Lenovo x300 – The No Compromise Laptop?

When the first inkling of the Lenovo x300 appeared on the web, I doubted that Lenovo would be able to get the weight down to the rumored 3lb range. Given the seemingly no-compromise design (plenty of ports, a WXGA+ resolution LED panel, while keeping quite thin), I was surprised at the quoted weight.

Fast forward to today and Lenovo’s now selling the x300. The reviews are in (and they are most favorable to say the least) and I’m glad to say, I’ve been proven wrong. The 3lb weight of the laptop is very real, albeit with the 3 cell battery and no optical drive. Still, even with the 6 cell battery and a DVD drive, it’s only about 3.4lbs. That’s very impressive. The LED screen seems great, the 3 USB ports (amongst other ports) is more than adequate, build quality is top notch like other ThinkPads, and there’s a full-size keyboard. Could it be the perfect laptop?

Granted, the thing’s over $2500, in large part due to the mandatory SSD I’m sure, but that’s the premium you pay for an almost no-compromise machine

I say almost no-compromise because it did make one compromise, a compromise that’s something of a deal killer in an ultraportable – battery life. That’s a major area of weakness, especially since at 3lbs, Lenovo’s targeting the highly mobile. With the 6 cell, one can expect between 3 and 4 hours of battery life under light to moderate use. The LED backlit panel and SSD contribute to making that even longer than it would be otherwise. I believe a major culprit is the choice of CPU, the Core 2 Duo L7100. At 1.2GHz (dual core), it’s well within Intel’s ULV performance range, but unfortuately has a TDP of 17-20W instead of 10W like the ULV’s. It’s apparently the same type of SFF processor that’s used in the MacBook Air – except much slower. It shocks me that Lenovo is stuffing this power-hungry CPU inside the laptop, since the same performance could have been achieved with an ULV processor. And it’s not like Lenovo is gunning for bargain basement pricing. At the $2500-$3000 range, I think most potential buyers would easily eat the additional cost of a ULV processor if it meant improved battery life.

So in the end, the no-compromise competitor to the MacBook Air has made possibly the worst compromise of all for an ultraportable. Unless Lenovo does something about the battery life, the Sony TZ will continue to sit at the top of my laptop to-buy list.

Note:  If you’re not too concerned about the battery life and think the x300’s the laptop for you, here are a couple more incentives to buy.

Canadians: Visa has a deal with Lenovo for some savings, and now, you can save an additional 6% with the coupon: CAXSAVE4RX. Visit Lenovo through the Visa Perks website and the cheapest x300 comes out to around $2430CAD before taxes.

Americans: Again with Visa – you can save an additional 10% on top of the standard promotional price if you pay with your Visa. Just use USXTRIPLESAVINGS when checking out. Visit Lenovo USA’s site through Visa promotions to access the savings. The cheapest x300 configuration comes out to about $2180US before any taxes.