Kicking the Tires on the ThinkPad X100e

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When Kevin and I first saw the Lenovo ThinkPad X100e in Vegas earlier this year, I was impressed with the small size of the notebook. I didn’t get much time with the X100e at that time, so I figured that Lenovo had taken a few compromises to get the littlest ThinkPad as small as it did. A pretty red unit showed up at Mobile Tech Manor early this morning, and after spending a few hours looking for a compromise in the X100e, I have to admit that I have been unable to find one so far.

The X100e is infringing on netbook territory given the 11.6-inch screen and relatively low starting price of $449. It firmly leaves the netbook in the dust through stellar performance and with the beautiful, 1366×768 high-res screen.  Throw in a trackstick and multitouch trackpad on top of the full ThinkPad build quality and you leave the netbook world far behind.

The evaluation unit supplied by Lenovo is configured as follows:

  • CPU: AMD Athlon Neo MV-40, 1.6 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB (4 GB max.)
  • Storage: 320 GB (5,400 rpm)
  • Display: 11.6-inch, 1366×768 resolution
  • Camera: low-light capable, 0.3 megapixel
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD3200 integrated, maximum external resolution 2048×1536
  • Battery: 6-cell, rated at 5 hour
  • Communications: 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 2.1; 3G optional (not on the evaluation unit)
  • Ports: 3-USB 2.0 (one powered), VGA out, LAN, 4-in-1 card reader slot, audio in/out combo jack
  • OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
  • Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.2 x 0.6 – 1.2 inch; 3.3 lbs.

In an effort to keep the X100e price down, Lenovo went with the AMD Neo processor. After using the notebook for over three hours, I am pleased with the system performance using this processor. It is faster than any netbook I have used, and as fast as many “full” notebooks. The only question I have about the AMD processor is how it will affect the battery life. Lenovo rates the 6-cell battery at 5 hours, but after 2 hours heavy use with good power management I only used 20% of the battery. This may be the one case where the OEM battery estimation is actually conservative.

The X100e has no optical drive, because there is no room for one. The keyboard is typical ThinkPad, and that’s to die for. It is also spill-resistant, a nice value. The touchpad is very pleasant to use, and even though I prefer tracksticks, I find myself switching half and half between the two input methods. The touchpad accepts multitouch gestures, making it very useful. Both the touchpad and the trackstick have two mouse buttons each.

It’s too early to make an in-depth evaluation, but I have yet to find anything I don’t like about the ThinkPad X100e. It is as portable as can be, yet provides a complete mobile computing experience. When you realize it is a full ThinkPad, with the build quality that comes with that — you understand the value of the X100e.

 

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

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