Lenovo ThinkPad X1 review
Sterling build and stunning performance, but the ThinkPad X1 is far from perfection
Review Date: 23 Jun 2011
Reviewed By: Sasha Muller
Price when reviewed: £1,379 (£1,655 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
The ThinkPad X1 has landed. Aiming to bring a slice of thin and light loveliness to a boardroom near you, Lenovo's latest laptop isn't just a ThinkPad-branded Macbook Air-wannabe; it’s a no-compromise business ultraportable.
It looks every inch the archetypal ThinkPad. The classic design remains in full effect: a sea of soft-touch matte black plastic stretches inside and out, the red trackpoint set afloat in the middle of a backlit keyboard. Lenovo has brought it subtly up to date, though, with every last spare gram of plastic shaved off, and its chamfered edges lend it a subtly sporty edge.
A tough nut
Surprisingly, it isn’t quite as light as Lenovo’s previous 13.3in ultraportable, the X301, but the 1.71kg X1 is still highly portable. Crucially, the build quality is top-notch too. Grappling with the X1 reveals precious little flex for such a slimline figure, and a closer look reveals a laptop designed to survive tougher environments than the average office.
Keyboard drain holes allow the X1 to shrug off liquid spills, while the sheet of Gorilla Glass across the 13.3in display promises to resist more violent assaults. We can certainly see why Lenovo’s marketing materials describe it as “MILSPEC-level rugged”.
Yet, sat next to the razor-thin likes of Samsung's 9003XA or Apple's Macbook Air, the X1 begins to look a bit thick around the middle. It's all a question of priorities: while those ultraportables sacrifice power for attention-seeking slenderness, the X1 houses a speedy Core i5 CPU. This, the pricier of the two available models, partners a 2.5Ghz Core i5-2520M with 8GB of RAM and a 160GB SSD. That combination makes for a seriously quick laptop: the ThinkPad X1 scored 0.7 overall in our benchmarks – blindingly fast for a sub-2kg ultraportable.
As you'd rightfully hope, this power goes hand-in-hand with business-friendly features. On the software side, Lenovo’s suite of ThinkVantage applications prove genuinely useful. The decision to push most of the connectivity to the rear makes for neat cabling on a desk, and while we're pleased to see eSATA, USB 3 and mini-DisplayPort, among others, the only disappointment is the absence of a docking connector – a silly oversight.
Still, Intel's vPro platform promises to make the IT department’s job a little easier, and in tandem with a fingerprint reader should help keep passwords and the like under lock and key. There's no shortage of network connectivity, either, and dual-band 802.11n, an unlocked Ericsson 3G modem and Gigabit Ethernet cover all the bases.
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