Design and Build Quality
It's also highly portable. It's more like a digital clutch than a full-on netbook, and the atypically wide form factor is what makes that so. The screen's resolution is 1024x600, so you'll be giving up some vertical resolution in order to get the slim, tablet-friendly shape. The 'Cosmic Black' paint that coated our test unit was sparkly under the sun and just beautiful in every regard. We loved how Lenovo also mixed it up with a checkerboard print on the bottom and a white keyboard/palm rest.
Along the front edge, you'll see the SD card slot, which is covered by a rather flimsy plastic pull-out cover. On the right side, there are two USB 2.0 ports, a TV output (an optional accessory not included on our test unit), a VGA output and a wireless on/off switch. There's no ports along the back, but there's an Ethernet jack, power input and audio in/out sockets along the left edge.
Open it up, and things begin to look pretty crazy compared to a traditional netbook. There's a predominantly white keyboard, palm rest and trackpad, though Lenovo has ditched the increasingly popular "chicklet-style" keyboard in favor of a more traditional one; probably to best take advantage of the limited amount of space available. There are a full row of Fx keys, and the center LCD hinge allows the 10.1" panel to swivel 180-degrees in either direction. The LCD can also fold completely back, and on the panel you'll find speakers at the bottom along with hot keys for Mute, Switch Screen Orientation, Lock/Unlock and Power On/Off. Interestingly, a webcam is positioned on the right side of the bezel, which shows that Lenovo intends for you to enter video chats while using this machine in an upright "tablet mode."
The trackpad is the most unique we have ever seen; it's a solid pad (just like Apple's new trackpads on the latest MacBook Pro machines), but it's highly textured and requires you to mash the lower left/right corners to left/right click. Unfortunately, it doesn't work well in practice (more on that later), and it's entirely too small for the average grown-up finger to use. There's also no multi-touch gesture support, which is a real bummer in our estimation. The white keyboard is highly plastic and feels flimsier than the keyboard on the ThinkPad X100e.
The 10.1" LCD can easily double as a mirror. It's one of the most glossy LCDs we've seen in years, and the coating on the touch screen is nearly impossible to see in sunlight. Which is really a shame, given that most people will try to take their tablets and netbooks out and about with them. We have to commend Lenovo on the swivel design, though. The LCD flips around beautifully and easily, and when it clicks into place, it's astoundingly easy to hold. It fits perfectly in your hands as a tablet, and you'd never know that it doubles as a netbook if you viewed it sitting in tablet mode first. The panel is rather sturdy (not flexible like some cheaper touch screens), and it had no trouble recognizing our finger inputs. We very rarely had to tap twice in order to get a command recognized, and by and large we found the touch response to be fantastic. There's also an integrated accelerometer that flips the screen orientation as you flip the device; no extra button presses are needed.