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Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Lenovo X120e ThinkPad Review



The Lenovo X120e


Seldom do I sing the praises of consumer good but this new computer of mine is awww-some! Here's the technicals as delivered to me:

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium; Version 6.1.7601 SP1
SYSTEM: 64-bit
PROCESSOR: AMD E-350, 1.6 GHz, Dual-core
RAM: 2GB DDR3 1.33s MHz (1 DIMM)
STORAGE: WDC 320GB SATA Spinning at 5400 RPM (3 partitions)
BATTERY: 6 cell Li-Ion Battery 57 Whr
DISPLAY: 11.6"
WAN: Ethernet 802.3 11b/g/n PCI Express
DIMENSIONS: 11.25" x 8.5" x 1.25"
WEIGHT: 2.93 lbs

Additional I/O: Additional features include:

- 4-in-1 memory card reader
- 3 USB 2.0 ports
- VGA DB-15 and HDMI external display port
- Ethernet port

Why do I like this guy so much? Many reasons - starting with the price. Lenovo had the X120e on sale plus I received an eCoupon in the mail which turned out to be 20% off! Total (taxes & shipping included) was $359. It was shipped from Shanghai, China the day I ordered it (online) and was in Louisville, KY 36 hours later where it sat for 3 days. Finally I called UPS to inquire as to how it could make it from China to Kentucky in 36 hours only to sit in KY for 3 days. The lady laughed and very politely reminded me of customs. I was cool with that and even better she gave me her personal phone number and said to call her anytime I needed assistance with a UPS delivery. Turns out a couple days later I came home to find a "tried to deliver" sticker on my front door. So I called my UPS friend and asked if there was anyway she could contact the truck and tell them I was home. 45 minutes later I had the computer in my hot little hands.

All that I have done since receiving the computer is remove any BS programs from Lenovo, load AVG, and add a 2GB memory DIMM ($20) for a total of 4GB memory. By the way, it took me over a week longer to get the memory DIMM than it took to get the X120e!

So, the price was right and the delivery was awesome. We're off to a great start.

I was prepared for the display on the X120e to be sub-par since I read some reviews dissing it. I find the display A-OK. Where this machine shines for me is speed and power. I haven't measured the boot time because it's not that important to me - I don't boot often. What I do alot of is entering and exiting sleep mode. Fn+F4 puts the machine in sleep. Touching Fn wakes it up - and it wakes up *immediately*. I can literally be back on the internet in the time it takes me to enter the password on my screen saver. The thing is fast and the wireless connect is fast. I run the Firefox browser and use CCleaner (downloaded from cnet.com) to keep my machine lean and clean and man, all I can say is this little sucker rocks.

Better still is the battery life. I haven't made any engineering type measurements or power experiments other than this: I hook the charger up at night after browsing in my bed and in the morning, fully charged, I disconnect it and take it to the living room. I can use this pretty much all day (in and out of sleep mode) and the X120e seldom needs re-charging. Now, granted all I do is email, play chess and sudoku, check stock quotes, and perform general browsing...but still - all day until I go to bed? Awwwsome bay-beeee! Love this thing.

Lastly the weight: 2.93 lbs is great! My son laughed when I told him my old ACER used to hurt my lower back when at midnight I would reach out to sit it on the bedside table with an out-stretched arm. Ouch! Me back! Hey, at my age I could feel that in my lower back. Not so this guy. It is sooo nice and light. Oh, and the keyboard has a great feel to it as well!



If I had to give the machine a knock, it would be the packaging of the battery. Steve Jobs would never have let that out the door (which you can see in the picture above). That said, it's no biggee considering all the pluses of this machine, and I have certainly gotten over it.

Now, the lack of a CD drive concerns some folks. Not me at all. However, when buying the machine you do need to consider you will need an external hard drive (dedicated if you want the start up image) as a backup. Or, you can call Lenovo and tell them you are having problems recovering from a problem and they will send you the original Win7 64-bit production disks (2). Or, you can do both like me. Funny enough, even though Lenovo bought the PC division of IBM many years ago, the disk arrived with a packaging slip that said:

IBM
501 Innovation Avenue
Morrisville, NC 27560

Go figure. And, I must say, the X120e sure feels like the old IBM ThinkPads too.

All I have done so far is add the 2GB memory DIMM which was easy-as-pie. For only $20, why not. There is even a nicely packaged memory test which was very thorough - walking one, address tests, sensitivity test, nibble tests - heck, I felt like it was 1984 and I was back at Burroughs' Memory Engineering Group in Rancho Bernardo!

I am considering buying an Intel SSD to replace the hard drive. Yeah, they are expensive on a per GB basis - but I estimate an SSD will be about 20% faster and perhaps a 20% reduction in power too. The performance is fine now, but I really want to save the power for both extended battery life and hopefully to extend fan life. My 4 year old ACER was still going fine til the fan died...then I suffered a melt-down. I could not bring myself to order a fan from some little Hong Kong outfit I never heard of, nor was I willing to pay the price (plus shipping) U.S. vendors (or ACER was asking). Anyhow, I am kinda glad the ACER died cause it was slow as molasses and heavy. Btw, I still think Microsoft has a counter that keeps track of how old XP machines are and slows them down on purpose so you will buy a new machine - and a new OS license...).

Welp, that's it folks. I love the X120e. Oh, I am having some problems finding an inexpensive padded case (no, not the neoprene sleeves...) for the machine, so if anyone out there has a good solution - please let me know.

All that said - the true test of a PC is reliability and longevity. I hope the X120e lasts a long long...long time. And let's hope there is no "slow-down" counter in Win7!

Btw, as of right now, the X120e sells for $409 on amazon.com (free shipping, no tax). But be careful - that one has a slower processor (AMD Fusion Single-Core Processor E-240 1.5GHz) and only 1 GB memory.

On lenovo.com, the exact computer I have is selling now for $449, but they will charge you tax (shipping is free). Hopefully, you can talk a sales person into giving you an eCoupon and save some cash! Good luck.

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