Lenovo's ThinkPad range is known for offering arguably the best business laptops you can buy, but prices have traditionally been quite high. The ThinkPad X100e remedies this and brings effortlessly high-class corporate usability to the entry-level market.
The first thing you notice is how small this machine is. Weighing just 1.5kg, it easily fits into even the smallest luggage for regular travel use.
The 226-minute battery life is bettered by the eMachines G525-902G16Mi but provides basic mobility.
Despite the low price, none of Lenovo's famed build quality has been lost. The matt plastics and rigid chassis provide ample resilience and will easily withstand the knocks of life on the move, while the plain black design is sleek and stylish.
ThinkPad keyboards are rarely bettered and the X100e is no exception. Unusually for Lenovo it uses the isolated-key style – with each key cut through a hole in the chassis. The board is also spill-resistant and is both spacious and responsive, making it by far one of the best at this price point.
Usability is enhanced by the inclusion of both a touchpad and pointing stick for controlling onscreen actions – each is fitted with its own set of mouse buttons. While we aren't fans of the fiddly control of the latter, many users swear by it, so it is good to see the choice offered here.
Where the X100e falls behind its rivals is its limited power. The AMD processor provides performance akin to most netbooks on the market, so only the most basic of office use is possible. Multitasking is certainly out of the question.
Graphics performance is far more capable. While the integrated ATi graphics card falls behind the abilities of the Acer Aspire 5810TG-354G32Mn, it vastly outperforms both the eMachines and Mesh. As a result, you can run basic photo and video editing tasks and watch HD movies on the move.
The 11.6-inch screen uses a matt-TFT coating to eliminate reflections, making it ideal for use outdoors. This also reduces vibrancy somewhat, but the impressive brightness and contrast compensate to create sharp and striking images.
Due to the small size of the chassis, there is no integrated optical drive for CD/DVD access. The 250GB hard drive is suitably capacious, however, so you can easily carry your photos, music and videos with you as you travel. A 3-in-1 media card reader is also in place for sharing files.
While its mixed levels of power and small size make it more akin to a netbook than a laptop, there's no denying the sheer quality of the ThinkPad X100e.
By offering the key strengths of more expensive machines at a cheaper price, this is a truly great ultraportable for the price.
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