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Lenovo ThinkPad X100e Hands-on Review

There are people out there who swear by affordable enterprise class hardware. I’m one of them. I use lots of gadgets in my everyday life but when it comes to the school of hard knocks I would sooner depend upon the likes of a Lenovo ThinkPad X100e than a consumer laptop.

Problem is, business laptops are normally way more expensive than comparably priced retail consumer equivalents because they’re typically built to a higher standard. A well specified Lenovo ThinkPad X301 or Dell Latitude E4300 can easily push beyond $2,000, (although I’ll tell you how to get your hands on one for less in an upcoming post). So I was intrigued when Lenovo recently announced its affordable X100e ultraportable would be part of the ThinkPad range. While Lenovo has enjoyed success with its S series netbooks, I felt they were built to meet a price benchmark rather than a quality one.

Looking around the Lenovo ThinkPad X100e

Outwardly the X100e resembles a scaled down ThinkPad. It packs an 11.6 inch anti-glare (yay!) screen and the ThinkPad family’s flat edged black chassis. There’s a single core AMD Neo processor under the hood and an integrated ATI Radeon HD3200 graphics chipset to help out with HD video playback. So although its not a powerhouse, it is more capable than a netbook. The most surprising X100e spec is its price; it starts at only $449. I played with the 2GB RAM, 250GB hard drive version which sells for $549 with a 6-cell battery.

Lenovo X100e & ThinkPad traditions

Around the sides are the usual array of USB, VGA, ethernet and memory card ports, while the screen has an integrated webcam.  ThinkPad fans will be happy to see Lenovo’s TrackPoint navigation system which means there is both a pointing stick and trackpad each with its own set of buttons.  The trackpad supports multitouch gestures.

Speaking of ThinkPad fans, they’re often fiercely attached to the laptop family’s awesome keyboards and this is where the X100e breaks with tradition. While ThinkPads typically sport deep keys with lots of travel, the X100e adopts more of a chicklet style most likely due to its shallow chassis. I regularly use a T61 and feared this would be the X100e’s weak spot but my concerns were allayed after just a few sentences.

Using the Lenovo ThinkPad X100e

While key travel is indeed minimal, there’s great solidity and feedback when typing; I am impressed by how well Lenovo’s engineers dealt with a design challenge inherent to all shallow laptops. It doesn’t beat my T61 but I would happily use it as a daily driver.

The Thinkpad X100e felt perfectly snappy around Windows 7 Professional. As expected it responded quicker than a netbook, and while it’s no crazy number cruncher there’s definitely enough power for everyday media/internet/productivity tasks. Lenovo claims up to five hours of battery life from the 6-cell battery but you should expect three to four in general use, which is sub-par for this category of laptop.

Is the Lenovo ThinkPad X100e a worthy bearer of the family crest?

Does the X100e respect its ThinkPad family traditions?  Definitely yes, although the cost of its quality place its pricing slightly above the competition, such as Acer’s 1810t which is quicker and has more storage for about the same price. However I feel the quality of the ThinkPad X100e easily justifies its higher price, especially since the differential is nowhere near as large as with some of the higher end ThinkPad models. I expect Lenovo is going to sell bucketloads of these.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

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Jan 31, 2010 - Posted by | Computing, Hardware, Mobile, Reviews | , , , , ,

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