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ThinkPad X60s review
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

In a previous post I wrote that I bought a new ThinkPad X60s laptop. In fact, I am writing this entry in said computer.

Before buying it, I researched the computer to make sure the machine actually is what most reviewers have said it is, namely, a good laptop.

This informal review is subjective, as I really like my new toy. So if you are in the process of buying a new machine and are reading this review to aid you, note that I am mostly writing good things about it because I have not found many faults with it, except for one.

The Bad
Most people are not too sensitive to the heat of laptops' palm rests, and some actually accept it as a compromise for having a small computer.

This machine is not much different from other small-factor laptops (when it comes to heat) and the X60s suffers from a hot (warm?) right hand palm rest, which is where the wireless card is installed. The heat is much more noticeable, for obvious reason, when you are using the wireless network adapter heavily, and when on AC power.

Right now, I have the wireless card turned off and there does not seem to be much heat emanating from it. Though it is a tiny bit warm (from 1 to 10, and 10 being the hottest, I would qualify it as 2), i.e., if you check for it, it is noticeable.

Even though it gets warm, I do not believe the heat of the wireless card will fry anything inside. Nonetheless, the model I bought also comes with a 3 year warranty, so if it breaks, I can probably get it fixed.

Is this a returnable offense? For some it is. I think I will deal with the heat.

The Good
There are a few good points about this laptop:
  1. The Display
    The display is bright and readable, with good viewing angles.

    It is also equipped to impress your peers with cool cheap tricks: the video card lets you flip the image around at will (horizontally, or vertically).

    I still have not found a good use to flip the content of my display (perhaps DaVinci would have found it useful), but I think this feature would come in handy while showing something in your display to someone across from you--no, do not turn your computer around; just press "Ctrl-Alt-Down Arrow" and voila.

    The max resolution of the 12.1" LCD screen is only 1024x768, but most users are used to it. However, the small resolution may be an issue if you are coming from a 14.1" 1400x1050 display: you will miss all the real state (I know I do).

    One of my biggest pet peeves with LCD displays is dead pixels. I am glad to report that my ThinkPad X60s does not have any of those pesky burnt devils. Though, I have read on thinkpads.com's message boards that some people are receiving "defective" LCD displays.

  2. The Keyboard
    Once again, IBM (Lenovo now) delivers a solid keyboard, and this time around designers decided to add a "Windows" and "Applications" key. Hardcore ThinkPaders hate the addition, but I really like them. It adds just a bit more functionality to an almost perfect keyboard.

    In terms of the size, most reviewers call it a "full sized keyboard." It's almost the same size as the ThinkPad T4Xs series (I own a T40p). It is quite solid and I consider it one of the best small-laptop keyboards in the market. (I have tried a couple of HPs and Sonys ultra-portables and the X60s is not even in the same league, so any comparison is unfair to the crappy keyboards--no offense to these manufacturers, I just do not like their keyboards.)

  3. The Biometric Reader
    The reader is just cool. You can swipe your finger to login into your computer instead of doing it the last century way (typing is so 90s).

    So this feature just seems to be a neat geek trick, but it is useful and probably more secure than typing passwords. You can always type in your passwords, if your reader fails (welcome back to the 90s).

  4. Intel Core Duo
    I have been waiting for a machine like the X60s: a portable and powerful enough computer to run various resource hungry application servers, without compromising on performance.

    The Intel 1.66 GHz Core Duo delivers what Intel clever marketers "promised." There are virtually two CPUs running your machine (hence, dual core), so you can see a noticeable boost in performance.

    There are some benchmarks around, but I am going with my gut feel (like the great leaders of today). So comparing my T40p 1.6 GHz Pentium M machine to the X60s feels different, i.e., the X60s feels faster than the T40p. Of course, there are differences between the two, for example, the bus speed of newer hardware has been greatly increased along with the speed of the RAM.

    Note that the duoalness of the Core is not entirely realized, as there are not that many off-the-shelf application that take advantage of the multi core.

    By the way, the 512 MB of RAM is not really enough for the casual user. I am currently running 4 Internet Explorer windows, Outlook 2000, one Explorer window, and one command (DOS prompt) window and I my RAM usage is around 600 MB (read, crazy disk swapping). Moral of the story: get more RAM. (I ordered one 1 GB stick from crucial.com--I am hoping it comes tomorrow.)

  5. The Battery Life
    My model comes standard with an Enhanced 4-Cell battery, which is supposed to give me 5 hours of non-stop work time.

    The truth about the specifications is that it depends on what you are doing with the laptop, i.e., if you are running all the wireless devices and doing intensive graphic and hard disk work you will see those 5 hours shrink to maybe 2 or 3. But compared to other brands the X60s has decent battery life. (I have been using it for about 1 hour without AC power and the battery meter says that I have 4 hours left.)

