Lenovo has introduced the ThinkPad X240, the company’s latest business-class ultraportable and successor of the popular X230. The 12.5-inch X240 brings to the table several improvements, innovations, and changes.
Internal hardware has been upgraded to the latest Intel Core ultra-low voltage family, the 4th Gen “Haswell”. The CPUs bring better power efficiency than the “Ivy Bridge” precursors and improved integrated graphics. The laptop will be available with up to the Core i7, ensuring the system can be used for everyday and complex business and home tasks, as well as multimedia creation. Windows 8.1 and apps are installed on either a traditional hard drive with up to 1TB capacity or a solid state drive of up to 256GB. Info on RAM options isn’t available, but it is expected to support from 4GB to at least 8GB.
When it comes to innovations, the main one is Power Bridge battery technology. It consists of one battery sealed inside the chassis and another removable unit. You can swap removable batteries without powering down the system, since the internal battery enables the laptop to resume working during the change. Therefore, if you have a couple of removable batteries, laptop’s run time can be enormously long. The internal battery has only 3-cells but it’s still good enough for “up to six hours” of operation on a single charge. The removable batteries will be available with larger capacities, but we have no info on exact capacities at the time of this writing.
The biggest on-body change is removal of physically separated buttons on the trackpad. Instead, there are five button areas on the single-piece trackpad surface. Three of them are on the top and are made for use with the TrackPoint stick located in the middle of the keyboard. Another two hidden buttons for use with the trackpad itself are on the bottom. It’s questionable if the new trackpad design is a positive change, since many users prefer physical buttons. However, tactile feedback when clicking on the integrated buttons is good and is nicely optimized, meaning that isn’t either too stiff or too soft.
The keyboard hasn’t been changed much. It has LED backlight and water resistance and features the same Precision ergonomically shaped keys. The only difference when compared to the X230 is different arrangement of the “function” buttons on the top row of the keyboard. They’re now more optimized for Windows 8 and add functionalities such as instant access to the Search feature and Win 8 settings.
Larger palmrests on the X240 are definitely a positive thing, since the X230 had really small ones and made extended periods of typing uncomfortable. This, however, means dimensions of the new model are somewhat larger. We have no exact numbers, but it is obvious the X240 is wider and deeper judging from the larger bezels on the left and right sides of the keyboard and big bezels on the display panel.
What we know for sure is notebook’s starting weight of under 3 pounds and 0.8″ profile height.
The display on the X240 model we got hands on is 1080p, but this is probably one of the options. We expect the notebook to be also available with lower resolutions. The panel is based on IPS technology for great viewing angles. In the real live, they’re indeed very wide and the picture look good from virtually all angles. The screen appears to be pretty bright and when you add its anti-glare coating to the mix, the X240 becomes a good companion for work in bright and outdoors environments. Touch functionality is optional and supports 10-point input.
Ports and slots on Lenovo’s X240 include combo mic/headphone audio jack, USB 3.0, media card reader, SIM card slot for optional mobile broadband, Ethernet LAN, and Kensington lock slot on the right, as well as OneLink docking / power jack, VGA out, another USB 3.0, mini-DisplayPort, and SmartCard reader on the left. On the bottom of the case there’s another docking port.
Speaking about the bottom of the chassis, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t provide doors for easy access for storage and RAM upgrades, so this is a downside if you compare it to the previous model.
Other features include Near Field Communication (NFC), which is a new thing in the ThinkPad family, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, a fingerprint reader, webcam combined with dual microphones, stereo speakers with Dolby Home Theater audio technology, and Intel vPro tech for advanced system management.
Overall, the body of the ultraportable is all about sturdiness on paper and in the real life and that’s expected for a ThinkPad-series machine. They have been offering business-class ruggedness for a long time and the X240 isn’t an exception. It has a magnesium-alloy base, carbon fiber top, and metal roll-cage beneath the surface for extra strength. The laptop has passed military-specification testing against extreme temperatures and pressure, as well as humidity, vibration, and dust.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X240 is expected to arrive this month with prices starting at $1,099.