Review Index:
Feedback

Lenovo ThinkPad X240 Ultrabook Review: A Philosophical Shift

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Battery Life, Software and Warranty

View Full Size

Battery Life

This will probably be the most controversial aspect of the X240’s design—apart from perhaps the aforementioned touchpad mishaps.  It isn’t that the battery life is poor; in fact, quite the opposite: it’s excellent.  But whether it’s even practical to pursue such results at the expense of performance is the heart of the matter.

We received not one, but two different external batteries to evaluate with our X240 review: a 3-cell 23.5 Wh and a 6-cell 72 Wh battery.  Plus, the unit also includes an internal battery of 23.5 Wh capacity.  Since the system includes an internal battery, the external batteries can be easily swapped without having to shut the system down first.  The terminology Lenovo uses to describe this process is Power Bridge, and we found that it worked mostly seamlessly and was quite convenient.

Let’s start with our results for the 3-cell external battery runtimes (along with the internal 3-cell battery):

Reader’s Test (3-cell external):

View Full Size

Classic Test (3-cell external):

View Full Size

Web Surfing (3-cell external):

View Full Size

Reader’s Test (6-cell external):

View Full Size

Classic Test (6-cell external):

View Full Size

Web Surfing (6-cell external):

View Full Size

Those are some fantastic numbers.  Now let’s see how it compares to the competition:

View Full Size

Obviously, both of the new ThinkPads are leagues ahead of the field in terms of longevity.  That’s due to the Haswell chipset, the switch to low voltage, the conservative thermal management, and the dual-battery design.  It’s a quadfecta of battery-boosting goodness that pays off big time.

Maybe we’re crazy, but we aren’t so sure it’s worth it, however.  It isn’t that we think choosing battery life over processing power is a silly decision—but rather, simply that there comes a point where additional battery life reaches seriously diminishing returns.  For instance, we question how often most users really find greater than 7 hours battery life (average brightness, wireless on, constant web surfing) absolutely necessary and more valuable than optionally greater processing power—or, when equipped with the 6-cell external battery, 15 hours under the same circumstances.  We feel that even cutting these numbers by 30—40% by including standard-voltage parts (to roughly 10 hours with a 6-cell 4.5 hours with a 3-cell) might have been a better way to please the X-series buyers, even if it doesn’t look quite as impressive on the spec sheets; after all, it’s always possible to dial down the brightness or choose a power-saving power plan if you’re really on the hunt for more runtime.  That way, you get the best of both worlds—and the choice is yours.

Software

The list of software that comes bundled with the X240 is somewhat less extensive than the T440s (not that that’s a bad thing), but for the most part, it’s just standard-fare new system stuff.  It’s easily removed if you don’t appreciate having it, and around half of the inclusions are mere Windows 8 apps, and they’re small and unobtrusive anyway.  Here’s the list:

  • Norton™ Internet Security
  • Lenovo® Companion
  • Lenovo® Support
  • Lenovo® Cloud Storage by SugarSync
  • Lenovo® Settings
  • Intel® AppUp
  • AccuWeather
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Evernote®
  • Security
  • Rara-Music
  • Lenovo® Solutions Center

Like other preconfigured retail options, our X240 review system features a 3-year depot warranty.  CTO units can be acquired from Lenovo directly for a lower price and a 1-year warranty instead.  As always, it’s also possible to extend the warranty.

February 25, 2014 | 07:57 AM - Posted by Graham L (not verified)

I have been a Thinkpad fan for many years. I've purchased a lot of Thinkpads in both the X and T series.

But I can't say that I'm a fan of what they did to the X-Series. The exlusion of a tablet edition of this laptop is very frustrating. And with a promised 1080p screen that seems to be some kind of Unicorn model, I don't really understand why this would be appealing over the T440s. Sure the size is smaller, but the weight difference isn't much, and the performance on the T440s is better.

