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Light-weight X300 heavy on features

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X300 may not be the most interesting looking notebook, but the light-weight machine turned out to be a dark horse.

While the design of the X300 didn’t impress me much, its slimness and light weight certainly did. Sure, it’s not a MacBook Air, but it’s not far from it. In addition, the 1.4 kg X300 has many impressive features that the MacBook Air lacks, for example three USB ports and an on-board DVD burner.

The 2.3 centimetres thick X300 also has an integrated web cam, a fingerprint reader, Intel 4965AGN (802.11 a/b/g/n wi-fi) and integrated 3G card, provided by Vodafone. It also sports a monitor-out port and Ethernet port.

The slim, black notebook definitely has its own style, but I would put it in the functional category rather than the stylish. It has quite a nice matte black finish. However, on the downside, after just a week or so of being reviewed by a couple of different Fairfax Business Media journalists, it was covered with grubby fingerprints and other marks.

Opening the lid of the X300 reveals a full-size keyboard with plenty of space to rest your wrists while typing. The X300 features the traditional ThinkPad design with trackpoint navigation.

The hinges allow the lid to swing open a very flexible 180 degrees. The 13.3 inch display is also very high resolution at 1440 x 900 pixels. It’s uncommon to find such a high resolution screen on such a small machine.

Also impressive is the Lenovo’s magnesium case, which feels sturdy and capable of taking an accidental drop or two.

Under the hood, the machine runs Intel Core 2 Duo L7100 processors, with a clock speed of 1.20GHz. It has 2GB of RAM and a 64GB solid-state hard drive, which is pretty cool but also adds to the cost of the notebook.

Some reports say that the 64GB drive does not actually offer that much space. The actual drive size is around 59.9GB and after Vista and the Lenovo recovery partition are installed you end up with around 40GB of useable space, which is not a lot.

I noticed that the solid-state drive on my review machine was far from silent — it makes some noise when electrons are being shuffled around. It’s quieter than a normal hard drive, but you can still hear it.

Lenovo offers a choice of either a 3-cell or 6-cell lithium-polymer battery, which sits at the front of the notebook.

The 3-cell reportedly has a life of around four hours while the heavier 6-cell lasts up to six hours.

The X300 starts at $3,999, excluding GST but including free delivery.