Graphics processing is usually overlooked in business laptops but not so in the T61p. It's fitted with an Nvidia Quadro FX 570M graphics chipset, which is a very potent solution. It's designed to cope with the demands of hardcore digital content creation and professional 3D modelling, and it won't shy away from a game of Half-Life 2, either. It's Shader Model 4-compliant, has 256MB of dedicated memory and has a fast 22.4GB/sec memory bandwidth -- in other words it's really no slouch.
The graphics adaptor is paired with a very good display. It's only 15.4 inches in size but it has a widescreen aspect ratio and more pixels than you'll know what to do with. It runs at a monstrous native resolution of 1,920x1,200 pixels, which is way higher than the 1,280x800 pixels you get on ordinary laptops. This means you get more room to position your application windows. It also upsets the apple cart by not using a glossy finish -- you can actually see the display when using it outdoors.
Storage is a tad disappointing in the T61p. It ships with a 100GB Seagate hard drive, which is a slap in the face for anyone who likes to hoard lots of DivX movies. It's fine for stashing spreadsheets and Word documents, though, so business users don't have much reason to complain.
As expected, the T61p includes a DVD rewriter so you can make easy backups. This lives in a modular drive bay to the right of the laptop. Impressively it can be removed and replaced with a secondary Ultrabay battery should you prefer longer operation to optical disc support. An Ultrabay 2000 Li-ion battery will set you back approximately £130 but it's worth investing in if you have the money.
The T61p has plenty of wireless connectivity. It supports 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi networks, and will even hook up to 300Mbps 802.11n networks should you feel the need for speed. Perhaps the most impressive wireless feature, however, is its UWB support. This technology enables the laptop to connect to wireless USB devices (when they become available) -- simply place a compatible device in the proximity of the T61p and it'll connect to it without cables. We were unable to test this feature at the time of writing but hope to do so once compatible devices start to materialise.
The T61p ships with Windows Vista Ultimate edition, which combines the funky consumer features of the Home Premium edition with the security features of the Business edition. Our sample included copies of Microsoft Office 2007, PC-Doctor 5, Picasa 5 and Diskeeper backup software. There's also a three-year limited warranty covering parts and labour and a separate one-year warranty for the system battery.
The T61p uses some pretty potent components so it's unsurprising it fared well in our benchmark tests. It racked up a PCMark 2005 tally of 4,828 -- which is among the highest we've seen for a laptop. Likewise, its 3DMark 2006 graphics score of 4,688 was near the top end of what we've seen outside a gaming laptop. These scores basically verified our initial judgement of the laptop's performance -- it feels as quick, if not quicker, than any we've used in the past.
The T61p isn't for everyone -- many may be better off with a cheaper, consumer-oriented laptop such as the Sony Vaio FZ series. But if you want a machine that's engineered from the ground up to be sturdy, fast in every respect and you don't mind the fact it's lacking in sex appeal, then we thoroughly recommend it.
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday