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Lenovo's ThinkPad T60 laptop PC

Core Duo in action

THE FOLKS AT Intel sent us a ThinkPad T60 a couple of months ago as an in-the-flesh example of the Centrino Duo platform in action, and it's not hard to see why Intel chose this particular implementation of its technology as a showcase. The T60 is loaded, with more built-in accessories than intellectual property theft via BitTorrent.

We've taken our sweet time testing the T60's performance, battery life, and general usability—so much so that the successor to its mobile Core Duo processor is rumored to be imminent. Before we're totally blown into the weeds by the rate of progress, let's take a look at how this Centrino Duo-based laptop compares to a Pentium M-based precursor. We'll also consider the T60's many virtues, including the Zen of the ThinkPad—that intoxicating combination of build quality and features that somehow makes paying the premium for the ThinkPad label seem like the only rational choice. Read on as I type away on this wonderfully clicky keyboard.

Who's who and what's what
Before we delve into the T60's particulars, we should probably pause briefly to review the confusing mix of names, technologies, and companies involved. If you're new to these things, the befuddlement probably starts with this Centrino Duo business. Centrino is a "platform," a combination of interrelated technologies that Intel delivers to laptop makers, who can then use it as the basis for their system designs. This platform is made up of several parts, including a core-logic chipset, a wireless networking solution, and a microprocessor. Only when all three of these components are incorporated into a system together does the laptop earn Intel's stamp of approval as a true Centrino solution.

Centrino Duo is the latest version of the Centrino platform, which was code-named "Napa" during its development. The three components of Centrino Duo include Intel's 945 Express chipset, its latest 802.11g Wi-Fi networking solution, and the Core Duo processor. The most exciting of these elements is undoubtedly the Core Duo, the first mobile processor with dual execution cores and, until very recently, Intel's best all-around CPU. If you're not yet familiar with the Core Duo, I suggest reading our look at how the Core Duo stacks up against some of the fastest desktop CPUs. The thing is no slouch, with a natively dual-core design, a shared L2 cache, and strong clock-for-clock performance.

Once you've got that sorted out, you may wonder who really makes the T60. After all, it has four brands attached, including Centrino Duo, IBM, ThinkPad, and Lenovo. The truth is that no one really knows. People have been harvesting ThinkPads from an underground mine in the Amazon basin for over a decade now.

Ok, maybe not. As I understand it, IBM made ThinkPads for ages and ages, until it sold its PC business to Chinese PC vendor Lenovo in late 2004. Lenovo kept stamping "IBM ThinkPad" on its laptops, kept some of the same employees responsible for ThinkPad design, and by most accounts hasn't entirely messed up a good thing. So Lenovo's IBM ThinkPad T60 with Centrino Duo technology came to be.

The ThinkPad T60
Perhaps figuring that this laptop had enough names attached already, Lenovo has elected to sell two different versions of ThinkPad T60 that diverge in a pretty major way. You can buy a T60 with a 14.1" display or a 15" display, and the size of the screen affects the laptop's dimensions, weight, and proportions. Beyond that, the features and options are the same. As a friend of mine said, the 15" version of the T60 is for "people who don't know any better," although I suppose that's not entirely fair—the larger screen might be good for people with failing eyesight, or perhaps the user is into weight training. Fortunately, Intel sent us the 14.1" version of the T60, whose measurements place it squarely in the "thin and light" category of laptops.

Good lookin', innit?

Lenovo offers a number of configurable options on the T60 series, but our review unit's specs are pretty similar to a common configuration that's selling at a range of online vendors. They're the makings of a pretty nice computer, too.

ThinkPad T60

CPU Intel Core Duo T2400 (1.83GHz)
Bus speed 667MHz
Memory 1GB of DDR2 667MHz SDRAM (2 DIMMs)
North bridge Intel 945GM
South bridge Intel ICH7-M
Graphics Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 (integrated)
Display 14.1" TFT with SXGA+ (1400x1050) resolution
Storage Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 80GB 5400-RPM SATA hard drive
CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive (in Ultrabay Slim)
Audio HD audio via Analog Devices SoundMAX codec
Ports 3 USB 2.0
1 RJ11 for ThinkPad modem
1 RJ45 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet via Intel PRO/1000PL
1 analog audio headphone out
1 analog mic in
1 VGA out
1 ThinkPad docking station port
Expansion slots 1 PC Card II
1 Express Card/54
Communications 802.11a/b/g via Intel PRO/Wireless 3945AGB
Fast Infrared
Input devices TouchPad
Dimensions 12.2" W x 10" D x 1.0-1.2" H
Weight 5.1 lbs

One caveat to the table above: our review unit is a little heavier than specs say, because it came with a nine-cell extended battery that sticks out the back of the case like a camel's hump and adds some additional weight.

Interestingly enough, I couldn't find our review unit's exact configuration at online vendors, and I wasn't able to create this configuration via Lenovo's web site, either. Instead, Lenovo prefers to match the 14.1" 1400x1050 TFT display with an ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 graphics adapter—a much more sensible GPU option for a high-def display than Intel's GMA 950. With the Radeon and a config otherwise the same as our review unit, the T60 is selling for just under $1700.


For that price, you get a laptop loaded with hardware that could make even some recent-vintage desktop PCs jealous, including a dual-core processor, dual channels of DDR2 667MHz memory, a 5400-RPM SATA hard drive, Gigabit Ethernet, sound that conforms to Intel's High Definition Audio spec, and a (mobile) PCI Express expansion slot. On top of that, the T60 has some goodies even most desktops don't, such as a Bluetooth radio and a fingerprint reader for biometric user authentication.