Dec 112010

Cyber-Monday was upon us and I was doing my best to fend off the great deals flying around the Internet. I was doing a fantastic job until I saw the Lenovo X100e on sale for $400. I’ve been looking to replace my 7″ Fujitsu Lifebook P1510D tablet and the X100e seemed like the perfect machine to do that. It was known the 11.6″ notebook ate through the 6-cell battery in about 4 hours, and the AMD Neo would certainly keep your lap warm in the Winter. However, the Lifebook would get about 5 hours on its 6-cell and also got hot under heavy use. The considerably higher resolution screen and full-size keyboard were worth the trade-offs in my opinion.

Overall the product has the feel of quality you come to expect from the ThinkPad series. One big deal for me is the TrackPoint system, especially if I’m giving up my touchscreen capability. The keyboard is of a chicklet type, though I’m not sure why there is spacing between the keys. I would have taken a smaller form factor if that meant the keys would be right up against each other. Aside from smaller function keys, there’s also smaller Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys, the rest are full size, including the two Shift keys.

In terms of system notification you’re only given a power light (backlighting the power button), a battery status, and a sleep/hibernate status. There’s no way to tell if your HDD is working or if you’re wirelessly connected, as you get with the T61. Some people have groaned about the D-SUB (VGA) port and that it should have been an HDMI, but I’m fine with it. All of my HD TVs have a D-SUB, and since this notebook was geared towards the business side of things, who typically find D-SUBs on projectors, not HDMI, it’s no surprise why it’s there.

Windows 7 was the only option available and it certainly held up to my expectations that it would run like a snail. The first order of business was to resize the main hard drive partition and get Xubuntu 10.10 installed. There are two other partitions in addition to the main Windows partition, a ‘boot’ and ‘restore’ partition. Having 3 primary partitions meant that I would have to first set up an Extended partition and inside there create those needed for Linux. The X100e has no disc drive but does boot from a USB stick, so that was my install media. The entire installation took about 1 hour, initial boot to reboot, and was considerably easier than previous Ubuntu-based installs.

And now begins the tedious task of getting the system to a place that I can do ruby development on, work some amateur stations using PSK31, check my mail, and generally use as an everyday device. In my next post I’ll detail the various packages and gems I had to install in order to get everything in a happy place.

Overall I’m quite pleased with the Lenovo X100e, even if it’s light on battery and heavy on heat. I have a feeling it will serve me quite well as a replacement of my tablet.