Lenovo has taken the wraps off a new ultrathin, lightweight notebook for enterprise workers that analysts are already calling a worthy successor to the company's ThinkPad X300. Leslie Fiering doesn't usually discuss spot product announcements, but the Gartner Research vice president was willing to make an exception Monday because, she said, the X301 exemplifies where the notebook market is heading.
It's all too easy these days for road warriors to pick up a notebook to shed a few extra pounds, Fiering noted. "It's only when they get on the road that they realize all the compromises they've had to make," she said.
"The ThinkPad X301 manages to follow the industry trend of thin and lighter for traveling workers who don't want to carry any extra weight, while at the same time be able to carry their full office environment anywhere around the world," Fiering added.
The Move to SSD
Housed in an inch-thick case, the X301 weighs less than three pounds. Though the machine has shed weight, Fiering noted, its 13.3-inch screen is a very workable size in comparison to the 12-inch screens on competing models.
The X301 does not employ conventional hard-disk technology. Instead, it features the user's choice of a 64GB or 128GB solid-state drive (SSD), which Fiering says is at the high end of what ultraportable notebook manufacturers now offer.
Though SSD technology adds to the overall cost, Fiering thinks it's worthwhile for certain classes of users. By eliminating the hard drive, "they've taken out a mechanical part that has a high failure rate," she explained.
Underneath the Hood
Featuring a 13.3-inch LED backlit display and ultrathin DVR, the ThinkPad X301 mates an Intel Core 2 Duo processor with DDR3 memory (512MB, 1GB or 2GB) -- a combo that achieves nearly a 20 percent improvement in performance over the ThinkPad X300, Lenovo says. An improved power manager gives users more control over the notebook functions that have an impact on battery life, the company said.
When it comes to wireless, the X301 offers users a diverse array of options. Bluetooth and ultra-wideband radios are available for wireless connections to peripherals and other computing devices.
ThinkPad X301 users also will be able to access the Internet over Wi-Fi and high-speed mobile broadband connections when the product hits the marketplace later this month. The company plans to add WiMAX capability later this year.
In comparison with Lenovo's X300 models, the company says the X301 improves AT&T mobile-broadband uplink performance by up to 250 percent. GPS navigation capability will also be onboard X301 models equipped with high-speed mobile broadband.
Lenovo's new notebook also supports VGA video, which means users will be able to view multimedia content on multiple displays. Slated to begin shipping Aug. 26, ThinkPad X301 prices will start at $2,599.