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Lenovo ThinkPad X100e (2876) - Connectivity, Usability and AV

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

Connectivity is unfortunately where we find our first disappointment with the X100e, as there's no digital video output. Where most Neo-based laptops offer HDMI, Lenovo has chosen to go with good old VGA only, found at the machine's rear. While this decision is somewhat understandable given the ThinkPad series' business leanings, the death-knell for analogue video has already sounded, and it's a severe limitation.

This really is a pity as the X100e was doing so well, and indeed once past this speed-bump continues impressively. On the left you'll find twin USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port (where most netbooks offer only standard Ethernet) and combined headphone/microphone jack. To the right we have a memory card reader and a third USB port, which is coloured yellow to indicate that it is 'always on' (i.e. you can use it to charge your phone even if the laptop is powered off). Finally, wireless credentials are handled by both Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth.

Usability is also top of its class. If you've used ThinkPad keyboards in the past, you'll know they tend to offer one of the best typing experiences going. Haters of your average isolation/chicklet-style keyboards especially will find much to love here, for though Lenovo's spill-resistant, full-size effort might appear similar, its large, slightly concave keys offer deep, crisp feedback. In fact, off the top of our heads only HP's Mini 110c series comes close. Our only niggle is that Lenovo is one of the few remaining manufacturers to insist on putting the Fn key to the outside of Ctrl.

The smooth, multi-touch touchpad is likewise a pleasure to use, and its distinct buttons offer excellent feedback. It's not the only pointer option, however, as ThinkPads also sport something called a TrackPoint. This is a tiny, rubber-topped joystick in the centre of the keyboard operated with the tip of a finger. It has its own set of three buttons above the touchpad, and while it does take a little getting used to, after a while it's quite easy to operate and even beats the touchpad in some situations. Regardless, it's great to have the choice between either input method.

Rather than the usual (and wholly inadequate) 1,024 x 600 resolution most netbooks tend to have, Neo-based machines usually opt for a more respectable 1,366 x 768, and the 11.6in example on the X100e is no exception. This not only means you get excellent sharpness more desktop space to play around with, but also means 720p HD can be displayed natively. Not only that, but as you would expect of a ThinkPad the screen offers a matte, anti-reflection coating that's a joy to work with in and out of direct light.

Horizontal viewing angles are adequate and contrast is decent though not great, with a strong bias towards the dark end of the scale (meaning you'll see more detail in dark material). There's no sign of light bleed and backlighting is fairly even, and while some banding is visible it's rarely an issue. Overall then, the screen does a good-enough job, fairly average for its size but certainly superior to most netbook displays.

This Lenovo's speakers are nowhere near as interesting. Though they manage the basics competently enough without distortion, their maximum volume is rather low and they fail to match those found in the smaller

trueblue

January 7, 2011, 12:49 am

Hi Ardjuna





(Just posting this comment here as well in case it gets missed)





I can wait if you think it would be worth it! How long roughly do you think I should be waiting?





To be honest, I'm not really fussed about HD screens/HDMI ports etc. The main things I want are a fairly fast processor CPU and good amount of RAM etc, a matte screen and an excellent 6 cell battery performance. This is why I wondered if the Asus 1005 might better, as it is £60 cheaper than the 1015 - is dual core really that much better than single core?





I don't really want to spend £300 if I can help it - I'd prefer £250 max as upgrading to 2GB RAM will cost a bit extra - but £300 seems to be the cheapest price that the ASUS 1015 (which meets my above requirements) is selling for?





Does this netbook you're reviewing meet those requirements as well as the Asus? And who is the manufacturer, so I can keep an eye out for your article?





Cheers


TB

Mike Rose

January 7, 2011, 1:58 am

It's a shame Lenovo still continue to put Fn outside. It's just so annoying.


I've owned 3 Thinkpads now and I can't understand why they keep tdoing this. Every time I need Ctrl I hit the wrong key..........every time!

chrism

January 7, 2011, 12:40 pm

I got one of these in red for the wife last Autumn, it only had 1gb ram (which I have now upgraded) but I got it for ~£240.





Nice little machine.

thechile

January 7, 2011, 1:38 pm

agreed about the Fn.. i hate it on my t400. You listening Lenovo!

ffrankmccaffery

January 7, 2011, 5:22 pm

As a Thinkpad purist I certainly wouldn't consider this for myself - the flat display frame being one reason amongst others. However I could certainly recommend this to family and friends if I could get them to appreciate the whole Thinkpad design philosophy.

Lgray

January 7, 2011, 11:38 pm

This model is being superceded by the x120e in February which uses the new AMD Fusion APU , has an HDMI port, has extended battery life and does not have a problem with heat generation. Perhaps you should have mentioned this new model in your review and maybe review this in February?

TechVegan

January 10, 2011, 8:46 pm

@trueblue:


The poor battery life means this Lenovo is not an option for you, I guess. As to dual core, it will help with multitasking and flash/HD video. If your workload is light and doesn't include these, single core should do you. However, with ever more programs becoming multi-threaded, it's not an option I would recommend.





As to how long you should wait, next month should already start seeing machines based on the new platforms emerging, such as the X120e @Lgray mentions.





@Mike Rose:


Yes, it is a shame. They keep doing it to keep traditional ThinkPad owners happy, but it's time to leave that behind Lenovo - risk alienating a few set-in-their-ways die-hards for the sake of many more potential new users.





@chrism:


It is, rather. Were it not for the battery life, Fn key issue and lack of HDMI, this would have received a Recommended Award.





@Lgray:


I didn't mention it because it's likely to come out at a different price point and UK availability is not set in stone, but we will definitely be getting one in to review as soon as possible :)

swegen

June 17, 2011, 7:36 pm

Got myself one x100e one month ago, following the advice of the reviews I saw on the internet, among them, this site. I must have had 14-15 laptops (several thinkpads) and a few netbooks. I still have my eee pc 701 surf, and an NC10.

Well, this thinkpad has been a disappointment in nearly every single area. Yes, it's capable of running things smoothly, perhaps more than the others. But there are big buts. One, up until I updated it with everything (took a couple of days) it freezed for no reason, got constant crashes and the screen would go black. These are things pretty common to every x100e user out there, just google them. Then, it heats up to scary temperatures. I installed a fan app and the temperature never goes below 70ºC while doing light internet surfing. Another thing is it lacks indicator lights. No HD light, no wi-fi light, no nothing. Sometimes, you move it and it freezes for a little bit. When you close the lid, it freezes too (I usually listen to internet radio with the lid closed to fall asleep). Sometimes I'm listening to the radio at night and it freezes, I have to open the lid and then close it again. Also, I hate the function keys. The wifi function keys only brings up a button to switch off the wifi, bluetooth and 3G, which you have to click with the mouse. I want to switch off the wifi with a button, not a combination.

Not to mention the battery. It can last 2½ hours if you're lucky. Not even 2 hours of video time, and that's with a fair brightness setting and wifi, bluetooth, etc... switched off.

Overall, a very big disappointment and a very poor product from Lenovo; it's a huge stain on the fame of the (once) mighty Thinkpads. Not to be bought under any circumstance.

swegen

June 17, 2011, 7:41 pm

Ctrl and Fn keys can be swaped in the BIOS with a firmware update.

That was nice. The only thing.

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