Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Ultralight Laptop Review

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The new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is a formidable system. It's generally being billed as Lenovo's champion of choice vs. the Macbook Air. That comparison makes sense based on the Air's visibility, but the X1 is set to compete across the entire spectrum, including new thin and light machines from Dell and HP and in the enterprise, where perhaps the Air doesn't have a strong presence.

The specs for the machine we tested don't represent Lenovo's highest-end X1 configuration; the company sells two SSD-powered versions of the diminutive system as well.  Here's a quick video walk-through of the system...

Our testbed included a 'Slice' battery (for very good reason); we've included its price along with the machine's full specifications in our list below.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Laptop
Specifications and Features (as tested)
  • Intel Core i5-2520M (2.5GHz, 3.2GHz TB)
  • 4GB of DDR3 RAM
  • 13.3" LCD (1366x768)
  • Intel HD 3000
  • 320GB (7200RPM) Hitachi HDD
  • 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • No Optical Drive
  • HDMI Out
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • USB 2.0 x 3
  • RJ-45 (Ethernet 10/100/1000)
  • Combined Audio Jack
  • SD / MMC / SDHC / SDXC Multimedia card reader
  • Stereo Speakers
  • 3.73 Pounds / 4.5lbs with external battery
  • Slice Battery
  • 13.26" x 9.1" x 0.65"
  • Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)
  • Price (as tested): $1454
  • Price (starting): $1199
  • 1-Year Warranty

The Core i5-2520M is Intel's midrange dual-core, HT-enabled mobile offering, with a 35W total TDP and Intel's HD Graphics 3000 integrated GPU. The CPU has a maximum clockspeed of 3.2GHz and the GPU can run at up to 1.3GHz. Intel's latest integrated GPU offering may not compete well with current low-end discrete chips from AMD and Nvidia, but it continues to push the CPU manufacturer's GPU performance upwards.

The first thing we noticed when we opened the ThinkPad X1 is how well-balanced the system is. Laptops are unbalanced more often than not, prone to tipping backwards due to the weight of the screen, battery, or both.  The X1 is laterally stable with or without the additional bottom-mounted battery. We were initially concerned that the battery (which only covers part of the bottom of the system) would cause the machine to tip forward when installed. This does not occur. The screen, meanwhile, can tilt back 180 degrees--a potentially useful feature when watching content in cramped quarters.

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LBowen 3 years ago

Certainly not a gaming/design laptop but effective HotHardware for lower end-users, good review on it's features.

rapid1 3 years ago

Smaller and more capable as seems to be the general case year to year. The only thing personally especially for this market is what is the need really in many cases. I could grab a smart phone, and a table or a current netbook for less and do pretty much all of the same things for less, with greater mobility, and longer operation generally.

omegadraco 3 years ago

They still have that iconic ThinkPad eraser head mouse. Nice looking machine though still not as sexy as the Macbook Air (not that I would ever spend the money on one of those)

inspector 3 years ago

the trackpoint brings back memories :D. Back when i was in like elementary school :) lol.

Thanks for the review.

Drake_McNasty 3 years ago

Ha, I've been waiting for this review since that cheesy video. I thought for sure that dude was looking up weird porn or something. @rapid1 I agree, ultra portable seems to be the trend for this year. I'm a bit disappointed with the price for what you get, but you have to pay for quality in a small package. I guess when I think ultra portable my number one concern is battery life, I don't want to be worried about finding an outlet when I'm on the go. Great review Joel

Did you guys dump any liquids on it?

Dave_HH 3 years ago

Nah, no liquids dumped but we may get evil on it yet. :)

Dave_HH 3 years ago

Hi Folks, We had a production problem with the video this morning but a full video review is now up on the first page of the article.

rrplay 3 years ago

I just cannot get any real positive vibe going on with this offering from Lenovo this time. Too many negatives for me. short battery life high price and what's up with the chassis flex ? on a laptop that's t about 1500.00 ?

maybe it's too thin. I dunno . just do not think i would enjoy typing on it anyhow..and in the vid was able to see Dave hands pretty close to the keys. A bit cramped I think.Seems like there are better choices avail that are bit bulkier and more powerful would def do quite a bit more multimedia wise for about the same $$


EDIT  just saw your post re: Video review

Dave_HH 3 years ago

rrplay, As Editor in Chief here, I just made an edit to that section of the article. I think the wording was vague to a degree. Joel flexed the chassis from both corners, a mechanical stress that is highly unlikely to occur in any typical use case scenario. If you read the context in the comment before it, holding the system by the corner, (a more likely use case) causes no flex or give.

omegadraco 3 years ago

Thanks for clarifying that for us Dave. I can tell you in a school environment I have seen students carrying the machines by just the palmrests or the screen. Often this puts enough pressure on the hinges to break them or break the grommets that the screws go into.

Did you notice any issues with the quality of the plastics? I know the Dell machines we are using the plastics break open on fairly often granted they are $800 machines versus $1500 machines.

Lamar Kropf 3 years ago

Love the Slice battery option. I hope others take notice and start including that as an option.

Drake_McNasty 3 years ago

Thanks for the updates Dave.

I was also reading a review of the hp probook 5330m. It looks like a bit of a competitor for this. It doesn't have the bells and whistles(usb3 or display port) but it also doesn't have the hefty price tag; $899 for the higher end model.

Joel H 3 years ago

This is to those of you who have questions regarding the system's chassis strength, flexibility, or durability. The closed system does not flex when held from any of its four corners. The body is strong without feeling brittle. Flexing the chassis in a two-handed grip demonstrates a desirable degree of flexion--a well-built enclosure should be capable of absorbing and dissipating a certain amount of force.

With that said, this isn't a Panasonic Toughbook. Hinge joints will always be a weak point on any laptop (A number of Toughbooks have reinforced and signficantly larger hinges to account for this). The X1 feels quite sturdy as built, and while I haven't run it over with a car, tossed it from a third-story building, or set it on fire, there's no reason to think it isn't well built.

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