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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 (2nd gen) review: A Windows tablet that tops the Surface's keyboard game

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The Good The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 has a sharp screen and offers flexibility through optional modular accessories. Its excellent detachable keyboard is one of the best of its kind.

The Bad It has below-average battery life. It's expensive considering its performance.

The Bottom Line The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is a unique professional tablet with modular accessories, though you can find a similar two-in-one hybrid with better battery life for less money.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 8

Lenovo's second stab at the versatile ThinkPad X1 Tablet is so subtle, you'd never be able to tell from the looks of it. The latest model of the high-end two-in-one hybrid has new seventh-gen Intel processors (up to Core i7) and optional WiGig and LTE-A Wireless WAN connectivity. Otherwise, the ThinkPad X1 has the same design, features and optional add-on modules as the previous model.

The second generation of the ThinkPad X1 Tablet is available with various configurations for processors, memory and storage options. The review unit we tested was a Core i5 model with an Intel Core i5-7Y57 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive. It costs $1,698. (The second-gen X1 Tablet is not yet on sale in the UK or Australia, but the US price converts to roughly £1,300 or AU$2,275.) Note that the Y-series Core i5 is essentially a slightly higher-end version of Intel's low-voltage Core-m CPUs.

According to Lenovo, it should be available on the web in the UK soon, and it's expected to be available online in Australia by the end of the month. We'll update with official international pricing when available. 

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Though the keyboard is optional, it's one of the ThinkPad X1's best features.

Josh Miller/CNET

You look familiar

Lenovo's ThinkPad line is well-regarded by business users, yet the ThinkPad X1 also has some viable consumer appeal, especially for those interested in a portable, productivity-geared Microsoft Surface-like device.

Design-wise, it looks identical to last year's model. It's as slick as a durable business tablet can look. Its attractively slim build, magnesium chassis and matte finish are au courant and make its MIL-STD 810G tested construction (it can withstand short drops and extreme temperatures) even more impressive.

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The built-in kickstand is sturdier than the one on Microsoft's Surface Pro computer.

Josh Miller/CNET

Notably, there's a built-in kickstand on the back of the tablet that folds out like the ramp of a moving truck, which offers more stability than the built-in stand found on the Microsoft Surface Pro, where the kickstand props open like a folding chair. It's a small but significant difference if you plan on using it on your lap often.

Bundles of accessories

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 tablet comes with a detachable keyboard that has a grippy red trackpoint, physical touchpad buttons for right and left clicking and a middle button for scrolling. In case it gets lost or breaks, the keyboard is sold separately for $149 (roughly converting to £115 and AU$190), available in black, silver or red.

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For all trackpoint fans.

Josh Miller/CNET

While Microsoft gets a lot of praise for the Surface's skinny keyboards specifically, Lenovo gets a lot of praise for its keyboards in general. The ThinkPad X1 has a great set of comfortable mechanical keys that don't disappoint, even for a tablet keyboard cover.

It's also bundled with the slim ThinkPad Pen Pro stylus, an active capacitive pen with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. The stylus has right and left click buttons and is powered by an AAAA battery. In addition to a built-in fabric loop for storing the pen, Lenovo packages the tablet with a plastic stylus pen holder that fits into the tablet's full-size USB port, though it's a little clunky to use. Unless there's a slot built into the hardware itself, storing a stylus is always a hassle.

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