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back to article Lenovo ThinkPad X300 sub-notebook

The launch of the Lenovo ThinkPad X300 attracted plenty of comment from Register Hardware readers. ‘Pah,' you said, ‘who cares how thin a laptop is?’ ‘Why would anyone pay two grand for a Lenovo when the HP 2510p is available for about £1500?’ you asked, and ‘What is the 13in screen all about?’ There was a common view that the …

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Gates Halo

Pricey

No way would I spend £2k on a laptop, especially this one and especially at 1.2Ghz, jezzz toshiba!

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Still think the Air was worth it?

So it's got more than the Air, does more than the Air, and costs less than the Air. Heheheh. That didn't take long.

But then, the Air was always a piece of shit.

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Defrag SSD?

I don't understand why one would need to defrag an SSD, yet this article claims (with some surprise on the author's part) that you do. What's the justification?

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Where's the Air?

After mentioning the Macbook Air in the blurb, why isn't it included in the comparison graphs? The two are competitors in the 'thin laptop' market after all, so not comparing the specs is a bit mad...

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Stop

Missing disk space

"The 64GB drive had a true capacity of 61GB capacity with 38GB free for your software, music and photos"

Umm - pardon me if i'm missing something but... what on earth is causing 23GB of disk space to be unavailable ?

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Sam

That's

...pure filth, that is...want one!

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Anonymous Coward

re: Missing Disk Space

windows and apps maybe??

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"Suggested Price £1997.50"

I stopped reading there.

Seriously.

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Rob
Paris Hilton

Am I missing something?

Can anyone else see a pretty normal looking machine, or is it just me?

Not that I partake in or condone buying Apple 'shiz', but the MacBook Air is significantly more 'gorgeous' than this slab of black (a slim slab, granted, but a slab nonetheless).

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Anonymous Coward

Light?

Is 1.33kg really that light?

I've had a 1.1kg laptop for like 5 years, even that has a 1.2GHz processor (yes I realise, its a P3-M). It's hardly that thick either.

Where on earth are the sub 1kg laptops? (Not sub sub laptops :p).

@Tim Parker

Vista install :p

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Conned the workplace into buying me one.....

Purely for testing purposes of course....

Mwahahahahah!!! Don't think it made it into the asset register...

Anyways, this review is pretty much on the ball, the X300 laptop is far superior to the Air (the choice of my missus) and surprisingly better than the X61 and T61 (My Orgs standard laptops). This is also the first IBM/Lenovo to have speakers in the correct location i.e. on top in front of the keyboard and not squirreled away on the bottom

Only complaint is, in divergence from the report above, the NOISE!!! While running standard windows and other installed applications, this unit is quieter than a mouse in a Church, but as soon as you are running a program that requires an inserted CD/DVD you are hit with one of the noisiest DVD Drives I have ever encountered... it even drowned out the music on Need for Speed for Underground..er... I meant the sound of me typing in my analysis report of this spiffing new bit of hardware.

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re: Defrag SSD?

Spot on, Mr. Adler. Defragging is to reduce the number of seeks and individual disk reads. While I dare say it's possible that defragging an SSD might help by making burst transfers possible more often, the effect is probably negligible, and wholly insignificant when compared to the performance increase offered by the SSD over conventional disks.

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Does less than the Air

Not bootable with OS X Greg, therefore no sale.

Shame to have such a nice piece of kit and be forced to run Windows on it. Doesn't seem right really.

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@Tim Parker

If it is anything like my thinkpad, it'd be the operating system and service partition (which essentially contains a second copy of everything).

Why bother with the expense of including an extra DVD in the packaging when you could bung it all on hard disk? Assuming it is similar to previous models again, there is probably an option to burn the data to DVDs after which you can repartition.

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re: Defrag SSD?

Wouldn't regular defragging of an SSD drive cause it to expire earlier?

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Not a sub-notebook

This may be an ultra-light, like the air, but sub-notebook it isn't.

