Looking at connectivity, starting on the left edge there’s a large air vent, with a USB port next to that and D-Sub and Ethernet ports next to them. Then there’s a PC Card slot, which will play nice with all those legacy peripherals, though those who need ExpressCard will be disappointed. Below this is a memory card reader, with support for SD, MMC and other derivative formats.
There’s no real connectivity on the front of the notebook, though there’s a hardware switch hidden on the under edge for the wireless modules. On the right though, you’ll find a four-pin FireWire port, two more USB ports, headphone and microphone sockets, a modem port, DC-in and a lock slot.
On the whole this is a very good selection for a notebook of this size, with the option of adding more through the docking port located on the bottom of the chassis. That there are three USB ports is certainly a bonus, with one given enough space for any particularly large USB devices.
Another traditional strength of the ThinkPad series is its software, specifically the ThinkVantage suite of tools. This gives you quick access to all sorts of options, including the ability to switch off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi independently and the truly excellent back-up and recovery solutions. There are all sorts of other fringe benefits, such as tips for enhancing battery life and useful external device management, making connecting a projector a far easier process than on some machines.
You also get a few extras that aren’t part of the ThinkVantage suite, including a free trial version of Norton Internet Security and, more interestingly, Diskeeper 9 – an excellent defragmentation program that helps maintain hard disk performance and which is vastly superior to the standard Windows solution. Moreover, if you’re storing a large amount of document files it’s quite a useful thing to have to help maintain performance over a prolonged period.
So far, then, it’s clear that the X61s has lots of good points. Its classical style is great to behold, while it’s as slim and light as one would expect an ultra-portable notebook to be. All that remains is to see how it performs. For application testing the ThinkPad X61s was put through our usual set of benchmarks, which includes PCMark 05 and our in-house Photoshop Elements and Virtual Dub rendering tests. Unfortunately, PC Mark Vantage refused to run correctly, though at this stage this isn’t too great a problem. In addition it was put through a new and more wide ranging battery test regime, all of which is detailed on the following page.