Last fall, I wrote a blog post titled Are Netbooks Ready for Primetime. At the time of writing, it seemed to me that the answer was yes, no and maybe depending on needs and environment.
Certainly, in the time frame of 4 to 6 months ago, many netbooks were running XP home for their OS and consequently were challenging to use in a managed domain based environment. I spend some time testing the Lenovo Ideapad. In many respects this was a great machine, and it showed me the potential of a netbook sized machine for travel and web 2.0 uses. I did not like the keyboard layout and found the keyboard a little to small. The Ideapad also used XP home.
This week I have had an opportunity to try out the new ThinkPad X100e model. This unit is clearly a step up from a true netbook in that it is a smaller ThinkPad with many of the solid design features you would expect from the ThinkPad model line. The clunky keyboard design of the IdeaPad was gone. The keys are nicely sized and shaped, and the overall keyboard layout is very clean from my perspective. The unit I tried came with Windows 7, and worked like a charm – easy to use, no setup issues and the wireless connected easily and worked without issue. I also understand that the X100e unit can be configured to use XP pro, so this gives some options within the managed enterprise environment.
IdeaPad (left) and X100e (right)
IdeaPad keyboard layout
X100e keyboard layout
The unit comes with a number of options including:
- Windows 7 home/pro (Eng/Fr)
- 1/2/3/4 GB RAM
- Eng/Fr keyboard
- 160/250/320 GB hard drive
- Microsoft software bundles.
Given the Windows 7/XP options, improved keyboard layout and price point, I think the X100e unit could find a real niche in the K-12 education environment – a little more than a traditional netbook, a little less than an expensive laptop. I will look forward to hear what others think about this exciting product.