Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Tablet (2nd Gen) Review: Upgraded and more refined

Lenovo’s second take on the Thinkpad X1 tablet doesn’t stray too far from the first and that’s not a bad thing. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel when all that is needed is some upgraded hardware. The 2017 model includes the latest 7th Gen Intel Y series processor and still features the flexibility of add-on modules.

Design

The second generation Lenovo Thinkpad X1 doesn’t feature the thinnest design on the market for a laptop or a tablet, but it’s not chunky by any means. Starting at 1.69lbs It’s not exactly light, this makes it a little heavy for a tablet but it’s not much more than a 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

The Thinkpad X1 Gen 2 is built tough, the body is constructed with a magnesium hybrid material making it lighter while also stronger. Along with the Gorilla Glass 4 screen, the Thinkpad X1 was able to pass 10 MIL-STD 810G tests as well as Lenovo’s own durability tests.



Without the keyboard, it comes in a little under a quarter of an inch and with the keyboard, it’s just under a third of an inch. Considering all it packs in this is a pretty svelte machine.

Starting with the right side it offers a full sized USB 3 port, USB-C port, Mini Display port, and speaker. The headphone jack, volume controls, secondary speaker, and Kensington lock are on the opposite side. Under the kickstand conceals a nano SIM and microSD card slot, making it convenient to use the ThinkPad on cellular networks or add additional storage.

Kickstand Done Right

In my opinion, Lenovo has come up with the best way to implement a kickstand on a 2-in-1 machine. Most 2-in-1 machines feature a kickstand with the hinge in the middle. While the Thinkpad X1 kickstand flips out from the bottom. This makes it sturdier and easier to use while in your lap. A very important feature if you’re like me and not always sitting at a table.

Fingerprint Scanner

The fingerprint scanner on the front of the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 makes logging into your device quick and convenient. Having this technology in your laptop is a huge improvement over entering your password each time. Once you get used to this it’s very difficult to go back to entering your password manually.

Display

The 12-inch display on the X1 features a crispy 2160×1440 resolution display with brilliant colors. It is plenty bright to be used outdoors and overall I couldn’t find any downside to this display. It is perfect for watching videos and is great to use if you’re an artist looking to draw with the Thinkpad Pen Pro.

Active Pen

Featuring a full metal body, two buttons, and 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. The Think Pen Pro offers a fantastic way to get creative or just take notes. It is easy to store on the side of the tablet while on the go and is powered by a single triple A battery. Writing and drawing felt smooth and natural on the screen.

Modules

Just as the first generation Thinkpad X1 tablet this one offers modules to make it more versatile. There is a productivity module that provides you with more ports and a larger battery and a presentation module with a built in projector. Both of these attach to the bottom of the tablet much like the magnetic keyboard.

Keyboard

The keyboard on the Thinkpad X1 is fantastic, and so much better than I expected from an addon like this. It is light and rigid making it easy to use while in your lap and not cumbersome to carry around. Lenovo even updated the keyboard this year with magnets to help it stay in place when closed, fixing a complaint from the first generation Thinkpad X1 tablet.

Most of the time when switching to a new keyboard it takes a few days to get accustomed to it. Not so with this keyboard, I immediately felt comfortable typing on it. The size of the keys and amount of travel was perfect. I was typing full speed in no time, and never once did I miss the keyboard on my full sized laptop.

My one and only complaint about the keyboard is that Lenovo swaps the Ctrl and Fn keys on the keyboard. Fortunately, this is easily rectified by using the Lenovo settings app where you can switch them.

Camera

Cameras are often an afterthought on tablets, and for good reason. It’s far more convenient to use your phone, and who really wants to be that guy who is taking photos with his tablet? That being said, the rear facing camera on the second gen Thinkpad X1 is more than sufficient.

It has a tendency to lose details in the highlights and colors are a little desaturated. Overall it’s a good camera if you’re stuck in a bind and need to take a quick photo. Otherwise most phones these days have a better camera and you should reach for it instead.

If you’re more interested in video conferences and calls then you’ll be happy to know the front facing camera also offers good quality.  With a clear picture and decent low light performance.

Performance

Our review unit included the i5-7Y57 CPU with 8GB of RAM, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect performance wise. I knew it would be a downgrade from my current machine, I just hoped it wouldn’t slow me down too much. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised at the speed of the Thinkpad X1 tablet. There is no doubt it is slower than my main laptop but it had hardly any effect on my productivity.

As someone who is constantly multitasking this was very important to me. The good news is, I was able to bounce back and forth between programs and open plenty of tabs in Firefox with ease. This isn’t a machine I would expect to take on heavy tasks like video editing, but for everyday use or in business use it has plenty of power.

Fortunately, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 tablet comes with Windows 10 Signature Edition. For those of you who do not know, this means that it comes without all of those pesky trials and pre installed software. Providing you with a leaner and cleaner version of Windows without all the bloat.

My only issue was that the back of the Thinkpad X1 would become very warm during usage. This wasn’t as apparent when using it in laptop mode, but once switching to tablet mode it could feel quite warm on your hand while holding it. Even when playing a simple game like Candy Crush I could feel it getting noticeably warm.

Battery Life

Unfortunately, the battery life is one of the weakest points on the second generation Thinkpad X1. While using it with auto brightness selected I was seeing somewhere between 4.5-5 hours of usage. Which in itself is not terrible, I only see slightly better on my own personal laptop.

However, I had hoped for better battery life that would get me through a full workday. The productivity module is an accessory you will want to look at if you are interested in making it through the workday unplugged.

Final Thoughts

The second generation Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Tablet looks to provide you with a flexible high-performance experience. Between the sleek well thought out design and high-end specs this 2-in-1 is a pleasure to use. The only caveat being the battery life, this is the one area where it could use some improvement. As long as you aren’t too far from a plug during the day to top off then this is one fantastic little machine.

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