Lenovo ThinkPad X100e

Summary: The netbook-like ThinkPad X100e has a high-resolution 11.6in. screen and an excellent keyboard. Its AMD Athlon Neo X2 MV-40 processor helps to deliver better performance than the average netbook, but battery life could be longer.

  • Editors' rating:
    7.5
  • User rating:
    0.0
  • RRP:
    USD $649.00

Pros

  • High-resolution 11.6in. screen
  • Excellent keyboard
  • Strong, solid chassis
  • Attractive price

Cons

  • No optical drive
  • Battery life could be better

The ThinkPad X100e represents quite a big step for Lenovo. Not only is the X100e the first ThinkPad with an AMD processor, but it also verges on netbook territory. It has the small form factor and absent optical drive of a netbook, but is more powerful and aimed squarely at business buyers. With prices starting at £360 (ex. VAT), it's an attractive proposition.

The 1.48kg ThinkPad X100e comes in black and red liveries, runs an AMD processor and costs from £360 (ex. VAT).

Design
The X100e's chassis is solid and tough. Our review sample was black with a matte finish to the lid. Lenovo calls this Midnight Black; you can also opt for a Heatwave Red variant (see above) if you want to depart from ThinkPad tradition.

Measuring 28.2cm wide by 18.9cm deep by 3cm thick and weighing 1.48kg with a 6-cell battery, the ThinkPad X100e is small and light enough to carry around easily. There's no clasp to hold the lid and base sections together, but this isn't unusual and the hinge mechanism is quite robust. The two buttons beneath the touchpad are right on the edge of the casing and could be tugged at when the lid is lifted, or pushed around by the contents of your bag in transit. You'll want a carrying pouch to ensure the notebook is fully protected.

The screen is superb. Measuring 11.6in. across the diagonal, it has an anti-glare finish and is matte rather than reflective. Its 1,366-by-768-pixel resolution is excellent for this form factor, and we had no problem working on two document windows side by side.

The keyboard is excellent and Lenovo has thought carefully about how to maximise the available space. Keys are isolated, which makes them easy to find when typing at speed. They have straight edges on their upper, left and right sides, and a slightly curved bottom edge. This has absolutely no effect at all on usability, but it does make the keyboard look distinctive.

The X100e continues the ThinkPad tradition of keyboard excellence, making full use of the available space.

Another design effect is a slight curvature of the G, H and B keys around the TrackPoint, making it comfortable to prod at this with a fingertip.

To maximise the available keyboard space Lenovo has removed some 'rarely used' keys. SysReq, for example, is gone, along with Scroll Lock and Pause/Break. Thankfully PrtSc remains, and Lenovo has found room for a row of half-sized keys offering the Fn (1-12), Insert, Delete, Home and End keys. If we can find any fault at all it's that PgUp and PgDn are buttons rather than keys, and are lodged rather awkwardly alongside the inverted-T cluster of cursor controls. That aside, we really like the X100e's keyboard layout.

The TrackPoint is accompanied by a pair of mouse buttons and a scroll key sitting above the touchpad. A second set of mouse buttons as already noted, sit below the touchpad. There are scroll zones on the right and bottom edges of the touchpad, and you can pinch to zoom, which can be useful when web browsing.

There is a webcam above the screen, with camera management software available via a Fn key combination. There's also a copy of Skype ready to be installed if required.

Features
As already noted, the Lenovo ThinkPad X100e runs an AMD processor — the Athlon Neo X2 Single Core MV-40 running at 1.6GHz to be precise. This, along with the ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics chipset, constitutes AMD's Vision Pro technology, giving the ThinkPad X100e more muscle than you'd normally expect from a netbook. It comes with 2GB of RAM, which also helps move things along. We found that applications opened in Windows 7 Professional quickly, and had no problems watching video streamed over the internet or via a USB stick or SD card.

All three currently available iterations of this notebook share the same processor, graphics chipset and 2GB of RAM. You can specify a 160GB or 250GB hard drive, while the most expensive model, which costs £407 (ex. VAT), also includes support for mobile broadband (not configured in our review sample).

Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and Bluetooth (2.1+EDR) is integrated on all models, along with wired Gigabit Ethernet.

There are three USB 2.0 ports (two nestled closely together on the left, one on the right), a combined headphone/microphone socket on the left, towards the front, with a RJ-45 (Ethernet) connector just behind it. On the right edge is a reader for SD and compatible cards. A little niggle here is that SD cards sit about halfway into the slot, which never seems as secure as when they slot all the way in. The back edge houses the power input and a VGA port for an external monitor. There is no optical drive.

