Lenovo ThinkPad R61i review

£623
Price when reviewed

Nothing screams business quite like the stark lines of Lenovo’s ThinkPad range of laptops, and the R61i is no exception.

Next to its daintier sibling, the T61, the R61i’s frame looks monolithic, but it does house a considerably larger 15.4in screen. The native resolution of 1,280 x 800 is unremarkable, but the glossy finish gives a vibrant, high-contrast image, albeit at the expense of increased reflectivity. Image quality is good, though, and while uneven backlighting along the top bezel is a disappointment, it won’t impede day-to-day business tasks.

Given its fine heritage, it comes as a surprise that the R61i’s build quality veers between the sublime and the average. In transit, twin catches keep the lid firmly closed, and the whole chassis feels well up to withstanding a lifetime of abuse. Open up that solid-feeling lid, though, and it’s less impressive. Prodding the lid may give no sign of show-through on the TFT panel, but even light twisting sent ripples across the screen.

Performance is another weak point. The R61i’s low price leaves little budget for fast processors, hence the Intel Core 2 Duo T5250 processor. It’s still a dual-core part, but the clock speed is 500MHz behind its rivals: a benchmark score of 0.80 leaves it languishing in last place.

Battery life reaps the rewards of the low-power processor: light usage saw the battery last over four hours. But where the Lenovo truly excels is usability. Thanks to the spacious keyboard layout and full-sized keys, typing for long periods is a pleasure, while the trackpoint and the trackpad are equally delightful in use.

To meet such a strict budget, Lenovo has concentrated on providing essential business features alone. Gigabit ethernet rubs shoulders with draft-n Wi-Fi, and a fingerprint reader takes care of security.

Certain aspects of the R61i are disappointing, but, for a business laptop, it has great battery life and fine ergonomics.

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