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Paris Hilton

@ tim parker

the "missing 23Gb" is taken up by the vista install, the MS office 2007 instgall, and the R&R partition. vista is already a fat bloater when it comes to disk space. however I have a cunning plan to drastically reduce that. and for the monet it is a pretty good laptop, lets not forget that 64Gb SSD's aint exactly cheap, and my old T60 took a bid for freedom out of my boot one night on the way home (nissan never buy one) and once I had reseated the HDD, CD-R and memory booted first time.

paris, because she likes to be seen with beautiful things

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Silver badge

Awwww

That's techy pr0n and no mistake!

Funny how everyone is snotty about "only" 60Gb of storage, only a couple of years ago that would have been generous on a laptop!

I would love on, but at the moment my trusty R52 is working fine, so I can't justify it... The X300 just makes me all misty eyed over what is bound to come in a year or two when it does get to upgrade time... *drool*

Only thing I would complain about is the screen. The reviewer seems to think having a widescreen is a plus point... To me they're annoying. I have 1400x1050 of real estate here on the R52, and I like having 1050 vertical. To me laptop with widescreens feel like I'm operating it from inside a post box.

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Got one in the office

Some professor ordered one, so it's sitting on a table by my desk. It seems like a nice enough machine, but it just isn't all that impressive feeling. I expected when I hefted it for the first time some clouds would part and a ray of sun would spotlight me and the laptop. But it felt like lifting a laptop, not a smallish slice of a diety. Other than that the features that struck me were a massive border around the screen, and the wlan switch it on the back.

At least it's far better than the Air (Obviously.)

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re: Defrag SSD

The drive is small enough without wasting some of it in unused portions of fragmented files. Block sizes and all that, innit ?

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Stop

Defragging anything is a waste of time

It's not just bogus on SSD, it's almost totally bogus on conventional whirly-platter disks as well. Modern filesystems (including NTFS) are designed so that you don't really need to worry about it.

I hereby invoke JeffyPooh's rule of "False Finishing Touch".

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Re: Does less than the Air

Actually, OS X has been running on non-Apple hardware for a while now. ;)

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macbook air

ok, so its slower and more expensive than the macbook air and also doesnt run OSX...

Whilst its small, it aint pretty.. well maybe in an industrial type of way, but not a patch on the MBA

I know what id rather have... the metal one, even if it doesnt have an optical drive for me to ignore... :)

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Ports on back

Glad to see Lenovo have returned to the original design of having ethernet and VGA on the back, where they belong. The T60 is a pain because the cables are on the side.

Still, pity there's no line-input, no firewire, and it has this silly "shortscreen".

BTW, how does the SSD cope with a journalling FS? Linux support?

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So Apple should shoot for this with the next MacBook then

Sounds like a great piece of kit.

Obviously this is targeting someone/something different then the Air.

So this sounds like a good target for the MacBook redesign due in a month! Lose the solid state drive, and you might have a decent price too.

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Alert

What I don't understand

Is why Lenovo doesn't offer any version WITHOUT SSD and with just a plain (SATA) Hard drive? It would lower the price considerably and many people would be able to buy it..

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@ Hywel Thomas

It's a popular myth that defragging recovers space. It only (potentially) increases performance on systems where there is an advantage in storing data in sequential locations (much less the case with flash than a hard disk). A given file will always occupy n blocks, where the last block is only part full (so on average half wasted). Doesn't matter where those blocks are, on average in an ideal world each file will waste half a block - but in reality, skewed in the direction of wastefulness in the event of lots of small files, e.g. inefficient caching of browser images etc. You can rearrange n blocks to your heart's content, but there will always be n of them, taking n of them's disk space.

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Paris Hilton

Nice

Nice , pity it does not come with an auxiliary clip on flat battery pack like the last of the old Toshiba Portege 34XX models at the turn of the last century(my how time flies thus)!

It also reminds me of the simple fact the fruit mob's better competitors provide more for less , but like all fans of the Cupertino Fruit they themselves would rather pay a lot more for a lot less , then swallow their pride they have all been taken down as silly buggers and total suckers !

Choices ?

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Stop

Never mind comparison with the poxy Mac Plook Spare...

...how about comparing it with a *genuine* alternative like the Toshiba R500. As I recall the R500 comes with the usual C2D goodness, an optical drive as standard, floataway lightness of a mere 1kg and a substantially smaller price tag than this fancy ThinkPad.

