Lenovo ThinkPad laptops have long been a favorite of business users on the go, and for good reason. They have a long history of durability and solid performance, and their keyboards are arguably the best on the planet. The new Lenovo ThinkPad X240 has the distinction of being the thinnest and lightest X-series laptop to date but it is still MIL-SPEC tough and offers solid Core i5 computing power as well as Lenovo’s new Power Bridge battery technology, which gave us over 15 hours of battery life. Like most ThinkPads, the X240 isn’t exactly cheap, and its 12.5-inch touch screen is relatively low res, but this well-built ultrabook rocks just the same.
Design and Features
Longtime fans of the ThinkPad will be happy to know that the X240 doesn’t stray too far from the iconic design, although it does offer a few new touches. The lid is made of carbon fiber and has a new Graphite Black finish, which is a bit smoother than the typical ThinkPad finish. It also uses a drop-down hinge design that allows the screen to be extended to a 180-degree tilt range. As always, ThinkPad and Lenovo badges adorn the lid.
The X240 has a built-in, non-removable 3-cell battery and comes with a removable 3-cell battery and a removable 6-cell battery, both of which are hot-swappable thanks to Lenovo’s Power Bridge Technology, which allows you to replace a spent battery with a charged battery without powering down the notebook.
Weighing 3.2 pounds and measuring 12.02 by 8.19 by 0.79 inches (HWD), the X240 is a tad heavier than the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (3.06 pounds) but still plenty portable enough for long hauls. Even if you use the six-cell battery you’re only looking at around 3.6 pounds. The left side of the magnesium alloy chassis holds VGA and mini DisplayPort video outputs, a power jack, and a USB 3.0 port (which is black, not blue). The right side is home to a second USB 3.0 port, a LAN jack, a 4-in-1 SD card reader, and an audio output. At the bottom of the base are a docking station port and a pair of speakers.
Beneath the lid is a 12.5-inch IPS touch-screen display that delivers vibrant colors, deep blacks, and wide viewing angles. However, its 1366-by-768 resolution pales in comparison to the 3,200-by-1,800 resolution you get with the Samsung Book 9. That said, the touch screen worked flawlessly, and the display’s uber-thin bezels made for easy Windows 8 swiping from either side.
The island-style keyboard is a typical ThinkPad keyboard; in other words, it is awesome. The backlit keys are full-size and well spaced, and the keyboard is spill-resistant. Typing is comfortable, and keystrokes are responsive. The newly designed glass trackpad offers twice the work area of previous trackpads, contains five integrated click buttons, and supports 20 Windows 8 gesture commands. I takes a little getting used to the extra surface area but once you do it’s hard to image how you ever got along with a smaller trackpad. As always, a red TrackPoint pointing stick is nestled between the G, H, and B keys, and there’s a fingerprint reader off to the right side of the keyboard.
Rounding out the feature set are Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, a webcam and microphone array, and a 256GB solid-state drive with Windows 8 Pro. There are also a handful of Lenovo apps, including Lenovo Cloud Storage and Companion apps, trial versions of Microsoft Office and Norton Studio, Skype, and Evernote Touch.
Fueled by a fourth-generation Intel Core i5-4200U processor running at 1.6GHz and 8GB of RAM, the X240 turned in respectable scores on our performance benchmark tests. Its PCMark 7 score of 4,717 beat its cousin, the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix (4,507) and the Dell Latitude 6430u (HD+) (4,498), but it couldn’t top the Dell Latitude 6430u (5,006). Its Cinebench R11.5 score of 2.49 was right up there with the Samsung Book 9 Plus (2.50) and the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro (2.49) but well short of the Dell 6430u (HD+) (3.12).
The X240 handled our multimedia tests with aplomb, finishing the Photoshop workload in 5 minute 54 seconds and the Handbrake video encoding test in 1:25. These scores are pretty much on par with the Samsung Book 9 Plus (5:51 and 1:23, respectively), which uses the same Core i5 processor.
The Intel Graphics HD 4400 chip performed as expected; the X240′s 3DMark 11scores of 1,445 (Entry) and 209 (Extreme) were a bit higher than those of the Sony VAIO Pro 13 scores (1297 and 208, respectively) but slightly lower than the Dell Latitude e7240 Touch (1,600 and 259, respectively). You won’t get playable frames rates from this GPU either, but the X240 is not designed for game-play.
Using the capacity of two 3-cell batteries (one of which is removable) the X240 held its own on our battery rundown test, lasting almost six hours (5 hours 54 seconds). The Dell 6430u (HD+) lasted 5:10 and the Dell e7240 Touch lasted 7:21. However, replacing the 3-cell battery with the slightly bulkier 6-cell battery resulted in a record-setting battery life of 15:16, the equivalent of two full work days.
Whether you’re a long-time ThinkPad enthusiast or a newbie, the X240 is an excellent example of why the brand has been so successful for so many years. Solid performance and a durable design make this ultrabook an ideal travel companion, and its incredible 15-plus hour battery life is hard to beat. A higher resolution screen would be nice, but considering this is a business-class laptop that’s not really a deal breaker and doesn’t prevent the X240 from becoming our newest Editors’ Choice for business ultrabooks.
|Processor Name||Intel Core i5-4200U|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8 Professional|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4400|
|Type||Business, Small Business|
|Networking Options||802.11n (2.4+5 GHz Dualband)|
|Processor Speed||1.6 GHz|
|Screen Size||12.5 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||256 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc