the 13.3 in screen has 1440 x 900 resolution and yet still has quite a wide bezel. To make the lid thinner and use less power, Lenovo has used LED backlighting, which works just fine - the viewing angle is more limited than other laptops, but this is no big problem.

The keyboard is big enough to include all the F1- F12 function keys as separate keys, a decent size space bar, arrow keys, and separate keys for PgUp, PgDn, End and so forth. It's also got a range of blue functions on keys, which will be familiar to ThinkPad users - which turn on the wireless, and adjust the screen brightness.

The X300 includes two mouse options - the Thinkpad's traditional red trackpoint "nipple" with right-and-left mouse buttons and scroll button, as well as a more modern trackpad. Blue-F8 lets you turn either or both on and off - When touch typing I tend to prefer the trackpoint as my hands can brush the trackpad, but when browsing the scroll function in the trackpad is easier.

Performance

The X300 comes with Vista, and the obligatory 2G of RAM, and runs reasonably fast on a super-low power (and 2mm thick) Intel SL7100 processor. The first models available have a 64 Gbyte solid state drive, and a six-cell battery which gives - in our unscientific usage, some five hours of word processing and wireless web browsing.

Without any tweaking it scored 3.4 on Microsoft's Windows Experience Index, which is enough for most tasks - and certainly enough for our mix of web, spreadsheet and word processing work. There was about 40G left of our solid state disk free. The solid state disk definitely gave a quicker cycle into and out of hibernation, and operated silently, as it should - anyone needing more storage will have to wait a couple of months for models witha regular hard disk.

The most demanding thing we did on the X300 was probably playing a DVD - it was well up to the task, and surprised us with the quality of the speakers. Larger than many laptops boast, and mounted in the front corners of the base unit.

Networking

The X300 has all the wireless options you would expect. Wi-Fi 802.11abg/n is there, along with Bluetooth, and 3G/HSDPA wireless WAN. All three are managed behind a very understandable user interface, accessed either through Fn-F5 or the ThinkVantage button, and all the options worked hooked happily with our preferred networks and devices. there's a nice utility to find and choose Wi-Fi networks.

Although Lenovo has done the decent thing and not tied X300 to any cellular network, it does ship them with a non-activated Vodafone SIM if required. Our model also had 3G dashboard software, which we were a bit disappointed with. It was heavily Vodafone-branded, and guided us to activate the supplied SIM with Vodafone. It also refused to work with our pre-activated T-Mobile SIM.

So although Lenovo hasn't thrown in its lot with any provider, it seems to have fallen into promoting Vodafone, and there was no information on Lenovo's site or any of the vendors we looked at, about contracts, either with Vodafone or other providers.

We downloaded a utility from Sierra Wireless which bypassed the provided desktop, and worked happily with our T-Mobile SIM, giving 3G speeds (384k inside our house, and better speeds outside).