Oh and try some real-world benchmarks (if that's not a complete oxymoron) rather than the spurious PCMark05 which is clearly easily skewed by the SSD in the X300.

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Air

The Air is targeted at fancy hipsters (who just need a large PDA) while this gorgeous lil thing if for people who want value for money. Though a real geek would build its own notebook of course.

I'd for one miss the square-ish screen, but I guess you have to make this kind of concessions when you want to combine portability with a decent keyboard.

Defragging a SSD can seem pointless (though not because NTFS doesn't need to be defragged. It does, especially on limited ressources). But from the vendor's point of view, more writing to the SSD means more kits sold... anyway, if I was to get hold of one of these lovely things, I'd quickly get me at least 15 more GB available. Guess how.

@Dominic Tristram (Where's the Air): look more carefully: it is on all the graphs, only the bars are not visible :-D

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Dead Vulture

Fugly. Just Fugly

Even if the MacBook Air didn't exist (in order to draw comparisons) that thing is fugly. Like some sweet laptop from the nineties, but on a diet and brought into the future. Wow. Neat. Cool.

Fugly.

Icon indicates what should happen to the designers.

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Not Aluminium.

Last time round my choice was between an (expensive) Thinkpad and the (cheaper) PowerBook. I went PowerBook - it's very nice, but the aluminium case is flimsy and quickly accumulates dents and scratches.

Next time, I'll spend the extra, and go for the Thinkpad.

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Gates Horns

Defragmentation

Defragmentation is a process which used to be required on dinosaur operating systems, which just plonked files on disk any-old-how with scant regard for the consequences.

Modern OSes support self-defragmentating file systems: when a file is prevented from growing by another file, enough space is reserved behind the new, discontinuous portion to fit the "trapped" portion, and then the trapped portion gets copied to its new location, starting from the end and working backwards. This is scheduled with a low priority so that it won't interfere with other processes reading other files; and all the while, the sector map is being updated so that the file can still be read by other processes (they will just jump from the "old" copy into the "new" copy at wherever the "new" copy begins) or if something interferes with the copying. Once the whole file is transferred, the directory is updated so that the file starts from its new location and the place where it used to be is marked as free space.

Reads can, of course, be serviced from cache whenever possible anyway. Small and short-lived (specifically, created and deleted in less time than the commit interval) temporary files may never even make it anywhere near a piece of oxide.

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I like their advertising technique.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hnOCUkbix0

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Boffin

Defrag'ing NTFS

Like many modern filesystems, NTFS has the concept of complete blocks, and partial blocks.

Sequential writes will result in complete blocks being used for all but the last block. In order to maximise the disk space, the remaining bit at the end of the file is written to a patial block, leaving the rest of the block containing the partial block available for other partial blocks. Confusingly, these partial blocks are called fragments. I don't know about the NTFS code in XP and Vista, but with other OSs, the circumstances when fragments are promoted to full blocks are fairly rare under normal operation, so over time the number of full blocks split to fragments will increase.

When reading a files that has been extended many times, you end up with blocks in the middle of the file that instead of being stored as whole blocks are in multiple fragments. Each fragment needs a complete block read so a single block dived into four fragments (for example) needs four reads instead of one, probably associated with four seeks as well.

When you defrag a filesystem, these fragments will be promoted to whole blocks (by effectivly performing a sequential re-write of the whole file), significantly increasing performance.

You also find that filesystems that are run over 90-95% full end up with a significant amount of the free space being in fragments, with few full blocks available. Certain types of filesystem operations just will not work in fragments (operations that try to write whole blocks, like those used by databases for example). This also affects a number of UNIX variants as well.

So long as the OS thinks of the SSD as a disk, using the same code as for spinning disks, the same problems will happen, thus you will need to defrag it just like an ordinary disk. Why should it be any different? What may happen is that the performance of a fragmented solid-state disk may not defrade as much as a spinning disk, as I would guess that a seek on an SSD is almost a no-op.

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Stop

People do pay for pretty

Funny how people criticise the Macbook Air for being (in their opinion) priced high due to style over features.

