Lenovo's Thinkpad X100e is certainly more powerful than a netbook, and more usable thanks to its 11.6in display. However, its weight and price are comparable with some larger laptops with a 13in screen. Nevertheless, the X100e exudes a build quality rarely seen on other laptops, and many buyers will find this reassuring.
Solidly built; more powerful than a netbook, but smaller than most other laptops.
Price comparable to some 13in laptops; no optical drive.
1.6GHz AMD Athlon Neo processor with integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics, 1GB DDR2 memory (max 4GB), 160GB 2.5in Sata hard drive, 11.6in display with 1,366 x 768 resolution, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet, optional 3G modem.
Lenovo's ThinkPad X100e fits somewhere between a netbook and a full laptop in size and capabilities, and is also one of the lowest priced ThinkPads available. This, combined with the traditional ThinkPad quality and attention to detail, should make it attractive as a business ultraportable or as a consumer purchase.
Announced in January and available now, the ThinkPad X100e has an 11.6in screen and weighs slightly less than 1.5kg, making it larger than a netbook and comparable with traditional ultraportable laptops.
However, while ultraportables typically carry a premium price tag, the entry-level X100e starts at £458.25, which is comparable with many mainstream laptops at the value end of the scale. Despite this, it looks stylish and feels solidly built, and offers many of the value-add features that Lenovo puts into its pricier ThinkPads.
At the time of writing, Lenovo's web site appears to list only Windows XP Home Edition for this system, but Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium and Professional are options. Our review unit came with Windows 7 Home Premium.
The X100e is available in four models with differing specifications. We looked at the entry version which ships in an eye-catching red casing, while the other models are black (as shown in the photos). This model also carries a similar specification to a netbook, with 1.6GHz processor, 1GB memory and 160GB hard drive, but no DVD or Blu-ray drive.
However, the X100e is based on AMD's ultra-thin platform, and runs an Athlon Neo MV-40 processor with ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics functions embedded in the chipset. This befits its positioning between an underpowered netbook and a full laptop, as the Neo is essentially a full 64-bit Athlon processor while the Radeon HD 3200 is said to offer performance comparable with some discrete graphics chips.
This matches our perception of using the X100e, which seemed a little sluggish at times when we had multiple applications open, but this could be addressed by adding more memory.
In contrast, the system had no problems handling the full Aero graphics of Windows 7 and playing video content. In fact, with its 11.6in screen and 1,366 x 768 native display resolution, this system is much better suited for running full-blown applications than a typical netbook.
Performance as measured by Microsoft's Windows Experience Index gives the ThinkPad X100e an overall rating of 3.1, which is not bad for such a small system. The score is determined by the lowest performing subsystem, which in this case is the processor, while the graphics and hard disk both performed better.
Lenovo seems to have gone out of its way to lend a feel of quality to the X100e, from the solid build quality of the system to its styling, especially the keyboard with its large, well-spaced keys.
This style of keyboard is shared with Lenovo's ThinkPad Edge models, which were launched at the same time as the X100e, and makes for easy typing despite the relatively small dimensions of the system as a whole.
Our review unit was also surprisingly quiet, so much so that we assumed at first that it had a Flash drive fitted instead of a rotating hard drive. In fact, it uses a Hitachi low-profile 2.5in Sata drive.
Another feature the X100e shares with other ThinkPads is the Trackpoint mouse controller embedded in the middle of the keyboard, between the G, H and B keys. We approve of this, finding it much easier to steer the on-screen pointer than with the touchpad that is almost universal to laptops these days.
However, many people prefer a touchpad, so Lenovo also includes one of these below the keyboard. Either can be disabled via the mouse properties in the Windows Control Panel.