Lenovo Thinkpad X201 Review

They’re not quite as good as when IBM but my X201 is  a miniature magnificent workhorse and when all the Apple fan boys are scampering for power plugs I’m still sitting pretty.

Buying a well spec’d X201 is not a cheap process necessarily, but as an entreprenuer I sure see the premium paid back in spades. I tested this theory last year, when I bought an Acer 8371T (or something..cant remember). Slim, even a bit sexier in terms of design and with good spec for the price, it was under £700 and I felt I was doing the right thing being uber cost concious.

Bad decision. It’s the really important but unseen (and little understood) features which persist thanks to the road-warrior workhorse corporate legacy of the Thinkpad line of laptops, such as:

  • Shock detection system for the hard drive (this really does work and as I found out – is important, see below)
  • Roll cage / rigid chasis (again often sounding like marketing spin, this is real**)
  • A battery that really does last 7 hrs

Shock Detection System

Simple stops the hard disk when it sense shocks. This was where I went wrong with the Acer; it doesnt have such fancy features and I experienced a total drive crash, losing some data and having alot of wasted time sorting it out.

** Strong Construction

The lid of mine has a titanium coating – or something equally strong and expensive sounding which means I can actually pic up my laptop by the corner of the screen/lid – something I frequently find myself doing like grabbing the scrawny neck fur of a kitten. In addition it is simple VERY well made. I lug this laptop EVERYWHERE. It goes to cafes, the train, conferences, in and out of my bag all the time; usually while it is still hibernating too.


Simply fantastic. I get upto 7-8 hrs from the 9 cell.


Lots of laptops show good specs but never seem to live up to the specs. Lenovo seem to have the clout and resources (like IBM) to deliver on the performance you’d expect.

So, positives:

  • AWESOME KEYBOARD (no, simply truly the best keyboard, still, you kind find on any laptop and better on an 11″ X201 than most 17″ laptop keyboards from other manufacturers)
  • REALLY long battery life if you get the 9-cell battery
  • GREAT quality of construction
  • BELLS AND WHISTLES you will come to wonder how you lived without – keyboard light for example, or charging from USB while the laptop is off (for your mobile etc), or the shock drive protection, etc

Down sides:

  • Screen – is not as amazing as some laptops – That said, most other lenovos that are bigger have some incredible display resolutions, higher than any other available. Also, Im not actually keen on shiny polish displays, so the matt finish is good for me. They also do a daylight one for outdoor use…  That all said I use my 11″ 1300×800 for design work for websites and apps and it is pretty damn good – infact better than I expected from the reviews that were written.
  • Cost – it IS more expensive than some laptops – but still cheaper than any high-end SONY where you are largely paying for the name
  • Look – and for most people this is why they dont consider them I think;  if Lenovo cold combine the practicality of its awesome Thinkpad heritage and just get someone to tweak the practical, understated black design into a practical understated design with some uber cool, they’d be even better.

Six months in after getting one  I cant imagine how I used the Acer, let alone the Asus Netbook 1000H which I used for a YEAR after I had my Thinkpad X301 stolen in Barcelona at MWC2009 (I couldnt, at that time, justify a shiny new laptop when my start-up was at that time struggling for funding).

However, I have my laptop as my lifeline to work and personal life – it is probably on for 80% of my waking hours 98% of the days of the year. I’ve had an Apple MacBook Pro (2010 edition) for 2 weeks, and it simply didnt cut it. It was close, but I’m SO happy I switched back. The MacBook Pro is bigger, battery life is poor in comparison, its heavier, the keyboard is rubbish (like typing on scrabble keys) and those things alone are enough that I couldnt cope. Don’t get me wrong, the MacBook Pro is an awesome design and great piece of hardware, but its a beauty queen – the X201 is a warrior – for those for whom productivity and survival go above style and cool.

Want the best productivity machine on the market (ignoring the Windows/OSX arguments)? then buy a high-end Thinkpad; you’ll never look back, this is my 3rd and I can’t imagine I’ll ever want anything else.




One thought on “Lenovo Thinkpad X201 Review

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I am currently on my 3rd ThinkPad, an X201. My first was a T30 purchased in 2001. It lasted 7 years. My X60s lasted 4 years. My new X201 should last at least 4 years. I think it is built better than my X60s. I was somewhat disappointed in the construction of the X60s, but the X201 definitely seems more sturdy. I am impressed by the size of the X201 – larger than the X60s, which is good because my eyes aren’t as sharp as they used to be. I find I am somewhat abusive on my laptops, I don’t clean them regularly and power cords get stretched too far sometimes. But I don’t think any other laptop I have seen on the market would take the beating I give my ThinkPad, and last even 1 or 2 years. On top of that, they keep getting cheaper! $3500 for my T30. $2500 for the X60s. $1300 for the X201.

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