The ThinkPad X1 Pill is sort of a Floor with a enterprise twist
Think about the unholy union of Microsoft’s Floor lineup and the long-lasting Thinkpad, and you’ve got the ThinkPad X1 Pill. It isn’t Lenovo’s first Floor clone — that may be the cheaper and fewer outfitted Miix seven hundred — nevertheless it’s the corporate’s first for its ThinkPad lineup, which is focused on the skilled crowd. After years of honing the artwork of constructing convertible laptops, Lenovo looks like a protected guess for delivering a strong, Floor-like hybrid pill. And for probably the most half, it succeeds.
- Impressively skinny and lightweight
- Comes with a keyboard
- Truly works nicely in your lap
- Subpar battery life
- Keyboard and trackpadaren’t as refined as Microsoft’s Floor Sort Cowl
- Stylus feelsslippery on the display
- Was imagined to undercut the Floor Professional on worth, however does not
With the ThinkPad X1 Pill, Lenovo made a strong try at constructing a Floor-like system for enterprise customers. It is not likely trendy, nevertheless it’s one of many few hybrid tablets/laptops that’ll get work achieved. Sadly, poor battery life and a sloppy keyboard hold it from being a very should-have gadget.
If in case you have a mushy spot in your coronary heart for the long-lasting ThinkPad design, the X1 will in all probability strike your fancy whereas it is in laptop computer mode. It has a minimalist black metallic case, a reasonably spacious keyboard and heck, there’s even the love-it-or-hate-it shiny purple TrackPoint. It is a subdued design that jogs my memory of a basic, enterprise-oriented Home windows laptop computer.
However in fact, it is rather more than that: Its keyboard is extremely-skinny and utterly detachable. There’s additionally a kickstand on the again of the pill. And, lest you overlook, it is as a lot a pill as it’s a laptop computer. It does not look as extremely-trendy because the Floor units, however it’s no much less spectacular. Toeing the road between respecting ThinkPad custom and pushing totally new type elements is hard, however the X1 Pill manages it nicely.
Because of its 12-inch display, it is pretty hefty for a pill, clocking in at 1.7 kilos. Along with the keyboard case, it weighs 2.35 kilos. That is virtually precisely the identical because the Floor Professional four (part of me wonders if Lenovo is making an attempt to show it could possibly go toe-to-toe with Microsoft). It is considerably heavier than standalone 10-inch tablets just like the iPad Air, however it’s solely round zero.1 kilos heavier than the 12.9-inch iPad Professional. In a approach, the X1 is the antithesis than the iPad Professional: It may be a pill once you want it, however most individuals can be shopping for it as an ultraportable laptop computer.
The precise pill portion of the X1 is not a lot to take a look at. Its chassis is usually made out of magnesium (with a little bit of plastic thrown in), and it measures a powerful eight.6 millimeters skinny. It feels simply as sturdy as different metallic ThinkPad instances, which PC customers have lengthy been praised for his or her means to take a licking. Lenovo says the X1 passes 10 army certification exams, that are an enormous deal for presidency shoppers, and it is able to operating between -20 levels Celsius (-four Fahrenheit) and 60 Celsius (one hundred forty Fahrenheit).
From the entrance, there is a vital quantity of bezel across the show, a 2-megapixel webcam up prime and a fingerprint reader on the appropriate aspect. From the again, it’s kind of extra fascinating: A small latch opens up the kickstand, which folds out from the underside of the pill (the Floor’s stand comes out from the highest). Whereas that orientation appears a bit odd at first, it makes the X1 far simpler to carry in your lap than the Floor tablets, since there’s greater than only a single fringe of the stand digging into you.
There’s an eight-megapixel digital camera on the again of the X1, and across the sides you will discover a USB three.zero port, a USB-C connector, a single Mini DisplayPort and a mixture headphone/microphone jack. The USB-C port can also be used to cost the X1, one thing that is shortly turning into the norm for skinny tablets and laptops today. As well as, there is a microSD card slot underneath the kickstand for additional storage.
