Lenovo ThinkPad X300

The newest addition to the ThinkPad X series incorporates the best of the MacBook Air, with the best of the Portege R500, while also adding its own great features, such as a built-in DVD burner, WWAN connectivity, and GPS.


8.5
CNET Rating
7.4
User Rating

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The newest addition to the ThinkPad X series incorporates the best of the MacBook Air (13.3-inch display, full-size keyboard, thickness less than one inch) with the best of the Portege R500 (solid-state hard drive, thorough selection of ports) while also adding its own great features, such as a built-in DVD burner, WWAN connectivity, and GPS.

The X300's ThinkPad DNA is evident in its instantly recognisable black, square-edged case, but at 0.73 inch thick and weighing anywhere from 1.33 to 1.59 kg (depending on your battery and optical drive choices), it's simply the sleekest ThinkPad yet.

The biggest criticism of the ThinkPad X300 is its price: the base configuration costs AU$3,999 and goes up from there. But innovative design, thorough features, and cutting-edge components don't come cheap, and the ThinkPad X300 is truly unique in its balance of portability and usability.

Aside from the laptop's dimensions, the design changes with the ThinkPad X300 have been incremental. The ultraportable still features a rectangular black case built around a magnesium chassis. There's still a blue ThinkVantage button above the keyboard, a fingerprint reader below it, and a keyboard light on the top edge of the display.

However, ThinkPad fans will notice small changes that make the X300 a bit more attractive. The lid and wrist rest feature an appealing soft matte finish; the ThinkVantage, power, and mute buttons glow when pressed; and the front edge is devoid of any ports or switches.

In addition to the keyboard light, the ThinkPad X300's display bezel includes a 1.3-megapixel Webcam and a noise-canceling digital microphone for Web conferencing. The matte-finish display itself features a 1,440x900 native resolution that's sharper than that of the MacBook Air and other similarly sized screens, resulting in text and icons that are a bit smaller than you'd expect.

The sharper resolution doesn't cause tremendous problems, though we did find ourselves pumping up the font size on a newspaper's Web site so we could read a lengthy article. We also zoomed in a bit when working on documents and spreadsheets. The trade-off: more screen real estate for multitasking and, when it's time for a break, beautiful video.

Given the amount of typing the typical executive does through the course of the work day, a keyboard can make or break an ultraportable. The ThinkPad X300 actually uses the same keyboard found on Lenovo's 14 and 15-inch models -- which is to say, not the condensed keyboard found on previous X series models and many ultraportable laptops from other manufacturers. After conducting an entire morning's work -- and writing this review -- on the ThinkPad X300, we still don't feel like we've been typing on a laptop. We love it.

Lenovo decided to include both the red eraser-head TrackPoint pointing stick and a touch pad on the ThinkPad X300. The decision is understandable: many ThinkPad users are viscerally attached to their TrackPoints, while other users can't stand it, so why not include both methods? However, the double sets of mouse buttons seem to run counter to the overall theme of simplification that the ThinkPad X300 embodies. In order to make room for the TrackPoint's buttons, the touch pad is placed rather low on the wrist rest, with its buttons near the laptop's front edge.

Fortunately, the ThinkPad X300 is thin enough that we could use the touch pad with our wrist resting on a desk surface -- or on our leg, when the laptop was in our lap. Of greater concern is the fact that, during our lazier typing moments when our wrists dropped to the wrist rest, we were likely to graze the touch pad and accidentally misplace the cursor.

The ThinkPad X300 is an interesting exercise in minimalism. The laptop lacks some features that would be considered standard on an ultraportable, such as an expansion card slot or multiformat memory card reader, both of which are found on the Toshiba Portege R500. But it adds features that will likely be of higher value to mobile workers, such as WWAN, wireless USB, and even GPS.

More notably, it incorporates many features that the MacBook Air does not, including two more USB ports, an Ethernet connection, and a built-in DVD burner. These additions make the ThinkPad X300 a realistic choice for use as a primary computer, which is a major advantage over its Apple competitor, especially given the price.

The base model of the ThinkPad X300 costs a hefty AU$3,999. Much of that price can be attributed to the laptop's 64GB solid-state drive, which promises faster application launch and boot times as well as a longer lifetime than a traditional hard drive with moving parts. (Unlike the MacBook Air, which comes in a low-cost configuration with a traditional spinning hard drive, the ThinkPad X300 is available only with a solid-state drive.)

Our review unit included a few upgrades -- WWAN, GPS, and an extended-life six-cell battery.

