Lenovo’s new light-weight notebook—a road warrior’s delight

Posted by Jon Peddie on March 19th 2010 | Discuss
Categories: Hardware Review,
Tags: hp ces lenovo usb

Lenovo made the mistake of letting us play with their new X201s. It was a mistake because they’re going to have to pry my cold dead fingers off it to get it back.

The specs: Core i7-620LM 2GHz; 4GB DDR3; 160GB hard drive; Bluetooth spacer, Intel HD graphics; Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit; 802.11n; 1yr warranty, stated battery life 12 hours with (optional) 9-cell battery. Price: $1,349

The specs I care about: The screen is 12.1-inch with resolution of 1440 x 900 (WSXGA) LED backlit. It weighs a mere 2.7 pounds—1.22 kg. When on the road weight and screen size mean everything, to me at least. I’ve tried a lot of laptops and netbooks looking for the right balance of performance, screen res, size, and overall weight. I love the screen on my HP DV900 (which has been given to Robert Dow), but its 7 pounds just about killed me after a long day at CES. Currently the Vaio Netbook is the best of the lot and Kathleen Maher has written about it in this issue. And in a future issue Alex Herrera and I will be looking at Dell’s new 15-inch workstation notebook.

The machine I’ve been carrying (after CES and until this Lenovo X201s came in) was the HP 2510p, and it’s the closest one to compare to the Lenovo X201s.

When introduced the HP 2510p could be found for as little as $1,550 and get as high as $2,478 with various IT features.

The Lenovo X201s has additional features that make it a desirable machine such as a built in 5-in-1 Media Card Reader (for MMC, MS, MS PRO, SD, SDHC) and an ExpressCard 34 slot. There’s also Bluetooth v2.1, and a fingerprint reader.

The Core i7-640M 2.13GHz Processor has Intel’s new Turbo Boost feature which will let any single core run at speeds up to 2.93GHz.

The extra screen resolution is helpful. Look at how much of Tech Watch can be seen on the Lenovo screen (left) compared to the HP.

The document is opened to the same page and the zoom level is 100% on both screens.

Tech Watch on the Lenovo screen (left) and the HP. (Source: Jon Peddie Research)

Table 1: Lenovo x201s vs. the HP Compaq 2510p. (Source: Jon Peddie Research)
Lenovo x201s HP Compaq 2510p
Screen 12.1 LED 12.1 LED
Res 1440 x 900 (WSXGA) 1280 x 800 (WXGA)
Weight 2.7 2.8
CPU I7-620 2.13 GHz Core2Duo 1.2 GHz
Graphics Intel G45 Intel 965
Introduction February 2010 August 2007

The Lenovo also has a built in lamp just above the display that can light up the keyboard enough to see it in a dark room, this save the road warrior from having to carry a USB lamp.

It comes with a system diagnostic toolbox that checks for backups, virus checkers and other system components and has a counter on the top that tells you how many days left in the warranty.

We downloaded a video from NetFlix and watched it. It was fine. There was a very little frame jump on some very busy fast action scenes, and I’m not convinced that it wasn’t already there.

What do we think?

I think this is the exact right size for a notebook. For one thing, although I loved that 17-in HP for its big display, I could only use it if I was lucky enough to get upgraded to business class—the screen is too large to get open in a coach seat. And, if I tried putting it on my lap to get further away from the seat in front of me, it got too hot on my legs.

The Lenovo fits nicely even in coach, and if I had to put it on my legs (say I was in a bus or train with no table) I wouldn’t get third-degree burns on my leg.

The 12-inch notebooks, AKA thin & light, can’t fit an optical drive so they aren’t going to satisfy the traveler who wants to watch DVDs. Of course, an external USB DVD can be connected but that’s just more gear to carry and battery drain. So if you want to watch a movie you’ll have to load the movies ahead of time.—JP

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