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Laptop review: Lenovo ThinkPad T61 user opinions

Users chime in with their honest opinions about and experiences with the Lenovo ThinkPad T61.

This article originally appeared NotebookReview.com.

Users chime in with their honest opinions about and experiences with the Lenovo ThinkPad T61. This article provides a small sampling of the opinions submitted to the NotebookReview.com forum.

The Lenovo ThinkPad T61 has been in our top ten list longer than any other notebook, even more impressive is that it has bounced around between the #1 and #3 most popular laptop since May of 2007 when it was released. But is this popularity deserved based on user opinions of actual T61 owners? In this article we look to find out.

For those that don't know, the ThinkPad T61 comes in both a 14.1" and 15.4" widescreen format and is the flagship business notebook from Lenovo. The T61 is built to last with a rugged magnesium alloy frame and roll cage, its business matte black look conveys a sense of no-nonsense I'm here to get work done attitude. The T61 can be had for under $1,000 with a budget configuration including an Intel T8100 2.1GHz processor, 14.1" screen and integrated graphics. If you need a workstation style notebook you can step up to an Nvidia dedicated graphics ThinkPad T61p that can cost up to $1,800 if you trick it out with the highest end components for the best performance

We wrote our full review of the ThinkPad T61 back in May of 2007, but what are people saying now? We dip into our user opinion pool for the ThinkPad T61 to find out. The opinions chosen here are based on the value of the information (in our opinion) to our readers. We're not picking only the positive opinions or negative. For the record, the overall positive rating is 70.5% while negative rating is at 29.5%.
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ThinkPad T61 Review
Submitted by David on 2/23/2008
Rating: 8/10

Pros: Still sturdy and carries enough of the original ThinkPad features to keep the brand name alive. Not sure on the details but if internal parts were changed from metal to plastic, big mistake. Overall feels very sturdy, ThinkVantage button is actually useful vs. most other systems attempt at this stuff. Thought I would NEVER use a trackball but this one is one of a kind and all I use now. Keys are placed in good locations. Fingerprint deal is actually great and works well with the Password feature. Performance has been great overall.

Cons: Take one super small idea from Dell Vostro series. Quit shipping garbage pre-loaded demo software, even if Microsoft and everyone else pays you to do so. Took me 3 hours to uninstall and re-boot to get most of it off and I am sure alot is still in the registry. Screen and resolution was not quite as good as I thought or was expecting. I did get the on board cheaper one from Intel. If you are getting a T61, spend the extra $100. Not sure what the nVidia looks like but I imagine it is pretty good. Luckily my laptop arrived from an online order within a week to 10 days so I did not have to experience the customer service issue everyone is railing about. Hopefully I wont have to but my online experience was pretty good and the email communication I received regarding the order and tracking was fine.
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Great machine
Submitted by Andrew on 3/31/2008
Rating: 8/10

Pros: Awesome keyboard, love the UltraNav system. Works great, I got mine with a Linux pre-install, but installed windows vista ultimate, and it runs great! No problems at all. Also, great build, gotta love the roll cage.

Cons: This is tough, there's barely anything, I'd have to say the off-center screen was an initial put off, but it doesn't bother me anymore. Also, I'd love it if they could make it even lighter, maybe like 4 lbs or something? That'd be awesome.
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Great Computer, 9 out of 10 rating, short on help on hardware and software support 6 out of 10 rating.
Submitted by NP on 4/2/2008
Rating: 8/10

Pros: The Lenovo ThinkPad T61 7664 is a very good laptop computer. Well designed, excellent keyboard. I have owned this laptop for 5 months and the hardware works as it should. I am a higher than average capable user. When observing the laptop, all the parts fit very nicely together, gaps where computer case is joined together and the buttons and keyboard are uniform. This indicates a very carefully put together product. I like the conservative look, it's not flashy so it doesn't attract attention. I run Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate and of course there are software issues, but this has improved in the last 5 months. If you use vista, more memory the better. There are cheaper and more expensive laptops out there. This one is a good value for a lite gamer and heavy worker and internet user.

