The X100e is Lenovo’s first AMD-based ThinkPad and it is small enough to rival netbooks in size. It is more expensive than your average netbook, but you get more in the mix, not only by way of the Lenovo brand but also in the more useful aspects of build quality and components. Its main target is a business audience, but non-business users should not let that put them off.
This is a tough notebook, whose casing should absorb the knocks nicely. It is perhaps a little heavy at 1.48kg, but that is in no small part a factor of the solid build. One annoyance is that the select buttons which sit beneath the touchpad extend into the front edge of the chassis when the notebook is closed. We found we pulled at them when opening the ThinkPad, and over time this could cause damage.
The 11.6-inch screen is superb. It has a matt finish as befits a business focussed notebook, and its 1366 x 768 pixels are sharp, clear and bright. The keyboard is excellent too. Lenovo has gone for an isolation style design, and the individually separated keys have a very positive action. It was easy to work at full touch-typing speed.
To ensure the maximum keyboard space is available, Lenovo has left out some rarely used keys. System Request, Scroll Lock and Pause/Break are gone. We didn’t find their absence a problem, but it is worth noting.
Lenovo has retained the trackpad/trackstick double act that is its notebook trademark. The stick sits between the G, H and B keys and two select buttons are located in front of the space bar for use with it. There is a scroll key between them. Under the touchpad sits the second pair of select buttons, the ones mentioned earlier as being in danger when opening the notebook. The touchpad incorporates scroll zones and pinch-to-zoom.
The AMD Athlon Neo X2 single core MV-40 processor runs at 1.6GHz and there is an ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics chipset. 2GB of RAM also helps as far as sheer speed is concerned. Windows 7 Professional is the operating system, and hard drive sizes run to 160GB and 250GB. There is a webcam sitting just above the screen.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are present, as is Ethernet. If you are prepared to spend closer to £500 you can have a variant of the X100e with mobile broadband. Ports and connectors are close to what you’ll find in netbooks: there are three USB ports, headphone and microphone jacks, SD card reader and VGA-out connector. There is, however, no optical drive.
The 6-cell battery protrudes from the back of the chassis. It has reasonably good performance, delivering video from an SD card for three hours before giving up. We’ve seen a lot better from netbooks and notebooks, but we could live with it.
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