Lenovo ThinkPad X280 Smart Laptop Review

Lenovo ThinkPad X280 Smart Laptop Review

One of the best business ultraportable products on the market, the Lenovo ThinkPad X Series, has recently been updated with a new model – the Lenovo ThinkPad X280 Smart Laptop. First introduced during the CES 2018, this new model brings the same aesthetics to the ThinkPad X laptops, but with updated equipment and features that meet modern requirements.

The ThinkPad notebook series has always been known as the best friend of a business person. Matte black finish and durable appearance radiate an aura of strength and professionalism. Regardless of whether you love it or hate it, the ThinkPad is like a status symbol.

When IBM first launched its famous ThinkPad notebook in 1992, it set the standard for business notebooks. Later, having sold the production of Lenovo business series notebooks in 2005, she seemed to have passed the baton and the keys to success. It is worth noting that this not only helped the brand grow, but also led to some very good changes. I’m talking about the fact that buyers have a certain choice when buying a notebook of the ThinkPad series. You want a thin, elegant device, then pay attention to the ThinkPad Yoga series. But, if you need a good, reliable, with an irresistible design, workhorse, then turn your attention to the Lenovo ThinkPad X Series notebooks, which is designed to bring mobility with functionality for those who work a lot in the office or often travel.

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Moreover, the company just recently a little refreshed this series of laptops. With one of them today we will meet. As you might have guessed, it will be about Lenovo ThinkPad X280 Smart Laptop.

Model positioning

What is interesting about the new Lenovo company? First of all, the ThinkPad X280 boasts a powerful performance of the 8th generation processor, a very good bright 12.5-inch display and an excellent keyboard. Add here still rather small weight, only 1,35 kg, you receive a quite good decision for this segment. To keep up with the business notebook market, where they are still paying attention to thickness and weight, Lenovo managed to reduce the ThinkPad X280 by a few millimeters and make it a little easier compared to last year’s X270. Alas, I had to sacrifice something for this. In the multinational company, Lenovo decided nevertheless to abandon the function of “hot-swapping” the battery, leaving the laptop with battery life far below average. This forced victim may be ambiguously perceived by potential buyers.

Design

I really like the fact that Lenovo has managed to preserve that ThinkPad spirit that everyone remembers from the time of Richard Sapper. It was the first laptop that IBM managed to win millions to itself. And all thanks to its philosophy, the essence of which is quite simple: you can look simple and stylish on the outside, but be filled with a variety inside.

While gaming and designer laptops are capable of attracting even the greatest fan of science fiction, Think laptops remain true to their constancy. They still attract with their strict, austere design from the outside and modern filling inside. This fantastic connection has long been making successful ThinkPad series notebooks.

The hero of our review, Lenovo ThinkPad X280, in terms of design, too, nothing will surprise you. His appearance is no different from what we used to see in the devices of this series. Everything is as usual: the laptop panels are made smooth and matte, but thanks to the magnesium alloy and carbon fiber, the Lenovo ThinkPad X280 developers have managed to make it durable in use. There are no complaints to the assembly, all the details of the design are maximally fitted and tightly assembled, aluminum hinges securely hold the display, I really liked the special mechanism that allows you to open the laptop up to 180 degrees. For presentations and watching movies almost perfect.

Sometimes it seemed to me that I was using a tablet or a netbook, and the whole thing was in size. The most interesting thing is that, thanks to its weight of 1.35 kg and the size of 30 × 21 × 1.7 cm, the Lenovo ThinkPad X280 Smart Laptop can rightly be called the thinnest and lightest notebook of the X200 series. If we compare the device with last year’s model X270, then it was 2.5 mm thicker, although it had almost the same weight – 1.36 kg. Although with an extended battery, the mass, of course, increased. Together with the “weight loss” Lenovo decided to transfer the device to the built-in battery, which made the device more compact.

The design feels restraint, simplicity, which will create a lack of decorative elements and, of course, the traditional black colors. On the lid placed only the manufacturer’s logo, which does not change over the years. A little notebook design is enlivened by the red TrackPoint button and highlighted buttons, which are also red. There is in this version something mysterious, magical, I would say, Masonic. Feel like a laptop owner for your favorites.

But all the gloss and chic goes when you touch the panel itself ThinkPad X280. Your fingerprints will instantly be visible on it as if the device wants to leave itself traces of your presence. Be prepared for the fact that every time after working with the device, you will have to wipe the case with a cloth, so that it has a neat appearance and remains as magical.

