Blast from the Past: ThinkPad X61s

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I was handed a lightly-used ThinkPad X61s recently. Originally released in 2007, this is one of my favourite ThinkPads. It is one of the last of the 4:3 laptops and is the final entry in the X20/30/40/60 family of machines that eventually gave way to the X200/201/220-270 line that is still produced today.

The X61s is a Core 2 Duo machine with the ULV CPU variant. Mine is now loaded with an SSD I had around and a whopping 6GB of DDR2 RAM.

With the 4:3 1024×768 screen, there is virtually no bezel. This is a reminder that Lenovo knows how to make a laptop without a massive bezel. I guess we have the large lower bezel on new systems in part because the keyboard deck needs to be a certain size.

Getting back to the X61s, this is a lovely machine. The keyboard is great, though a little narrow because of the 4:3 screen, wireless works well, the machine feels like a tank but manages to do so in a very small frame with no wasted space. Ports abound. Firewire, USB, Ethernet, VGA, a dock connector, a modem, PCMCIA, SD reader, you name it,it has it. And it does so in about 3lbs ten years ago.

With a decent SSD and a reasonable amount of RAM, the machine actually performs very well for light computing tasks, even at the tail-end of 2017. I’m impressed! The battery that came with it is a six cell that’s good for less than 3 hours. I don’t recall this being far off from what it would manage new. This is one area where things have absolutely improved in the last decade.

But, as it is, this is still a very functional little computer! It’s machines like this that really make we wonder how much things have actually improved in the intervening decade. At the end of 2017 we have machines that are a bit thinner but larger overall, have very few ports comparatively, and weigh about the same. Unless you’re lucky enough to buy a machine with a “retro” keyboard, you almost certainly have a sub-par typing experience. Screens are better now with higher pixel density and great off-angle viewing, but really, even 10 years later, the X61s and others like it stand the test of time.

In summary, this machine is still a pleasure to use and travel with. It’s small and light and takes up very little space in luggage. I may leave this one in the car just so that I have a decent machine for emergency systems work if I’m away from home or work.

The machine may be a decade old but it still has life left in it. This is one of the ThinkPads that made the line the success that it is.


GoSaBe Blog - Dec 13, 2017 | Hardware, Linux