Lenovo's ThinkPad lines have traditionally been boxy little numbers designed for the corporate crowd. The X1 is different. Not because it's decked out in bling for the sake of it. Its ThinkPad DNA is entirely evident when you open it up and spot the standard red trackpoint cursor, well-spaced keyboard and black as black can be styling. It's even black in the non-piano black style, which means the X1 isn't a fingerprint magnet.
But to get to the ThinkPad-looking portions of the X1, you've got to take it out of the box, and that means admiring its slim black form. At 17mm thick at its thinnest point and weighing in at 1.7kg, it's a slender and light notebook for this class, and easily the best-looking notebook we've seen since the MacBook Air. Given the ThinkPad heritage of boxy machines, that's quite an achievement.
Locally, Lenovo sells two models of the X1. The entry-level AU$1979 model, which features an Intel Core i3-2310M 2.10GHz processor and 320GB hard drive. The model we tested was the premium X1, which sports an Intel Core i5-2520M 2.50GHz processor and 160GB SSD drive. That does pump the price up quite a bit to AU$2579, although you can fiddle with some settings to change pricing around a little. There's a hidden sting in the pricing that we'll address in our conclusions.
Our review model used Intel's integrated HD graphics solution, 4GB of RAM and a 13.3-inch 1366x768-pixel display, protected by Gorilla Glass. Sturdiness is a key criteria for the X1, which is also spill and drop proof. They're technically not covered by the warranty for this kind of abuse (in other words, it's not a Lenovo executives proving that this is indeed a rather robust notebook.), but we've seen
On-board ports include three USB ports; one of these is a combination USB/eSATA, and another is USB 3.0 compatible. The third USB 2.0-only port hides behind a rubber flap on the left-hand side and can be a touch tricky to access; all the other ports are rear mounted, as are theand DisplayPort video ports. You'll find that 3G is in-built and should be carrier free.
On the software side, the default operating system on the X1 is Windows 7 Home Premium, although our review sample came with Windows 7 Professional, which is an AU$44 premium if you want it.
The X1 is lovely to use. That's a rather simple and glib statement, but it's also true. The combination of SSD, memory, processor and display screen make it a system that starts up quick, stays responsive during use and is comfortable to use whether you're a trackpoint, trackpad or keyboard shortcut kind of user. It's also nicely silent for the most part. When it gets really worked up the fans do kick in and you will notice them, but really only because it's so quiet in general operation.
In benchmark terms, the use of a full-power Core i5 processor allowed the X1 to excel in PCMark05, recording a score of 10,488. Predictably for a system that lacks a dedicated on-board graphics processor, its 3DMark06 score was less at 3741, which is exactly what we'd expect for Intel's HD graphics.