Review IBM / Lenovo Thinkpad T61 Notebook - Full Upgrade

The Lenovo IBM Thinkpad X61T is a compact mobile notebook with tablet functions. It's light magnesium case and the good battery runtime qualifies it for students, who need to browse the Internet, take notes, and copy pictures by using the pen. Furthermore, it is also not fit for up-to-date games, because of an integrated video solution and a processor with low-energy demands. So, it makes it easier to concentrate on the lesson.

IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad T61

Case

The X61 Tablet's workmanship is first-class, as we are already used to by Lenovo.

The  haptics of the stable magnesium case is unique and it is also very resistant against pressure. Only, it looks like made of plastic. But, this impression diminishes once you used the notebook and what stays is the impression that it is a high-quality and stable notebook with first-class ergonomics. The surfaces seem to be very soft, like silver sand-blasted by the goldsmith. There aren't any sharp edges or corner, still, the X61 Tablet is not overall round, but, simple and functional. The X61 T looks like out of a science fiction film of the eighties, because of the plastic look, the color choice (black with red and blue contrast elements), the IBM Thinkpad Logo, and a display in 4:3 format with matt surface.,

You can think of the X61 T's look as understatement. Some beholders asked: "Does Vista really run on this old notebook?",

At least after turning the display round and picking up the pen, it attracts the attention of everybody in its vicinity - even MacBook user will be amazed. Actually, the look of the  X61T and of other Lenovo notebooks are generally a matter of taste. Some love it, while other think, it is out of fashion.

At least it does not look ordinary. Furthermore, Lenovo produced a notebook, whose look, haptics, and technology are excellent without copying from from Apple. Overall, the Thinkpad X61 T seems to be an anti MacBook in all aspects, and pleases this way.

If you are still not convinced by design and tablet functions, you might be impressed by the provided hardware-based security, e.g., a shock protected hard disk or a finger print reader.

However, an optical drive was missed out, but, in turn a docking station port is provided.

Front Side
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T
Left Side: Fan, VGA-Out, LAN, 1x USB, SD, ExpressCard
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T Interfaces
Back Side
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T Interfaces
Right Side: 2xUSB, Microphone, Headphones, Firewire, Modem, Kensington Lock, AC-in
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T Interfaces

Input Devices

At first you'll notice that the X61 T misses a touch pad out. But, once you've worked with the user-friendly red track point for a while, you'll be glad doing it without a touch pad, and raise the question, why this best mouse replacement  did not became the standard and was not established overall. The track point does not only ease quick navigation, it also demands less space.

The keyboard has a concise, clearly structured, and user-friendly layout. This is except of the Fn key, because it swapped space with the Ctrl key.

Typing is comfortably silent without clattering. We were also pleased by the user-friendly point of pressure. Furthermore, many hot keys are provided, some of them twice, to be accessible also in tablet mode.

The most striking hot key is the ThinkVantage button, which can be used to invoke a menu covering a number of Lenovo specific tools. It provides, e.g., help for networking, data security, and a number of settings. If you press this button during system start-up, the recovery system will be started allowing to backup and restore data.

However, we were most interested in the pen, because we were not used to using the X61 tablet by pen on the display. The X61 tablet recognizes the pen already, if it is still 2 cm off the display, and marks this by a small circle. Clicking with the button at the pen's side is equivalent to a right mouse click. Navigating is alright, but, the point marked at the display is about 1mm moved to the right. Furthermore, we sometimes received the impression, that the track point only reacts slowly.

Therefore, we felt that the track point combined with the keyboard is the best input alternative. But, the pen is better for notes, drawings, and drafts, even more, because it recognizes a number of different pressure levels.

Track point
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T Track point
Keyboard
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T Keyboard

Display

Color Diagram
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T display measurement

The X61 Tablet is equipped with a 12.1" display with a maximum resolution of 1024x768 pixels. It captivates by a very good stability to the vantage point and gets only fuzzy at extremely acute angles. The brightness is just sufficient for outdoor usage, but, reading the display gets cumbersome in the sun.

Although we first thought, that the display's resolution is low, we soon understood this decision of the designers. A higher resolution would have made  navigating and precisely positioning the pen difficult.

The color diagram depicts a nearly ideal red and blue color curve, and a lowered green color curve. Also subjectively the image seems a little bit yellowish.

1) measurement 2) measurement
205.8
cd/m²
189.6
cd/m²
205.3
cd/m²
215.8
cd/m²
201.2
cd/m²
201.7
cd/m²
187.8
cd/m²
183.4
cd/m²
176.3
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
Maximum: 215.8 cd/m²
Average: 196.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 82 %
Black: 0.6 cd/m²
Contrast: 335:1
103.3
cd/m²
115.6
cd/m²
102.1
cd/m²
109.2
cd/m²
118.9
cd/m²
101.6
cd/m²
119.1
cd/m²
112.7
cd/m²
110.3
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
Maximum: 119.1 cd/m²
Average: 110.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 85 %
Black: 0.3 cd/m²
Contrast: 396:1

The measured minimum brightness of the display (black value) amounted to 0.3 cd/m² and gives together with the maximum brightness of 119.1 cd/m² a maximum contrast of 397:1.

While black value and contrast are very good, we were a little bit underwhelmed by the maximum brightness, even it was subjectively better.

We could not detect any anomalies regarding speed of reaction.

The display of X61 Tablet surprised us with automatic dimming in battery mode. However, it can be disabled by BIOS settings.

Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T Stability to the Vantage Point
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T Stability to the Vantage Point
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T Stability to the Vantage Point
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T Stability to the Vantage Point
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T Stability to the Vantage Point
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T Stability to the Vantage Point
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T Stability to the Vantage Point
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T Stability to the Vantage Point

Performance

It was pretty clear that the X61 Tablet won't provide outstanding performance. However, the Intel Core 2 Duo L7500 with 1.6 Ghz and Intel's integrated video solution, an Intel GMA 950, are too weak.

However, 2 GB main memory kept hope alive that at least office performance is alright. Finally, it turned out, that the performance is actually sufficient for office work under Windows Vista. As pure office notebook, this Tablet PC is, in the reviewed configuration with best available equipment, quite alright.

However, it is completely insufficient for occasional games. It is not even possible to play Doom III with 8,5 FPS in the lowest resolution. Even older games cause problems, e.g., Quake 3 Arena reaches with best settings only an average of 24 FPS.

Playing games with the X61 Tablet is like attending a car race with a Jeep: Not in the right ballpark. However, the Thinkpad's performance is sufficient for its main field of operation. Furthermore, the battery runtime is long, because of low-energy components.

Further information about the video card can be found  here or in our comparison of mobile video cards.

Please also look at our benchmark list of mobile processors or at our benchmark list of mobile video cards, in order to compare this notebook to other configurations.

PC Mark
PCMark 053356 points
Help
PCMark 05 in comparison
Acer Aspire One 751 (min)
 Z520, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 500
692
   ...
Toshiba M100-165
 T2300, Mobility Radeon X1400
3285
Acer TravelMate 8571-944G32Mn
 SU9400, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4500MHD
3292
Lenovo X61 T
 L7500, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) X3100
3356
Lenovo 3000 N200 0769BBG/TY2BBGE
 T2330, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) X3100
3379
Lenovo Z61m
 T7200, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
3379
   ...
Fujitsu Celsius H710 WXP11DE (max)
 2820QM, Quadro 1000M
13842
3D Mark
3DMark 05848 points
3DMark 06
 
603 points
Help
3DMark 06 in comparison
Sony Vaio VGN-FS485B (min)
 740, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 900
54
   ...
Dell Vostro 1310
 T8100, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) X3100
583
Dell Latitude XT2
 SU9400, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4500MHD
593
Lenovo X61 T
 L7500, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) X3100
603
Asus P50IJ-SO036X
 T5870, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4500M
607
Acer Aspire 4810T
 SU3500, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4500MHD
615
   ...
Clevo Clevo P157SM (max)
 4930MX, GeForce GTX 880M
29955
120 GB - 5400 rpm
Transfer Rate Minimum: 0 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 37.2 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 28 MB/s
Access Time: 27.3 ms
Burst Rate: 46 MB/s
CPU Usage: 20.4 %

Emissions

Loudness

In idle mode a noise level of about 33.4dB is reached. In quiet environments the notebook is therewith audible. However, the noise is decent.

Under load the X61 T is not much louder. A noise level of 37.1dB is also alright. Sometimes we heard a short squeaking in battery mode.

Noise Level

Idle 32.4 / 41.3 / 41.3 dB(A)
HDD 37.9 dB(A)
DVD 36.5 / dB(A)
Load / 41.3 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:     (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Although the surface temperatures of the Thinkpad X61 Tablet are generally alright, they are too high in Tablet mode, if you work lap top. At the bottom side the temperature increased to up to 46°C, at the hand ball support it was also as high as 35°C.

Upper side

palmwrist: 36°C max: 39.1°C avg: 35°C

Bottom side

max: 46.2°C avg: 40°C

Speakers

The stereo speakers of the X61 Tablet are placed at the notebook's sides. Their basses are poor, but, their sound is clear, especially high tones sound alright.

Considering the size of the X61 Tablet its speakers are good.

Battery Runtime

The Battery Clearly Exceeds the Case
X61 T Battery

A special strengths of the X61 Tablet is its long battery runtime. However, it is only reached with the also, for an additional charge, available 8 cells battery. Anyway, above 8 hours maximum runtime is impressing. During WLAN operation, which is most common in practice, the battery runtime also exceeded 3 hours with high brightness. This is still sufficient for lessons, etc.

