To the right of the touchpad is a fingerprint scanner, adding biometric security to the X300. Once again though, Lenovo’s attention to detail is evident, with an indentation above the scanner indicating where to place your finger before swiping it across the sensor. The fingerprint scanner isn’t the sum total of security either – ThinkPads can be configured to encrypt all your data, so even if a thief tries to bypass the fingerprint reader and user password by removing the hard drive, they won’t be able to read any of the data.
People have often asked me how I can recommend ThinkPads when they are so expensive, but these machines shouldn’t be judged purely on specification. There are so many unique features that Lenovo and IBM before it, have integrated into the ThinkPad that have helped it rise above the competition, especially in the corporate sector. Take something simple like display configuration – most notebooks have a simple toggle button that switches between internal and external displays, but that’s just not good enough for Lenovo. Hitting the display select button brings up a new window – from here you can select the internal screen, Presentation Mode (internal and external displays) and Presentation on Projector and Notebook (internal display at native resolution and external display set to 1,024 x 768). There’s also a custom setting, so you can configure the display setting to suit your own, personal needs.
Likewise, hitting the Wireless button will bring up a new window, which allows you to configure the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and HSDPA adapters – you can power them all off or on, or select each service manually. And I can’t go without mentioning the keyboard light, that has long been a standard feature on ThinkPads. If you’re working in a dark room (during a presentation for example), you can activate a small LED that’s hidden in the lid above the screen, which will illuminate the keyboard – it may not look as cool as Apple’s backlit keyboards, but it does the job.
Lenovo has decided not to go down the ultra-low-voltage processor route for the X300, instead turning to an Intel Core 2 Duo SL7100 low-voltage chip running at 1.2GHz. Although the CPU itself won’t be as frugal as the ULV processor seen in Sony’s TZ31MN, it does benefit from the proper Santa Rosa platform support, which itself brings several power saving benefits. For instance, the Front Side Bus can max out at 800MHz, but it’s also dynamic, so it can clock itself down when that level of performance isn’t necessary, thus saving power. The other obvious advantage of not going down the ULV route is performance, and it’s clear that the SL7100, with its 4MB of cache gives the X300 a significant performance advantage over Sony’s TZ31MN.
There’s 2GB of RAM in the X300, split into two 1GB sticks, which ensures speedy dual channel performance. The machine will accept up to 4GB, but even if you specify the full 4GB, you’ll only be able to address around 3GB when using a 32-bit operating system like the Vista and XP builds offered by Lenovo. At least Lenovo does mention this limitation in its documentation, which is good to see. There’s no mention of a 64-bit Vista offering, but I would hope that it’s not far off.