The X1’s keyboard comes bundled with the pill (one thing I’ve lengthy argued that should occur with the Floor) and it is fairly skinny, measuring at simply four.6 millimeters thick. It has a full-sized array of chiclet keys, and as I discussed above, there’s the usual ThinkPad TrackPoint nub. Under that, there are two bodily mouse buttons, a scrolling button and a big multitouch Mylar trackpad. It snaps onto the X1 simply by way of a magnet, and just like the Floor, that connection is robust sufficient to carry up the whole pill by the keyboard (simply do not shake it an excessive amount of).
One intriguing facet of the X1 is its expandability, thanks to some optionally available modules that plug onto the underside of the pill. Lenovo’s $one hundred fifty productiveness module, for instance, provides a HDMI and some extra USB ports, together with 5 additional hours of battery life. There are additionally modules for taking 3D photographs, and projecting photographs onto partitions. Lenovo did not have any of those enlargement choices out there to check on the time of this assessment, however we’ll replace as soon as we get some arms-on time with them.Show and pen enter
The ThinkPad X1’s 12-inch display packs in a 2,one hundred sixty-by-1,440-pixel decision, which is respectable for its measurement, however not fairly as sharp because the Floor Professional four’s 2,736-by-1,824 pixel show. Nonetheless, it seems good, with correct colours and greater than sufficient brightness (I sometimes stored it round 50 % indoors). Outside, the X1 was usable in direct daylight; it is simpler to see than my 2014-period MacBook Air, even whereas sporting sun shades. However as with each system with a glass-coated display, you need to anticipate a little bit of glare.
As a pill, the X1’s display is at its greatest whenever you’re viewing movies and digital comics. It is a three:2 facet ratio panel, so you will get black bars with widescreen movies, nevertheless it made films and TV exhibits look nice. These proportions have been additionally nicely-suited to comics, since they might refill the display simply without having to zoom in. I nonetheless really feel a bit cramped engaged on a 12-inch show, particularly after rising used to to the thirteen-inch MacBook Air and my 24-inch desktop screens. It is also a bit too heavy to carry with one hand for prolonged durations, nevertheless it’s positive for the occasional comedian or information article.
Lenovo additionally packs in a stylus, referred to as the ThinkPad Pen Professional. It makes use of Wacom’s lively electro-static (AES) know-how to ship 2,048 ranges of strain sensitivity — twice as a lot as the newest Floor Pen. The Pen Professional is powered by a single AAAA battery, which fortunately comes within the field. Sadly, although, there isn’t any place to stow the pen on the X1 itself. Lenovo features a plastic holster that plugs right into a USB port, however that is not likely helpful if you must use the pill’s solely USB connection. (It additionally simply appears bizarre having the stylus hold off the aspect.)
In Lenovo’s WriteIt app, which comes preloaded on the X1, the Pen Professional felt surprisingly correct. The pen had no hassle figuring out totally different ranges of strain, and it captured my scribbles with none huge delays. Sadly, it’s kind of too slippery on the display for taking notes, or for prolonged use. Microsoft principally prevented that difficulty with the Floor Professional four, which feels extra like placing pen to paper (and you may customise it additional with replaceable stylus ideas).Typing expertise
The ThinkPad X1 is a bit misleading on the keyboard entrance. It seems like a typical, full-sized ThinkPad keyboard, however its buttons do not have the identical quantity of depth as Lenovo’s conventional laptops. I used to be nonetheless capable of sort pretty shortly, however the precise act of urgent down on keys felt mushy and never very satisfying. Maybe I am simply too demanding as a heavy typer (I make numerous noise!), however I anticipated a bit extra from Lenovo, particularly since Microsoft was capable of ship a very nice keyboard with the newest Floor Sort Cowl.
With the kickstand folding down from the underside of the X1, I had no drawback balancing it on my lap, mattress and quite a lot of different situations. It is a sensible change from Microsoft’s Floor hinge: In typical laptop computer mode, it creates a flat floor that makes the X1 really feel extra like a laptop computer, and never a pill being held precariously. It is also extra snug on naked legs, which is an effective factor when you’re sporting shorts.
Whereas I acquired used to the texture of the X1’s keyboard ultimately, I by no means fairly obtained the grasp of its Mylar trackpad. It all the time felt a bit too stiff and jerky; it is nowhere close to as clean as glass trackpads like we see on the MacBooks and the Floor Sort Cowl. It ended up being an issue navigating menus and choices in our historic CMS and Home windows apps like Evernote, which have means too many small buttons to click on on.
