Rounding up the latest high-end 13-inch laptops

Lenovo's new ThinkPad X1 looks impressive, but how does it stack up against the Samsung Series 9, 13-inch MacBook Air, and Toshiba Portege R835?

Lenovo's new ThinkPad X1.

If Samsung's recent 13-inch Series 9 laptop got you thinking about a laptop upgrade, don't pull the trigger just yet. Lenovo's new entry in the high-end laptop sweepstakes is the very impressive ThinkPad X1, and it's the thinnest ThinkPad ever. These two noteworthy systems are part of an exclusive club of thin, light, 13-inch laptops, which also includes Apple's MacBook Air.

The new ThinkPad has plenty going for it, including an excellent backlit keyboard, a fast-charging battery, and a powerful Intel Core i5 CPU. At the same time, it's not quite as thin or light as the competition, and the $1,399 starting price can be deceiving--add extras such an SSD drive and detachable slice-style battery and it can run more than $1,800.

The Samsung Series 9 also requires a significant investment, starting at $1,649 (but we've seen it online for $50 less). It's clearly designed to emulate the style of the MacBook Air, and both systems felt very similar in terms of performance and battery life. In our head-to-head benchmarks, the Lenovo X1 was significantly faster than both of those, but at the expense of middling battery life.

Related links
• Lenovo ThinkPad X1 review
• Toshiba Portege R835-P56X review
• Samsung Series 9 NP900X3A review
• Apple MacBook Air review

We've updated our previous comparison chart of specs and prices below, adding the Lenovo X1 to the mix (prices and specs reflect the exact configurations we reviewed). Also included is a more budget-minded 13-inch option that's definitely worth taking a look at, the Toshiba Portege R835-P56X. It earned Editors' Choice honors; its price is more palatable (Best Buy has a lower-end configuration for $749); and it even has a built-in optical drive.

Full specs and reviews of each of these laptops are available at the links above.

System CPU RAM HDD Weight Price
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2520M 4GB 320GB, 7,200rpm 3.8 lbs. $1,399
MacBook Air 13-inch 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 2GB 128GB SSD 2.9 lbs. $1,299
Samsung Series 9 1.4GHz Intel Core i5-2537M 4GB 128GB SSD 2.9 lbs. $1,650
Toshiba Portege R835 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M 4GB 640GB 5,400rpm 3.2 lbs. $929
 

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