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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 – Battery Life, Value and Verdict

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

Unfortunately, unlike the VAIO Z, the X1 doesn't have a removable battery. Also unfortunately, it doesn't hold up nearly as well. We were very disappointed by its score of only just over three hours in our non-intensive battery test, with the screen at 40 percent brightness and wireless radios disabled. Though this might increase by a little if you opt for the SSD, either way it really isn't enough, especially since this will decrease further when using Wi-Fi or 3G. Lenovo ThinkPad X1

On the bright side, Lenovo's rapid charging claims hold up, with the battery easily charging to near full capacity in just over half an hour. However, if you plan to be away from a socket for more than four hours at a time, the optional slice battery becomes an essential rather than optional addition. With it, you should get around double the battery life (which played out in our battery test), giving you a full day’s worth on the go.

Unlike the hideously complicated attachment procedure for the Sony VAIO Z's external battery, with the X1’s it's simply a case of clicking the slice in and you're good to go. Releasing it again is equally effortless. However, it does add considerable bulk and ups the weight to 2.13kg, which hardly jams with the X1's ultraportable ambitions. Still, you can just leave it off for the daily commute and short stints, and only take it with when you know you'll be going on lengthy trips without access to a power grid.

When it comes to value, the ThinkPad X1 is difficult to assess. On the one hand, it's priced higher than many lighter ultraportable rivals, and based purely on specs, weight or battery life it's not the best of buys. However, unmatched keyboard ergonomics and excellent connectivity make up for a lot, while its mix of ruggedness (especially the Gorilla Glass-protected screen) and business features aren't offered by any equally light 13.3in laptop barring perhaps Panasonic's elusive (in the UK) and far more expensive ToughBook range. Basically, with the hard drive version of the X1 starting at £1054, it's certainly not as expensive as we might have expected considering its target audience.

If you're just looking for the lightest 13in business machine going, the Sony VAIO Z starts at 'just' £400 more (without its dock) and, aside from its lack of optical drive in that configuration, is just as flexible. But then its keyboard isn't half as good and its build quality markedly inferior, nor can Sony's business support structure or software begin to match that of Lenovo.

Verdict

Lenovo's thinnest and lightest ThinkPad laptop yet is a dramatic mix of ups and downs. Its build quality is even more impressive than usual thanks to the addition of a Gorilla Glass-protected screen, its backlit and spill-resistant keyboard is by far the best to be found on any ultraportable, it offers great connectivity, good specs and plenty of features. However, the X1 is a tad large for an ultraportable, its average screen doesn't jive with its premium positioning, and its battery life trails 13in rivals by quite some margin. If these issues aren't deal-breakers for you, it's a great machine, but many will be better off looking elsewhere - even at other ThinkPads like the IPS-sporting X220.

Overall Score

7

Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 5
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 7
  • Value 7

Beamerman

May 20, 2011, 12:29 am

The big advantage of the Air for me is the 30 days of standby time and the instant on from standby. This is the big differentiator between the Air and iPad and my somewhat aging windows laptop which I need to turn off between usages and takes around 2 minutes to turn on and about 45 seconds to switch off.

It would be great if reviews could cover this very important aspect of mobile computing usability. Makes a huge difference if you can quickly open up the laptop, check a website and put to sleep quickly with stop and start of air travel.

jorjitop

May 20, 2011, 2:04 am

Given the level of advance in technology, it is not very reasonable to compare a model with something (MacBook Air) which is already six months old. The new Air will be out in the next month or two. It will have Thunderbolt for fast connectivity.

While it is nice to have the possibility, it would be interesting to see the battery life with a Core i7 chip inside.

Tan2011

May 20, 2011, 5:01 am

If we look back to thinkpad x301, it fall short in many features - heavy, low resolution screen, no optical drive. How could Lenovo design an ultra-modern ultra-portable like that - a piece which is heavy (even without an optical drive) and low resolution especially when it's meant for business people. It is wondering why they wanted to make sure followers are able to get same pleasure as you watching movies!!! So they put some extra bricks in it!!! Slimmest and lightest thinkpad ???

ffrankmccaffery

May 20, 2011, 6:35 am

Looks like I'll be buying another X61s. All good things come to an end pretty much like this site.

Ed

May 20, 2011, 2:07 pm

In fairness, modern Windows laptops also offer instant-on from standby and can last for a good while in that mode. Admittedly it's not 30 days but it's still several days which is more than adequate for normal usage.

markc1728

May 20, 2011, 2:54 pm

If you take the bonus points away it ends 8 each. Is it possible they were added in so the Lenovo won?

TechVegan

May 23, 2011, 4:15 pm

No, it's not. It's simply a fact that some aspects of the X1 are significantly better, just as the Air wins out by quite some margin in others. Don't forget that we've given the Air bonus marks for size, design and its touchpad.

As mentioned in the conclusion, if you're after design, the Air is still the way to go, but if you want power and features, it doesn't begin to match up - something Apple's iminent revision should fix :)

savant

May 23, 2011, 7:38 pm

In every comparison with MacBooks, reviewers tend to forget that they(all Mac computers) can also run Windows. This is the single most important reason for converting users from PC to Mac because you get the best of both operating systems.

Repelsteeltje

May 24, 2011, 8:04 pm

Too bad it's only a resolution of 1366x768, despite the expensive IPS screen. A bit more overview would have been nice.

stranded

May 24, 2011, 9:13 pm

Lenovo is one of the very few companies nowadays that offer some decent products to people. My opinion is that almost every other laptop or desktop computer is better than a Mac. Apple is constantly at the bottom of the technology ladder for decades.
@Repelsteeltje
1366x768 is high resolution for this screen size. Higher resolution than this makes things only worse.

KoolMoss

September 15, 2011, 6:55 pm

"Last, but not least, the hinge, which allows the screen to fold all the way back till it's as flat as the laptop's base (a handy feature unique to ThinkPads)......"

handy feature unique to ThinkPads???? Certainly not...my Vaio SZ 2006 model screen can fold all the way as flat as the laptop base....and its great because it gives more angles if the neck gets tired or even let it fit right in to laptop stands such as made by logitech......in fact the inability to fold to flat level is why i resisted buying the latest mac book air 13".....

So not just ThinkPads.....but Vaio too (at least the SZ)

TechVegan

September 15, 2011, 7:59 pm

True, I was aware of that VAIO (as we reviewed it), but it's a very old model. I'm sure there have been a few others over the years too, but I'm not aware of any current laptops that allow it (certainly not the latest VAIOs), and not only was I comparing to machines that are actually available to buy, but aside from the ThinkPads there's no range where it's a consistent feature (as far as I'm aware - happy to be wrong here :)

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