The ThinkPad X100e is a cheap, but very desirable laptop that bridges the gap between netbooks and CULV laptops.
11.6 in 1,366×768 display, 1.5kg, 1.6GHz AMD Athlon Neo MV-40, 2.00GB RAM, 250GB disk, Windows 7 Professional 32-bit
ThinkPads have been hugely popular with businesses across the world, thanks to their robustness, excellent management tools and practicality, but the high price they command has typically pushed them out of reach of most consumers. The ThinkPad X100e looks to change that though, as it’s an 11.6in ultraportable weighing 1.5kg that’s available on the street for a whisker under £400.
It manages to achieve its low price point by using an AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 processor – a single core chip with 512KB of L2 cache, clocked at 1.6GHz. To complement this, there’s 2GB of RAM and a Radeon HD 3200 graphics chip. Understandably, performance is a bit of a mixed bag and the X100e lies somewhere between a netbook and a CULV-based laptop.
The lacklustre performance in our multi-tasking test drags its overall score down, but it performed well in our image editing and video encoding tests. Gaming performance was poor and it struggled to run our Call of Duty 4 test at a lowly resolution of 1,024×768, but then we didn’t really expect a great deal from the X100e’s integrated graphics chip. It does cope very well with 720p HD video streams though, even when it’s running on battery, so it’d be great for catching up on programmes you’ve missed when you’re on the train home.
Those of you who are familiar with the ThinkPad styling will either love it or hate it – it bucks the trend of glossy and often garish designs in favour of a more understated look. It’s clearly designed to be a workhorse rather than a work of art, but the design is strangely attractive and build quality is impressive given the price.
Lenovo has also opted against using a glossy coating on the X100e’s 11.6in screen as well, meaning reflections are kept to a minimum and the bright LED backlight delivers punchy colours, but its colour renditions aren’t accurate – a given on a laptop in this price range. The 1,366×768 native resolution is also a good compromise between desktop size and clarity – text is sharp, but very readable using Windows 7’s default text size.
The keyboard is slightly different to those other ThinkPads and is more akin to what we’re used to seeing on Sony Vaio laptops. The keys are slightly moulded and separate from one another, giving the keyboard a spacious and comfortable feel. Key presses feel positive and it’s got that characteristic ThinkPad clickiness – in fact, we’d go so far as saying it’s the best keyboard we’ve seen on a sub 12in laptop.
The X100e manages to cram not only the glowing red trackpoint synonymous with ThinkPads of past, but also a trackpad. There are buttons both above and below the trackpad, meaning it’s comfortable to use whether you choose the trackpoint or trackpad. Lenovo has made the most of the X100e’s compact form factor and it’s a laptop that doesn’t become a chore to use for long periods.
Surprisingly, the X100e manages to run on battery for a decent amount of time too and you’re not going to find yourself running to find a plug socket after just a couple of hours. It managed five hours 24 minutes in our battery test with the extended battery attached.
Aside from its poor multi-tasking performance, probably the biggest drawback with the machine is how hot it gets when it’s running flat out. Air coming out of the vent on the left hand side is very warm and the base does get noticeably hot on your lap.
Overall though, it’s easy to forgive these minor quibbles when you look at what Lenovo has achieved here: a cheap, but robust netbook-cum-ultraportable-laptop that delivers better performance than a traditional netbook in the tasks that you’d want to use it for. The cute little ThinkPad X100e will not only be well received by businesses, but it has every chance to reach a much wider audience.
|AMD Athlon Neo MV-40
|Processor clock speed
|Memory slots free
|Comexant SmartAudio HD
|Power consumption standby
|Power consumption idle
|Power consumption active
|ATI Radeon HD 3200
|Total storage capacity
|Optical drive model
|Optical drive type
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports
|Wireless networking support
|PC Card slots
|Supported memory cards
|SD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, MMC
|Windows 7 Professional 32-bit
|Operating system restore option
|restore partition, burn own restore disc
|Lenovo ThinkVantage suite
|one year RTB