Review Lenovo Thinkpad X200s Notebook
Netbooks? No thanks!
Mini-notebooks, as before, define the image of the current retail charts. Therefore it can't be excluded that even die-hard business users won't come into temptation in view of the partly very low acquisition price. With high requirements on, for instance, input devices or ports, most mini-notebooks do not look particularly good, though. Lenovo wants to fish exactly in this target group with the ThinkPad X200s for customers.
Lenovo places its Ideapads, like the S10e as currently a particularly successful model, in the market segment of the up to 10 inch mini-notebooks. Lenovo's primary target group of professional business clients and private users with high claims usually attach special importance to the well-known high quality Thinkpad input devices, which can hardly be implemented on the small-sized mini-notebooks. As a rule you can count with an almost unrestricted keyboard starting at around a 12" form factor.
Lenovo offers a whole range of models in this order of magnitude, as well. For instance the Thinkpad X61s or the X200 series. Both model lines, X200 and X200s, differ in the existence of an optical drive. The X200s at hand presents itself as particularly slim and can save a bit of weight with that. According to Lenovo even the case should turn out to be even more stable in the X200s variant.
The Thinkpad X300 Serie (tested here from notebookcheck.com), presents itself somewhat bigger - the 13.3 inch display bids a considerable plus on viewport.
Despite the usual subnotebook measurements of approx. 300x200 millimeters, the Thinkpad X200s seems to be very compact and almost minute at first sight. The reason for this is found quickly. On the one hand the keyboard takes in almost the whole case breath, this barely having an edge trim and on the other Lenovo does without a touchpad.
How does that work, you ask? Well, trackpoint deniers won't really be thrilled with this measure, it having a red point placed in the midst of the keyboard as the only mobile mouse substitute.
Besides that, Lenovo refers to an enhanced case frame in the X200s which is supposed to make the device even more resistant against possible forces. Solely high-tech materials, such as a magnesium frame in the base unit or surface components made of carbon fibers and fiberglass, are used. You'll notice this effectively especially in the display and also experience it in practical handling.
The special construction of the display lid makes it possible, for instance, to pick up the 1350 grams heavy Thinkpad X200s on its outmost display edge. An exercise not to be recommended for imitation with other compact notebooks. Therefore, it's barely surprising that the display is almost completely insensitive to applied pressure.
The base unit presents itself with an equally good stability as the display. The case-tray made of magnesium has a particularly large part in this, barely allowing for any deformations. This could only be observed in the area of the plastic wrist rests and that minimally.
The display hinges don't make a big impression but they are made of the usual massive Thinkpad quality, reamed out of one piece of metal. The display shuts absolutely clean with the base unit in a closed state, whereas the "Clam-Shell" design provides for the interlocking of display and base unit. In the manner described, the interior, meaning the keyboard and the display, is protected from smudge and dust on one side and on the other, the case receives additional stability in case of a fall in a closed state.
Maybe a few words about the design of the notebook. There is barely any place for design gizmos in the area of the base unit because the keyboard takes up almost the whole area. The wrist rests are shaped functionally and ergonomically and correlate with their tapering edge to the current Lenovo design. Generally the X200s shows itself unmistakably as an impeccable Thinkpad, without unnecessary design-falderal or even colorful accents. This is left up to the red trackpoint in the middle of the keyboard, anyway.
If it weren't for the offered docking port on the bottom side, the positioning of the single connection options on the front side edges would be a major point of critique. Plugs and cables connected at the side edges can at least be disposed of with the according equipment. In the test without the docking station, the frontal USB ports especially nerved when connecting an external mouse or LAN connection which is found on the left side fairly far in the front, also.
Probably also because of the fairly tight space conditions, Lenovo offers only the necessary connection options on the device. 3 USB 2.0 ports, VGA-out, a LAN and modem port count to this. Further connection alternatives are found on the according docking solution, for instance a digital video-out (DVI, display port) for connecting an external monitor.
The integrated communication modules are strongly dependent on the chosen configuration which is defined through the post positioned number/digit combination in the label of the model. Therefore our model 7466-3SG at hand is equipped with an integrated gigabit ethernet adapter from Intel. The WLAN module is also provided from the top of the class manufacturer Intel. The WiFi Link 5300 AGN module makes a maximum transfer rate of 450 Mbps possible.
Depending on the configuration, and also integrated in our test model, is a Bluetooth 2.0 module. A 56k V90 modem is found in all models, though. Also almost a matter of course in compact business models is the UMTS option with which the notebook can be fitted.
As it is usual for all high quality Thinkpad models, Lenovo offers a 3 year warranty for the X200s. This applies also to the lower priced configuration variety starting at about 1300.00 Euros VAT included.
