Lenovo ThinkPad X1 review (1291-23M)

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 is an ultraportable Core i5 laptop
Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 laptop.

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 laptop.

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 (1291-23M) is an exceptional 13.3in ultraportable laptop. It offers a full-voltage Intel Core i5 CPU, integrated 3G connectivity and great user comfort.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 has a thin, wedgelike design. It's just 26mm at its thickest point at the rear and 19mm at the front (including the rubber stands on the laptop's base).

It's a notebook that any professional would be happy to have in a boardroom, but it also has a number of consumer-friendly features, including an HDMI port and good quality speakers. More business-focussed features include an integrated 7.2Mbps mobile broadband modem and a DisplayPort, TPM 1.2 and a vPro chipset.

Along with these features are a plethora of ports, including an SD card clot, a USB 2.0 port as well as a USB 3.0 port and Gigabit Ethernet.

Unfortunately during our tests of the X1, we could not get the SIM card reader to work, despite testing with three different mobile networks. The laptop also offers dual-band Wi-Fi (Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205), Bluetooth, a high-definition webcam and Intel Wireless Display (Wi-Di) capability.

The X1 is the toughest 13in notebook we've seen. It has a hardened body, a magnesium chassis, Gorilla Glass screen protection and a spill-resistant keyboard. Data integrity is aided by the inclusion of a solid state drive (SSD) rather than a conventional hard drive. The notebook is a little heavier than we expected — it weighs 1.7kg

A sealed body means you can't replace the ThinkPad X1's battery. The battery lasted 2hr 17min in our rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video. It's not a bad result for a 4-cell battery. The screen is very bright though, and turning down its brightness while using the X1 for basic Web browsing and document creation will allow you to get more than three hours out of the internal battery. An optional 6-cell, 35 Watt-hour battery slice is available; Lenovo says it provides 10 hours of overall battery life and it costs around $150.

One thing we love about the X1 is its RapidCharge feature, which allows the battery to be recharged in a relatively short amount of time. In our tests, it took only 44min for the battery to charge to 95 per cent — it took 1hr 17min to get to 100 per cent. If you only have 30min to charge it, then it will get to around 80 per cent.

Page Break

The CPU in the ThinkPad X1 is a 2.5GHz Second Generation (Sandy Bridge) Intel Core i5-2520M. Along with 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM, integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics and a 128GB, 3Gbps Intel SSD, the laptop performed very well. The X1 is faster than the 13in Sony VAIO SB Series, which also runs a 2.5GHz Core i5-2520M CPU and 4GB of RAM. The extra performance can be attributed to the 3Gbps Intel SSD drive, which recorded a rate of 73.10 megabytes per second (MBps) in our transfer tests, in which we copy 2.12GB worth of 2-50MB files from one location on the drive to another.

What it all boils down to is that the ThinkPad X1 can be used for serious work despite its small frame and thin chassis. It's not great at processing 3D graphics in real time (its 3DMarko6 score of 2549 can attest to this) but its integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics are still good enough for rendering high-resolution photos, and even playing simple games.

We we're a little disappointed that the X1 doesn't come with a matte screen, but its 1366x768-pixel glossy display is bright enough to use outdoors or in a well-lit room.

Unlike most other ultraportable laptops, the ThinkPad X1 comes with both a touchpad and a TrackPoint device for navigation. The TrackPoint can be useful when you're using the notebook in your lap and don't want to move your hands too far from the keyboard, but the way it's positioned means it sometimes gets in the way while typing.

We love the keyboard; its chicklet-style keys feel rock-solid when you press them and they possess good travel and responsiveness. The keyboard is backlit and two brightness settings can be selected. It's not as good as the backlight on the Samsung Series 9, but it does the job.

Overall, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is a marvellous little laptop that should be at the top of your list if you're after a powerful ultraportable.

However, we think the touchpad needs a little refining and we wish the integrated 3G modem and SIM card slot worked properly straight out of the box (we're still working with Lenovo on a solution to this).

Rating: 3.75/5

Original review: Elias Plastiras, PC World.