Lenovo ThinkPad R60 9461-56U
At a Glance
Lenovo ThinkPad R60 Notebook
Providing long battery life but a staid design, the R60 overall is a solid choice for mainstream users on a budget.
The ThinkPad R60, like the R52 it replaces, offers classic ThinkPad features and extremely flexible configurations starting at a budget-conscious $700. However, some of the changes, such as a new, stiff keyboard, may disturb fans of older ThinkPads.
Chief among the new features is the option to connect with Verizon's wireless WAN (WWAN) service. While WWAN networks are still slow compared with Wi-Fi networks, they expand wireless connectivity to cell-phone ranges to minimize dead spots.
As a result of a new "roll cage," an inflexible magnesium alloy frame added to protect internal parts, the keyboard has a much harder stroke than the popular keyboards on previous ThinkPads do. Neither set of mouse buttons depresses as deeply as before. The new--and much needed--wireless switch on the front of the notebook felt loose and shoddily implemented on our review unit. And while the older R52 was designed with one memory slot in an easy-to-access bottom compartment, both of the R60's memory chips are beneath the palm rest, where they're harder to reach for upgrades.
Other changes from the older R52 include a fingerprint reader integrated into the palm rest and an increase in the number of USB ports from two to three. (With the R60, Lenovo has decided to leave off the R52's parallel port.) In addition to the roll cage and the R60's Active Protective System, which parks the hard-drive heads to safeguard data whenever the notebook suddenly moves, the hard drive is shock-mounted on rubber rails.
The R60 turned in great performance. Our $1699 (as of 9/8/06) review unit, equipped with a 2-GHz Core Duo T2500 processor and 1GB of system memory, earned a WorldBench 5 score of 98; seven other 2-GHz Core Duo notebooks we tested averaged 95. In our battery tests the R60 lasted a lengthy 6 hours, 2 minutes on one charge.
Compared with the new wide-aspect screens, the R line's standard tall 14-inch and 15-inch panels look clunky and old-fashioned. Lenovo has done nothing to improve the ThinkPad's abysmal speakers, either, and the R series still lacks an all-in-one memory card slot.
But along with its improvements, the R60 deserves credit for retaining many of the characteristics that once made the ThinkPad unique. These include a modular bay with one-handed device swapping, the cleverly animated user manual, and the ThinkLight, the tiny LED embedded in the top of the screen that illuminates the keyboard in dark rooms. Plus, few inexpensive notebooks have the R line's docking options: The bottom expansion port accommodates the basic $161 Essential Port Replicator or the $341 Advanced Dock, which adds an internal bay and a six-in-one memory card reader.
It might not be vintage ThinkPad across the board, but the R60 overall is a solid choice for mainstream users on a budget.