As already hinted at the start, Lenovo doesn't make any experiments in regards to the input devices in the Thinkpads. This applies also for the smallest representative of the series, as well as for the Thinkpad X200s at hand. From the 294 millimeters case breadth, exactly 288 millimeters are accessible for the keyboard. The available space can't be used more rationally.
With this the user also comes to enjoy a keyboard in a regular Thinkpad size which distinguishes itself particularly through its clear layout as well as the pleasant size of all keys.
The typing feel of the keyboard turns out just as Thinkpad typical. The single keys bid in comparison to other notebooks keyboards an almost generous stroke length with a well dosed pressure resistance and a palpable pressure point. Especially heavy writers should have their pleasure with the keyboard if they can accommodate to the subjective certainly different to assess typing feel.
The offered mouse substitute is probably also a matter of taste. For an absolutely full-fledged keyboard Lenovo does without integrating a touchpad and sets on the trackpoint represented in all Thinkpad models instead. This needs considerably less space and lets itself be used comfortably with only one hand, too.
You can forget the touchpad with a bit of practice. For instance, an unintentional tapping of the area or a tedious setting back during navigation with the trackpoint is not possible or rather not necessary. Together with the three very pleasant to use Trackpoint keys, you can leave your external mouse at home when on tour.
Lenovo determines two different display alternatives for use in the X200s in regards to resolution. On the one hand there is a WXGA screen with a resolution of 1280x800 pixels and at an increased requirement of overview, the WXGA+ screen with a resolution of 1440x900 pixels. The WXGA+ display with LED illumination is probably the equipment highlight.
Our test sample presented the 1280x800 standard screen. It delivered very good results in the brightness test. The maximum measured brightness in the central display area was a good 196 cd/m2. The decrease of the brightness on the lateral edges of down to 160.9 cd/m2 causes an illumination of the screen of a mediocre 78.5%.
The maximum possible contrast of the WXGA display built into the S200s is not one of its strengths. With a black value of a comparatively high 1.33 cd/m2, the X200s merely reached a ratio of 154:1 in this exercise.
A possible outdoor usage isn't a problem for the Lenovo Thinkpad X200s. For one thing the matt display surface prevents disturbing reflections and for another, the offered brightness of the display is adequate enough to provide for a very readable image in even very bright surroundings.
Outside of the adequate working area it has to be counted with a fast change of the presented image in the vertical visibility field. The stable viewing angles turn out considerably more generous in the horizontal area. Due to the matt display surface more slanted viewing angles are very thinkable, too.
You don't have all too many choices for the Lenovo Thinkpad X200s in consideration of the built in hardware. Merely two CPU alternatives are offered for the device. There is a SL9300 CPU with 1.6 GHz and a somewhat more efficient SL9400 CPU with 1.86 GHz to choose from. The SL CPUs are based on the current Penryn architecture in a 45 nanometer fabrication. While these don't rank behind their colleagues of the P and T series in regards of the FSB (1066 MHz) and L2-cache, there is one important difference – the TDP value (Thermal Design Power).
This averages merely 17 Watts in the SL9400 and SL9300 chips. The already as energy saving positioned P models have a TDP value of 25W and the bent on performance T models come to a total of 35W.
An advantage of a low TDP value is not only a power requirement, but above all also a considerably lower cooling load which, on the one hand, makes a slim design possible as well as also a reduction of emissions.
An integrated graphic chip in form of an Intel GMA 4500M HD takes care of the graphic. It is apt primarily for modestly entailing office applications, supports DirectX 10 as well, though. The chip can also decode HD videos and unload the CPU through this, due to the integrated video decoding ability.
Our test configuration reached an only average value of 4395 points in the PCMark 2005. This also applies to the results of the Cinebench R10 benchmark test. The deployable radius of the X200s can be restricted to simple office tasks like internet and mail, word processing and simple spreadsheets.
The X200s occupies a maximum of up to 4 gigabytes fast DDR3 memory in consideration of the RAM. Our test sample, though, was equipped with only 2048 MB. Lenovo offers numerous variations as a mass storage. Common hard disks with a capacity of up to 320 GB or even fast Solid State Drives (SSD) with a gross storage capacity of up to 128 GB. These don't only allow for a first class performance but also make a silent use possible. Above that they are also practically insensitive to jolts – and therefore perfect for subnotebooks in mobile use.
A common hard disk with a capacity of 250 gigabytes came to use in our test configuration. With a rotation speed of 5400 rpm, the data medium delivered average benchmark test results in the HDTune. In detail: average transmission rate of 51.7 MB/s and an access time of 15.7 milliseconds.
|3DMark 2001SE Standard||5667 points|
|3DMark 03 Standard||2303 points|
|PCMark 05 Standard||4395 points|
|Rendering Single 32Bit||2205 Points|
|Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit||3850 Points|
|Shading 32Bit||836 Points|
That a SSD would also have been a better choice in regards to the soundscape is also shown in our tests concerning the noise emissions of the Lenovo Thinkpad X200s. The running noise of the hard disk in idle use usually drowns the only minimally running fan and emits a volume of 33.3 dB(A). When listening exactly we could perceive a high-frequency whistling noise from the fan but only at the high-performance setting in the energy profile.
