Interestingly, Samsung has used a matte rather than glossy finish on the screen. This helps to cut down hugely on reflections and makes the N210 Plus more suitable for use outdoors under direct sunlight. However, the matte finish also means colours don't look quite as punchy as they do on some glossy screens. Also, while the display's resolution of 1,024x600 pixels is reasonably good for a 10-inch netbook, its horizontal viewing angles are a little narrow for our tastes.In contrast, the keyboard is one of the best we've come across on a netbook. It uses quite large isolated keys and, because there's a decent amount of space between them, you're much less likely to accidentally hit an adjacent key when you're tapping out emails at speed. The layout is good, too. Even the 'shift' and 'return' keys are a decent size. Although the trackpad isn't the largest we've seen on a netbook, its matte surface feels fast and smooth under your fingertip. The pad supports multi-touch, which is great, but the buttons are a little on the small side.
If you're looking for a laptop that doubles as a portable home theater and game center, the Satellite M645-S4055 is worth a look. At $1,049, it's not cheap, but its specs are very competitive with offerings from other manufacturers. An upscaling DVD player, fast graphics, and excellent built-in speakers almost make up for a lack of Blu-ray player or Intel Wireless Display (we'd expect one or both for the price), and an underperforming included battery also mars the package a bit.The thick chassis of the Satellite M645-S4055 shares a lot in common with other Toshiba Satellites of late, using a slightly new design template. Both on the outer lid and throughout the keyboard deck, a raised patterned texture on the black plastic (official called Fusion X2 Finish in Charcoal) gives the unit a slightly glossy look without attracting too many fingerprints. The look seems to work better on the outer lid than on the inside, where the busy texture clashes a little with the LED-lit media keys and touch pad. Still, the patterned texture felt good under our palms; in fact, the raised palm rest seemed cooler and more comfortable than in other recent Satellites.
The included ATI integrated graphics help create a smooth video experience, but don't offer any significant graphics for games. Of course, casual and retro games should play quite well, but chances are you're not considering a ThinkPad for gaming anyway.We revisit the x100e months later in a landscape of larger-screened smartphones and cheaper, faster laptops. With a faster dual-core AMD Turion Neo X2 dual-core CPU, this tiny machine comes much closer to matching our expectations for a killer business portable, while not losing much battery life for its added muscle (although battery life still isn't a strong suit). At a starting price of $529, it costs more than its single-core cousin, but in this case the larger investment is worth it. The x100e isn't revolutionary, but it's a solid and comfortable 11.6-incher to consider for office use.
Depending on your choice of color (yes, color), the ThinkPad x100e will either blend into the pack or possibly catch a passerby by surprise. In black, this is yet another ThinkPad-like product. In its race-car-red exterior finish, however, it gains a little more flair. Either way, the smooth, clean lines around the chassis are understated and quite attractive. A simple diagonal ThinkPad logo cuts across the front corner of the lid, the only distinguishing feature.The six-cell battery doesn't bulge from the bottom but instead bulges out from the back. Increasingly, 10- and 11-inch Netbooks are getting better at integrating batteries smoothly without adding extra bulk. At least in the x100e's case, the bulge doesn't ruin the design of the front or the overall thickness, but it still seems like the battery could have been contained a little more elegantly. The x100e is also heavier, and denser, than many equivalent Netbooks (Lenovo doesn't consider the x100e to be a Netbook, but for our purposes we tend to call this class of devices a "premium Netbook").
Inside, no matter what color the outside is, it's all black. A smooth and slightly small palm rest lies under a full-size keyboard on the lower half, while the upper lid has significant bezel space above the inset matte screen to grab when opening and closing. A small power button lurks above the right side of the keyboard. Smoothly opening dual hinges let the lid open up nearly 180 degrees, which is nice for dedicated lap typers.Now, a few words on the keyboard, or shall we say an ode: simply put, it's very, very good. In terms of travel, key size, spacing, and overall comfort, this is hands-down the best Netbook-level keyboard we've ever used, and one of the best keyboards in any laptop. The x100e uses Lenovo's raised Chiclet-style ThinkPad keyboard introduced in the ThinkPad Edge 13. With gently curved and slightly concave key surfaces and gentle but solid-clicking key presses, this keyboard feels great under the fingers. Key sizes aren't shaved down, with the exception of some squished directional-arrow keys. Our one small complaint is that the keys are a little mushy, requiring full presses to register input, but we still found our typing better than average. The well-weighted palm rest is compact but offers just enough useful space for lap typing.
Our only gripe is Lenovo's insistence on putting a rubbery trackpoint control between the G, H, and B keys. The trackpoint gets in the way, and we really never use it.The multitouch pad below the keyboard is smooth to the touch but suffers a design flaw: it's too small, particularly in terms of height. Large trackpoint buttons above the trackpad limit the available space, and seriously hamper the ability to pull off multitouch gestures. There are additional buttons below the trackpad, and we would prefer to lose the redundant top buttons in favor of a better trackpad experience. The pad's preset sensitivities are a little too skittish for our tastes--the side scroll-strip jumped over pages and made browsing difficult.
