3 star rating

Lenovo ThinkPad X100e Review

$569.00
Pros: Slim sturdy design ; Fantastic keyboard ; Good graphics performance for the price ; Loud speakers ; Low-light webcam;
Cons: Relatively short battery life ; Bottom runs hot ; Erratic pointing stick;
The Verdict: This affordable, durable ultraportable has a great keyboard and plenty of pep, but it runs out of gas too fast.

REVIEW

SPECIFICATIONS

We’ve always been big fans of the ThinkPad X200 series because of its portability and durability, but its starting price of $1,099 is not exactly within reach of small business users or students on a budget. That’s where the X100e comes in ($569 as configured), a 11.6-inch notebook that’s light enough for travel but also faster, sturdier, and more comfortable than your typical netbook. We love the keyboard on this machine, and the loud speakers and low-light friendly webcam round out the package nicely. However, we wish this AMD-powered notebook lasted longer on a charge, and the bottom of the system can get hot. Is it worth tolerating these trade-offs?

Article Continued Below

Editor's Note: After our initial review, we re-ran the battery test on the X100e, and saw an additional 20 minutes of endurance. As a result, we have updated the Battery section of this review.

Design

Slim, sturdy, and minimalist. That’s the vibe we get from the 3.2-pound X100e. Our review model came in a rather plain looking Midnight Black, but if you want more flair there’s a Heatwave Red version. The lid has a smooth finish, complete with the trademark silver ThinkPad logo, and this treatment extends to the deck. Unlike many other low-cost ultraportables, this ABS plastic machine feels like it will last, but we noticed little flex as we twisted the unit in our hands with the lid closed. What you won’t get that’s standard on the more expensive X200 series is an inner roll cage to protect components, or a fingerprint reader.

Underneath the front lip of the X100e is the speaker bar. The design tapers from 0.6 inches at that point to 1.2 inches in the back, where the six-cell battery juts out a couple of inches. Above the keyboard is a small power button that makes it more difficult to turn on the notebook than it should be. Otherwise the deck is pretty bare, with the exception of the isolated keyboard and dual pointing options (TrackPoint and touchpad).

Keyboard and Touchpad

Lenovo ThinkPad X100e

The X100e sports a modern-looking and water-resistant isolated keyboard layout, just like the ThinkPad Edge 13. Although the function keys are shrunken, the rest of the keyboard is roomy and comfortable. The keys provided plenty of depth with excellent tactile feedback; we typed quickly with very few errors. In fact, the keyboard on the X100e is easily the best of any notebook with this size screen. We also appreciate little touches, such as the resolution toggle shortcut (Fn + space bar) for blowing up web pages or documents.

The X100e sports both a pointing stick and touchpad, each with its own set of buttons. The TrackPoint on this notebook was erratic at first, with the cursor racing all over the desktop until we dialed down the speed in the settings. The roomy touchpad worked fine, but it felt sluggish since we had to adjust the speed to use the stick. While zooming in on photos using a pinch gesture worked, the gesture to zoom out wouldn’t always register. Despite being narrow, we found the touchpad buttons easy to press.

Heat

This is definitely one of the warmest ThinkPads we’ve used. After playing a Hulu video at full screen for 15 minutes, we measured temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the touchpad and 103 degrees between the G and H keys. Worse, the bottom of the system was an uncomfortable 115 degrees. The left front underside of the system reached a disturbing 129 degrees. Considering the X100e is designed to be used in your lap, these high temps raise some red flags.

Display and Audio

Lenovo ThinkPad X100e

The LED-backlit 11.6-inch display (1366 x 768) on the ThinkPad X100e is bright, offering rich colors and good contrast when watching a Family Guy episode on Hulu. However, you have to tilt the screen back about 15 degrees to get the best picture. Viewing angles from the side were fairly narrow, but two people could comfortably watch a video on this notebook.

