Lenovo ThinkPad X1 review

£1655
Price when reviewed

Keyboard, touchpad and screen

Ergonomically speaking, it gets off to a strong start. The keyboard adopts the raised, concave keys found on the likes of Lenovo’s ThinkPad Edge and X100e laptops, and that’s no bad thing. The feel is excellent, the layout spacious, and it’s a pleasure to type on. The trackpoint and its accompanying buttons are also excellent.

However, Lenovo’s decision to abandon dedicated touchpad buttons is questionable. Like the glass touchpads of Apple’s Macbooks, pressing anywhere on the touchpad sees it depress with a muffled click. Right-clicks require you to press in the bottom-right corner, or to depress the pad with two fingers.

The problem is that neither work 100% of the time. Right-clicks occasionally fail to register, and other times a finger resting on the bottom edge, poised to click, is enough to arrest the cursor mid-movement. It’s usable enough, after a period of acclimatisation to break old habits, but given the space available we’d rather have a slimmer touchpad and dedicated buttons.

We’d also question the decision to put a glossy display on a laptop aimed at the business market. It’s highly reflective, and proved especially so under the strip lighting in PC Pro’s offices. The bright LED backlight does help somewhat – we measured the panel’s maximum brightness at 343cd/m2 – but we’re surprised Lenovo decided against providing a matte anti-glare finish as an option.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 - rear

The second disappointment is the panel’s 1,366 x 768 resolution. With such a huge amount of multi-tasking power at the X1’s disposal, having to constantly Alt-Tab between applications is tiresome. Image quality is also poor. Despite the high brightness, greyish blacks result in a dreadful contrast ratio of 154:1, and the panel’s limited palette of colours and obvious pixel structure leaves images lacking their usual lustre.

The final blow is battery life. Due to the power draw of the Core i5 processor, the X1’s non-removable battery ran dry after just 4hrs 38mins in our light use test. At full tilt that figure dwindled to just 39 minutes.

That’s disappointing, granted, but the X1 isn’t a totally lost cause. Lenovo’s Rapid Charge technology is capable of fully-charging the battery in less than 45 minutes, and an optional battery slice promises to double its stamina. If you’re the kind of user who flits from a desk mains socket to that of a train or aeroplane, those few hours of runtime combined with the RapidCharge technology may just be enough to keep you running all day.

Yet, for a laptop that promises so much, it’s impossible not to walk away from this laptop disappointed – with strong build tempered by poor design decisions, the ThinkPad X1 is a long way from perfection. Those with a soft spot for ThinkPad brand may find room for forgiveness (and the three-year warranty is generous), but with the likes of the Sony VAIO S Series putting in a better all-round performance for much less cash, the ThinkPad X1 is a seriously tough sell.

Warranty

Warranty 3yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 337 x 231 x 22mm (WDH)
Weight 1.710kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-2520M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM67 Express
RAM capacity 8.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 3000
Graphics card RAM N/A
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Spindle speed N/A
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive none

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter yes
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 2
FireWire ports 0
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad, trackpoint
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.0mp
TPM yes
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 4hr 38min
Battery life, heavy use 39min
3D performance (crysis) low settings N/A
3D performance setting N/A
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.79
Responsiveness score 0.72
Media score 0.56
Multitasking score 0.69

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied Lenovo ThinkVantage suite

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