Performance & battery life
The X100e's Windows Experience Index (WEI) of 3.1 (out of 7.9) is disappointing. The overall rating corresponds to the lowest-scoring subsystem, which in this case went to Processor (calculations per second). Although AMD's Athlon Neo X2 Single Core MV-40 feels speedy when compared to netbook processors, it's no match for dual-core competitors.

Another low score, of 3.5, went to Graphics (desktop performance for Windows Aero). Thereafter, scores become more respectable: 4.9 for both RAM (Memory operations per second) and Gaming Graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance), and an impressive 5.9 for Primary hard disk (Disk data transfer rate).

Lenovo's Power Manager utility gives you plenty of options to manage the trade-off between performance and battery life.

The provided 6-cell battery protrudes a couple of centimetres from the back of the chassis, and is rated for five hours of life. Lenovo provides its own Power Manager utility, with several preset power plans. One, Maximum Battery Life, dims the screen to the point where it's impossible to see, rendering it useless for any screen-based activities. We opted for the Power Source Optimised scheme, plus the Maximum Lifespan battery management mode (which is the out-of-the-box setting).

With Wi-Fi on, we set the ThinkPad X100e to play video from an SD card for as long as possible, which it managed for just under three hours. That's not great, and in practice you're unlikely to be able to put in an average working day on battery power alone.

We noticed that the underside of the X100e got a little warm after a while, which might preclude its use on the lap for extended periods. The underside vents that accompany the one on the left-hand side may be partly responsible.

Conclusion
The ThinkPad X100e isn't a netbook, but it does share netbook characteristics such as a small screen, lack of optical drive and limited range of connectors. The X100e's Athlon processor gives it superior performance to a netbook, but battery life could be better.

 

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
Wireless capabilities Mobile broadband, IEEE 802.11 n (draft), IEEE 802.11b, GPS, IEEE 802.11g
Notebook type Budget, HD display
Cellular WAN connectivity Avoid spotty WiFi with this laptop's installed hardware that enables Internet access to more reliable subscription-based WAN cellular broadband networks.
Processor / Chipset
CPU AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 / 1.6 GHz
Cache L2 - 512 KB
Front Side Bus 800 MHz
Chipset AMD M780G
Features AMD Virtualization
Memory
RAM 2 GB ( 1 x 2 GB )
Max RAM Supported 4 GB
Technology DDR2 SDRAM
Speed 667 MHz / PC2-5300
Form Factor SO DIMM 200-pin
Slots Qty 2
Empty Slots 1
Storage
Interface Serial ATA-300
Optical Drive (2nd) none
Type portable
Display
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
Widescreen Yes
Features anti-glare
Environmental Parameters
Environmental standards EPA Energy Star, RoHS
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200
Camera Yes
Resolution 0.3 Megapixel
Sound Stereo speakers
Codec CX20582
Compliant Standards High Definition Audio
Input
Type TrackPoint, UltraNav, keyboard
Features multi-touch touchpad, spill-resistant
Communications
Wireless 802.11b/g/n (draft)
Wireless Controller ThinkPad 11 b/g/n
Network Interface Gigabit Ethernet
Wireless Broadband (WWAN)
Generation 3G
Technology GPRS, HSPA, WCDMA
Service Provider AT&T
Navigation
Receiver GPS receiver
Battery
Run Time 5 sec
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V ( 50/60 Hz )
Connections & Expansion
Interfaces 2 x USB 2.0
PoweredUSB 2.0
LAN
Headphone output
VGA
Memory Card Reader 4 in 1 ( SD Card, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, MultiMediaCard )
Software
Software Included Adobe Flash Player, ThinkVantage Rescue and Recovery, ThinkVantage System Update, ThinkVantage Toolbox, Windows Live Toolbar, Adobe Reader, Lenovo Online Data Backup, Lenovo Password Manager, Microsoft Research AutoCollage Touch, Norton Internet Security 2009 (30 days subscription), Skype, ThinkVantage Access Connections, ThinkVantage Power Manager
Microsoft Office Preloaded Includes a pre-loaded image of select Microsoft Office 2010 suites. Purchase an Office 2010 Product Key Card or disc to activate preloaded software on this PC.
Miscellaneous
Color black
Features ThinkVantage Active Protection System, administrator password, hard drive password, power-on password, security lock slot (cable lock sold separately)
Included Accessories SIM Card
Compliant Standards RoHS
Localization English
Manufacturer Selling Program TopSeller
Dimensions & Weight
Width 11.1 in
Depth 8.2 in
Height 1.2 in
Weight 3.3 lbs
Environmental Standards
EPEAT Compliant EPEAT Gold
ENERGY STAR Qualified Yes
Sustainability
ENERGY STAR Qualified Yes
EPEAT Level EPEAT Gold
Greenpeace policy rating (Nov 2011) 3.8

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Reviews

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