The speakers on the front lip of the X100e were plenty powerful, especially for a notebook this size. When we streamed a Phoenix track from Pandora, the sound was loud and clear. Dialog during that Family Guy episode was also booming. Our only nitpick is that sometimes the sound would cut out momentarily while raising or lowering the volume via the Function keys.

Ports and Webcam

The back side of the X100e houses a VGA port and power jack on either side of the six-cell battery. You’ll also find two USB ports, an Ethernet port, a combo headphone/mic jack, a third powered USB port, memory card slot, and Kensington lock slot.

Lenovo ThinkPad X100e


In our Skype test the high-sensitivity webcam delivered good video quality in low light, although the other caller said we looked a bit washed out in a room with plenty of ambient light. He also said the sound quality was clear. Bonus: you can instantly mute the mic with a Function key combo.

Performance and Graphics

The X100e’s single-core 1.6-GHz AMD Athlon Neo processor, coupled with 2GB of RAM, delivers faster performance than a netbook, but not as much speed as an ultraportable equipped with a dual-core AMD or Intel CPU. While this system’s PCMark Vantage score of 1,580 is about half the ultraportable average (2,968), it’s better than single-core ULV notebooks such as the Toshiba Satellite T115 (1,453) and netbooks equipped with Nvida Ion graphics like the ASUS Eee PC 1201N (1,488).

Then again, the Acer Ferrari One notched 2,110, thanks to its dual-core Athlon X2 CPU, and the pricier IdeaPad U150’s dual-core Intel SU7300 CPU scored 2,773. Generally speaking, the X100e was fairly snappy opening applications, and it didn’t get bogged down when we were streaming Pandora and working in multiple tabs in Internet Explorer. It took a relatively brisk 11 seconds to fly from midtown Manhattan to central New Jersey using Google Earth, and the animation was smooth.

The 5,400-rpm, 250GB hard drive (which has drop protection) turned in a slightly below average transfer rate of 19.7 MBps. Oddly, it took the X100e a leisurely 6 minutes and 24 seconds to transcode our 114MB video from MPEG-4 to AVI, which is a bit slower than the average netbook (5:55).

On the plus side, the X100e’s ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics give this notebook some oomph. Its 3DMark06 score of 1,046 is above average (902), and that group includes much more expensive systems. We also saw good frame rates when playing World of Warcraft, with 39 fps at 1024 x 768. (At the system’s native resolution that number dropped to 7 fps.) Netbooks with Nvidia Ion graphics have scored between 35 and 48 fps.

Battery Life and Wireless

This is the real cost of getting an ultraportable with an AMD processor under the hood. The X100e’s six-cell battery lasted just 4 hours and 27 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi). That runtime is about half an hour below Lenovo’s claim, nearly one hour below the category average, and even further behind such low-cost ULV machines as the Acer Aspire 1410 (6:33) and Toshiba Satellite T115 (7:08). Lenovo claims you should be able to get through a full day of classes with this laptop, but we’d say only if they’re back to back.

The Realtek 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter on the X100e delivered mediocre throughput in our tests. The notebook notched 14.1 Mbps at 15 feet from our router and only 9.8 Mbps from 50 feet. Both of these numbers are below the respective category averages of 23 and 18 Mbps. Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity is included, and the system is mobile broadband upgradeable.

Green Testing

Lenovo ThinkPad X100e

The X100e is both Energy Star rated and awarded Gold status by EPEAT. In our own tests, it took the notebook 1:29 to charge to 80 percent, and 2:14 to reach 100 percent. During that time the machine used an average of 41.9 watts of power. Its LAPTOP Battery Efficiency Rating of 22.6 is slightly worse than the category average of 19.8.

Configuration Options

Although the X100e starts as low as $449, we wouldn’t recommend that configuration because it comes with just 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive. Our $569 configuration is a much better value because you get 2GB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and Windows 7 Professional instead of Home Premium. You can save $20 if you don’t get Bluetooth. You can also get up to 4GB of memory and a 320GB hard drive.

