Review: ThinkPad Z60m

Lenovo's wide-screen ThinkPad may be a bit big, but its gorgeous 15.4-inch display and other impressive features could put it at the top of your list.
Nit Picks
The Z60m's lid-closing mechanism triggers standby or hibernation at about a 25-degree-closed angle, as opposed to the under-10-degree angle that triggers power-management features on most notebooks. Let me put it this way — the notebook screen has some 4.5 inches of travel left when the screen blanks out. Because I prefer to set the action of a closed lid to hibernate (both to save power and protect against heat build up), I have more than once accidentally triggered unwanted hibernations.

The otherwise excellent UltraNav pointing device has a cheaper feel than previous versons, and it's narrower fore and aft by a few millimeters. It's just not quite up to the standard of the business-class ThinkPads I've tested in the past.

I am not a fan of Intel wireless networking hardware and the Z60m didn't change my mind. The Intel 2915 a/b/g 2200BG wireless networking mini PCI card that came with the review unit disconnected frequently, especially on hibernation and wake-up. After messing around with the 2915's settings (available in Device Manager), I finally found a configuration that makes the card work 95 percent of the time. I have had multiple doesn't-work-at-all experiences with this low-cost 2200BG wireless networking card in the past, and don't recommend buying any computer that comes with it. It is possible to specify a (much superior) IBM 802.11 a/b/g card for T series notebooks, the IBM 11a/b/g Wireless LAN Mini PCI Adapter II, that works perfectly every time, but I'm not sure it's available for the ThinkPad Z60 series.

Taking Its Measure
The wide screen gives the Z60m a different footprint. It's just over 14 inches wide, only 10.3 inches deep, and just over 1.5 inches high. The larger screen also dictates a beefier hinge system, forcing the unit to tip the scales at over six pounds in most configurations. The unit I tested has an extremely strong pewter-colored titanium top cover that adds almost half a pound to the overall weight. With the larger nine-cell battery, this model weighs in at 6.8 pounds. (There are Z60m models that weigh less — one is 5.97 pounds.)

So this isn't the notebook for all you card-carrying members of the actively mobile workforce. Lenovo's X series notebooks and its competitors are more appropriate for folks perennially on the go. But if you work at home or bring your notebook home from the office just on weekends, the Z60m is worth consideration.

At $2,229, my top-of-the-line 2529-EAU Z60m test unit is very well equipped but pricey. Cost has long been an issue with ThinkPads — you pay for the best-designed, best-executed products. And when you list out the pros and cons, the Z60m is a very good value for someone who wants it all. There's nothing at all to upgrade (Lenovo won't say this yet, but I can tell you that, as equipped, it will run Windows Vista just fine). If price is a bigger concern, Lenovo has 15.4-inch LCD Z60m models selling for as low as $1,199.

The ThinkPad Z60m is also the perfect notebook for home users. It's large enough to be useful, even without an external display, keyboard, or mouse — but small enough to put in a drawer or take out on the road now and then. It's aimed at the needs of small business people. And it's perfect for people who combine business and pleasure on one computer. When you think of it that way, it's a nearly perfect compromise — just so long as regular travel isn't part of your gig.

ThinkPad Z60m 2529-EAU
Price: $2,229
Summary: Considering the extremely usable 15.4-inch LCD display and great pointer technology, this is perfect for people who combine business and pleasure on one computer.
Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing