Tactical Advice

Review: ThinkPad X100e

The ThinkPad X100e offers the portability of a netbook with a keyboard that rivals the user experience of many notebooks.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X100e is an excellent choice for users who want compact, lightweight portability without the cramped screen, smaller keyboard and other ergonomic limitations of traditional netbooks. And it’s no featherweight when it comes to performance, delivering a surprisingly comfortable and powerful computing experience.

End-User Advantages

Users will be impressed with the X100e’s comfort and ease of use compared with units of a similar size. At just under 3 pounds with a three-cell battery (and weighing only slightly more than 3 pounds with a six-cell battery), the X100e is easy to carry. At the same time, the 11.6-inch high-­definition display with native 1366x768 resolution, driven by an ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics adapter, offers a visual experience that is responsive and does not feel cramped in any way. The six-row, spill-resistant keyboard is wide and well spaced, with rounded keys that contribute to the user’s sense of size and space.

The AMD Turion Neo X2 1.60 gigahertz dual-core processor and 2 gigabytes of RAM deliver responsive performance for any routine application. Two SO-DIMM slots allow an upgrade to a maximum of 4GB of RAM for more memory-intensive applications. For storage, the X100e offers an ample 250GB hard drive at 5400 RPM.

Battery life is strong for a unit of this size, with a maximum of five hours using the six-cell battery. Lenovo includes a feature called Battery Stretch, which adapts the machine’s power settings dynamically based on the remaining power, to get the most run-time out of the remaining charge.

Multimedia is well supported in the X100e, with an integrated external VGA port, HD audio, stereo speakers, a built-in microphone and a low-light sensitive webcam. Like many notebooks of this size, the X100e does not include an integrated DVD drive, but provides one powered USB port and two unpowered USB ports, which allow connectivity to a variety of devices.

Network connectivity options for the X100e include a wired 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, a Realtek 802.11b/g/n wireless adapter and optional Bluetooth and mobile broadband integration. Wireless setup was easy using the integrated ThinkVantage Access Connections tool; after powering up the unit for the first time and completing the setup, it took only a few minutes to connect to a wireless network.

Why It Works for IT

There are a number of features that will endear the X100e to IT departments. First, the ThinkVantage tools offer a friendly end-user interface for common tasks such as wireless connectivity, managing power controls and profiles, and getting updates and drivers installed. While these functions can be easily integrated into an enterprisewide endpoint management system, the ThinkVantage tools offer an easy-to-use interface for environments that either do not have an integrated endpoint management system or that ask users to maintain some of these functions for their mobile devices.

Physical and data security features such as the Lenovo Password Vault, System Health and Diagnostics, Enhanced Backup and Restore, and Lenovo’s “Airbag Protection” (which offers hard-drive locking in the event of a physical shock or fall) are excellent tools for ensuring that the X100e remains safe and secure. A locking port lets users add a security cable to keep the X100e physically secured when necessary.

Disadvantages

While the X100e is very portable and flexible, the six-cell battery extends beyond the back of the unit, which detracts somewhat from the traditional ThinkPad look and feel and can make the unit slightly awkward to carry. During the evaluation, the X100e froze several times when it came out of hibernation mode, requiring a soft reset — a slight inconvenience that the X100e’s fast boot time helped to reduce.

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