The ThinkPad is to personal computing what polka dots are to fashion – it’s a classic. Originally an IBM product, and taken over by Lenovo about seven years ago, the concept and construct of a ThinkPad has changed little over the years. The Japanese Bento-box inspired design remains largely unchanged with tweaks made only to improve ergonomics or adapt to new screen sizes.
We got our hands on one of the new-age ThinkPads, the Lenovo X230. While retaining its executive-like all-black look, this ThinkPad is designed to be lightweight and compact to meet the needs of an increasingly mobile lifestyle.
In a market where thinner is apparently better, the 1-inch plus girth of the Lenovo X230 seems like an aberration. However, Lenovo manages to pack all of it in about 1.5 kgs, an easily portable bulk. The build quality is sturdy with a magnesium roll cage housing the tech inside and a soft rubberised panel on the body which keeps scratches away.
The 12.5-inch screen is an IPS display, which means readability/visibility was excellent at all times. The viewing angles too were better than the usual fare. We watched ‘Before Sunrise’, the 1995 romantic classic and although we had to use it with external speakers, the video experience was quite good.
The creators of the ThinkPad, and the engineers who have carried the company’s legacy on, have always paid an uncommon amount of attention to the device’s keypad. Although it’s one of the most used components of any personal computing device, users seldom prioritise a genuinely ergonomic keypad over more aesthetic features when going for a laptop. However, for someone who hasn’t used a ThinkPad keyboard before, the typing hardware is quite a pleasant revelation. The island – type keyboard seems to have been spaced at just the right distance, with the keyboard depressed just a little bit so your finger’s natural curve find the right fit every time you hit a key.
The space bar also doubled up as a function key for an overhead lamp that highlights the keyboard. A simple addition but extremely useful considering how many times we fumble around in the dark when trying to tweak volume or pause in the middle of a movie we might be watching before going off to bed.
Targeted at the business traveller, the X230 has been made ready for video and voice conferencing with a dual-array noise cancelling microphone that keeps ambient noise at a minimum. During conference calls or video chats, you can even choose to mute the sound of keys being typed on your keyboard for a clearer conversation. The webcam is a high-definition 720p HD camera which has face tracking enabled.
A device which aimed at the business traveller needs to be equipped with the latest connectivity options. The ThinkPad X230 hence comes with three USB ports (2 x USB 3.0), a memory card reader, Gigabit Ethernet port, VGA and Mini DisplayPort outputs and an Express Card slot.
The ThinkPad X230 is equipped with Dolby speakers with Advanced Audio v2. However, the audio experience on the laptop was definitely not one of the best we’ve come across. Most times the volume on the speakers was too feeble and the audio had little impact. Hence, we inevitably had to plug in the headphones while watching a movie or sitcom.
Our ThinkPad X230 review unit operates on Microsoft Windows 7 Professional and is powered by an Intel Core i5 3210M with an over clocking speed of 2.5GHz.
We ran our regular Novabench test on the Lenovo X230 and it scored about 676 points shooting way ahead of a bunch of Ultrabooks and laptops we had reviewed in the last couple of months, including the Dell Inspiron 17R Special Edition and the Acer Aspire TimelineUltra M5; the only exception being the Dell XPS 14z which we reviewed earlier this year.
Like most other manufacturers there’s a bit of bloatware that comes with Lenovo ThinkPad X230, the only good thing is you might actually be able to use this software regularly. You’ll find programs such as Evernote, Google Chrome, Skype etc on board already. With the screen dimmed and constant Wi-Fi connectivity the Lenovo ThinkPad X230 gave us close to six hours of email and media usage.
Crafted as a modern, compact device to be carried along for presentations or business trips, the Lenovo ThinkPad X230 does the job efficiently. For those who might want to replace say an older version of a ThinkPad, the X230 is a decent option, unless you are saving up for slimmer devices such as the Carbon X1. For those who are considering buying their first ThinkPad, the X230 competes well when it comes to productivity with its competitors in the market.
Love –Comfortable keyboard, decent screen
Hate – Mediocre audio, not exactly thin