If you need a reliable netbook for business -- complete with best-in-class hardware and travel-friendly construction -- reviewers say the Lenovo ThinkPad X130e is the netbook to pick. Users with more basic needs might instead want to consider the Acer Aspire One 722 (*Est. $330 and up), which isn't as powerful but costs less.
Reviewers say it doesn't get much better than this. The ThinkPad X130e comes with an AMD Fusion processor, which runs proverbial circles around Intel's Atom chips -- although you still should stick to relatively lightweight tasks and videos. Upgraded configurations are available that can up that to a more powerful Fusion processor or even an Intel Celeron or Core i3 mobile processor (which are rarely found in a netbook), increase the base 2 GB of RAM to 4 GB (and you can up the memory yourself all the way up to 8 GB), and add Bluetooth support. The netbook comes with a 320 GB hard drive and an HDMI output in addition to the usual collection of ports. If there's one weak spot compared to other netbooks, it is that some think the display could be brighter.
Several reviewers say the ThinkPad X130e's keyboard is one of the sturdiest and most comfortable to be found in a netbook. The TrackPoint cursor pointer also wins kudos. However, critics say the touchpad is a bit undersized and overly touchy.
Although marketed toward students, the ThinkPad X130e is perfect for businesspeople, too, thanks to its fairly rugged construction and powerful processor.
Little owner feedback is available for the ThinkPad X130e, but the ThinkPad brand is renowned for its durability. Similarly, Lenovo's support operation gets above-average marks from reviewers in general. The warranty is for one year.
The ThinkPad X130e's carries a high price for a netbook, especially in some of its step-up configurations. If you don't mind trading in the netbook form for a full-size notebook, you can almost certainly get better performance for the same amount of coin, or less, with a cheap laptop; see our report for some suggestions. If a netbook form is what you want, the also well regarded Acer Aspire One 722 costs notably less, but performance, while still good for a netbook, falls a notch below the ThinkPad X130e.
The ThinkPad X130e is one of the more widely reviewed netbooks in recent memory, with coverage available at PCMag.com, Laptop Magazine, CNET and NotebookCheck.net. All offer extensive, testing-based reviews.
1. Laptop Magazine
Reviewer Michael A. Prospero praises the ThinkPad X130e's keyboard and rugged design. The performance won't set benchmark records, he notes, but the netbook is more than capable of handling the basic tasks most students will throw its way. "Overall, the X130e is a good value for its target audience," he writes.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X130e Review, Michael A. Prospero, Jan. 16, 2012
Scott Stein clearly isn't enamored with the netbook's form. "An outdated look and sluggish performance can't match what faster laptops and ultrabooks offer," he writes. Nevertheless, he gives the netbook a Good rating on the back of its rugged build and full-sized ports. He notes that while the AMD Fusion processor isn't as beefy as the processors in Ultrabooks and tablets, it is much more capable than the Intel Atom CPUs found in most netbooks.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X130e review, Scott Stein, April 17, 2012
Unlike CNET, PCMag.com's Natalie Shoemaker sees that the netbook still has a niche, and she says the Lenovo ThinkPad X130e fills it nicely; she gives the netbook an Excellent 4-star rating. The only major drawback she notes is the small and overly touchy touchpad.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X130e, Natalie Shoemaker, Feb. 3, 2012
4. Notebook Check.net
The Lenovo ThinkPad X130e gets a Good 85 percent rating from NotebookCheck.net, which admires the construction quality, connectivity options and decent performance of the device. The overly dim, matte display is the major factor that "prevents the notebook from reaching an excellent rating," Schönborn writes.
Review: Review Lenovo ThinkPad X130e Notebook, Till Schönborn, April 17, 2012