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First Look: Lenovo ThinkPad X1

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First Look: Lenovo ThinkPad X1

3:14 /

Lenovo's thin 13-inch ThinkPad X1 is high on design and full of sleek features, including a backlit keyboard.

I'm Scott Stein, senior editor at CNET.com and this is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1. Now, thin is getting back in in laptops. We're starting to see it in the MacBook Air, the Samsung Series 9. It's no doubt due to Android tablets and iPads bringing a thin cool form factor back into computers. Enter the X1. It is thin, but not that thin; it's light, but it's not that light; and it's cool, but it's not that cool. It's basically a ThinkPad. It looks like a ThinkPad and that's the problem, or, if you're a ThinkPad fan, that's a great thing. It's a redesign of sorts to what you normally see in the old, staid ThinkPad lineup. It looks a lot like the ThinkPad Edge laptops that we saw last year and are seeing this year. It's got a kind of a cooler raised keyboard design--cool by ThinkPad standards, mind you--and sort of a sleeker touch to it. Little bit cleaner lines but, hey, you still see the red dot here and these red buttons, it's gonna scream ThinkPad from a mile away, and it is designed for business laptop users. I mean, it's got the security features and ThinkVantage suite that people like and it's also got an HD webcam in addition to some pretty good noise-cancelling microphone technology here for conducting web conferencing. Now, all of this adds up to a price that's probably a lot higher than you'd like to pay. It's $1399 for our Core i5 configuration using a second-gen Core 2 Duo processor, but you can also get a slice battery that attaches to the bottom and add some thickness for about a little over $1500. Now, that's more than you'd pay for a MacBook Air, maybe a little less than you'd pay for the Samsung Series 9. What you're getting here is a full-fledged laptop processor. You're getting a full standard voltage CPU so it operates a lot faster than a Samsung Series 9 or a MacBook Air. On the other hand, the battery life wasn't as good in our tests, although if you slap that thicker battery on, you're gonna do better than that. What else can we say? It's got a backlit keyboard which is cool. It's got some spill resistance to the keyboard as well. It's got a very solid roll cage design so it should be able to be pretty sturdy even under some light drop conditions, although we wouldn't test it for that. It also comes with a bevy of modern ports. It's got USB 3.0, it's got HDMI, it's got eSATA, it's got Mini DisplayPort, and it's also got SIM card connection for optional 3G broadband through Gobi Wireless. That's a really solid package of ports. It does not have an optical drive, however, which you might want, and, when you carry it around, how thin and light are we talking? Okay, it's 3.8 pounds. That's more heavy than a MacBook Air and you'll feel that, but it's lighter than a normal laptop, but it's pretty wide. I mean, it's not going to look like an ultra-slim laptop to many people, especially with that thickness even if it is under an inch. While there's a nice, smooth finish on the front and on the inside, you'll see that it actually does begin to pick up some smudges after a little bit. It's a really nice ThinkPad but it is a ThinkPad. If you're in the market for a ThinkPad, you'll be really happy, but if you're in the market for a slim laptop, there are a lot of others out there that may not look quite so...well, ThinkPad-y. I'm Scott Stein and this is the look at the Lenovo ThinkPad X1.

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