Cons: The only con is support. I am lucky since I am a higher than average user, I can solve my own issues regarding hardware conflicts and software issues. Don't expect the Help desk at lenovo to help much since you have to have knowledge of hardware and software to solve issues. My computer came packaged with microsoft office trial version. I loaded my older version of office and did not uninstall the new version of Microsoft office and lots of strange things happened. I called tech support and they had me use the disk that come with the computer and reinstall everything, not necessary. I did the process a couple of time because the disk that came with the computer were the wrong ones. It came with XP Professional version. I recommend that everyone use the backup software that comes with the computer before they start getting everything set up so if the need comes up one will have the experience avoiding costly time wasting mistakes and data loss. Most laptop don't come with windows install disk but an image of the disk.

What this means is that if something gets corrupt, one cannot just pop in the install disk and reinstall a driver or module you need to know how to use the back up that comes with your laptop otherwise you will find yourself reinstalling everything every time something goes wrong. Inevitably something will go wrong when install new hardware or software.

Image disk is something that is not mention and the first time I purchased software with a computer in a long time. The think advantage software and utilities that comes with Lenovo works great once you become familiar with it. Again I say don't expect lenovo help to be much help. Unfortunately I think this is true for most companies regarding help support. To be fair with Lenovo, they did respond by email to see if I was satisfied with the help and I told them my issues were software related and that they weren't much help even with there own software. I told them I figured it out
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Thinkpad T61 Review
Submitted by Sonny Black on 2/20/2008
Rating: 6/10

Pros: I consider T61 as a very solid machine. i got the 14.1 widescreen and it's very compact. One of the advantages about this size is that it does not weigh so much which means its comfortable to have this thing in the back pack when you are traveling alot. screen off-center but i really never noticed it to become a problem. Like the full size keys - very comfortable to work with. ThinkVantage - a very nice, userfriendly and usefull to have in case something awful happen.

Cons: Unstable OS Vista business - affects the overall system performance (hope vista SP1 helps) CTRL key is annoying. Lenovo should have left this key at its original place. the 6 cell battery that was included is way too big. It sticks out like a cancer bug from the laptop body and that bugs me now and then by just thinking about it. low battery time app. 3.30 hours. (max. bat. life function) decent tho but not when compared to my DELL lattitude (4-4.30 hours with full power). The exterior on the inside is made of plastic-like material - maybe good in the long run but it adds somekind of "Im Cheap" factor to the brand Thinkpad.
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best business laptop there is
Submitted by dondersconsulting on 2/3/2008
Rating: 9/10

Pros: solid design and build - was worried this would go south with the handoff to Lenovo, but looks good. Next to other brands, it still feels sturdy and well-built (look at the screen hinges, screen latch, roll cage). Thinkpad's trackpoint - there is none other like it (not sure why, but if you use it next to a Latitude there's no comparison). System Update - does all the dirty work for you, wonderful when you have to load OS from scratch all you need to install is network card driver and system update. Great battery life on integrated video models. Screen is brighter than D630, especially when plugged in (yes it is actually capable of higher max brightness when plugged in). Thinkpad's keyboard light - not as pretty as backlit, but also works as a reading light and has to use less battery. Runs much cooler and quieter than comparable models from the competition, especially my girlfriend's hot-plate MacBook Pro - this is in regards to CPU, HDD, and battery. Small power adapter size is great. Design of 15" is slightly more bang for the inch (or lb, or whatever) than the 14".

