Lenovo ThinkPad X301 review

Lenovo’s X300 rocked our world when its sleek, slab-like form appeared last year. Can the follow up, the Lenovo X301, do the same?

Our review sample includes a solid-state disk too, which has obvious benefits when it comes to ruggedness: one less moving part is always welcome. Add the fingerprint reader, spill-resistant keyboard, Trusted Platform Chip and three-year warranty (albeit return-to-base) and it includes all the features most business travellers will want.

Plus, as with all new ThinkPads, there's an HSDPA wireless modem inside. You get a Vodafone SIM in the box, which includes a free 30-day trial to its mobile broadband service, so when you throw in Bluetooth, GPS and 802.11 draft-n WiFi it's undeniably well connected.

Most important of all, the X301 will keep on going. With a six-cell unit inside, this laptop stormed along for 6hrs 31mins in our light-use test, and if you choose to implement all of Lenovo's draconian battery-extending measures this can creep even higher.

It is worth noting that battery life does drop under intense use: with the CPU pushed to the limit, the X301 lasted for just 2hrs 4mins in our test. If battery life is your priority, though, you can buy an additional three-cell battery to slide into the bay normally occupied by the DVD writer.

This leaves us with mixed feelings about the X301. The X300 broke new ground for laptops, being exceptionally thin and light but also - unlike headline stealers such as the MacBook Air - extremely usable.

The X301 delivers some improvements over its predecessor, but considering the high price we're a little aggrieved that the screen and keyboard aren't among them.

Despite this, it remains a fine design and business travellers with generous budgets should certainly put it on their shortlist.

However - and this is the big problem for Lenovo - products like Sony's SR Series offer much, much better value at around 650 exc. VAT - and while it gains 450g, it doesn't lose much in the way of usability. In the face of such strong competition, unless you can afford to stretch the corporate budget in these tough times, we can't recommend the X301 above alternatives.

Verdict

An incremental upgrade from the ThinkPad X300, and ultimately a little disappointing. For this price, we expect close to perfection, and the X301 doesn't quite deliver.

Processor: 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 Memory: 2GB 1,066MHz DDR3 RAM Hard disk: 128GB solid state drive Optical drive: DVD writer Graphics: Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics Display: 13.3in 1,440 x 900 TFT; Connectivity: 1.3mp webcam; VGA; DisplayPort; 3 x USB; Bluetooth; 802.11abg + draft-n; integrated HSDPA 3G modem; Gigabit Ethernet OS: Windows Vista Business SP1 Warranty: 3yr RTB warranty Dimensions: 317 x 236 x 22mm (WDH)

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