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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 - Other Features, Screen and Speakers

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

To the right of the keyboard is a selection of volume controls. A dedicated mute button can be found below a responsive volume rocker, while above it is the rather nifty rarity of a microphone mute button too, with accompanying orange LED. Much like Asus' physical webcam shutter on the likes of its N73Jn, this isn't essential but very handy all the same, especially for video chatting and conferencing. Speaking of webcams, the X1 not only gives you a 720p HD webcam, but also a noise-cancelling microphone array that's specifically tuned to 'tune out' keyboard noise, which is a nice touch.

Along with the volume controls you'll also find the signature ThinkPad blue ThinkVantage button, which gives access to various context-sensitive functions. This includes rescue and recovery while booting, or Lenovo's comprehensive ThinkVantage ToolBox (a great collection of software apps for everything from system health and security to support). In use, it's one of the most comprehensive and easy-to-use collections of its kind we've come across. Of course TPM (Trusted Platform Module) for business users is also on board, as is a fingerprint scanner for those who hate remembering passwords.

Getting to the 13.3in display, this is the first ThinkPad we can remember that suffers from reflections. Of course, barring whatever magic Wacom uses on its Cintiq line, it's pretty difficult to get a glass display to ignore them. At least here, the seamless bezel offered by the glass front serves a practical purpose, as Gorilla Glass will protect the panel from scratches and a certain amount of impacts. As peripheral benefits, a glossy finish also helps to improve perceived colour vividness and contrast.

Unfortunately, though we seem to recall being told there would be an IPS screen option (just like on Lenovo's ThinkPad X220 range), there actually isn't, so we're dealing with good old TN here. Consequently, viewing angles aren't exactly perfect. They hold up reasonably well horizontally, with only a little contrast shift, but vertically things are as poor as ever, negating some of the advantage of being able to tilt the screen flat on your desk thanks to its superb hinge.

Contrast is decent rather than great, with the X1's screen able to distinguish between all but the darkest two of our grey shades. At 350 nits it gets quite bright, but blacks are far from the deepest we've seen. There are no significant backlight issues, nor did we notice banding or other unwanted visual blemishes. Its resolution of 1,366 x 768 is par for the course, as are most of its characteristics. Overall it works well for productivity and does a slightly above-average job for entertainment, but frankly we can't fathom why Lenovo isn't offering an IPS option on what is in every other respect one of its highest-end laptops.

To be honest we weren't expecting much from the audio, and were thus pleasantly surprised to find it rather good by ultraportable standards. Though lacking in the bass department, the X1's speakers otherwise produce a sound that's relatively rich and detailed with plenty of depth. That they manage it at decent volume levels is even more impressive, and this is definitely one of the better-sounding slim 13.3in laptops around, with no external audio solution required.

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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