Lenovo's ThinkPad range is one of the most renowned business laptop brands around.

While the ThinkPad R61e (£646 inc. VAT) lacks style and features, it compensates with a great keyboard and strong battery life. It still remains a fairly niche product, however.

Excellent keyboard

The stark black design suits corporate use, but is unlikely to appeal to consumers.

The chassis is quite bulky, but its 2.9kg weight allows for basic mobility. The 281-minute battery life, under test, is impressive and lets you work for more than half the day.

The keyboard is outstanding. All the keys are firmly fixed, with a great typing action. There is no touchpad, however, even though there is ample room for one. Instead a pointing stick has been used.

Great screen

The 15.4-inch screen is bright and colourful. It lacks a glossy Super-TFT coating, so contrast is lower than rivals, but it also decreases reflections.

This makes the screen easier to view outside and in bright offices, and we found visibility excellent in all test conditions. A tiny LED light above the screen can also be used to illuminate the keyboard.

The integrated Intel graphics chip provides basic 3D performance for business use, so don't expect powerful gaming or multimedia power.

Impressive performance

Home and office performance is far more capable. The dual-core Intel processor makes it easy to run multiple applications at the same time.

The effective cooling system also keeps the chassis at a comfortable temperature, even after hours of constant use.

Office usability is improved by Lenovo's proprietary ThinkVantage software. A blue button above the keyboard launches the software suite.

It can then be used to easily work with complex system configuration and maintenance tasks, with no need for expert knowledge.

Disappointing storage

Where the R61e fails is its poor storage, connectivity and features compared to its rivals.

The 160GB hard drive will suit most business use, but is bettered by other laptops. There is also no support for any media card formats.

A VGA-out port lets you connect to analogue screens and projectors, but we'd prefer to see at least one digital connection for improved picture quality.

The one-year warranty covers parts and labour costs only, so you'll need to pay all related delivery fees.

Business choice

The ThinkPad R61e continues Lenovo's tradition of well-made and usable business laptops. It's a tricky machine to fully recommend, however, due to its limited features.

It won't suit professional users, but for basic corporate use it's well worth considering.