On first look at Lenovo’s much-anticipated ThinkPad X1, you notice something very extraordinary for a product of this potential magnitude: it looks really sort of ordinary.
The ThinkPad X1 provides the appearance of what you’d expect from a ThinkPad: business black, red track ball on the keyboard, standard clamshell design with a two-spindle hinge for opening and closing. It’s only when you take a closer look, and find that some significant departures built into the ThinkPad X1, that you realize the leap Lenovo has made.
For starters, the notebook is built without a standard optical drive -- say goodbye to on-board CD and DVD support. But that’s fine. The ThinkPad X1 provides two USB ports (one that’s USB 2.0, and one that’s USB 3.0), an eSata/USB 2.0 combination slot, a 4-in-1 card reader and an HDMI port.
At three pounds, 13 ounces on our scale, the notebook has built in a glossy and bright 13-inch display. Lenovo has touted the clarity of the integrated Webcam because of its built-in lighting adjustment capability; here, we found it did need a little color calibration -- but was otherwise bright and clear.
The system itself arrived at the CRN Test Center lab built with an Intel Core i5 2520-M at 2.50 GHz, with 4 GB of RAM and pre-loaded with Windows 7 professional 64-bit. Using Primate Labs’ Geekbench 2.1 benchmarking software, the ThinkPad X1 ran up a score of 6645 -- the best score we’ve seen for a Core i5-based system.
But it’s not just performance for the sake of hitting a high benchmarking number. Lenovo has integrated Dolby Home Theater v4 into the ThinkPad X1. After hearing the sound from this notebook’s on-board speakers, it will be hard to listen to sound from other notebooks or PCs without it. This notebook simply filled the room with clear, stereo sound that clearly differentiates it from most other notebooks we see.
Running the standard CRN Test Center battery-life test, which is to disable all of the power saving features and run a video from the hard drive until the battery dies, the ThinkPad X1 ran for an adequate length of about three hours. However, Lenovo does provide a slice battery -- which we did not use -- that it says extends the life to 10 hours.
But once the battery was entirely drained, that’s when the magic happened. From zero battery life to 100 percent battery life, the ThinkPad X1 recharged fully in 26 minutes -- an astonishingly quick pace that we’ve never seen before. That means that recharges on the go, like at an airport while making a connection, are now much, much easier. Lenovo gets very high marks here.
This is also a notebook that boots fairly quickly: from bios screen to ready-to-go, it took 26 seconds. While that’s not quite the 10-second threshold to be considered an “instant-on” device, those who now use an earlier-generation notebook running Windows XP will find that a pretty big deal.
Lenovo is list-pricing the ThinkPad X1 at $1,399. That’s a bargain based on its support of new media standards, its solid design and it’s performance.
The ThinkPad X1 is a strong entry by Lenovo into the notebook PC space, and should prove competitive throughout the rest of 2011.