Why Lenovo's A-list ThinkPad X100e is superior to any netbook and many CULVs

Why Lenovo's A-list ThinkPad X100e is superior to any netbook and many CULVs

With netbook portability and Lenovo’s ThinkPad quality, the X100e is an absolute steal

Features & Design:
Value for money:
> Product website
Price: $914
> Pricing info
Price 914
CPU model/brand AMD Athlon Neo
CPU speed 1.6Ghz

Eschewing fashion and fads for straightforward practicality, it's little surprise to find legions of ThinkPads in businesses across the world. After all, the Lenovo brand is almost a byword for durability, but one thing they've never been is cheap.

The ThinkPad SL500 skirts around the $800 mark, but as a chunky 15.4in laptop, it's out of the question for those on the move. The X100e, on the other hand, may just be the Holy Grail: a light, portable ThinkPad for just $914.

If you're familiar with the ThinkPad styling - acres of black highlighted by a flash of red or a tease of yellow - then just imagine it shrunk in the wash and you'll have the tiny X100e. Lenovo's previous X-series portables were approaching waif-like proportions, but the X100e takes the ThinkPad into new territory.

At just 30mm thick, and weighing 1.47kg with a six-cell battery, the X100e is by far the cutest ThinkPad to have graced the PC Authority Labs.

But while the design is excellent, Lenovo hasn't forgotten the more serious side of things. Build quality is impressive considering the price, if not quite up there with the robustness of the premium ThinkPads.

The base feels solid and sturdy, and it wasn't until we really started to press hard on the lid that there was any sign of the plastic display casing fouling the LCD inside.

The 11.6in panel boasts a sensible 1366 x 768 resolution - a good balance between desktop space and legibility - and while the matte finish keeps reflections to a minimum, the LED-backlighting makes for bright, punchy images. It isn't the last word in quality, but, other than weak contrast and slightly greyish blacks, we were pleased with the vibrant colours and neutral skintones.

Beneath the 11.6in display sits a Scrabble-tile keyboard - a first for ThinkPads - with only the red of the trackpoint and a stripe along its accompanying buttons to break the mood. Unlike the 12.1in ThinkPad X200, there's also a trackpad, which is remarkable given its limited space.

By positioning the trackpad's buttons right along the laptop's edge, Lenovo has made the most of every millimetre, and the ergonomics haven't suffered: the keyboard feels spacious and comfortable, and the trackpoint and trackpad combination is as excellent as ever.

It's all miles ahead of the average netbook, not to mention many pricier CULV laptops, but performance puts it somewhere between the two. Lenovo has gone for an all-AMD combination of a single-core 1.6GHz Neo processor and the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200 graphics chipset.

Along with 2GB of RAM it's a surprisingly potent combination, and while the score of 0.43 in our benchmarks doesn't look quick, there's enough power on tap to keep Windows 7 Professional running smoothly. Once work is over, the HD 3200 graphics make light work of decoding 720p and 1080p H.264 videos - something beyond netbooks with Intel graphics.

The AMD approach isn't as power-efficient as Intel's Atom, but the X100e lasted longer than expected in our battery tests.

With 6hrs 34mins of light use, and just over two hours running flat out, there's enough stamina on tap. And, should you leave home without your power supply, any standard Lenovo laptop PSU will work just fine.
Lenovo rounds off the package with a good selection of ports and extras.

Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n wireless handle networking, and the three USB sockets around the X100e's edge are supplemented by an SD card reader and a VGA output.

One minor aggravation is that the single 3.5mm mini-jack doubles as an input and output, restricting its usefulness to headsets that connect via a single jack, but the integrated microphone and webcam go some way toward making amends.

In fact, the worst thing about the X100e is that when pushed, its base begins to get noticeably hot to the touch. The only other obvious concession to the price is the single-year warranty. We can forgive the few minor faults when the rest of the package is so impressive, though.

Good build quality is allied to ultraportable dimensions, and you get just-above-netbook performance with good battery life. For just $914, the Lenovo ThinkPad X100e should make many friends in the business world and beyond.


This Review appeared in the May, 2010 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine

Source: Copyright © Alphr, Dennis Publishing

See more about:  lenovo  |  thinkpad  |  x100e  |  laptop  |  notebook  |  netbook  |  computer  |  amd  |  neo

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