The 11.6-inch matte (yes, matte) screen has a native resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, which is better than average for a sub-12-inch screen. It means Web pages don't get cut off and office apps aren't as crowded by upper toolbars. The matte screen is great, and we have to say that readability and screen clarity for text and icons seem to improve as a result. Videos look great as well, particularly in settings with a source of light that's aimed at the screen. Viewing angles are better than average, but aren't able to match how far the screen can tilt. Still, this screen is better than many we've seen.
Stereo speakers embedded on the underside of the front of this ThinkPad offer better-than-average volume but a strangely hollow audio quality. It's fine for video chat and basic audio/video playback, but isn't made for music. The Webcam had good resolution and light sensitivity in our casual use, matching what we've seen in many ThinkPad products.Ports are pared down on the x100e; not a tremendous surprise considering it's basically a Netbook at heart, but it offers less than many 11.6-inch competitors. Three USB 2.0 ports are nice, but there's no HDMI-out, an omission that's surprising. There's definitely room for extra ports on the sides of the x100e, especially since the VGA-out and power-in jacks are on the back. The right side of the x100e is nearly devoid of ports, while the left side is blanketed by a large heat vent. Bluetooth doesn't come standard, but can be added for an extra $20. A Gobi 2000 3G mobile broadband antenna with GPS can also be added for $150.
Our dual-core configuration of the x100e came with 32-bit Windows 7 Professional, a $30 extra over the base Windows 7 Home Premium. RAM starts at 1GB but is expandable up to 4GB for a total of $130; ours had 2GB for an extra $45. The hard drive on this model starts at 250GB, but a 320GB option can be added for $30. Also, it's worth noting that Lenovo's ThinkVantage suite of professional security and system management features, common to ThinkPad users, are included on the x100e.Originally, the ThinkPad x100e only came with a single-core AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 processor, but Lenovo has upped its configurations to include two dual-core processor options: an AMD Athlon Neo X2 dual-core L335 and an AMD Turion Neo X2 dual-core L625. Our x100e uses the Turion dual-core processor, which is an effective $50 upgrade over the Athlon dual-core. It's the same processor we've seen in other recent 11.6-inch ultraportables, and nets similar results in our benchmark testing. Compared with the previous x100e, this version performs much better at multitasking and at handling tasks such as video streaming. Hulu full-screen video played well, even in HD (albeit with some hiccups), and both 720p and 1080p video files looked excellent. Unfortunately, the x100e emits considerable heat from its side vents and bottom, even under normal usage. The single-core x100e exhibited these same heat issues, but the blast of heat we felt on our legs intensified even more in this configuration.
The included ATI integrated graphics help create a smooth video experience, but don't offer any significant graphics for games. Of course, casual and retro games should play quite well, but chances are you're not considering a ThinkPad for gaming anyway.We've seen our share of pink laptops, normally shamelessly hawked to the beleaguered female market, but we've never seen any that look quite as delicious as this. Rather than an eye-melting luminous shade, HP has opted for a muted pink hue with a metallic tint on the interior.It's topped off with a party-ring-like lacquer coating over the lid and underside of the netbook, which isn't something we see very often. Even the trackpad features the same pattern. To be honest, this netbook makes us want to eat a whole lot of ice cream, which is a sure hallmark of successful engineering.Portability is impressive at a petite weight of just 1.22kg. The netbook's dimensions are pretty slender, too, measuring a meagre 23 by 268 by 178mm, so hurling it into your backpack or handbag and sprinting out the door is definitely on the cards.
We're very happy with the keyboard on show here, which is one of the largest we've seen on a netbook. The great big keys and large space bar are cause for celebration, and the gaps between each button should help cut down accidental mis-presses. The individual keys feel a touch plasticky and rattly, but we don't think it's a huge issue.The pastel iced-doughnut design extends to the Mini's trackpad, which is large for a netbook but still features HP's annoying integrated-click function.
We're also in two minds about the trackpad. On the one hand, this isn't the tiny, cramped affair we see on so many netbooks, and its wide, highly sensitive mousing area might stop you developing chronic carpal tunnel in your thumbs. On the other hand, HP still insists on integrating the click buttons into the trackpad itself, so you'll frequently find yourself accidentally nudging the cursor when all you wanted to do was hit the left click. Fail.The Mini's display is a strong point. We're talking about a 10.1-inch panel with a 1024x600-pixel resolution. It's glossy, but it's also lovely and bright. Colours look vivid on this panel, so viewing photos and Web pages on this screen is a pleasure.