I currently record podcasts for Hacker Public Radio a daily community podcast. I recently did a show to be released in the RSS feed on 28th April Ep2280 about using the Lenovo X61s Laptop as a cheap second laptop or child's homework PC.
This is an edited version of the show notes from that episode.
Laptop was bought at auction and cost:
- Cost £36 including auction fees
- OS Free (any Linux will work well) finally used Linux lite
- Upgrade to 120Gig SSD £40 of ebay
- New 77wh Battery £16
- Total outlay £92
If you have to buy one then get an OS free one and don't pay more than £40-100 depending if it has an SSD and state of the battery.
Hello HPR, a few episodes ago I talked of using the Lenovo X61s with Watt OS and said I would report back after a possible upgrade to the laptop with and SSD replacement for the hard drive.
Well I duly ordered and received a Drevo 120 Gig SSD from eBay. These are about £40 each so make a cheap upgrade to an older laptops spinning disc and you can get a 60Gig one for less than £30 if you don't need the storage see review here:
After installing the PC with WattOS while it did everything you would need of an OS and was absolutely fine on the X61s I was a bit disillusioned with the amount of configuration needed to get all the software I needed working, definitely not New user friendly.
Looking at other lite Linux distributions I came upon Linux Lite:
I decided that this might be a better choice as it says it is aimed at new users, and being based on Ubuntu was a familiar beast. ISO was downloaded and duly installed on the X61s and as soon as all the updates were completed I looked at the installed software and it was more comprehensive but not at the expense of still being lightweight.
At first Boot which takes about 40 seconds, it takes about 300mb of ram and even with the word processor and Firefox in use Ram usage was only about 700mb. Audacity after install worked out of the box, which it hadn't with WattOS and I've already recorded and uploaded another show for HPR using the X61s and all went flawlessly. With the new SSD I am getting close to 5 hours of use from the 8 cell 63W battery installed on the PC.
While I recognize the X61s being over 10 years old is not going to meet the needs of a power user, its fully capable of being an everyday laptop for basic office tasks, some light audio editing, and even photo editing in GIMP. I was able to edit and process a 10mb .jpg image without any issues and exporting the final 12Mb image took seconds.
I was fairly happy with the X61s performance with the 80Gig spinner it came with, but the addition of an SSD has both improved performance and battery life to the extent that I would happily take it on the road as my only PC. Actually for the porpoise of writing this review I've lived with it as my main PC for almost 2 weeks and have not really missed its big brother the X230i i3 laptop I also have. In fact I was going to record a show using that and found that as it has a composite Audio jack, and as my head set requires separate mic and headphone sockets I wasn't able to, so one up to the X61s there.
Conclusion, if you have a couple of kids and you're looking for a laptop for them to do homework, watch Utube, and surf the web (parental controls enabled) then I would look no further. And if they get broken by said kids you've not lost a bundle of dosh.
After writing this I realized I needed a replacement NON OEM battery for one of the X61s I have with a totally dead battery (that is something you have to factor in to buying stuff from auction) Cost me £16 inc delivery on eBay and its a 77Wh one.
This adds about an Hour to the battery life compared with the 63Wh So don't be afraid to pick up one with a duff battery if cheaper as a replacement is not expensive and with the SSD give a working days life to the PC, and even with New SSD and Battery the X61s only set me back £92.
If your lucky you may find one really cheap on eBay, Happy shopping!!!