Under full load the X61 Tablet still reached a runtime of nearly 2 hours, which produces evidence for Lenovo's energy saving qualities.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
7h 30min
WiFi Surfing
5h 04min
DVD
4h 00min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 55min

Power Consumption

Idle 8.6 / 12.7 / 13.4 Watt
Load 23.6 / 20.7 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T
Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T

The Thinkpad X61 Tablet is a first-class equipped notebook, which costs as much as 2800€. It produces unimpeachable evidence that unique design, fantastic features, and high-quality materials are not only provided by Apple. Furthermore, this Lenovo notebook captivates by excellent battery runtime, good display, impressing quality, and tablet functions, which are robust, but not outstanding. For most of you the X61s, which is equally equipped than the X61 Tablet, but, does not provide tablet function and cost about 600€ less, might be the better choice.

 

Many thanks to the company Planet Notebook, who kindly provided us with the reviewed notebook. Here you can configure and also buy this notebook.

Gallery

Reviewed: IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T
IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad X61 T

Specifications

Lenovo X61 T

:: Processor
Intel Core 2 Duo L7500 1.6 GHz (Intel Core 2 Duo)
:: Mainboard
Intel GM965
:: Memory
2048 MB, DDR2 PC5300 667Mhz SDRAM, max. 4096MB, 1x1024MB+1x1024MB
:: Graphics adapter
:: Display
12.1 inch 4:3, 1024x768 pixel, XGA Super-Wide Viewing Angle TFT, glossy: no
:: Harddisk
120 GB - 5400 rpm, 120 GB 5400 rpm HTS541612J9SA00: 120GB, 5400rpm
:: Connections
3xUSB 2.0, Firewire, Mic, Headphones, AC-in, Kensington Security, SD Cardreader, VGA, PCMCIA
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 33.1 x 274 x 267
:: Weight
2 kg
:: Battery
, 8 Zellen Lithium Ionen Akku
:: Price
2800 Euro
:: Additional features
Intel 965M, HDD: 120GB, 5400rpm, HTS541612J9SA00, SoundMAX Integrated Digital HD Audio,

 

[+] compare
The Return of the Thinkpad..
Image Lenovo IBM Thinkpad X61 Tablet
...and the keyboard, but, Ctrl and Fn are the other way round.
Image Lenovo IBM Thinkpad X61 Tablet
The absolute highlights, once again: Lenovo's track point...
Image Lenovo IBM Thinkpad X61 Tablet
The temperature is a little higher at the bottom side and reaches 46°C which might especially disturb in tablet mode, when working on the sofa.
Image Lenovo IBM Thinkpad X61 Tablet
We were pleased by the two power switches, one at the display and one at the case, whereas the switch on the case additionally provides a hold function.
Image Lenovo IBM Thinkpad X61 Tablet
The high-quality hinge is very stable.
Image Lenovo IBM Thinkpad X61 Tablet
...as well as to securely lock the notebook during transportation.
Image Lenovo IBM Thinkpad X61 Tablet
...and used in Tablet mode...
Image Lenovo IBM Thinkpad X61 Tablet
The locking mechanism can be pushed through...
Image Lenovo IBM Thinkpad X61 Tablet
...turn the display round and now its a Tablet.
Image Lenovo IBM Thinkpad X61 Tablet
Let's quickly open the transport hook...
Image Lenovo IBM Thinkpad X61 Tablet
But, this one is different: This Thinkpad is a Tablet PC.
Image Lenovo IBM Thinkpad X61 Tablet
The X61 T comes with the typical Lenovo Thinkpad design with magnesium case.
Image Lenovo IBM Thinkpad X61 Tablet
Also great: A docking station port is provided.
Image Lenovo IBM Thinkpad X61 Tablet

Pro

  • Classical, decent Thinkpad design
  • Low weight and size
  • Very good workmanship
  • Excellent quality of material (magnesium case)
  • Excellent input devices
  • Bright, matt display, fit for outdoor usage
  • Tablet functions...
  • Contra

  • ...which seem to be partly not mature
  • A little high surface temperatures
  • Very expensive
  • Similar Notebooks

    Price Comparison

    Ciao.uk

    IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad X61 Tablet

    Rating

    Lenovo X61 T
    08/31/2007
    J. Simon Leitner

    Chassis
    93%
    Keyboard
    94%
    Pointing Device
    98%
    Connectivity
    88%
    Weight
    88%
    Battery
    90%
    Display
    82%
    Games Performance
    40%
    Application Performance
    89%
    Temperature
    74%
    Noise
    86%
    Add Points
    92%
    Average
    85%
    88%
    Office *
    Weighted Average

    > Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Lenovo Thinkpad X61T Notebook / Tablet-PC
    Author: J. Simon Leitner, 2007-08-13 (Update: 2013-05- 8)