    Note that there is a larger capacity battery (the 8-cell), with the claim to last up to 8 hours. I personally do not like the 1" it adds to the back of the chassis, so I am OK with the smaller battery, for I like the flushed look and I surely will not miss the 0.5 lb it adds to the total weight.

  6. The Form Factor
    The strongest selling point of this laptop, like I said, is the small form factor and power it has underneath such a small frame (around 3 lbs in total weight).

    The machine is expandable in different ways and it comes equipped with the usual ports you expect to find in most computers: it takes up to 2 GB of RAM (maybe 3, but I am not sure); the hard drive is the standard 2.5" drive, which you can find in any decent computer store (most models come with a 40 or 60 GB drive at 5400 RPMs) so upgrades are a snap; 3 USBs ports; VGA plug; PCMCIA; microphone and headphone plugs; firewire port; and one 1 Gbit ethernet port (the modem is standard in most computers now a days).

    One thing to note about the hard drive is that it comes with a shock sensing system, e.g., you move the laptop around and it knows that it is being tilted (it also comes with a 3D rendering applet that lets you see your computer move in real time--now, that is cool). Even though it is fun to just see the system lock, this feature is actually useful in case you drop the computer when it is on--in such cases, the disk will stop from moving (all the mechanical parts), hence saving you the grief of a crash drive (literally).

    This little machine has the potential to become a computing giant, given the right amount of money.
Bias aside, I think this is the best laptop around. I was truly waiting for this machine to be engineered. It packs as much power I need inside the smallest frame possible.

The new ThinkPad X line comes in two form factors: X60 and X60s.

They look the same, but there are minor differences between them. The X60 supports the faster 1.88 GHz Core Duo chip. However, I have read that it runs a bit warmer and uses more power due to the higher voltage needed to run at 1.88 GHz.

The X60s 1.66 GHz Core Duo is currently the top of the line in portability and power. But if you get either machine, I don't think you will be disappointed.

And for those interested in what the machine looks like, I took a couple of pictures of the unpacking and set up. Enjoy.















T40p compared to X60s.











Note that I have no professional relationship with any of the vendors I mentioned in this entry. All suggestions and mentions of companies come from a satisfied customer. I am marketing departments' ideal customer.


10:30 PM | 10 comment(s) |

Comments:

Nice Work! Your report here is very well done and I particularily enjoyed the photo's. To see the T & X side by side is especially valuable to those who are trying to make a decision.
By Anonymous archer6, at 3:43 PM


Nice review. I just wanted to nte that the palm rest heat issue is more than just an issue of personal preference/tolerance. It seems that some machines only have a warm palm rest, but some have a positively hot one. Sadly my machines is one of the latter and it is going back to Lenovo. My APS sensor reads up to 61C when using WiFi and charging the battery. For comparison, other users have reported the APS sensor only reading in the high 40's under the same conditions.
By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:01 PM


Yeah, 61C seems to be a bit too hot to handle.

For those wondering how to get the temperature readings everyone is talking about, such as these:

CPU 43C (0x78)
APS 46C (0x79)
GPU 42C (0x7b)
BAT 26C (0x7c)
BAT 25C (0x7e)
BUS 40C (0xc0)
PCI 38C (0xc1)

You can donwload the tool from: http://sourceforge.net/projects/tp4xfancontrol/


Thank you for that review! Nice one! Trying to decide on a X60s or a T60. Mainly screen and and optical drive issues. Is that the "ultralight" screen you are using on the X?
By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:39 AM


No.

My machine model is 1704-4DU, which comes with the regular LCD and the Enhanced 4-cell battery.

The Ultra Light model (UL), I've read, is about 0.5 lb lighter than what I have (around 2.6 lb) and has a smaller battery, i.e., it is flushed with the bottom of the computer.

However, 3 pounds is very light...


Thank you for this nice review.
I bought a X60s about 10 days ago, and I'm still getting used to it. By now I'm happy and while the right palm-rest is sensibly warmer than the left one, I don't feel it to be something too bad.
My plannings are to install Debian on it very soon, I'll see what's going to be without windows ;)
By Anonymous curson, at 9:37 AM


Good review. very detailed.

There is a simpler review at

http://geeklog.blogspot.com/2006/10/ibm-x60s-reviewdoc.html
By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:52 PM


Good review, very detailed. there is a simpler review at X60s review
By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:53 PM


Hey, thanks alot for the review + pics! Perfect for me, since ive been using a T40p (the same 1.6M one) for a long time and am just about to order an X60s :-D
By Anonymous Andreas, at 2:40 PM


Thank you for this great review!
By Anonymous Alex P., at 7:03 AM



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