Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Review
- Slim and sturdy
- Gorilla Glass display
- Spill-resistant, backlit keyboard
- Great connectivity options
- Useful proprietary software
- Very good performance
- Disappointing battery life
- Heats up on the left edge
If you can overlook the ThinkPad X1's underwhelming battery performance, it is exactly the kind of business ultraportable for frequent flying executives - slim, sturdy and easy to tuck away. It looks decent, feels good, is built like a tank, and has one of the best keyboards you'll ever find on a laptop.
The new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is Lenovo’s ultimate business ultraportable, the latest in ThinkPad’s much-acclaimed X series of business laptops; a successor to Lenovo ThinkPad X300 and X301 laptops. The X1 is sleek, light and built like a tank; it also has the latest Intel processors, unique features, and one of the best typing experiences on a commercial laptop to offer. Let’s take a closer look at the ThinkPad X1’s business-worthiness, if you will.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1: Looks & Design
The Lenovo ThinkPads are perhaps the most boring laptops to look upon -- they don’t dress as well as the Sony VAIOs and Apple MacBooks -- but for their target audience of business men and women which don’t mind the ThinkPads industrial look, they make perfect sense. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is no different -- the business ultraportable has a lacklustre greyish black color all over, which makes them a regular sight around boardrooms and conference tables. The ThinkPad X1’s screen lid has a smooth but tough rubber coating. Prop the slim laptop open to reveal a fine finish on the X1’s palmrest, keyboard and the area surrounding it.
Of course, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 -- like previous X-series ultraportables -- is quite rugged and built like a tank. It survives drop from up to 4 feet high without smashing its innards, thanks to a reinforced metal roll-cage designed chassis and metal hinges. Make no mistakes, when you touch and hold the Lenovo ThinkPad X1, you are definitely aware of its superior build quality compared to mainstream laptops, for example. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is 0.65-inches thin and weighs 1.72-kg -- considering its 13-inch form factor, it’s an ultraportable laptop to rival the likes of the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air and the recently reviewed Sony VAIO S. It may not be thinner or lighter compared to the two, but the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is definitely the most rugged and solidly built laptop of the three.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1: Screen
The Lenovo ThinkPads have pioneered a thing or two for laptops over the years, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is no different. The X1 comes equipped with an edge-to-edge Corning Gorilla Glass display screen, claimed to be the first laptop of its kind to have a scratch-resistant surface found on most high-end smartphones. And it does work -- we tried scratching the ThinkPad X1’s surface with coins and keys and it was impervious to damage, leaving no scratch marks. But it is glossy, the ThinkPad X1’s 13.3-inch LED backlit LCD display, which may not go too well with ThinkPad loyalists -- past ThinkPads almost always had a non-glossy display screen. We’re also miffed by the fact that the X1 comes with only 1366x768 resolution screen compared to the X300/X301’s 1440x900 pixel screen.
As to the screen’s performance, it’s not bad at all. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is not only designed to be the ultimate business ultraportable, it is meant to dual-up as a basic entertainment laptop for business executives who don’t want to carry two different laptops for personal and professional use. The glossy screen of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is very bright -- 350 nits -- brighter than the Sony VAIO S -- and displays both text and video pretty well, sharp and crisp. However, colours aren’t particularly deep and the ThinkPad X1’s screen has average viewing angles. The screen’s top bezel comes with a 2MP webcam for video-conferencing with up to HD 720p video output capability. The webcam worked well with Skype and we liked its Web Conferencing control panel which lets you exert fine control over the mic and camera.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1: Keyboard and Trackpad
Quite simply, without much exaggeration, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 has one of the best keyboards we’ve seen on a laptop -- ever. The key-design on the X1 may not be the same as past X300/X301 ultraportables, but it doesn’t take anything away from the overall typing experience and only enriches it. The island-styled, isolated keys sported by the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 have a slight dip or “scooped” scalloped design -- it helps your fingers nestle on top of the keys perfectly while typing on them. The X1’s keyboard provides a great deal of comfort while typing and your wrists are parked well on its wide keyboard. Every keystroke produces a response and feedback that’s near-perfect and there’s a soft clicking sound accompanying them. Overall, a top-notch keyboard which can resist up to 60ml of spillage -- courtesy a channel along the keyboard’s edge with two see-through vents for water to go out -- and comes with two levels of backlighting for typing in the dark. The backlit keyboard also means no Lenovo ThinkLight at the top of the screen.
The X1 comes with the traditional Lenovo TrackPoint system -- a pressure-senstitive red rubber button placed in the center of the keyboard with accompanying left, right and center buttons on top of the traditional touchpad. The TrackPoint navigation, once you get used to it, is a great way to navigate the mouse on screen, reducing a lot of back and forth time between typing on the keyboard and reaching for the touchpad. The normal touchpad on the ThinkPad X1 is a square box of finely textured pattern -- there are no separate mouse buttons, they are designated at the bottom of the one-piece touchpad. The touchpad works well and has a similar concept like the MacBook Air’s trackpad -- to provide one large clickable area.
Click next to read on about the ThinkPad X1's hardware features, its performance, and our verdict...
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