Lenovo's ThinkPad range is renowned for its durability and excellent usability, but it's very rare that they carry a desirable style. The ThinkPad X301 is still utilitarian in design, but the remarkably thin chassis and faultless high-quality finish combine to make it a lot more attractive than previous ThinkPads.
The 13.3-inch screen is excellent, proving sharper than all but the Sony Vaio VGN-P11Z/R, and also more usable. LED backlighting creates excellent colour reproduction, despite the fact it's a standard TFT panel, and reflections and fingerprints are also well suppressed in brighter conditions.
On the move Mobility plays a key part in this machine's design, and most of the features are optimised for low power consumption and optimum battery life. As such, you'll find an integrated graphics card with performance suited to everyday tasks, but nothing too demanding.
You'll also find an ultra low voltage (ULV) Intel Core 2 Duo processor in place, running at 1.4GHz and backed by 2048MB of DDR3 memory. Combined with the integrated GPU and LED backlighting, it helps the X301 to last for over five hours from a single charge.
It comes at a price, however, and we found performance could be sluggish when running several intensive applications, such as virus software and DVD creation tools.
As we've come to expect from the ThinkPad range, the X301's keyboard and interface are exceptional, with faultless ergonomics. All the keys move with a quiet precision, and the materials used are befitting of a high-end machine.
The chassis is also fairly tough, with the magnesium alloy structure proving more robust than the Toshiba Satellite Pro S300-11G and Sony Vaio VGN-P11Z/R, and easily matching the HP EliteBook 2730p. Coated in tactile rubber, it's also resistant to scratches, making it an excellent choice for the commuter.
It may not match the portability of the Sony but, at 1.5kg, it's still one of the lightest ultraportables you can buy. Despite this, you'll still find features such as a tri-format DVD rewriter and three USB ports, along with a fingerprint scanner.
The 3G SIM card is easily accessed by removing the battery and, although it comes set up to access the web via Vodafone, it will work with other networks.
Costing over £2000, the ThinkPad X301 is for the very wealthy business user, but that doesn't prevent it from easily being one of the best ultraportables we've seen to date. With its incredibly thin chassis, light weight and great usability, it comes the closest to matching the Sony for sheer portability, and does so without any compromises.