Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Laptop Review - Where to Buy

By on July 20, 2011

The business laptop that’s also consumer friendly.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Laptop Review
Its not often that you come across a tech product that you fall in love with almost instantly. However, such is the enigma that the Lenovo X1 exudes- a notebook that isn’t necessarily perfect but one that is clearly a labour of love. You can tell that a lot of thought has gone into the designing and construction of the X1 and although Lenovo has been churning out some extremely impressive products like the U260 and the Edge 11, the X1 is in a class of its own.

Starting off, construction quality on this ThinkPad is top notch with a soft to touch finish all around. The magnesium alloy lid roll cage will protect your investment well while a spill proof keyboard with drainage zones at the bottom will keep it chugging even if you mistakenly drop your beverage on it. At 16mm, the X1 is the thinnest ThinkPad though not as thin as the Samsung U series or the MacBook Air.

The left side of the ThinkPad X1 has the 3.5mm audio connected along with one USB port- both hidden under a door while the right side features an SD card slot and a switch to disable wireless radios. Lenovo keeps the front clean with the back sporting all the connectors- a bit unusual for laptops of today. The reason for that is that the X1 does not have a removable battery like most laptops have on the backside. Thus Lenovo had ample of space on tha back to house the Gigabit LAN connected, a SIM card slot for 3G connectivity, HDMI and mini display ports as well as a USB 3.0 and another eSATA/USB port combo that can charge your gadgets even when the laptop is switched off. The power connector is also placed on the back side which gives the X1 a very clean look on your desk even with all the wires connected.

There is a reason that ThinkPad keyboards have been labelled as legendary. They are pretty much the best you can find on a notebook and the X1 proudly carries that tradition forward. The keys are slightly curved inwards and decently sized with just enough space between them to not hit the wrong key. Lenovo does a wonderful job of making frequently used keys like Backspace/Del, Shift and Enter larger than normal. Other than the usual keys, you also have volume buttons and a finger print reader along with the famous blue ThinkVantage key. While I normally prefer quieter keyboards, I loved the slightly-mechanical noise that the X1’s keyboard makes. For those who prefer working in the dark, you'd be delighted to find out that the X1 has a backlit keyboard however, Lenovo doesn't equip the X1 with a light sensor so you will have to manually enable the it by hitting the Fn and Space key.

Like most Lenovo business products, the X1 comes with a trackpad as well as a trackpoint. I still don’t think anyone comes close to making a trackpad as good as the one found on Apple laptops, however, the trackpoint is an awesome replacement. My very first laptops- a Winbook, a Toshiba and a Thinkpad all had the pointy stick and I am super comfortable using that. In my opinion, it offers better precision than a trackpad and the one found on the X1 gets the speed and acceleration just right.

If you do prefer to use the trackpad instead, you’ll be pleased with what Lenovo offers on the X1. Although a tad bit on the smaller side, the button-less design and the textured finish of the trackpad offer a pretty impressive experience. Multi-touch is also supported with two-finger scrolling that works about as well as any other Windows based laptop. Also, Lenovo integrates the mouse buttons inside the trackpad for a cleaner look without sacrificing any usability.

The Gorilla Glass Screen on the Lenovo X1 is capable of taking in much abuse without cracking and covers the lid of the laptop edge-to-edge. Lenovo likes to call this Infiniti display. The actual screen though is 13.3 inches in size and has a resolution of 1366x768 which I think is a bit on the lower side. Lenovo chose a glossy display which I’m not sure is the best option for a notebook that is targeted towards the business sector. Luckily, even at low brightness, the screen isn’t very reflective.

Speaking of brightness, Lenovo deservedly calls the screen on the X1 SuperBright with its 350 NITS specification. Combining that glossy screen with the Dolby Home Theater v4 stereo speakers makes for one hell of a multi-media experience- ironic for a laptop targetted mainly towards the business segment. Pun aside, the Lenovo X1 arguably produce better audio than any laptop I have looked at recently.

The X1 I received for review had a pretty beefy configuration. It packed the latest Intel Core i5 2520M CPU capable of running at 2.50GHz along with 4GB DDR3 RAM. Add to that the 160GB Solid State Drive and you have all the right ingredients for a machine that boots up and opens applications really fast. Lenovo uses the Intel HD integrated GPU which is good enough for business use but not for much above and beyond that and the benchmaks below will show you that.

 CPU 3D Disk Overall
 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 4002 158 1607 720
 HP Pavilion dv6 6923 1264 505 1689
 Samsung U Series 2583 193 1290 790

On the heat side, the Lenovo X1doesn’t get really hot but warm enough to notice when its on your lap. The exit grill is located on the left side and you can feel the hot air being blown out when the fan kicks in which is pretty much anytime you’re using the GPU for anything such as running a 3D benchmark or games. At lower speeds, the fan is barely audible but on my unit, there was a faint but high pitched sound when the fan was working at higher levels which is a bit surprising as all previous Lenovo laptops that I’ve looked at have managed noise levels really well.

Finally, the battery on the X1 is decent but not the best. I managed to get a little over four hours from each recharge when using the laptop for browsing, emailing surfing etc. Something a bit more taxing like watching hi-def videos or running a benchmark indicated the battery life close to three hours. While the battery life could be more impressive, Lenovo does a great job at getting the laptop charged fast. Within a matter of half hour, I had the the battery level go up from 10% to almost 70% which is awesome if you are someone who is always on the go with short times at your desk.

So although the Lenovo X1 is not without faults, it is still a PC that you easily fall in love with based on what it has. Priced around AED 5,499, the ThinkPad X1 is slightly on the higher side, however considering the quality and components you get, it is well worth it.
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