ThinkPad Z60t review
Superb build quality is backed up by award-winning support, while ThinkVantage technology also boosts its appeal. However, you're paying over the odds in terms of spec-per-buck
The ThinkPad phenomenon just keeps on going. Under the IBM flag, it won Big Blue seven out of eight notebook Reliability & Service awards, and this year under Lenovo's ownership it takes the honours once again. Crucial to this award is build quality and keeping customers happy, and both of these principles shine through once again in the Z60t.
If anything, new ThinkPad owners should be even happier, as a huge amount of thought has gone into making the Z60t-owning experience a pleasurable one. While most notebooks just include a standard installation of Windows and a generic manual in the box, here you get a manual specific to your model and bespoke software.
Press the ThinkVantage button sitting underneath the screen and you'll see what we mean. Whether you want to create recovery discs that back up your hard disk image, fine-tune your power usage or simply learn all about the features included in the Z60t, you'll find the information on call. And if you do have a problem you can't solve, you can submit a question directly from the built-in Help Center software (although you'll need to be online).
So what of the hardware? In terms of build quality, we were generally impressed. The chassis feels extremely sturdy, and there's also a 'roll cage' - a single magnesium cage - for the inner components. Lenovo claims this reduces stress on internal components by up to 30 per cent if the notebook is dropped. That still leaves the screen, but it's well protected from direct bashes.
We'd certainly be happy carrying round the ThinkPad without a notebook bag, and Lenovo claims it will survive the scrapes of daily travel better than predecessors thanks to a new 'brushed' finish. While Sony won't be quaking in its stylish boots, this Z60t does look friendlier than previous models. This is helped by an unusual shape. The wide chassis is accentuated by a narrow depth - from front to back, the Z60t measures just 233mm compared to most notebooks' 270mm. It's also slim at 27mm (rising to 33mm at the back). This is still no ultraportable, but at 2.1kg with the 2,600mAh battery in place it isn't overly heavy either.
Frequent travellers will need to invest in an extra battery, though, because the Z60t lasted for only two hours, 29 minutes in our light-use tests; this dropped to one hour, 48 minutes under intensive use. You can either buy an extended battery that replaces the standard unit or invest in the ThinkPad Advanced UltraBay Battery (around £110 exc VAT). This slips into the bay that normally holds the optical drive.
Lenovo is extremely proud that the Z60t (and its sister model, the Z60m, which features a 15.4in screen) is the first ThinkPad to include a widescreen. Certainly, the extra Desktop space over a 1,024 x 768 display is much appreciated in practice, and the Z60t's 1,280 x 768 resolution is an ideal partner for the 14.1in diagonal. Its viewing angles aren't overly impressive, though: to get the best image, you need to be sitting dead centre.
The keyboard also boasts a wild innovation in ThinkPad terms: a Windows key. Thankfully, not much else has changed: the layout remains excellent, with the function keys well separated from the main character keys. It feels just as pleasant to type on too; our only complaint is some very slight rattle, but it's nowhere near the level that can make other notebooks so annoying. Lenovo finishes it off with both a touchpad and trackpoint.
A fingerprint reader sits beside the touchpad, and it works as smoothly as we've come to expect. Quite apart from using it to replace passwords when logging in each day, you can prevent unwanted eyes from seeing your screen's contents by tying it to your screensaver.