Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X300
June 30, 2008
On February 26th, 2008, Lenovo introduced the ThinkPad X300, the first of a new 13-inch X-series line and Lenovo's first 13-inch notebook. With its 3.1 pound weight and excellent feature set, the X300 has the potential to meet the needs of many of the University's Windows-based "road warriors".
The ThinkPad X300 is an extremely thin single-spindle 13-inch widescreen notebook. It uses a low-voltage (LV) Core 2 Duo processor running at 1.2 GHz and includes a 64 GB solid state drive (SSD) instead of a "normal" hard drive.
The ThinkPad X300's quoted minimum weight is 2.93 pounds, but this is without the onboard optical drive, which is one of the X300's primary differentiators. Information Systems & Computing (ISC) believes that the two most common configurations will be an onboard drive with either a 3-cell battery (weighing 3.1 pounds) or a 6-cell battery (weighing 3.35 pounds). The X300 tested weighed 3.2 pounds, with a travel weight (which includes power adapter) of 3.8 pounds.
At 1440 x 900, the ThinkPad X300's LED backlit display is higher resolution than the industry norm for a 13-inch display - this is a resolution often seen in 14-inch and 15.4-inch displays.
The ThinkPad X300 offers several additional options, including either AT&T or Verizon integrated WWAN cards (Lenovo no longer offers Sprint WWAN as an option).
The ThinkPad X300 is the first ThinkPad to receive a Gold rating from EPEAT and is also Energy Star 4.0-certified.
General Usage Observations
The ThinkPad X300 comes equipped with a minimum of 2.0 GB of RAM, which gives the X300 good responsiveness in both Windows XP and Windows Vista. For Windows Vista users, moving to Windows Vista Service Pack 1 accentuates this responsiveness.
Fit and build quality are excellent - for such a thin and light device, the ThinkPad X300 doesn't feel like it will break in half or come apart. The X300 also includes standard ThinkPad features like an easily removable mass storage drive and drip holes for fluid spills. As is usual with a ThinkPad, the mechanical latch assembly feels solid; one feels that the X300 will stay closed under stress. The keyboard is the same size as that of a 14-inch T-series ThinkPad and retains much of the same excellent feel.
The X300 tested gets warm but not hot under normal use. Observed battery life with the 6-cell battery was 4.0 to 4.5 hours with the display set to half brightness.
Configuration & Ordering Notes
Several notes when ordering a ThinkPad X300:
See ISC's Notebook Purchasing Guide for more configuration hints. As of June 2008, configuring a ThinkPad X300 to the Lightweight Notebook specification can be done for approximately $2,950 - note that the Computer Connection has a substantially discounted X300 configuration available as of June 2008.
Windows Vista Performance
The tested ThinkPad X300 (1.2 GHz Core 2 Duo SL7100, 667 MHz 2.0 GB RAM, integrated Intel X3100 graphics, 64 GB solid state drive) has a Windows Experience Index base score of 3.0, with individual scores of:
These scores suggest that Windows Vista Service Pack 1 performance will be acceptable to good for most users of a ThinkPad X300 configured in this manner. The primary hard disk score reflects the speed of the solid state drive.
The ThinkPad X300 is among the first of what ISC sees as an increasingly competitive field - the under 3.5-pound 13.3-inch widescreen notebook. Before the release of Apple's MacBook Air in January 2008, most 13.3-inch notebooks (such as Apple's MacBook and Dell's XPS M1330) did not exploit the thin-and-light technologies being used in their 12-inch brethren and thus tended to weigh in the 4 to 5 pound range (it's important to remember that 3.1 pounds was a highly competitive weight for a 12-inch notebook only a few years ago).
ISC sees the ThinkPad X300 as being an interesting and class-leading choice among lightweight notebooks available in mid 2008. Though the X300 and Apple's MacBook Air represent completely different design approaches, they are both valid for this space.
Thanks to David Kristopovich of Lenovo for his help with this review.
--John Mulhern III, Lead for Client Technologies, ISC Technology Support Services (June 30, 2008)
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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