ThinkPad laptops are legendary amongst business users. Remembered as much for their uninspired but functional design as they are for their performance, IBM’s (and now Lenovo’s) ThinkPad lineup has served as the backbone of corporate mobile computing for the better part of two decades.
The ThinkPad X100e continues this tradition in inexpensive, compact, and remarkably portable style. One of the smallest full-function laptops we’ve seen and a major proponent of functional design, the X100e is a portable, durable, and highly cost-effective piece of machinery.
Unlike other ThinkPads, the X100e is available from as little as £390. The entry-level laptop boasts the same features that have made the ThinkPad series famous, including a pointing control stick, liquid resistant keyboard, and dual-option mouse buttons and scroll controls.
What separates it from the remainder of the ThinkPad lineup is its performance. Lenovo’s high-end ThinkPad notebooks typically cost upwards of £1000 and feature modern components. The X100e offers the same prized design features and robust construction, though without the performance many mobile professionals have grown to expect from a ThinkPad.
The X100e‘s processor is quite basic – an inexpensive and simple AMD single-core unit which offers limited performance. All office applications are responsive and fast, as is internet browsing and basic photo editing. The X100e is ideal for mobile office use, though its limited power and tiny display can make multimedia tasks a nightmare.
But despite its compact screen – the ThinkPad’s display measures just eleven inches – the X100e is a decent mobile movie station. Graphics performance is adequate, allowing users to play dated PC games, while a 250GB hard drive allows for a sizeable compressed movie and music collection.
Of course, the vast majority of buyers aren’t looking at the X100e as a multimedia station, but as a business machine. The X100e features the same keyboard as other ThinkPad models, though it uses an isolated-key layout instead of the standard one-piece design. Water resistant and highly durable, the X100e‘s keyboard is one of the best on any consumer laptop.
Most business tasks are performed efficiently on the X100e, although the small display can make managing multiple windows quite difficult. The limited screen resolution can distort images and websites – an annoyance common amongst compact laptops and netbooks – and make presentations slightly more difficult to navigate.
The ThinkPad X100e is ultimately a mixed bag. Available at a significantly lower cost than similar models and boasting one of the most trusted designs in computing, it’s a reliable piece of equipment for business users and frequent travellers. The lack of a built-in optical drive reduces its multimedia power, though an integrated media card system allows users to carry out basic photo editing tasks.
For us, it’s a computer that’s equal parts netbook and notebook. Highly portable and surprisingly durable, the ThinkPad X100e beats out its netbook competitors while ultimately failing to deliver corporate-level performance. At £390 it’s a very inexpensive option for remote workers, albeit one that’s only viable for the most basic office tasks.