Lenovo's ThinkPad range has long been a corporate favourite thanks to class-leading build quality, excellent ergonomics and an understated design.
The ThinkPad X61S (£1304 inc. VAT) is an update of the X60S, adding Windows Vista and newer components to an established chassis design. It features a bright 12.1-inch screen, which has a slightly outdated 4:3 aspect ratio. The downside to this square shape is seen when working with documents, as you'll only be able to view one simultaneously.
Because it's a standard TFT panel, images lack lustre, but the trade-off is seen in well-contained reflections and less prevalent fingerprint marks than you'll find on Super-TFT displays.
The keyboard is excellent. The keys offer just the right amount of feedback, and are large, comfortably shaped and well attached. It does forgo a touchpad, using a pointing stick exclusively for navigation. It works well, but won't suit all users.
Build quality is impressive. Although the palm rests flexed slightly under pressure, the magnesium alloy chassis offers strength, and is also used to protect the rear of the screen. With a dished edge to the screen surround, attention to detail is good, helping to ensure nothing falls between the keyboard and display when travelling.
ThinkVantage software and a button on the chassis allow a one-touch recovery in the event of problems. Commuters may also appreciate Lenovo's Power Manager software, which makes it easy to monitor how much battery life you have remaining.
With a bulky extendable aerial on the side of the display for the 3G/HSDPA module, wireless broadband looks like more of an afterthought here than an intended option. Services are provided by Vodafone, and we found it offered a consistent signal and reasonable download times.
The Lenovo features a low voltage Intel Core 2 Duo processor, along with 1024MB of memory. As such, the standard battery life of 130 minutes is disappointing. Running Vista in Power Saver mode didn't increase this greatly, with the X61S managing just 137 minutes. Lag was apparent when running most applications, and we'd suggest upgrading to 2048MB of memory if you do opt for this machine.
The ThinkPad X61S offers an excellent keyboard, compact size and its impressive attention to detail makes it a very appealing choice. The chassis is beginning to look a bit dated though, and the 4:3 aspect ratio doesn't lend itself to multi-tasking.