Software and Support

Lenovo ThinkPad X100e

Like most ThinkPads, the X100e ships with Lenovo’s suite of ThinkVantage utilities, including Rescue and Recovery, Access Connections, Password Manager, and ThinkVantage Power Manager. You also get a 30-day trial of Norton Internet Security 2009 and Skype for Windows.

Lenovo backs this notebook with a one-year standard warranty and 24/7 tech support. Lenovo earned an overall grade of B+ in our Tech Support Showdown.

Verdict

Overall, the X100e is a good lightweight laptop for the price. It's a low-cost ultraportable with more pep than a netbook , more room for typing, and a bigger keyboard than a netbook—the best keyboard in its class. It also feels more solid than competing systems and offers better graphics performance. However, we’d like this $569 AMD-powered notebook a lot more if it offered greater battery life and ran cooler.

Tags: Lenovo ThinkPad X100e, Lenovo X100e, Lenovo ThinkPad, Lenovo, Ultraportable Notebooks, notebooks, reviews, business, laptops

Technical Specifications
Lenovo ThinkPad X100e
www.lenovo.com/us


The central processor unit, or CPU, is the brain of your notebook.
Learn More
CPU
1.6-GHz AMD Athlon Neo MV-40
Operating SystemMS Windows 7 Professional (32-bit)
The amount of memory our reviewed configuration comes with.
Learn More
RAM
2GB
The maximum amount of memory this notebook supports.
Learn More
RAM Upgradable to
4GB
Amount of data your storage drive can hold.
Learn More
Hard Drive Size
250GB
The rotation speed of a mechanical hard drive.
Learn More
Hard Drive Speed
5,400rpm
Your notebook’s storage drive (hard drive or solid state drive) holds your operating system, your programs, and your data.
Learn More
Hard Drive Type
SATA Hard Drive
Your notebook display is the primary viewing device for your laptop computer.
Learn More
Display Size
11.6
The number of pxiels (wxh) displayed on your screen at once.
Learn More
Native Resolution
1366x768
An optical drive allows you to play or record to DVDs, CDs, or Blu-ray discs.
Learn More
Optical Drive
The speed of the optical drive.
Learn More
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics chips are responsible for processing all images sent to your computer’s display.
Learn More
Graphics Card
ATI Radeon HD 3200
The amount of memory available for graphics processing.
Learn More
Video Memory
328MB
Wi-Fi connects you to a router or hotspot for wireless Internet access.
Learn More
Wi-Fi
802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth allows you to connect to wireless devices such as headsets, smart phones, and speakers.
Bluetooth
Bluetooth 2.1
Mobile broadband connects you to the Net from anywhere, even places with no hotspot.
Learn More
Mobile Broadband
Ports allow you to connect to external devices such as monitors, printers, MP3 players, and hard drivse.
Learn More
Ports (excluding USB)
Ethernet; Headphone; Microphone; VGA
USB ports allow you to connect many external devices, from MP3 players to external hard drives.
Learn More
USB Ports
3
Card readers allow you to plug memory and expansion cards directly into a notebook.
Learn More
Card Slots
4-1 card reader
Warranty/SupportOne-year standard/24/7 toll-free phone
Size11.1 x 8.2 x 1.2 inches
Weight3.2 pounds
AUTHOR BIO
Mark Spoonauer, Editor-in-Chief
Mark Spoonauer, Editor-in-Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptopmag.com, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, Editor-in-Chief on
Twitter Google+
FIND A REVIEW
Laptops
All Product Types Accessories eReaders Laptops Networking Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Brand
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS AVADirect Averatec BeagleBone BenQ CTL Corp. CyberPowerPC Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Eurocom Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Google Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo Maingear MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Razer Sager Samsung Sony Sony PlayStation Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv Vizio VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating Editor's Choice 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 4 5 6 7 8 9
Resolution
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1136 x 768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1792 x 768 1900x1080 1920x1080 1920x1200 2560 x 1440 2560 x 1600 2560 x 1700 2880 x 1620 2880 x 1880 3200 x 1800 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options
SUBSCRIBE