In the energy savings mode and deactivated hard disk the notebook stayed almost silent – 28.6 dB(A).
The fan increases its rotation and reaches at its climax a noise level of 37.1 dB(A) under constant load. In this condition the notebook is very well audible. At normal use of the device this should barely ever happen, though.
28.6 / 33.3 / 33.3 dB(A)
||35.2 / 37.1 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: (15 cm distance)
While with a maximum heating of the surface of up to 36.0°C under load everything stays within a limit, the bottom side can get a bit "hotter" with up to 42.7°C. In daily office use the temperatures stayed considerably below these values, on the upper as well as the bottom side (<34°C). Therefore, mobile use on the thighs is possible without further ado.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 36 °C / 97 F, compared to the average of 35.8 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22 to 57 °C for the class Subnotebook.
(±) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 42.7 °C / 109 F, compared to the average of 39.9 °C / 104 F
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are reaching skin temperature as a maximum (33.3 °C / 91.9 F) and are therefore not hot.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.5 °C / 83.3 F (-4.8 °C / -8.6 F).
The notebook has a single speaker in the front area on the bottom side. Apart from the somewhat restrained quality, we were pleasantly surprised from the offered sound. Of course, the speaker can't keep up with high-quality speakers in the single multimedia notebooks; the offered soundscape is quite alright for a very compact business device in any case.
One of the strengths of the Lenovo Thinkpad is its configurability in regards of power supply. Lenovo offers three different battery solutions for the Thinkpad X200.
The starter and at the same time lightest variation is a 4 cell Li-Ion battery with a capacity of 26.2 Wh which provides a reasonable battery life.
The X200s can also be fitted with a bigger 6 cell battery and a capacity of 56.2 Wh at an increased mobility requirements. This makes the bottom side of the device a bit more capacious and brings the notebook in a slanted stance. You still go a step further with the 9 cell battery block, which protrudes slightly at the back in order to take in all cells. This can almost quadruple the battery life of the 4 cell version with a capacity of 84.2 Wh.
In the test with the 4 cell basic version of the battery, our test sample achieved a maximum possible runtime of 283 minutes (maximum energy savings options, min. display brightness, WLAN + BT off) in the BatteryEater Reader's test. Under load in the BatteryEater Classic test, it came to an end short of 48 minutes.
In the practical WLAN surf mode with maximum display brightness and activated energy savings profile, the X200x with the 4 cell battery managed 132 minutes.
|Off / Standby||0 / 0 Watt|
|Idle|| 5.6 / 12.7 / 15.2 Watt|
27.7 / 39.2 Watt|
Key: min: , med: , max:
Lenovo fulfills all necessities of the business user of a compact and mobile notebook with the Thinkpad X200s. The case bids a maximum protection for the integrated hardware as well as the display. The subnotebook should even survive a somewhat rougher handling in external work without further ado.
The Thinkpad sweeps the board especially because of the absolute full-fledged keyboard in the known Thinkpad quality. With this, even extensive writing tasks turn out to be a pleasure on the 12 inch notebook.
The omission of the touchpad might be the lesser evil for Thinkpad-fanciers but for freshmen it may require a cumbersome accommodation time.
In regards to displays, Lenovo delivers with a WXGA+ screen with LED illumination a particularly interesting feature. But even the standard WXGA display with a resolution of 1280x800 pixels bids a good brightness and is suitable for outdoor use, due to the matt display surface.
The built in hardware aims primarily on simple office tasks. These are processed sufficiently fast, not least because of the efficient but energy saving SL9400 CPU from Intel. Merely enthusiastic graphic tasks should be avoided with the X200s.
Those who tend toward zero-noise emissions should use a SSD for which has to be paid for accordingly but sinks the noise level of the notebook in simple office use considerably. An efficient Solid State Drive may also provide for the additional impulses, regarding office performance.
With the available battery solutions you can set up the battery life almost freely – for the corresponding price, it shall be understood. While the smallest available battery merely fulfills its duty, the 9 cell version can bridge a whole work day, depending on the requirements.
Thinkpad-fanciers also find the usual qualities in the X200s, while freshmen can be convinced just as well. Even the price of the device, starting at about 1300.00 Euros in the starting variation, should also be within the bounds of possibility. With according upgrades (display, SSD, battery,…) you move quickly above the 2000.00 Euros mark, though.