Cons: all the bad customer support comments make me wary. I had a great experience with a warranty claim on a T42, but that was IBM and this is Lenovo. Prices of upgrade options at time of purchase (RAM, HDD, DVDRW) are a little high. No OS media, only recovery option is on the HDD, so what if the HDD fails? Too much software comes pre-loaded (several GBs worth, and the installers are still there, too). Battery design on 14" model - only 4-cell fits in the case, 6-cell and 7-cell are same size and 7-cell costs $75 more than the 6-cell??? 15" model the 6-cell is standard and fits in the case, when compared against the 14" 6-cell, is not as deep and only an inch wider and .4 lb heavier.
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mostly happy with it
Submitted by hiro on 1/4/2008

Pros: So far, it's worked out well. I'm not much of a gamer, but the Quadro FX570m is adequate for doing 3D graphics work. I love the keyboard, which is fast and responsive. Runs very quiet, which is nice when I take it with me to the library. It's lighter than what I expected as well. My other laptop is an ultraportable so I was expecting this one (15' widescreen) to feel like a ton of bricks -- I haven't found that to be the case. Overall, I was able to get it customized with good specs for just over 11 hundred.

Cons: It didn't ship with a recovery disk, which is annoying since I actually paid extra to have XP pro installed legally. And although the keyboard feels very nice to type on, I don't like the positioning of some of the buttons, namely, CTRL (for copy/paste as well as all of the visual studio shortcuts), ESC (for using vi editor), and the direction keys. I was also disappointed to find that there is no driver support for doing CUDA programming on the FX570m, even though the hardware is CUDA compatible. Thinkvantage software suite is nice, but a little annoying with all of its messages and things.
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Solid fast workhorse, a dream for a PC.
Submitted by Lotus on 12/23/2007
Rating: 9/10

Pros: If you want to run Vista, I can't think of a better machine. This T61p is extremely solid and great to work on when I have to develop on the road or vacation. My problems are with Vista stability, not with Lenovo.

Cons: Location of the fn key sucks, especially if you use often use CTRL for cut, copy, paste. I've had mine for over two months, and I still hit the fn key instead of CTRL. Another small detail is that the front left corner with the PC card slot is too big of a hole not to be reinforced. When I grab the notebook with one hand in that spot, the plastic collapses uncomfortably.
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So far this is a disaster
Submitted by Rayhawk on 3/20/2008 12:26:18 AM
Rating: 4/10

Pros: Professional black appearance; solid keyboard

Cons: Just got this laptop two days ago and so far it is a disaster. Monitor is not very bright (must be under 200 nits). Got it totally pimped out with 2.4GHz processor, 3GB RAM, and a 7200RPM HD, but it runs slow as hell. So I tried to figure it out, but all I could determine is it has a ton of junk pre-loaded software loaded on it. SO GUESS WHAT??? I tried to install a fresh copy of Windows XP Pro, but it DID NOT COME WITH ANY DISCS! Their tech support said that Microsoft does not want them to hand out disc any more --- BS --- thats why Dell and everyone else offer you a backup copy.

So I used my own retail copy of XP Pro and XP Pro's setup program can't see the Hard Drive on the Lenovo T61P... and what does Lenovo have to say about all this??? Sir installing your own version of XP is not supported and violates the warranty. Wait so my warranty is linked to using Lenovo's bastardized version of XP? Are you freaking for real... Lenovo has gone down the tubes and I am going to return this machine.... They want a 15% restocking fee, but now I am going to call my Credit Card company and demand a full refund.
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A very well-designed laptop
Submitted by Jacintobird on 3/17/2008 7:05:22 PM
Rating: 9/10

Pros: Heat emission system is well-designed even if the fan is working, barely can hear anything; An amazing laptop, but the digital number on the sales tag can make you even more amazed than the functionality of this laptop; Solid appearance; Durability;

Cons: If the weight of T series can be further reduced that will be awesome
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This is just a sampling of opinions, you can view our T61 user ratings pool for more.

Some people may wonder that with the T61 being out so long now, over a year, if there might be something upcoming to replace it. There have been reports recently of a rumored T400 and T500 ThinkPad on the horizon, but no solid ship dates. Sometimes it pays to go with the tried and tested models anyway, and that can certainly be said of the ThinkPad T61.

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