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.