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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 review

Ardjuna Seghers



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Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1


Our Score:



  • Durable and rugged
  • Gorilla glass screen protection
  • Spillproof, backlit keyboard
  • Excellent connectivity


  • Not the slimmest or lightest
  • Weak battery life
  • No IPS screen option
  • Reflective screen

Key Features

  • Slim (16mm-21mm) and light (1.7kg)
  • 13.3in screen with Gorilla glass
  • Up to Sandy Bridge Core i7 and 8GB RAM
  • USB 3.0, eSATA, DisplayPort, HDMI 1.4
  • Shockproof, dustproof, spill-proof
  • Manufacturer: Lenovo
  • Review Price: £1,170.92

There has been a massive increase in the number of thin and light 13.3in ultraportables coming onto the market recently. We've seen the likes of the Sony VAIO Z and VAIO S, the Samsung Series 9 and of course the 13in MacBook Air to name but a few, not to mention all the new models we saw at IFA. But these have been completely consumer-focused machines, and the Dell Vostro 3350 we looked at was too thick and heavy to truly fit the ultraportable moniker. So what about those who want rugged, classy and thin, with possibly some TPM or other business features thrown in? Well, Lenovo has a solution in the form of its ThinkPad X1.

The snazzily-named X1 comes with the classic soft-touch yet hard-wearing ThinkPad finish, a carbon-fibre rollcage, Gorilla Glass screen protection and more, adding up to military spec ruggedness! Then there's oodles of connectivity (including eSATA, USB 3.0, HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort), plenty of power under the hood with up to Core i7 CPUs, a backlit and spill-resistant keyboard, rapid-charge 30-minute-to-80-percent battery, and more. Does this make it the ultimate laptop? Join us as we find out.

First, let's talk design and build. Though it's relatively sleek and the thinnest ThinkPad ever, the X1 doesn't look or feel particularly thin, despite its 17mm front tapering to a still svelte 21mm at the rear. Perhaps it's the lack of curved edges or the overbearing, top heavy shape where its sides slope to a narrower base. It's not as light as many rivals either, though its 1.75kg weight (1.71kg with an SSD rather than the hard drive in our review sample) is light enough to carry it around all day without significant strain.

To be honest we don't really see the somewhat industrial design appealing to the fashion-conscious, though for ThinkPad adherents and those into executive styling, this is just the ticket. Where the X1 also wins hearts is in its feel. Though not quite as nice in the hand as the Lenovo IdeaPad U260, its rounded edges, lack of exposed connectors at its sides and soft-touch finish make this laptop a delight to carry around, and there's no risk of unsightly fingerprints. The ThinkPad coating is also very scratch-resistant, ensuring this machine should look as good a few months down the line as when you bought it.

Build quality is another area where the ThinkPad name is legendary, and deservedly so. Every single part of the X1 feels like it can survive the abuse of the most fanatic road-warrior. Plastics are strong and solid, panels are beautifully fitted with no gaps for dirt to get into, and of course the Gorilla Glass protecting the screen means this is one of the few laptops on which you can poke at the display with a biro without any unfortunate consequences.

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), is sturdy enough that its stays in the exact position you put it in without any wobble. Basically, it's not hard to see how the X1 earned its MILSPEC (US military ruggedness) qualifications.


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.


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.


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 ???


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.


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.


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?


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 :)


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.


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.


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.
1366x768 is high resolution for this screen size. Higher resolution than this makes things only worse.


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)


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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