I’ve by no means been an enormous fan of the ThinkPad TrackPoint nub, however I discovered to understand it on the X1, as I used to be caught on a flight subsequent to a very thoughtless seat neighbor. Since I did not have sufficient elbow room to make use of the trackpad, I used to be pressured to get the grasp of the TrackPoint, which solely requires gently shifting a finger round. It took me longer than regular, however I used to be capable of cope with my e mail backlog and write a couple of posts with out continuously elbowing the individual subsequent to me. That is all to say: I lastly get it, ThinkPad nerds!Efficiency and battery life
I examined the very best-spec X1 pill (which comes with a Core M7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD) for greater than every week with my regular workflow. That often consists of getting a number of packages and home windows open directly, together with Slack to talk with coworkers, a number of browsers and dozens of tabs open for analysis and writing, Evernote for observe taking and Spotify for some tunes. Regardless of being a decrease-powered Core M CPU, the X1 had no drawback maintaining with my demanding routine.
It was additionally my solely pc on an intense work journey to Austin, which concerned overlaying a main NVIDIA press occasion. I wasn’t initially planning to make use of the X1 in such a excessive-stress setting, however I managed to get a prolonged article out and some footage whereas balancing it on my lap in a crowded auditorium.
As you’ll be able to see from the benchmarks above, the X1 I examined lands someplace between the Floor Professional three with a Core i5 4300U processor and the Floor Professional four with a Core i5 6300U chip. That is respectable, provided that Lenovo’s pill was operating at a paltry 1.2GHz clock velocity, whereas the Floor Execs have been operating between 1.9GHz and a couple of.4GHz. It additionally managed to stream 4K movies from YouTube with out skipping, and it stored up with my workflow even once I needed to begin picture modifying and shifting giant photographs round. No, it will not smash any velocity data, however it’s sufficient to be productive whereas barely breaking a sweat.
The X1’s largest drawback is battery life. In my typical utilization, it lasted for a mere 4 and a half hours. Our battery check, which includes viewing an HD video on repeat till it runs down, was a bit extra promising, yielding round seven hours of runtime. It might simply be that it is very environment friendly at enjoying video (I attempted to show off all the facility optimizations I might), however the X1’s subpar efficiency in different situations is worrisome. When you’re contemplating it, I might significantly advocate the non-compulsory $one hundred fifty productiveness module for extra battery life. (However take into account that’ll make the X1 heavier.)
When the X1 was initially introduced at CES, Lenovo stated it will begin at $899 with its keyboard. However it appears the worth has been bumped up over the previous few months. The entry-degree X1, which comes with a Core M3-6Y30 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, now begins at $1,029. Coincidentally (or maybe not a lot), that is the identical worth as the most cost effective Floor Professional four ($899) plus the $one hundred thirty Sort Cowl. Lenovo in all probability thinks it may justify the upper worth since Microsoft is doing the identical factor, however that additionally undercuts considered one of its preliminary benefits over the Floor.
For $1,349, you’ll be able to snag the X1 with a Core M5-6Y57 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. And on the prime finish, there’s the $1,649 mannequin I am testing, which provides the Core M7-6Y75 processor. That is a surprisingly extensive pricing unfold, however for probably the most half, I feel most shoppers can be higher off with the $1,349 mannequin. That is if you will get over the X1’s mushy keyboard and brief battery life, although.
In the event you’re in search of a contemporary hybrid pill/laptop computer, the Floor Professional four continues to be a greater choice, despite the fact that you must shell out extra cash for its keyboard. It has quicker hardware, a greater keyboard (and trackpad), in addition to much more dependable battery life.
Nonetheless, I acknowledge that some companies are dedicated to the ThinkPad model, and most company staff do not have a selection in terms of selecting what sort of pc they will use. If that is your state of affairs and portability is your principal concern, then the X1 stays a strong choice.Wrap-up
We have seen Lenovo dabble with hybrid ThinkPad designs with its Helix collection over the previous few years, however the X1 Pill is its first really profitable hybrid. No, it isn’t good: I might like to see higher battery life and an improved keyboard. However it does an honest job of bringing a number of the most intriguing parts of Microsoft’s Floor lineup to enterprise customers.