Lenovo Thinkpad X61t delivers

A tidy little 4.4-pound unit, the tablet version of Lenovo’s ThinkPad X61 ultraportable lacks an integrated optical drive, but it has a great design, long battery life, and an easy-on, easy-off docking station. At US$2333 (as of August 15, 2007), however, it’s expensive.

The only major change to this upgraded ThinkPad X series model is a processor update. Our review unit, equipped with a low-voltage 1.6-GHz Core 2 Duo L7500 chip and 2GB of DDR2-667 SDRAM, turned in a good WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 64. Battery life with the eight-cell battery that our test unit came with was fantastic at 5 hours and 2 minutes. (Other X-series models come with four-cell batteries.)

Features are generous. They include a 7200-rpm, 100GB hard drive, an SD Card slot, 802.11 a/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and an option for wireless broadband from Verizon. In addition, with the UltraBase docking station you gain an optical drive, four more USB ports (for a total of seven), and several legacy ports, including a parallel port and a serial port. The modular drive bay allows one-handed swaps of the optical drive, a second battery, or a second hard drive. Including a docking station with a dual-layer DVD drive (but not the power adapter), the package weighs a reasonable 6.3 pounds.

The keyboard has many premium features, including an eraserhead pointing device that’s so good it hardly seems fair to complain about the lack of a touchpad. I also liked the dedicated back and forward Internet keys and spacebar magnifier. The tall-looking 12.1-inch display doesn’t have a wide-screen aspect ratio, but it’s easy to read and handle.

For tablet mode, the screen swivels smoothly, locks down with a press of the lid latch, and easily accepts pen or finger input. The AutoRotate feature automatically rotates the display every time you change the tablet’s position. This can be a great time-saver if you frequently switch between portrait and landscape modes, though manually pressing the orientation button also gets quick results and saves battery life.

Those who aren’t sure they need or want a tablet might be better suited to the nontablet X61 model, but if you heavily rely on pen input, the X61t is the way to go.

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