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Lenovo ThinkPad X300 review

Verdict

An astonishing piece of design that brings something entirely new to laptops: a 13.3in screen, full-size keyboard and optical drive in a chassis that weighs less than 1.5kg. The only drawback is that price.

Review Date: 22 Feb 2008

Reviewed By: Tim Danton

Price when reviewed: (£1,998 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

So here it is. The few leaks about the X300 have only served to heighten the sense of expectation as Lenovo produces - arguably - the most notable laptop of the last five years. And PC Pro has the first full review.

So what makes the X300 so darned notable? Certainly, in photographs this doesn't appear any match for the lusciously designed Apple MacBook Air, with the traditional sober black ThinkPad look being very much in place.

And, in terms of footprint, it's not that much different from the ThinkPad T series: they measure 313 x 255mm, this measures 317 x 226mm.

The crucial stats appear elsewhere: the X300 is just 22mm thick and weighs a mere 1.45kg. Yet it still includes a 13.3in widescreen TFT, a full-size keyboard and an optical drive.

The optical drive means it can't be compared to the MacBook Air; the high-resolution widescreen and no-compromises keyboard pushes it into a different realm from Sony's TZ series and the Toshiba Portégé R500.

Make no mistake: this is a new form of laptop.

So who's going to buy it? Certainly the type of person who's on the move a lot of the time, and certainly someone who needs to exude a professional image. But don't be fooled into thinking this is just for big business: whether you work for yourself or are part of a huge corporation, the X300 will fit the bill.

Click below to jump straight to the aspect of the X300 you're most interested in:

Hands on
Performance
The hard disk/SSD debate
Battery life
Wireless wonder
The ThinkVantage advantage?
The compromises
Our verdict

Hands on
The first thing you'll notice when you pick up the X300 for the first time is that it exudes quality. Grab it by the corner and there isn't the slightest flex: it's rock solid.

Start tapping away on the keyboard and you'll be instantly reminded why ThinkPads have been praised for their typing attractions for over a decade: the travel is distinct, the keys are all generously sized and there's no irritating function doubling.

Unlike the ThinkPad X61, the X300 includes a trackpad. Sensibly enough, it's a wide-aspect unit to match the widescreen. Equally sensibly, Lenovo hasn't abandoned the trackpoint, and existing ThinkPad fans may rarely use the trackpad at all. And, if you find you brush against it while typing, moving the cursor to a random part of the document, you can quickly disable it by pressing Fn-F8.

The screen is generally a pleasure to use. It actually feels larger than its true 13.3in diagonal, and that 1,440 x 900 resolution is a big leap over the 1,024 x 768 of traditional 12.1in screens. For example, it means you can have the taskbar in the right-hand part of the screen (a notable improvement over having it on the bottom as it makes navigating open windows so much easier) and still have plenty of room for a spreadsheet.

Technically, it's a decent screen too. Contrast is excellent, so you'll see details in even the darkest screens. It's not without its faults - the LED backlight is a tad uneven, so the shade of white at the bottom of your Word document will vary a little - and the colours are a little pale, but there's nothing here that would put us off buying the X300.

The one issue worthy of note is its vertical viewing angles: unless you position the X300 lid at its optimum angle - roughly 110 degrees - you won't get perfect contrast.

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