Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Hands-On Review
I had an opportunity to take the brand new ThinkPad X1 for a spin this week and came away impressed by its quality and the thought that went into it. This a 13-inch, Sandy Bridge laptop with a long list of desirable features including lots of little touches like an illuminated keyboard and even keyboard noise suppression so the other Skype call participants can't hear you typing away.
The Lexus of Laptops
The X1 is a classy machine, it's got a matte black finish on top of a magnesium frame. It's not the lightest 13-inch laptop I ever used but it's certainly light enough. I happen to be a big fan of the 13-inch laptops even though I mostly carry around my 10-inch Toshiba netbook. The 13-inch laptop size is a great compromise between the super portable 10-inch netbooks and large 15-inch laptops. The X1 weighs in at 3.7 lbs. without the optional battery booster which we'll talk about in a minute. This laptop certainly meets the standard that IBM set when they first introduced the ThinkPad; it's a reliable and rugged laptop that businesses could feel good about supplying to their employees. Now Lenovo has created a fairly affordable version ($1400) of the ThinkPad that should provide any individual or corporate road warrior with a stylish mobile workhorse that's also fun to use.
Long List of Attractive Features
The list of features is impressive. For starters the X1 has a wide assortment of connections including a mini display port, HDMI, USB 3.0, eSAta, SD card reader, and more. The display is protected by indestructible Corning Gorilla Glass which along with the spill holes and extra rugged chassis makes the X1 pretty resistant to the rough and tumble life on the road. There are other impressive specs like 3 x 3 Wi-Fi, built-in 3G and Wireless Display (WiDi) which can stream 1080p video to an external display.
An Impressive Entertainment Device
The ThinkPad X1 includes Dolby's Home Theater 4 technology which means Dolby worked with Lenovo to develop the sound system and added their special sauce to the mix. Yes, the speakers are never going to sound like external speakers but I was quite happy listening to music or streaming radio shows on the speakers and of course headphones with the Home Theater 4 sound system sounded pretty darn good. The difference is very apparent when you switch the Dolby system off, the sound level drops dramatically and the quality diminishes. Movies looked good on it too but you're going to have to stream them because there is no DVD or Blu-ray on this machine.
Excellent Human Factors
Lenovo added improvements to this laptop that should make living with a laptop a little more enjoyable. For starters they worked with a lot of the vendors whose products affect the startup time and got the boot time down to a very short 15 seconds or so. They call this Rapid Boot Extreme and we're sure it will show up on other Lenovo products soon.

As far as pointing and clicking goes, the X1 provides a lot of options. First there's the Pointing Stick or what I've always called the nubbin which is that miniature red joystick on the middle of the kepboard. Many users love the nubbin, I find it works okay but still prefer a wireless mouse. Lenovo has also provided a textured touchpad with little dimples that I find makes the touchpad feel more accurate. There are two physical mouse buttons above the touchpad, two sort of virtual ones on the bottom of the touchpad and if that's not enough the whole touchpad is one big button that you can click.

So What's the Hitch?
The X1 sounds like a pretty amazing laptop, and it is but it's not without a fault or two. There is one major shortcoming and that is battery life. With lots of laptops providing many hours of use between charges the X1's battery meter seemed to fall faster than I would have liked. Yes, you can snap on the optional battery pack, called the "slice" which doesn't add all that much to the size and weight but part of having a thin and light laptop is just that. One cool feature that Lenovo added which may help compensate for a shorter than desirable battery life is the ability to recharge the battery to 80% capacity in 30 minutes. I tried it and was impressed how fast the X1 recharged.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is a classy quality machine. There are other laptops that might have a more affordable price but if you want a solid, quality machine with lots of features that could help make you more productive and happy too, the X1 should be on your list of laptops to consider.

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