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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet review: A Surface-like tablet with a grab bag of add-ons

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The Good Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Tablet offers modular add-on options, and has a sharp display and a great keyboard.

The Bad The Intel Core m3 base model is not the fastest machine around, and adding faster parts and optional modules can get expensive. There's no slot or magnetic anchor for the optional stylus.

The Bottom Line The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 tablet isn't as slick as some other Windows tablets, but its modular add-ons give it a cool built-to-order feel.

7.9 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Battery 8

Lenovo's ThinkPad brand is best known for professional-grade laptops, but it also includes hybrids and even tablets. The latest is the high-end ThinkPad X1 Tablet, which stands out by offering not only a standard keyboard cover, but also a series of modular add-ons (some available now, some coming later), making this potentially a very flexible system.

The X1 Tablet starts at $1,029 in the US, which gets you an Intel Core m3 processor and the keyboard cover. Similar configurations start at £1,049 in the UK and AU$1,899 in Australia. Upgrades are available for the processor, storage and other components, and you can also swap Windows 10 for Windows 10 Pro. We tested a version with a Core m5 CPU, which costs $1,300.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There's no shortage of Windows tablets these days. The Huawei MateBook comes to mind, as do the Surface Pro 4 and even Lenovo's hybrid Yoga line. And while ThinkPads have always been geared toward enterprise or business users, many recent ThinkPads are sharp-looking enough to appeal to consumers as well.

The Core M processor means the device can go fanless, and while the Core m3 is not as powerful as the Core i3/5/7 CPUs in mainstream laptops and tablets, it still performs well enough for most mainstream tasks. For storage, the base model has only a 128GB SSD, although a microSD card slot is there for expansion.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Display size/resolution 12-inch, 2,160x1,440 touchscreen display
PC CPU 1.1GHz Intel Core m5-6Y57
PC memory 8GB DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 515
Storage 256GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

If you want a device that will have people stopping and staring when you take it out in public, this is not that device. It's built more for productivity and completing tasks than looking good and garnering attention. The design is almost industrial, in matte black with sharp angles rather than smooth curves.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Like the Surface series from Microsoft, the X1 Tablet has a kickstand. However, the Lenovo version is hinged on the bottom, and opens into an L-shape, where most other tablet kickstands are hinged midbody. This makes the X1 Tablet feel more like a traditional laptop, plus it makes it easier to use on your lap.

Those who don't like having only USB-C ports and who don't want to carry around dongles will be happy with the port setup. The X1 does charge through its USB-C port, but it also has a regular USB port, DisplayPort, headphone jack and microSD card slot. It is pretty nice to have a regular USB port in a sea of devices that are opting for just USB-C. The bottom of the device has a proprietary port for the keyboard attachment or for the different modules.

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