Lenovo ThinkPad X100e
Cheapest ThinkPad ever, anyone?
Review As netbooks approach adolescence, they're outgrowing the original bargain basement specs and compromises acceptable to a beach girl, and heading towards £500. But around this price they're meeting ever-cheaper thin and light notebooks, or "ultraportables". The result is an overcrowded and confusing market place.
The second laptop? Lenovo's ThinkPad X100e
It's into this that Lenovo has pitched a couple of offerings, both ThinkPad branded and either side of the £500 price point, but based on AMD's new Athlon Neo chips. The X100e here is the cheaper of the two, and the first Thinkpad in the UK to be priced below £400. But how much ThinkPad quality has found its way into the box?
The X100e looks the part, and you do get some welcome Thinkpad hallmarks for your money. A street price of £400-£500 buys you an outstanding keyboard, robust construction, a TrackPoint, and all-matt finish. But there's no rollover cage, use of magnesium alloy, docking facility, or other small features expected on a member of the Thinkpad range, such as a keyboard lighting.
From a distance, it looks like a classic X23/30/40/60/200 series model, that's undergone a slight shrink. The design owes a lot to Apple's basic MacBook. Here's an 11.6in display with a 1366 x 768 resolution in a machine weighing in at 1.47kg. Curiously, this makes it a shade smaller than the biggest member of Lenovo's own IdeaPad netbook range, the 12.1in S12. £500 can buy you a lot of laptop, but here, you're very much paying for the form factor.
Missing is a CD-Rom drive, which isn't unusual, but there's no HDMI (or even DVI) output either. The HDMI port is increasingly common on netbooks and a big convenience for home media systems. Forget about FireWire, too. Turn the X100e around and an ungainly 6-cell battery protrudes from the machine's backside. The smaller 3-cell battery doesn't seem to be an option for UK buyers.
A nice touch? TrackPoint's appeal still holds for many
The plus points are an outstanding keyboard, the inclusion of both Trackpad and a genuine TrackPoint, and the promise of a genuine GPU on board, a rare beast indeed for something with a netbook's weight and price. The keyboard is undoubtedly the machine's strongest point.
My NC10 also does duty as a home media server - runs WIn7 HP with the media center, I leave it plugged in to the 42" Plasma in the living room and play all my ripped DVDs off it. It's a great little machine.
Like AC above, 720p is no problem in practically any format, but 1080p is only possible in MP4 and then it's a bit stuttery. Depends on the level of detail on the screen; lots of waving tree branches and it chokes back to about 5fps so I tend not to use that mode.
But we're talking about a 1.6GHz Atom with no discrete GPU - so pretty good going in my book.
I should hope so...
"has no trouble playing 720p MKV video (I haven't tried it with an external display, so I don't know about 1080 output)."
My Samsung NC10 can do BOTH 720p MKV (and MP4, FLV etc) AND 1080p MP4 (only format I've tested at 1080p) via the VGA port WITH Dual-View active! Admittedly it doesn't do it "out of the box", it does take a bit of fiddling with codecs/splitters, but it DOES do it.
Incidentally, I have found I CAN use my NC10 as a "main" computer replacement. It does everything I need it to, which is more a LOT more than just web/email. Yes, when it comes to raw number crunching it is slower than a full desktop/laptop but I knew that when I got it, so I don't really mind. For me its about the size, it goes literally everywhere with me.
I bought the X100e to replace the Ideapad S9e that i'd had for just over a year.
I love that fact that i can take it away on business trips and not feel like a tw@ when i have it on the desk in front of me.
Everyone would go "ooh, that's nice" and then 10seconds later be laughing as i strugled to type anything on the S9e's microscopic keyboard.
The X100e has Win7 Pro, can use 3GB of RAM and has 'Lenovo ThinkPad' on the case.
It's small, fairly light and most importantly no one rips the piss out of it in meetings!
What more do you want for £400?
Oustanding keyboard??? The arses STILL stick the damn Fn (function) key in place of where the damn Ctrl key is on every other damn keyboard. You get used to it, but it causes a lot of keyboard usage mistakes when switching to normal systems.
Lack of features, lack of performance, definitely a Lenovo
No DVI/HDMI? A standard feature on every other notebook for the last 4-5 years? This is why I can't stand Lenovo, even their docks don't have a DVI on the X-series up until this year's model. And the T-series only got it with the T60. I have one VP constantly complaining about the wiggly screen, but I can't even buy a better dock to give him DVI.
The only saving grace for the x100 would be if it was as rugged as the larger models. Why no test for that?