When I first switched to the MacBook Pro – my first ever Mac – way back at the very beginning of the Intel transition, it caused me to begin to think differently about how we describe computers, and even evaluate them. I learned very quickly that things like processor speed, RAM, and other raw specs become arbitrary at some point – and what really, truly matters is the experience that using a device provides. As such, when presented with the opportunity to review Lenovo’s thinnest and lightest generation of ThinkPad, I was eager to take up the task and test those skills.
While this is an incredibly thin and light notebook by all accounts, with its 13-inch frame coming in at just under 2 pounds, and 0.55-0.66 inches (depending on configuration), what it doesn’t lack is power – it can take up to an i7 in Intel’s 11th generation processors, with the appropriate notebook-level graphics to boot. And with an SSD standard, it also boots extremely fast and can handle a demanding workflow. All this is to say: it is definitely up to par as far as Windows laptops are concerned. It’s also a full third lighter than the equivalent MacBook Pro, and every bit as thin.
Say what you will about processors and RAM and all that jazz – but for me, the sign that a company is truly taking pride in their designs and their work is in the build quality and overall fit and finish of the products they release to the market, and here is where the Lenovo truly shines. With a casing made of a mixture of magnesium and carbon fiber, the ThinkPad X1 Nano is built like a tank, and practically indestructible. While I regularly find myself babying my MacBook Pro, this was not the case with the Lenovo – I felt perfectly confident tossing it in a bag and -just using it- without worry. And that is a huge achievement in my book.
Just as important as the build quality, however, is the overall fit and feel of the device in every day use. The Lenovo boasts a spacious keyboard (for a laptop), has a high-precision fingerprint scanner (which worked just as nicely as TouchID in my experience), and boasts the iconic tracking joystick in the center of the keyboard – a hallmark of the ThinkPad line since the old IBM days. The finish of the device is smooth and extremely pleasant, and the screen was vibrant enough (at 2K resolution) that I actually said “wow” on multiple occasions. It is simply the best display I have seen in a Windows laptop to date – rich, vibrant, and bright.
The keyboard is extremely comfortable to use, and the trackpad is generously sized, with a huge amount of sensitivity customization readily available, which made the experience all the more pleasurable. The sound is also amongst the richest I have heard from any portable Laptop, either Windows based or Apple based, and is an achievement by itself. One thing I found particularly impressive is the fact that the laptop can fold completely flat, allowing for every angle in between to be used at your preference.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll miss anything in terms of performance, screen quality, and overall fit and finish, one think that impressed me much more than I anticipated was the battery life. Lenovo’s spec sheet claims that it will get up to 13 hour on battery (naturally, under carefully controlled laboratory conditions), but the real-world performnce I was able to achieve paints a much more accurate picture – over 4 charge cycles, with typical web browsing and video at two-thirds brightness, I averaged just over 7 hours in real-world use without plugging in. That is -spectacular- for an Intel-based Windows laptop – a very impressive achievement indeed.
Lenovo has never been a slouch when it comes to security, boasting BitLocker encryption as sophisticated as Apple’s FileVault (built directly into the BIOS), and able to be configured with a secure password, fingerprint identification, or advanced facial identification using the 720p built-in webcam. It also includes a sliding webcam cover that is easy to use, and makes it easier to ensure that nobody is snooping through your camera lens. In terms of connectivity, the X1 Nano boasts a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports, which it also uses to charge, and a headphone jack – an input configuration which will be familiar to any user of Apple’s current lineup of portables.
While Lenovo has overall done an exception job, I did, nevertheless, have a couple of criticisms (keeping in mind that I am reviewing the hardware – not Windows 10. For one, I found the trackpad to be substantially crowded – I would have much preferred a larger trackpad without dedicated right-and-left click buttons, which I found that I almost never used. I also found that unfolding the laptop past about 120 degrees made it top-heavy and difficult to manage – weighting the front of the notebook a little bit more could resolve this, but it is a minor concern at best.
All in all, I was extremely impress with Lenovo’s dedication to design and functionality. It’s display, sound quality, battery life, and overall snappy performance (I had a difficult time getting it to seize up, even with 75 Chrome tabs open), compared with its exceptional durability and build quality, and advanced security features – and all of that coupled with an extremely thin, light, and ultra-portable design makes it feel like Lenovo spared no effort, and made no unnecessary compromises in bringing this to market.
Would I recommend it? Knowing that an Apple notebook isn’t for everybody: Yes, I would. I would wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone looking for an ultra-portable Windows laptop without a second thought – it’s among the best Windows laptops I have experienced, and holds up to the ThinkPad name.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Last but not least: the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano starts at just under $1500 ($1,487.40 at the time of publication on Lenovo’s official site, or $1449.99 on Amazon). The model we reviewed included 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and an Intel 11th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-1130G7 Processor, although a wide variety of configurations are available at Amazon and the Lenovo site using the “build your PC” feature
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