Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2 review: Light and good performing hybrid with a few flaws

Hardware Reviews / Reviews
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2 is a lightweight hybrid that packs the punch of a heavyweight when it comes to performance.

TA-ratings-79The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2 is the updated version of last years X1 Gen 1 tablet. The Gen 1 was deservedly a Techaeris Top Pick for 2016, but there were a few issues that needed some attention. Has the ThinkPad X1 Tablet remedied those problems? Read on for the full review of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2 review.

Specifications

  • Processor: Up to Intel Core i7-7Y75 (4MB cache, up to 3.60 GHz
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Pro (64 bit)
  • Graphics: Intel HD integrated graphics 615
  • Memory: Up to 16 GB LPDDR3
  • Storage: Up to 512 GB SSD OPAL2 PCIe-NVMe M.2
  • Display: 12″ FHD+ 2K (2160×1440) touchscreen
  • Gorilla Glass 4
  • Battery Life: 10 hours tablet only, five additional hours with productivity modules
  • Security: dTPM, vPro technology, Touch sensor fingerprint reader
  • Dimensions: Tablet 11.47″x 8.25″x 0.33″, with keyboard 11.47″x 8.25″ x 0.51″
  • Weight: Tablet 1.69 lbs, with keyboard 2.35 lbs
  • I/O Ports:
    • USB 3.0
    • USB C power delivery
    • Mini display port
    • micro SD
    • Audio
    • nano sim

What’s In The Box

  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2
  • ThinkPad Pen
  • Power adapter and cable
  • Safety, warranty, and setup guide
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2

The X1 means business.

Design

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2 looks exactly like you would expect a Lenovo product to look, a black rectangle with some red highlights. Some will call the styling classic, others may think its a bit tired. Like the Ford Model T, you can have the X1 tablet in any color you want, as long as it’s black. It seems the Gen 2 isn’t available in the silver or red that were offered last year. The back of the screen is made of a hard plastic that feels very durable, and the back of the keyboard feels like soft touch rubber.

There are two cameras, one forward and one rear facing with a flash. Along the left side of the screen, you will find volume up and down buttons, a 3.5 mm jack, speaker and a Kensington lock. Along the right side, there is a USB-C charging port, Mini DisplayPort, a USB 3.0, another speaker, and a fabric loop for holding the included stylus. On the back, behind the kickstand, is a well-concealed microSD slot. I would have easily overlooked this slot had I not read other reviews on the first gen X1.

The keyboard is thin and lightweight, and you can place it in either an upper position or a lower position for typing. The light weight is great for a tablet on the go, but it does tend to bend a bit while typing with it in the upper position. This doesn’t really seem to be a problem, but if you press hard while typing, you will notice the keyboard bouncing a bit. There is a TrackPoint button and a trackpad, eliminating the need for a mouse.

The ThinkPad is very light; the tablet portion weighs in at 1.69 lbs. Adding in the keyboard will bring that weight up to 2.35 lbs. These are the same numbers as the first gen X1, so no improvement from last year. But still, it is a very light tablet for its size.

Display

The 12 inch 2K FHD touchscreen of the ThinkPad X1 tablet is constructed of Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4. This is a good thing too because writing on the screen of an expensive tablet is a cringe-inducing exercise. At first, I was very gentle with the pen on the screen. After a day or two, I noticed that the screen still looked good as new, not a single scratch or scuff. After that, I started to use the pen more naturally, and after about two weeks with the X1, the screen still looks flawless.

In ideal lighting conditions, the screen on the X1 tablet is amazing, watching movies in a dimly lit room was great. The colors are rich and vibrant, the blacks are deep, and edges are crisp. But if you happen to be outside, or in a bright room, you may have to adjust your position to get rid of glare. The Gorilla Glass 4 has a high gloss finish that looks wonderful, but glare on the screen can be frustrating.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2

The keyboard in the upper position.

Software/Ecosystem

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2 that we received had Windows 10 Pro (64bit) installed. It works wonderfully on the X1; I enjoyed playing with Paint 3D. Using the templates to make figures, drawing freehand, and having the program convert the shapes I drew into 3D, applying textures to the shapes I had created. It was all good fun, sadly most of my freehand shapes resembled pillows. Yup, mooore pillows. There are, of course, a smattering of other programs pre-installed onto the X1, but you have to expect that on a PC. Use what you need and just ignore the rest.

Performance

You can configure the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2 on Lenovo’s website to your requirements. The unit we received for review had the following specifications.

  • Intel Core i5-7Y57 CPU @ 1.20GHz
  • 8 GB RAM
  • Windows 10 Pro (64 bit)
  • 256 GB SSD

If you need more power, you can upgrade to an i7 Processor and up to 16 GB RAM. Windows 10 Home comes standard, but you can upgrade to the Pro edition. The X1 comes standard with 128 GB SSD, which can be upgraded up to a 512 GB SSD.

I found that the ThinkPad X1 was more than capable of handling multiple programs running at once. I had PowerPoint, Paint 3D, Photos, Google Earth, Word, and View 3D all running while I was playing an online game. The X1 handled it all without a hiccup. I switched between programs, turned them randomly on and off and even opened a few extras. The X1 never complained about the load; it just kept going like a hot knife through butter.

The ThinkPad Pen worked very well. I used it to navigate around the screen, writing and drawing. I found that drawing worked very well, it’s not quite the same as drawing with a pencil since it lacks the same tactile feel. I’m sure with practice (and talent) the pen would be very useful for artists on the X1.

The X1 can also have its functionality expanded with the available modules. Modules connect to the screen in place of the keyboard, and the keyboard connects to the module. The Presenter module has a projector, and the Productivity module increases ports. Both modules will also increase the battery life of the X1 by up to five hours. We did not receive modules for testing.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2

The Lenovo Presenter Module

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2

The Lenovo Productivity Module

Speakers/Sound

For such a small hybrid, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2 certainly has loud speakers. They are great for video conferencing, watching presentations, or enjoying a bit of YouTube. The problem with the speakers is that there is no bass. If you plan on listening to music or movies, you’ll want some headphones or external speakers for the best listening experience.

Camera

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2 has a front facing 2 MP camera, and a rear facing 8 MP camera. They both take pictures.

The cameras on the X1 are most useful for Skype, video conferencing, or times that you don’t have a smartphone or other camera on hand. But I think we all know that about laptop cameras. Carry on.

Battery Life

I ran two battery tests on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2. For the first test, I used the X1 as I would any computer over the course of three days. I surfed the web, watched videos, played some games, checked weather and so on. For the duration of the test I had the screen set to 75% brightness, the volume at 25%, and never shut the X1 down. The general use test gave me 9 hours and 16 minutes before the battery needed recharging.

For the second test I played online videos nonstop for as long as possible. The brightness was set at 75%, volume at 25%. Finally, the battery gave out after 5 hours and 2 minutes. Lenovo advertises a 10-hour battery life for the X1 without a battery module. While I was never able to hit the full 10 hours, the results were a slight improvement over last years model. Your results may vary depending on use.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2

The X1 is even up for a bit of light gaming.

Price/Value

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2 has a regular starting price of $1,449.00USD, but currently, it has instant savings on Lenovo’s website that brings that price down to $1,086.75. With all that the X1 can do and the ease with which it handles tasks, I would say that the X1 is truly worth the cost of entry with the instant savings Lenovo is currently offering. The full price of $1,449.00USD is probably a bit steep for most though.

Wrap Up

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2 is a lightweight hybrid that packs the punch of a heavyweight when it comes to performance. The versatile X1 is right at home in the office, the classroom or the playroom. It’s this versatility that I think is the strong suit of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 tablet Gen 2.

*We were sent a review unit of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet Gen 2 for the purposes of this review.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1

$1,086.75
Lenovo ThinkPad X1
7.9

Design

8/10

    Display

    8/10

      Software/Ecosystem

      9/10

        Performance

        10/10

          Speakers/Sound

          6/10

            Camera

            6/10

              Battery Life

              8/10

                Price/Value

                8/10

                  Nailed it

                  • Versatility
                  • Great screen
                  • Weight
                  • CPU performance

                  Needs work

                  • Screen glare
                  • Battery life
                  • Speakers
                  • Tedious styling
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