The Good Powerful processor in a 12-inch laptop; excellent battery life; typical ThinkPad-quality construction.
The Bad Bulky for a 12-inch laptop; expensive for a nongaming system.
The Bottom Line Anyone looking for the power of a midsize laptop in a compact 12-inch body has only a few choices, and none to date tops Lenovo's excellent ThinkPad X201.
Lenovo ThinkPad X201 3626
Few brands have as firmly established a brand identity as the Lenovo ThinkPad (and the IBM ThinkPad before that). The iconic look and feel of these systems have changed in only subtle ways over the years, maintaining a road-tested list of features, from the solid, chunky keyboards to the jutting top lip of the display lid to the familiar red trackpoint and secondary mouse buttons.
The ThinkPad X machines are small, if not exactly svelte, versions of the bigger ThinkPads found in corporate offices around the world. The current version of the X201 maintains a surprisingly large keyboard, accomplished by literally running the keys to the very edges of the chassis, as well as a 12-inch display and Intel's latest Core i5 processor.
It's about as powerful an ultraportable package as you're likely to find (and a wholly different beast from the other small-but-mighty laptop we've seen recently, the Dell Alienware M11x), but it's also not nearly as portable as most 11- or 12-inch Netbook-style systems. We could see shaving a little mass off by ditching the trackpoint (which requires a large wrist rest to accommodate its double set of mouse buttons), but at the same time, we're happy to shoulder a little more weight in return for the semirugged feel and the peace of mind the construction provides.
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