My girlfriend recently purchased an X61 to replace her old trusty X32. The X61 was chosen, because it is the last non-widescreen ultraportable laptop in Lenovo's (and everyone's) lineup. Widescreen laptops do not suit her work patterns.
Also, a friend of mine, who was looking for something small to replace his 3kg Lenovo N100, decided to settle on a X61 Tablet, falling in love with the tablet features and the IPS screen.
Thus, a rare opportunity presented itself, for a photo gallery of these three similar but highly different X series laptops.
Click on photos for larger versions
Side-by-side, left to right: X61, X32, X61T
The width of the laptops is virtually the same; the depth is where they differ. The X32 is slightly deeper than the X61 (when the latter is with the 4-cell battery), and the X61T is even deeper. Only when I noticed the big differences in depth, I realized why it is that the X61 Tablet is so much heavier than the non-Tablet. With the big 8-cell battery, the X61T is basically square.
Individual pictures of the X32:
The X3x series, despite being from the R5x/T4x era, is more similar in design and looks to the older R40/T30 series: thin metal hinges, thick plastic cover over LCD cable, diagonal cut in the left corner of the LCD/base. Also notice the dual latches, which actually require two hands to open the screen.
Individual pictures of the X61:
Unlike with the T and R series, the X series stayed with the same looks and design between the 60 (Napa) and 61 (Santa Rosa) models. This makes the X61 Lenovo's last laptop before they all became bricky, square with ugly and thick bezels. In contrast, the X61's slim LCD bezel and curved edges make it a very pretty notebook.
Individual pictures of the X61 Tablet:
Unlike the regular X61, the Tablet has a thicker bezel with no curved edges, but that is explainable, since it needs to function as a tablet. Still, the design is very good, and the laptop looks sleek, with no sharp edges. The extended battery, despite adding bulk and weight, is actually a useful thing, because it allows you to conveniently hold the tablet in one hand, and has a nice rubbery texture to it.
X32(left) side by side with the X61(right):
Other than the fact that the X61 is slightly smaller and the changes Lenovo introduced to the design (square trackpoint buttons, no stripes, no gray keyboard keys), these two look very similar. The X61 is the only of the lot that was bought here in Israel, so it is the only one with Hebrew letters on the keyboard.
With the 4-cell battery on the X61 and the 6-cell on the X32, The X61 is noticeably lighter, but the X32 gets noticeably better battery life.
With the 8-cell battery (right picture), it's a different story. This huge battery makes the X61 bigger and bulkier than the X32, and while they weigh about the same, it feels much heavier, due to all the weight being on the back. The X32, with its 6-cell battery in the front, is the best laptop in terms of weight distribution, from all of Lenovo's recent and semi-recent lot.
The X61 originally came with the 8-cell, so you can imagine how my girlfriend was upset at a laptop, which is advertised as thin&light, and is actually thicker (see below), bigger and heavier than her previous one. But once we got the 4-cell battery, she was much happier, and the 8-cell remains to be used for when she really needs the battery stretch.
On a side note, I really think the design of the 8-cell battery for the X series is awful. It's huge, heavy, wobbles, and the power jack had to be moved to the right side because of it, which is less convenient than at the back. Overall (unlike with the T-series extended batteries), it does not feel as an integral part of the machine body, but as some last-minute taped-on addition. I guess, it was a necessary sacrifice, in order to maximize battery life for the traveling businessman (otherwise they could have settled for a more compact 6- or 7-cell battery).
X32(left) vs X61(right) thickness comparison:
Notice how much thinner the X61 is on the front, and how much thicker it is on the back! This is due to the peculiar design of the X61, which makes it essentially sit on the cylinders of the battery (located in the back), and the entire rear end of the laptop is thus hoisted into the air. The slim front side tricks you into thinking the laptop is actually thinner than it is. If you want a laptop which is really slim, you need the X61s with the prismatic 4-cell, which does sit flat.
X61 vs X61T:
Side by side, you see how these two are totally different machines. Again the extra depth/height of the tablet is immediately evident, but interestingly, the tablet does not have the same rise on the back end as the regular X61. Which is good, because with the already added thickness of the Tablet, such a rise would make it almost too thick. Also, because the Tablet itself is heavier, the weight of the battery is absorbed in the total weight, so it is actually better than the regular X61 with 8-cell in terms of weight distribution.
X6 vs X6 Tablet Ultrabases:
Regular base on the left, Tablet base on the right. As you can see, the connector is not in the same spot on these two ultrabases, which makes them incompatible. Notice the groove on the back of the X6 base, for the cylindrical battery. This offsets the rise of the laptop, so it sits more flat inside the Ultrabase.
X61 (top) vs X61 Tablet (bottom) inside the Ultrabases:
Observe how the X6 Ultrabase accommodates the 8-cell battery fully, but the Tablet battery sticks out. Also, The power jack on the laptop is deliberately blocked by the Ultrabase, which has its own jack, so that you don't accidentally fry the laptop by connecting two power supplies.
Overall, the ports and their location is exactly the same on both bases. It makes one really think why they could not take it one step forward and design the notebooks so that the same ultrabase could be used for both. Thankfully, this is resolved with the X200 series, where the same base is used for X200/X200s/X200T.
Laptop stack! Top to bottom: X61 (4-cell batt.), X32, X61 Tablet
The port distribution between the X61 and the X61T is very similar, while the X32 is very different.
Front: The X32 is the only one with two latches and without a WiFi hardware switch.
Left: VGA/USB/RJ45/vent for the X61's, USB/Audio/Firewire for the X32. The X32 actually has separate mic-in and line-in ports! Very uncommon, even the T4x series did not have it. All three laptops have the PCMCIA slot on the left side. The X61's have the SD-card reader, while the X32 has the Compact Flash slot. You can notice the small crack in the X32 bezel above the PCMCIA slot - a known plague of the X3x series. The X61T stylus is stored to the right of the PCMCIA slot.
Right: This is where the hard drive is on all laptops. The X32 also has the primary vent here, while the X61's have a bunch of ports including the power jack, which was forced here to accommodate the 8-cell battery. The ports on this side of the X61 Tablet actually sit inside a small niche. Kensington lock slot is also present on all three.
Back: This is where the big difference is. The X32 has lots of ports here. I feel that the port placement on this laptop is very good, with the ports on the back being the ones that you have to access less frequently, should you ever want to use this notebook as a desktop replacement. The X61's cannot have any ports here, because of the battery.
Overall, having played a bit with all these laptops, I feel that the design of the X32 is better than the X6x. The 6-cell battery on the front allows it to achieve very good battery life (4-5 hours), excellent weight distribution which makes it feel lighter than it is, and allows for ports to be distributed evenly and conveniently. With the X61, I felt that you either sacrifice weight for battery life or battery life for weight, since the 4-cell only gives you a tad over 3 hours in typical usage.
The Tablet is a different product altogether, aimed at other needs, which I feel it achieves very well, despite the extra bulk.
This concludes the X series showcase