Sure the screen is a decent size and the applications load up quickly can I see what the extra money will buy me? In a word, no.
I purchased this laptop and upgraded the processor through Lenovo other than this my laptop is identical. I needed a laptop that could run processor hungry applications like AutoCAD and have great battery life. It was primarily going to be used for business use and so needed to be tough and bomb proof!
As with all Thinkpads, they do not look that attractive, but the rugged covering and compact shape allow them to be lugged around with little or no damage. Other brands of laptops that I have owned had started slowing after 6 months of hard usage, but this one just keeps going. Once it has started up (which can sometimes take a while due to Lenovo installed applications which I recommend removing) it is a very fast laptop. The keyboard is nicely spaced and has useful hotkeys. The fingerprint scanner is a nice addition which makes it more secure and quicker to login.
I have dropped this many times but the screen and hard drive are well protected so it keeps soldiering on! Another benefit is that Thinkpads are very easy to update, so if you want to replace parts like keyboards, ram, processors, you can do so very easily using information on their website.
Downsides are the look of it, and all the applications that Lenovo load onto before delivery.
This great business machine just keeps going and the battery life is great. It is very quiet and doesn't overheat like many laptops these days. Recommended if you care about power and resilience.