Lenovo Brings Perfection to Ultraportable Market

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

Lenovo’s latest X series notebook, the X300, combines performance, features, light travel weight and long battery life into an attractive package for those with deep pockets.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X300 is a work of art and has a price to match. At a list price of $2,935, one has to wonder if the unit is made of gold. Well, it’s not gold that drives the price so high, it’s silicon—in the form of a solid state drive.

The X300 eschews traditional hard drive-based storage and goes the route of solid state electronics in the form of a 64GB SSD. That SSD is what gives the X300 its notable performance, long battery life and big buck price tag. While other manufacturers offer SSD storage as an option (Toshiba and Apple, for example), Lenovo is unique in the fact that the X300 only comes with an SSD and no traditional hard drive is available.

That may make the X300 a hard sell for those looking to keep costs down. After all, many users may be happy with a traditional hard drive if it saves them a $1,000 or so and still has the features they need.

SSD aside, the X300 does offer a lot of features that may make the price tag worth it. For example, the unit has a 13.3-inch display with high resolution and impressive brightness. It also offers a plethora of wireless connectivity options, such as Intel UWB, GPS, Verizon WWAN (EV-DO) and Bluetooth, along with the requisite Wi-Fi connectivity. Other features abound, as the full spec includes the following:

  • Processor: 1.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo L7100 (800MHz FSB, 4MB cache)
  • Graphics: Intel X3100
  • Screen: 13.3-inch WXGA+ (1440 x 900, 300 nit) LED backlit display
  • Memory: 2GB (up to 4GB configurable)
  • Storage: 64GB SSD
  • Integrated Web camera
  • Ultra-thin DVD burner
  • Wireless and communications: Intel 4965AGN (802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi), Bluetooth 2.0 EDR, Intel UWB, GPS, Verizon WWAN (EV-DO)
  • Battery: Six-cell Li-Ion extended life battery
  • Ports: Three USB 2.0 ports, monitor out port, AC adapter, headphone/line-out, microphone/line-in, Gigabit Ethernet
  • Weight: 3.32 pounds with six-cell battery and DVD burner installed
  • Dimensions: 12.4" x 9.1" x 0.73" - 0.92"
  • Full-size keyboard, track point navigation, touch-pad, fingerprint reader
  • Operating system: Windows XP or Windows Vista (in various flavors)
  • Warranty: 1 year

The feature set gives the X300 a big advantage over the two current market leaders in the ultralight notebook segment—Apple with the MacBook Air and Toshiba with the Portege R500. Most notably, the MacBook Air does not offer an integrated optical drive, while the Toshiba R500 is hampered by a 12.1-inch display.

Performancewise, the X300 offered some decent scores, considering the inclusion of a low-power processor and X3100 graphics. In our Passmark Performance Test 6.1, the system received an overall rating of 351; a previous test of the Toshiba R500 (with a standard hard drive) managed a Passmark rating of 297.

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The X300's performance could see a boost if Lenovo included discrete graphics as an option, but that may impact battery life. Speaking of battery life, the unit can be configured to offer as many as 10 hours of usable life using a dual battery configuration. The standard battery offers about 4.5 hours of practical use for performing office tasks.

Interestingly, the display dims when on battery power, and we could find no way to bring the unit up to maximum backlight brightness when running on battery using the included power management software or function keys. Even with the brightness set to 100 percent via the keyboard controls, the backlight was much dimmer than when plugged into an AC power source. Further investigation found a setting in the BIOS that allowed the display brightness to be set to "high," which overrode the automatic dimming of the display when switching to battery power.

Otherwise, the system is easy to use, well-built and very portable. High price aside, the X300 could very well be the best ultraportable on the market for business users. VARs looking to sell the X300 will want to target "on the go" executives and professionals with deep pockets.

To read eWEEK's walk-through review of the Lenovo ThinkPad X300, click here.



Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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