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Review: Lenovo X60 tablet/laptop hybrid is a gem

Vista's tablet capabilities are a big plus

By Dan Rosenbaum
February 9, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Laptop aficionados wondered whether Lenovo's acquisition of the ThinkPad line from IBM would hurt the class act of the notebook world. Now, Tablet PC fans have to be wondering if the new Windows Vista operating system would help or hurt the usability of tablet PCs.

The first answer came last year: Lenovo has maintained the strong quality of the ThinkPad line. The ThinkPad X60 tablet/laptop hybrid answers the second question unequivocally: Vista is a strong asset for tablet PCs.

The combination of Vista's new tablet PC features and ThinkPad quality make for a compelling mobile computer. While its standard configuration is a bit underpowered, the ThinkPad X60 is a jewel of a laptop, particularly when you add RAM to the basic configuration, and a lovely tablet PC.

The basics

The ThinkPad X60
The ThinkPad X60
That X60's basic configuration comes with a meager 512MB of RAM, although our test unit came with 2GB of RAM. The extra RAM is absolutely necessary. The test X60 reported RAM utilization of around 40%, which means that trying to run Vista with the standard RAM would have been painful.

The rest of the X60's standard configuration is a mixed bag. Standard, it comes with a 60GB hard drive, no Bluetooth and a four-cell battery supporting the Intel Core Duo L2500 processor running at 1.83 GHz. The built-in Wi-Fi radio is supplemented by a WAN radio that works with Verizon’s EV-DO data network.

The review unit, by contrast, came with a 100GB hard drive, Bluetooth, an eight-cell battery and the Ultrabase docking station, which includes a recordable DVD drive. While the RAM upgrade is essential, these other upgrades depend on your specific needs and your budget since these options raised the price of the review unit from $1,998 to $2,691.

Performance of the test unit was generally good, with processor, RAM and hard drive scores of around five in Vista's Windows Experience Index, a testing feature in Vista that scores various subsystems in a computer on a scale between 1 and 5.9. Microsoft claims that any score above 3 is sufficient for most users.

However, while the primary system scores were good, the X60's overall score was dragged down a 3.1 subscore for gaming graphics performance, which shouldn't be an issue for most ThinkPad customers, and a 3.3 score for desktop performance using the Vista Aero interface, which could be an issue.

A laptop and a tablet

As a conventional laptop, the X60 is certainly a little gem. The 12.1-in. screen, with its 1,024-by-768 resolution, feels a bit cramped if you’re used to a greater expanse of display space; Vista’s Sidebar is not really useful on such a small screen at that resolution. On the other hand, the X60 is small enough to let you work pretty comfortably -- if that’s the right word -- in an airline coach seat. And the keyboard lives up to ThinkPad's much-praised high standards.

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