Lenovo ThinkPad X1 review
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.
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||3yr collect and return|
|Dimensions||337 x 231 x 22mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i5-2520M|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel HM67 Express|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|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|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Optical disc technology||N/A|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||yes|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||yes|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||2|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial 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|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad, trackpoint|
|Audio chipset||Realtek HD Audio|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.0mp|
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|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Professional 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|
|Recovery method||Recovery partition|
|Software supplied||Lenovo ThinkVantage suite|