Lenovo ThinkPad X121e review

An ultraportable ThinkPad for less than £500 seems like a bargain. We dig deeper to find out if there are any catches.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X121e

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the X121e's battery lasted a lengthy seven hours and 44 minutes in our light usage web browsing test.

However, to achieve this you'll need to turn the screen's brightness down by 50% which is a problem since the display here is dim, even at full brightness when compared to other laptops. We suspect this is a side effect of the matte anti-glare finish there's very little glare, even when the screen is placed directly under fluorescent lighting, but brightness takes a hit as a result. Squeezing a resolution of 1,366x768 pixels into the 11.6in screen may be a step too far for some a few of us in the IT Pro office found this required a bit too much squinting, especially when combined with its dimness.

Unsurprisingly for a cheap laptop, none of the X121e's three USB ports are of the super fast USB3 variety all are limited to older USB2 periphrals. The hard disk is a bit on the small side at 320GB, but this should be enough for most work purposes. The BIOS doesn't have an abundance of security options, but it does support Absolute's Computrace remote tracking technology in case of theft or loss although you will need to subscribe to a service plan to use it.

So what's our verdict?


There's a lot to like about the Lenovo ThinkPad X121e from its low price and sturdy build to its lengthy battery life and built-in 3G. However, using it is a lackluster experience thanks to the dim screen, iffy pointing devices and compromised keyboard. This may be the price of getting an ultraportable laptop at a rock bottom price, but it also means that as soon as the working day is done you'll be putting it aside rather than continuing to use it for personal stuff.

Processor: Intel Core i3 2357M, 1.3GHz

Memory: 4GB 667MHz DDR3 RAM

Graphics: integrated Intel HD Graphics

Hard disk: 320GB hard disk

Display: 11.6in 1,366 x 768, LED-backlit screen

Features: 1.3 megapixel camera, microphone, stereo speakers

Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, 1x Gigabit Ethernet, HSPA 3G

Ports: 3 x USB2, 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI, 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo audio socket

Dimensions: 290x212x33mm (WxDxH)

Weight: 1.56kg

Warranty: 1 year C&R or customer carry-in warranty

OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit


Image editing 35

Video encoding 24

Multiple apps 25

Overall 27

Light usage battery life – 7h44m


Sleep 1W

Idle 12W

Active 41W