capsule review

Lenovo ThinkPad Z61m

At a Glance
  • Lenovo ThinkPad Z61m

    PCWorld Rating

    The Z61m has a good balance of features, comfort, processing power, and battery life.

The Lenovo ThinkPad Z61m, the top-of-the-line model of the current wide-screen Z series, has the same staid look of the ThinkPad Z60t we reviewed back in April. However, it has a few significant improvements that come with a bit of a price jump.

Opening up the titanium-toned lid of our Z61m test unit revealed a comfortable keyboard (a signature Lenovo perk), as well as a multitude of useful buttons and features. I'm partial to the Wi-Fi switch at the front of the case, the keyboard-illuminating LED ThinkLight activated by a simultaneous press of the Fn and PgUp keys, and the Action Protection System that Lenovo includes in the event you drop your laptop. Another disaster-prevention feature: Lenovo's blue ThinkVantage button, which lets you access system utilities such as data backup and recovery.

The Z61m also comes with more security features than you might want to use at one time, including a biometric fingerprint reader, an Utimaco SafeGuard encrypted virtual disk, and a software password manager.

Ports--including three USB, one FireWire, one S-Video, and a docking station port--are well placed on the left, right, and back of the case. The notebook also has a two-in-one media card reader as well as PC Card and ExpressCard slots. You can remove the double-layer DVD writer and replace it with another optical drive or extra battery options.

Like the Z60t, the Z61m has both an eraserhead and a touchpad. I liked the extra options, and I had no problem using either one.

Equipped with a 2-GHz Core Duo T2500 processor and 1GB of DDR2-667 SDRAM, our test system earned a WorldBench 5 score of 95, which was at the low end of the performance range of other similarly equipped notebooks; for example, an HP Pavilion dv1000 earned a mark of 97 and a Lenovo ThinkPad R60 scored 98. Our Z61m test model came with a 7200-rpm, 100GB hard drive.

The Z61m is not very portable. Our test unit's minimum weight was 7 pounds, and its average weight, with the battery and power brick, was a bit less than 8 pounds. Plus, the battery life of just over 4 hours was good, but not enough for a lot of untethered computing.

In exchange for tolerating the weight, you get a crisp, bright, 15.4-inch screen with a high resolution of 1680 by 1050 pixels. Aided by an ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 chip, the visuals on our test model were great. On the other hand, the audio on the two stereo speakers was merely good--certainly adequate for a business notebook, but nothing to send your heart thumping.

The Z61m has a good balance of features, comfort, processing power, and battery life. At $2199 (as of 9/8/06), it's expensive, but it would be worth that much for someone who wants a good screen more than easy portability.

Narasu Rebbapragada

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The Z61m has a good balance of features, comfort, processing power, and battery life.

    Pros

    • Comfortable keyboard

    Cons

    • Staid design
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