I also don't like the soldered on DIMM fused with a single DIMM slot, this makes Dual Channel memory difficult to accomplish and a 12 GB cap on memory is kind of lame with the previous model could go up to 16 GB. Also the Previous model could get long batter life with the addition of a slice battery, sure it was extra weight, but I didn't have to compromise on memory, or loss of usb port.

February 25, 2014 | 10:14 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'm liking my decision (X230 with Windows 7) better every day.

February 25, 2014 | 06:08 PM - Posted by John Foster (not verified)

Knowing there would be an X240 along within a year I pondered long and hard whether to buy an X230, but I did, summer 2013. I'm glad I didn't wait for this model. Looks like Lenovo are selling out on their previous culture of loading a small laptop with top quality components in a strong and desirable frame. Yes it's only a marginal deviation from the past but it's the thin edge of the wedge.

Looks like the X230 is the last of Lenovo's high quality 12.5" laptops.

The X230's chicklet keyboard is wonderful.

February 25, 2014 | 11:59 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Sadly, we have reached the end of usable keyboard layouts on notebooks, following the lack of quality high-res 16x10 displays. Such a shame.

No Insert key. (Seriously? Fn+I?)
Other keys, like SysRq, are also magic sequences.
Broken Fn/Ctrl, and different sizes so they aren't physically swappable after changing the firmware setting.
Page Up/Page Down is in the wrong place. (I have used it every day for the last 9 months and still can't really get used to it.)
WTF is with a dedicated large print screen button?
And WTF is with this new mouse crap? It's why I didn't wait for a W540.

People were crying about the chiclet keyboard in the past, but that isn't the problem (I use a W530 and x120e daily and the feel is fine). The problem is the inane locations of buttons and how they deviate so much from model to model now. I wasn't a big fan of the previous IBM/Lenovo keyboard layouts but they were consistent and I could live with and adjust to them. With the new models though, the inconsistencies continue to grow, and some things are just retarded - like no space between function key groups on the W530 (that's about the one thing the X240 gets right...). And I can't edit code on my W530 then tweak it on my X120 without problems as ins/del and home/end are mixed up, for example... and the X240 doesn't even have Insert!

Dell decided to ruin keyboard layouts about 3 years ago, and in the last year Lenovo has fallen in line.

With the X240, we now see the immediate future. And this future shows that there are no longer _any_ notebooks on the market at any price with usable screens and usable keyboard layouts.

February 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM - Posted by mathew7 (not verified)

Reading the review, I kept feeling better and better over my x230 aquisition in november. I saw then the official pictures of x240 in the lenovo psref pdf and I hated the hinges since you lose back space (also on a cluttered desk, you need extra space for the screen).
I guess I'm gonna use it a long time from now. I am very conservative on laptop designs, and Lenovo/IBM kept their designs the longest (ok...I may be biased...but every time I looked at other brands, I kept getting back to Lenovo designs).

February 26, 2014 | 04:55 AM - Posted by Pes5 (not verified)

I have been using ThinkPads since mid-90s, and my current X230 is most likely the last one to be sort of happy with. I cannot accept loosing the dedicated F-keys. I am barly accepting changes in pgup and pgdn keys... It is all against productivity users that prefered their hands on the keyboard, and using the red stick..Yes, Lenovo ruins Thinkpads and this is very sad.

February 26, 2014 | 01:21 PM - Posted by waffle (not verified)

Agreed, this is sad.

February 27, 2014 | 05:56 AM - Posted by Steve (not verified)

The review doesn't mention the msata capabilities. Can it take the standard 50mm cards or is it stuck with the 40mm? Being able to accept industry standard msata in the msata port is vital. Thank you.

March 20, 2014 | 10:51 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

42mm

March 3, 2014 | 08:08 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

X220 is still the best.

May 13, 2014 | 02:02 AM - Posted by TechSolvers (not verified)

For anybody needing help with changing the keyboard in this model, you can find a full tutorial here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTN-CO_flVs

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.