Lenovo ThinkPad X60 Tablet review
Well built and with astonishing battery life to boot. But this particular SKU isn't great value for money.
When it comes to laptops, it's hard to find a brand that's more instantly recognisable than ThinkPad. Since IBM's PC division was bought by Lenovo more than two years ago, there's been no sign of a dip in the quality of the systems arriving on the market, and the original ThinkPad X60 is a case in point. When we first reviewed it, we praised its excellent screen and build quality and, when we saw a more advanced version a few months later, we were so impressed we put it on the A List.
Apart from the tablet hinge at the base of the screen, and the fingerprint reader's relocation to the bezel of the screen, there are no cosmetic differences between this and the original X60. This means you still get the gratifying experience we've come to expect from ThinkPads. Typing is a pleasure thanks to the solid keyboard, and the good build quality of the previous versions has survived the transition to tablet PC - the X60 Tablet will easily withstand the knocks that a road-going laptop can expect. Even the tablet hinge feels suitably rugged, and we appreciate the bidirectional catch that allows you to clasp the touchscreen to the keyboard in either laptop or tablet mode.
The only aspect of the X60 not to carry over to the X60 Tablet is the screen itself. Whereas previous versions had excellent TFTs, the Desktop isn't so bright here. The 1,024 x 768 panel is also slightly grainy, and our image quality tests revealed poor colour accuracy. It isn't terribly important - we were as happy checking emails as we were watching a film - but look elsewhere if you plan to carry out serious photo work, for example.
While the screen isn't the best, the touchscreen capability is excellent. It's responsive, sensitive without reacting to the lightest of touches, and the stylus is a digitiser, which means that the tablet features of the X60 are used to the full. And, at 2kg, the X60 is still light enough to hold in the crook of your arm for note-taking or use in the field (note that the version of the X60 Tablet with a smaller battery weighs 1.7kg).
Battery life is great too: we began our light-use test at 6:10pm in the evening, and the X60 Tablet finally ran out of steam at 3:50am the following morning - well over nine-and-a-half hours. Intensive use is hardly less impressive at 2hrs 40mins.
The Intel Core Duo L2500 at the heart of the X60 Tablet has a clock speed of 1.83GHz, and with 1GB of 667MHz RAM it was able to fly through all manner of applications. It raced to an overall score of 0.96 in our benchmarks, and the X60 Tablet proved an adept office companion once our testing was done, getting through large spreadsheets, documents and emails with ease. We even managed to get some video editing in.
Storage is ample. The 80GB Hitachi Travelstar hard disk is plenty for applications and documents, although it will show the strain under large media collections. There's no optical drive either. In fact, the only removable storage on the ThinkPad X60 is an SD card reader, and even that isn't compatible with SDHC (Secure Digital high-capacity) cards.
The X60 Tablet boasts the well-respected ThinkVantage software, providing a range of security and configuration tools. The fingerprint reader on the bottom of the touchscreen is complemented by a TPM 1.2 chip inside, and ThinkVantage can quickly take care of virtually any task, from power management to system troubleshooting.
Lenovo's previous tablet effort, the X41 Tablet PC, received a barrage of criticism for being £600 more expensive than its non-tablet sibling. Sadly, it's the same here - the touchscreen, 512MB more RAM and 20GB more hard disk space add £400 to the price. There's a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel: one SKU of the X60 Tablet (part code: UU2K7UK) has a significantly smaller battery, but otherwise an identical specification, and costs a far more reasonable £1,149 (£1,350 inc VAT) from www.pcwb.com. But this particular SKU, in spite of offering great design and performance, and even better battery life, is simply too expensive to affect the A List.