Product review: Lenovo offers energy efficiency for a price

We tested Lenovo’s ThinkPad T61 as part of “Green PCs: A First Step,” a story on energy-efficient computing. This powerful laptop is Energy Star 4.0 certified and well-designed for business use, but at US$2,995 (as of 9/12/07), it’s expensive compared with some other similarly equipped models.

With its 2.4-GHz Core 2 Duo T7700 processor and 2GB of DDR2-667 SDRAM, our test unit earned an above-average score of 81 in our WorldBench 6 beta 2 tests. Graphics performance from its nVidia Quadro FX570M mobile workstation graphics card with 256MB of memory was similarly strong. It received only a median graphics score among currently tested desktop replacement notebooks, but keep in mind that the scores of some graphics heavyweights like Apple’s MacBook Pro (with an nVidia GeForce 8600M GT chip) are also mixed in.

The ThinkPad T61p’s 9-cell battery provided 4 hours, 3 seconds of battery life. If you need longer life than that, you can buy (for about $100) a second battery that fits into the ThinkPad’s Ultrabay. (Our test unit came with a double-layer DVD writer that also fit into the Ultrabay.)

This Lenovo came with all the requisite business ports, slots, and connections — including a slot for an ExpressCard and PC Card and another three-in-one media card slot (on the front of the laptop). In addition, it had 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but no built-in cellular broadband option. (Cellular broadband is an option on the ThinkPad T61 but not on the T61p mobile workstation.) Our T61p also packed a biometric fingerprint reader. The 15.4-inch screen isn’t super bright, but it’s fine for indoor office use. In bright sunlight, however, displays were difficult to view.

The T61p is light for a power laptop at 6.5 pounds minimum weight. It comes in the signature ThinkPad black and with the signature keyboard our reviewers consistently find so comfortable to use. It has both a touchpad and an eraserhead as well as convenient hardware buttons for Wi-Fi, volume, and forward-and-back for your browser. It also has a blue ThinkVantage button for quick access to troubleshooting utilities.

The T61p is a great business notebook for those who need lots of power and features, and the fact that it’s environmentally friendly and efficient (to a degree) helps make the purchase easier to justify.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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