Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet (2nd Gen) Review: A Nimble, Business-Class Convertible

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet 2nd Gen: Design And Build Quality

The chassis for this new generation ThinkPad X1 Tablet is virtually unchanged from last year's model and so the measurements are same—without the ThinkPad Thin Keyboard (as Lenovo calls it) attached, it measures 11.45 x 8.25 x 0.33 Inches and weighs 1.55 pounds. When docked to the keyboard case, the dimensions jump slightly to 11.47 x 8.25 x 0.55 inches and 2.33 pounds. Either way, it is very thin and extremely light.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet 2nd Gen

There is just one display option for the ThinkPad X1 Tablet and it is a very good one. It features a 12-inch FHD+ (2160x1080) In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel with excellent brightness and color reproduction, and flexible viewing angles. A 2K resolution display feels right on a system this size—it offers many more pixels than a 1080p panel, yet is not as taxing as a 4K or even a 3K display.

Corning's Gorilla Glass 4 protects the screen from scratches and accidental drops. Durability is further reinforced by Lenovo's testing to meet and surpass the 10 MIL-STD 810G standard, along with its own in-house durability tests. That is not say that this is a rugged 2-in-1 for getting work done in extreme environments, but it certainly does not need to be handled with kid gloves.

There is a 2-megapixel camera on the front of the ThinkPad X1 Tablet at the top when holding it in landscape mode, or on the right side in portrait mode. A fingerprint scanner sits on the right or bottom, depending on the orientation of the tablet. You can use this to log into Windows without typing in a password using Windows Hello.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet 2nd Gen Back

A kickstand is integrated into the back of the ThinkPad X1 Tablet. This is unchanged from the previous generation ThinkPad X1 Tablet and every bit as sturdy. There is a clip to the right of the kickstand that pops it open. Underneath the kickstand is a microSD card slot that supports cards up to 64GB. Right above it is a teeny-tiny pinhole that acts as an emergency reset switch. And if applicable, there is also a nano SIM slot for users who choose to configure optional LTE connectivity.

The chassis is constructed with a magnesium hybrid material consisting of polycarbonate glass fiber. This allows the tablet to stay relatively light without giving up sturdiness, both of which you can feel when handling the device.

Also on the back of the ThinkPad X1 Tablet is a 12-megapixl camera and a brushed aluminum ThinkPad logo with a slightly mirror reflective finish. More than just a piece of elegant flair, the dot in the "i" of the logo is actually a red LED that acts as a status indicator. When it is illuminated, it means the tablet is on, and when it is not lit the tablet is either off or in sleep mode. The LED will also blink three times when initially connected to a power source.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet 2nd Gen Open

The keyboard that comes with the ThinkPad X1 Tablet sports an additional magnet for this year's model to help it stay closed. We did not have an issue with keeping the first generation model closed, but hey, if Lenovo wants to upgrade the design without jacking the price, then we are all for it.

More importantly, the keyboard retains the white LED backlight of last year's model. This is a boon for late night typists or those who like to burn the candle at both ends.

The keys feature Lenovo's unique curved design, but it is sort of an optical illusion if you are expecting the same quality as found on Lenovo's professional laptops. While the keyboard here may look similar, the low profile keys are a step down in overall comfort compared to the best that Lenovo has to offer. That said, typing is not bad on this keyboard, it just is not a standout feature. The keys have a bit of snap to them with 1.35mm of key travel and spacing is sufficient to not feel cramped. At the same time, there is some flex when plank is angled upwards. Combined with the slightly mushy key action, the typing experience is noticeably different than what is found on a traditional keyboard, or even the excellent keyboards on Lenovo's higher end laptops.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet 2nd Gen Keyboard

One thing we have always liked about ThinkPads is the TrackPoint nub in the center of the keyboard, You can use this like a mouse to navigate the pointer in Windows. It is also the reason that Lenovo adds a second set of buttons on the top of the trackpad—they are more easily accessible when using the TrackPoint nub. There is also a middle button for scrolling websites with the nub.

The trackpad itself is somewhat compact and centered below the keyboard. It responds well to finger movements and gesture actions, and so do the left and right buttons hidden underneath.

For the sake of convenience, Lenovo is not using its own drivers for the trackpad. Instead, it implemented Microsoft's Precision Touchpad drivers so that all updates and feature upgrades are handled by Microsoft and Windows 10.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet 2nd Gen Stylus

A ThinkPad Pen Pro, otherwise known as a stylus, comes with the ThinkPad X1 Tablet. It boasts 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and can be handy for scribbling when brainstorming a project, or as a general purpose input device.

The stylus is powered by a AAA battery that installs by unscrewing the end cap. Once installed, you can tap the pen tip on the display to open folders and execute programs. You also have access to two buttons on the side—the top one serves as a right-click button (you can also hold the pen tip to the display to simulate a right-click), while the bottom one is used to erase text or a drawing.

There are two ways to store the stylus. One is to slide it into the built-in pen holder, which is a piece of looped fabric that extends from the right side of the keyboard. The other way is to use the included "USB 3.0 pen holder." This is a small piece of plastic that you can shove into the USB 3.0 Type-A port on the tablet (not the keyboard), which then allows you to store the pen either vertically or horizontally.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet 2nd Gen Ports Left
ThinkPad X1 Tablet Ports - Left

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet 2nd Gen Ports Right
ThinkPad X1 Tablet Ports - Right

On the left side (landscape) or top (portrait) of the ThinkPad X1 Tablet you will find a 3.5mm audio jack, volume up/down buttons that sit nearly flush with the tablet, a stereo speaker, and a Kensington lock slot. Over on the other side (right or bottom, depending on orientation) is a mini DisplayPort, another stereo speaker, USB 3.0 Type-A port, and a USB Type-C connector for power delivery. The USB Type-C connector also supports a range of adapters for adding things such as Ethernet connectivity, HDMI output, and so forth.

We mentioned before that this is a modular tablet. That is because there are currently two add-on modules that you can snap onto the base of the tablet (in landscape mode) while still having the keyboard attached. One is a Presenter module with a built-in projector that can beam images up to 60 inches in size, plus it offers users an additional HDMI in/out (no audio support). The other is a Productivity module with a 24Wh battery for up to 5 additional hours of battery life, a USB 3.0 Type-A port, an HDMI port, and a port for connecting Lenovo's OneLink+ dock.

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