Is Lenovo's Widescreen Z60m the First Thinkpad Multimedia Powerhouse?

Finally, a big top deck: the new Z60 Thinkpad series

Lenovo turned itself into the third largest PC manufacturer in the world more or less overnight, through its acquisition of the IBM PC hardware product lines. With the introduction of the Z60 series, the company seeks to bridge the gap between high-end business notebooks in the Thinkpad T and X model series, and the entry-level R series business notebooks.

For the longest time, Thinkpads were not available with widescreen TFT displays. Multimedia notebooks were not a priority during the IBM era. This has changed, thanks to the Z60 series. The Z60m includes a 15.4" TFT display, while the Z60t makes do with a 14" diagonal screen instead. The latter model is thus also somewhat smaller, noticeably lighter (by about two pounds), and more expensive by about $200 with a configuration similar to the Z60m we review here.

Both models are available in a number of different configurations, some with a dedicated graphics chip (ATI MRX300/X600), and some have different screen resolutions and display types. All of the currently available Z60 models are based on the "old" Centrino platform (Sonoma) with single core processors using 90 nm technology (Dothan). Those who simply must have a Lenovo dual core system are going to have to wait a while.

The idea behind the widescreen model, according to Lenovo, is to enable multimedia capabilities. This puts the machine in the gray area between consumer and business markets, though there is nothing new or terribly startling as such ideas go. This product positioning tactic has, however, proven itself to be a paying proposition, as recent campaigns from the other two major notebook players - namely Dell and HP - clearly illustrate.

At the outset of those campaigns, we saw claims like, "widescreen displays are perfect for watching DVD video." This argument isn't exactly compelling to the trade press and the business user, however, so advertising language quickly evolved to address the concerns of the business market. This led to a new claims, such as saying that "widescreen displays let users work on much larger Excel spreadsheets and in their free time, they can also enjoy superior DVD viewing." (Not that we're opposed to this relatively new technology, mind you. We're just inclined to be skeptics when it comes to swallowing the ever-changing lines that advertising seeks to feed us.)

For now, let's return to the evaluation at hand and see what's new in the Thinkpad Z60 series.

Lenovo loaned us a Z60m in a classic black case with a 15.4" WXGA TFT monitor and a dedicated Mobility Radeon X300 graphics chip. You'll find all the details about this unit in the Specifications table later in this article.

At this point we'd like to observe that some models in the Z60 series are available in both standard black as well as in trendy titanium cases. However, the color and the form factor for the display aren't the only new things here, so you'll want to take a look at our photos, which provide views of the unit from all standard angles (front, back, top, bottom and sides).

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