Lenovo X1
3.9Overall Score
Price (RRP): $2759 Manufacturer: Lenovo

Lenovo’s new X1 laptop weighs in to the crowded ultra-light laptop segment, bringing a long pedigree of build quality, robustness and understated design along with it.

Features

The newest in Lenovo’s line of executive laptops continues the lineage Lenovo grabbed from original Thinkpad creator IBM. The X1 retains the signature black design, soft yet highly graspable rubber coating and bullet-proof build.

Like most 2011 notebooks, the specs are fairly high. The X1 features a second-generation Intel 2.5GHz Core i5 processor, 4GB memory, an Intel 160GB solid state drive, Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, and a 13.3 inch SuperBright LCD screen.

Lenovo sees this as a premium notebook designed for executives, so it has a little bit extra on other highly spec’d 2011 notebooks, such as a carbon-fibre rollcage and a spill-resistant keyboard. You’ll also find a built-in battery that can’t be replaced but does offer an eighty percent recharge in a speedy 30 minutes.

And because we’re talking premium, the X1 has a fair share of extras. We’re specifically talking about backlit keys, 3G access with a SIM card slot, fingerprint scanner, two types of input – a trackpad and the little red intellipoint nipple that IBM and Lenovo notebooks have had for ages, a screen protected by scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass, a hinge capable of letting the screen extend to 180 degrees, one USB 3.0 port, one combination USB 2.0 and eSATA port, HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet and a 720p HD video camera for video conferencing.

Performance

The Lenovo X1 is branded as a computer for executives, so you’d hope the experience is one that would leave you impressed. For the most part, Lenovo succeeds, offering a laptop that looks simple, professional and feels well built – very well built.

From an aesthetic point of view, the X1 doesn’t draw attention to itself. Pulling from its ThinkPad heritage, this simple matte black laptop that doesn’t attempt to win your heart with a metallic finish or a bevelled edge. It may well be a direct competitor to Apple’s 13 inch MacBook Air, but this is one laptop that doesn’t try to be thin and sexy. It’s simple, sleek, and otherwise unnoticeable, and yet there’s something inherently brilliant in that.

Moving beneath the looks, the X1 is built very solidly. While we don’t suggest you do this, we dropped the Lenovo X1 at least 20cm to a hard-wood floor while turned on and it survived. We’re told it can survive quite a fair bit of punishment, with Lenovo’s PR rep going so far as to even suggest that you can stand on it. Why you’d stand on your computer, we have no idea, but to survive the weight of an average businessman is an impressive enough feat.

Under the hood, Lenovo has equipped one of the latest Intel Core i5 processors, a 160GB solid state drive, 4GB of RAM and Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. This combination of parts makes the X1 a snappy little machine, providing more power than its diminutive package might suggest.

We spent most of our time surfing the web with multiple tabs open, writing documents, and listening to music – typical activities for any notebook user, regardless of profession. The Intel Core i5 had no problems tackling this, and given the technical specifications, we suspect it will handle a considerably higher workload.

Typing on the Lenovo’s keyboard is – as usual with Lenovo – nothing short of superb. The keyboard has an almost perfect feel to it and is better than many of the desktop keyboards we’ve used.

Sadly, not everything is close to perfection in Lenovo’s little beauty. We took issue with a few things, notably the battery and the trackpad.

Despite the X1’s press release being worded as “up to 10 hours”, we didn’t get much more than four hours out of the X1, and this was while we were surfing the web over WiFi and writing documents. Hand the X1 some more resource intensive tasks – such as watching video – and you can expect the battery life to drop further. In fact, the 10 hours suggested by Lenovo can only be reached if you purchase the External Slice Battery.