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.