Like the MacBook Air, the ThinkPad X300 incorporates Intel's new small-form-factor Core 2 Duo CPU, though with a slightly slower clock speed. That slower speed is at least partly to blame for the ThinkPad X300 trailing behind the MacBook Air on the multimedia multitasking portion of CNET Labs' performance benchmarks.

Fortunately the ThinkPad's 2GB of RAM helped it keep up with the MacBook Air on our Photoshop test, where it also scored well ahead of the Toshiba Portege R500. As with any Core 2 Duo system, the ThinkPad X300 proved more than adequate for typical business productivity tasks, including Web surfing, media playback, and running office applications. We were able to conduct a full morning's work while streaming music over the wireless connection without any stuttering or noticeable performance issues.

In anecdotal testing of the ThinkPad X300 with the six-cell battery, we were able to get between 3 and 4 hours of battery life, depending on our usage and screen brightness settings. On CNET Labs' DVD battery drain test, the ThinkPad X300 died out after 3 hours, 43 minutes, just 20 minutes before the MacBook Air. That's obviously not enough juice for a full day of work away from the desk, but it is nearly an hour longer than the Portege R500's battery life.

Here's another place where the ThinkPad X300's built-in DVD is an advantage: you can purchase an additional three-cell battery that fits inside the drive bay to extend your mobile computing time. Also an advantage: the ThinkPad X300's removable battery, which is remarkable only because users cannot replace the battery in the MacBook Air.

As Lenovo has moved toward offering built-to-order systems, the company has dropped the baseline warranty for ThinkPads to a single year. Extending coverage to three years costs AU$152.90; other reasonably priced upgrades add coverage for accidental drops or spills and LCD damage. The preloaded suite of ThinkVantage applications helps users troubleshoot problems, and Lenovo's support Web site includes the expected troubleshooting topics, driver downloads, and user guides.

Turn over to see our benchmarks and comparisons.

Via CNET.com



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Marmotte
9
Rating
 

Marmotte posted a review   

The Good:Almost everyhting

The Bad:64g a bit light + Expensive (rare resolution) replacement screen

I got mine for $2k (march 2009) which isn't that expensive. The SSD is fast and silent :-). Battery life is OK, Screen resolution is great, Thinkpad KB is the best around. Construction is great (rigid and solid), mine went through a few high drops without any damage (SSD :-D), and it is spill proof like all recent tinkpads.
I eventually broke my screen (not an issue in itself, any brand would have broke in that circumstance) and haven't replaced it yet...the spare itself costs $400!

Dufd
7
Rating
 

Dufd posted a review   

The Good:Design - Love it, Size - Even better

The Bad:Price - what a shocker, SSD - What were they thinking, optional spin drive would have been nice.

If you've got a spare 4k lying around then hey, go for it. If on the other hand you want a realistic PC for everyday use i'd stick to the T400. Its beefy, has the same unreal thinkpad design and only a fraction more of the size / cost.

anpat89
3
Rating
 

anpat89 posted a review   

The Good:Atleast it has an optical drive.

The Bad:64gb hdd what were they thinking? Only 1.2Ghz processor? Toshiba R400 is cheaper and same specs however upgradable to 4GB ram and also is a tablet PC. I agree the look is still in the 90's. Probably actually not waterproof, what a joke. Also shock proof, I doubt it.

Not even worth the $4000, you can get pcs that have 10x the power of this weakling pc for the same cost.

satanmode
8
Rating
 

satanmode posted a review   

The Good:ethernet / optical drive / 3 usb ports / replaceable battery...simply blows MB Air
the ever addictive TRACKPOINT

The Bad:DESIGN....still in the 90's

excellent features for it's size....something that MB Air should incorporate

bchau
10
Rating
 

bchau posted a review   

The Good:Light yet includes everything. Built-in DVD burner, user replacable battery, you name it.

The Bad:SSD hard drive still pricey.

This has to be the best light laptop ever to come out. The keyboard with the trackpoint is the best in the industry.




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User Reviews / Comments  Lenovo ThinkPad X300

  • Marmotte

    Marmotte

    Rating9

    "I got mine for $2k (march 2009) which isn't that expensive. The SSD is fast and silent :-). Battery life is OK, Screen resolution is great, Thinkpad KB is the best around. Construction is great (ri..."

  • Dufd

    Dufd

    Rating7

    "If you've got a spare 4k lying around then hey, go for it. If on the other hand you want a realistic PC for everyday use i'd stick to the T400. Its beefy, has the same unreal thinkpad design and on..."

  • anpat89

    anpat89

    Rating3

    "Not even worth the $4000, you can get pcs that have 10x the power of this weakling pc for the same cost."

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