Review – Lenovo X121e – first impressions
After some hassles getting it, the X121e has been in the household for a few days now – so it’s time for first impressions review.
Design and build
The machine looks and feels more like an IdeaPad than the ThinkPad’s I’m used to. This is no surprise given the price. The chassis seems pretty robust, but the screen feels more flimsy, and doesn’t have a latch. It’s also lacking any visual indicators for hard disk activity, network etc.
One of the first things I did after unpacking was pop in another DIMM to take the memory up to 4GB. This was simplicity itself, as rather than having lots of separate covers on the base there’s just one giant one that gives access to RAM, HDD and the micro PCI-e slots for WiFi and 3G. This machine is seriously easy to upgrade.
I ordered the larger capacity 6 cell battery, and had to check the part number when it arrived as it seemed smaller and lighter than I expected. It doesn’t protrude at all from the regular dimensions of the case – so I can see how the 3 cell battery would make any sense at all. Claimed life is 9hrs, and I’ve not done any testing, but I’d expect 5hrs under normal use.
The screen is noticeably larger and higher resolution than a netbook screen, and fine to work with straight on. It’s matt, which I personally prefer, and whilst the viewing angle isn’t great that probably doesn’t matter for most laptop use cases.
The keyboard is a chiclet affair – something I’ve come to expect of a ThinkPad Edge. It is however rather good, and easy to type fast on. Like any proper ThinkPad it has a trackpoint, which is great. The trackpad isn’t too shabby either – though its textured finish might be a bit abrasive if used for a long time. The whole front edge of the trackpad can be pressed in for left and right mouse buttons.
Subjective performance is very good. I’m guessing that a 2nd generation Core i3 beats a 1st generation Core i7. The X121e has managed to clock up the best Windows Experience Index in the house (at 4.9). This is mostly down to the HD3000 integrated graphics turning in a decent performance (the earlier HD Graphics in my X201 definitely lets things down compared to the other components).
I had a go at hooking it up to my 27″ screen via HDMI to see if it could manage the full resolution of 2560×1440. Sadly all it could manage is 1920×1080 (1080p).
I got the basic model with Windows 7 Home Premium (64bit). After configuring Windows it launched an installer for Office 2010 (and I’m guessing some other pre installed stuff). This was easy to exit, and the other pre installed stuff that I’d rather ignore has kept out of the way.
The X121e delivers the performance of last year’s high end machine at little more than a netbook price, which makes it quite a bargain. I’m glad that Lenovo managed to get me one in the end.
If you’re looking for more then there’s a thread at the OverClockers forum that includes some more detailed benchmarks and discussion of SSD upgrades amongst other things.
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