Now, having said that very little has changed, this does ignore one element you may have noticed from the pictures, this being the small antenna mounted on the right edge of the display. This added feature is evidence that our sample (UK449UK) ships with embedded HSDPA. This is certainly an attractive option for those working on the move and though the external antenna feels a little tacked on, it’s actually quite tastefully integrated and doesn’t prove too unsightly.
Unfortunately, another symptom of this is the placement of the SIM card slot. Unlike most HSDPA enabled notebooks, where the SIM card slot is easily accessed by removing the battery, on the X61s it’s tucked away in a screw secured panel alongside the system memory. This may not be a problem for some, but if you happen to want to use the same data SIM in more than one device then it’s going to be an issue.
Aside from embedded HSDPA our sample is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo L7500, a low-voltage chip that runs at 1.6GHz with an 800MHz front side bus and features 4MB L2 Cache. In terms of raw performance this should compare favourably to the U7600 found in the Latitude D430, which has a slower 1.2GHz clock speed, 2MB L2 Cache and a 533MHz front side bus. However, it will also consume more power, with the Ultra-Low Voltage U7600 having a maximum consumption of 10 Watts compared to the 17 Watts of the L7500.
This is supported by 1GB 667MHz DDR2 RAM, configured as two 512MB modules. As you’ve probably heard from all quarters this is cutting it fine for running Vista, which given that this machine comes loaded with Vista Business is a bit of a problem. As such, I’d recommend either switching to Windows XP for investing in a RAM upgrade.
Graphics are obviously not a high priority and the integrated Intel GMA X3100 is perfectly capable for the requirements of an ultra-portable user, though it will borrow some system memory for its operations. Storage is ample thanks to a 5,400rpm 120GB SATA HDD, though like the D430 there’s no integrated optical drive.
For network connectivity you already have HSDPA and this is joined by Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0, which should come in useful for syncing mobile devices, such as smartphones wirelessly. Prices vary with this configuration, with the lowest being in the region of £1,000 and the highest around £1,300 inc. VAT, though they’re also exceedingly rare right now and I was only able to find this configuration in clearance and unboxed condition at the time of writing.