Take a look the mobile phone market - 95%+ of it is style over substance. $500+ for a device used 99% of the time still to just make calls and send text messages. Yeah right. Peer pressure? Vanity anyone?

There's a place for for style and substance. If manufacturers can design with both in mind both and charge a reasonable price they will always hit the mark.

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Defrag...

Of course I'd have expected Vista to recognize an SSD and react appropriately to it. Obviously another failing of the Borg.

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Jobs Halo

Ermm.. wrong comparison?

Comparing the x300 with a Macbook Air is wrong. Try comparing it with a standard 13" MacBook:

x300 Dimensions: 12.4" x 9.1" x 0.73" - 0.92"

Macbook Dimensions: 12.78" x 8.92" X 1.08" (SLIGHTLY thicker, but not much)

x300 Weight: 3.32lbs

Macbook Weight: 5.0lbs (Nearly double the weight - fair enough!)

x300 processor: 1.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

Macbook processor: 2.1GHz or 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (LOTS faster)

x300 Storage: 64GB SSD

Macbook Storage: 120GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard disk drive (LOTS more storage)

Price:

x300: Nearly £2000!

Macbook: £699

I know which one I'd rather buy. In fact, I might buy 2, and still have cash left over for a nice weekend break...

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Impressive little bugger.

It looks like a winner and I like the incorporation of a SSD. If I can run Ubuntu Linux, Blender3D, and Wings 3D on it then it could quickly become my favorite.

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Paris Hilton

Air today, X300 tomorrow

It is enough of a review to read 40 comments that mention the Air.

If you need what this offers I'm sure it's fine - if a bit more than "slightly ugly" and "slightly boring" and running Office is what you need then woohoo, knock yourself out!

If you want a thinner lighter 'hotter' machine that you don't have to fight through Windows to use - and isn't an anonymous square black box - then get the Air instead.

Paris because her legs will easily split apart as wide as the x300 screen, thanks to a double-jointed hinge (not mary) - and because she's an MBA to lenovo's Bonnie Langford x300.

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Keyboard

"You get all of the usual ThinkPad features so the keyboard and TrackPoint are beyond reproach..."

Really? Apart from the fact that some moron at Lenovo thinks that the Fn key is so important that it needs to be where the Ctrl key is (thus messing with all your typing, especially when moving between systems). As for the position of the Esc key... you just wind up hitting F1 all the time instead.

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Dead Vulture

"utterly gorgeous"

Hahahaha!! WTF?!

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Black Helicopters

sub-notebook?

subs start with much smaller formfactor... eg 12" screen. its not all about the thickness of the device...thats an incorrect view spouted by Apple marketing. Toshiba Libretto, Asus Eee900, old classico Apple 12" powerbook... these are all sub-notebook.

notebook is 13.3 to 14" screens

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Gold badge

A few things.

First, lauding IBM for "catching up" with a widescreen display? Having recently been given a Dell with such I *really* miss my old 4:3 HP. Same screen width, less height=less screen, the resolution hike doesn't compensate at all. Until documents start being produced in A4 landscape by default rather than portrait, widescreen display will be a hindrance rather than a help on work machines. Even code tends to be long and narrow FFS!

Secondly, "......what it will be like when we all drive electric cars and the background noise in our towns and cities drops to a whisper." The answer to this one is "Bloody dangerous!". I came perilously close to getting "Prius'd" the other day when one snuck up behind me in stealth mode. You don't realise how much you rely on your hearing for threat detection until some SOB invents a way of circumventing it.

Finally, defragmentation. Take a well-used XP box and install a quality defrag product. Now run a full on and offline defrag including the MFT and metadata. Once complete check out the performance hike. I was utterly gobsmacked, and this was on a machine regularly defragged with conventional weapons. NTFS doesn't need defragging in much the same way as computers don't need electricity (i.e. you can do your computing on a hand-cranked Babbage engine, but it ain't going to be quick). Still, maybe that's all fixed in Vista........(not holding breath).

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Dead Vulture

OMG, a dub-notebook article that's not written by Tony Smith!!!

Where is he and what have you done with him?

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