A pleasant moment in terms of design is the ability to open a laptop 180 degrees, which is typical of this ThinkPad series. This is especially comfortable, for example, when working reclining on the couch.

Ports and communications

For any person, a laptop is a reliable assistant that is needed at any moment. He is required to both work with the owner and helps him relax in moments of rest. Therefore, I want your device to have the largest possible number of ports and interfaces. I sometimes wondered how the Lenovo developers managed to find a place in the ThinkPad X280 for an impressive array of ports. Judge for yourself.

On the right side of the notebook, we see the Smart card reader (in some versions it may not be), a USB 3.0 port, and a Kensington lock slot.

On the left side, they were alarmed at all to place the combo audio jack, USB Type-C, RJ-45 with an adapter, USB Type-C / Thunderbolt 3, as well as HDMI and USB 3.0 video output. There is also a proprietary Ethernet connector, which requires a special key, but you have to buy it separately. In addition to the ThinkPad X280, you can connect the docking station, however, I did not have such an opportunity.

On the back of the laptop, you will find a microSD card reader, but the front end is left blank. Laptop wireless communications are advanced. The package has Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.1. In other words, all the necessary sets of ports and communications for everyday work.

Strength and safety

Business card of any notebook of the ThinkPad series can be considered its safety and durability at operation. No wonder that the entire series of these devices passes military tests for durability MIL-SPEC. The purpose of the test is to see how the laptop can withstand high temperature, mechanical shock, humidity, low and high-temperature use, and testing, altitude tests, and high vibration tests. It is worth noting that they are being tested with honor, as evidenced by the certificate of protection MIL-STD 810G Mil-spec. Having bought such a laptop, you can be calm for its durability and reliability of the design.

Special attention is also paid to the security of the storage of personal data. For this, the ThinkPad X280 supports dTPM encryption and a hardware fingerprint sensor, which is located in a small recess to the left of the touchpad. I didn’t have any questions about his work: comfortable, works quickly and clearly. The Match-on-Chip biometric sensor acts as a strong password.

If you are worried that hackers will hack into your computer and take pictures of you, you can use the patented ThinkShutter curtain that covers the webcam. Unfortunately, such cameras may not be used in all versions. Depending on which processor you choose, the X280 can also work with the Intel vPro platform.

To summarize, I’ll say that you have a reliable, durable laptop that is hard to break, damage, and besides, it can keep your secrets from prying eyes.

Display and audio

The display ThinkPad X280 is set to display with a resolution of Full HD or HD. Yes, do not be surprised, there is a modification that uses a display with HD-resolution, besides in it the matrix TN + film. I do not know the reasons why Lenovo decided to release such a modification, but I would not advise you to buy it. In 2018, the release of such a display can be explained only by the desire to reduce the cost of the device.

In our test version, an IPS-matrix was installed with a resolution of 1920 × 1080 pixels. Frankly, given that the ThinkPad X280 has a compact 12.5-inch display, it sometimes affects the font. When you first turn on, be prepared for this nuance. Fortunately, this problem is fixable and easy to fix, if you customize it yourself.

It is worth noting that the display has a natural color reproduction, an adequate level of brightness, which will allow you to work comfortably indoors. But this, unfortunately, does not apply to work on the street, especially in sunny weather. Not to say that the screen is absolutely blind, but there is no particular joy from such work. Everything is compensated by the convenience of viewing images from the screen at different angles of inclination (up to 178 degrees). Also note that due to the installed IPS-matrix, there is no inversion. The matte finish of the display protects against glare and reflections.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X280 Smart Laptop displays an impressive 117% of the sRGB color gamut, which is slightly above the average of this category of computers (110%). The device also showed 309 nits of brightness on the device for measuring the intensity of light, which puts this laptop above the average for the category (286 nits). Due to the “reflectionless” X280 display and high brightness, the colors were well-read at angles up to 60 degrees left or right and only slightly lost their saturation with deeper deviations.

The ThinkPad X280 pleased me with a surprisingly good sound for a 12-inch business notebook. I listened to his favorite songs from rock to classical. Music always sounded loud, clear and without the slightest hint of cheapness. No extra noise, sound overlays.

Like other Lenovo ThinkPad X280 Smart Laptop Smart Laptop comes with an enhanced Dolby Audio system, activated by default. By the way, the system itself is easy to configure in the Lenovo Vantage application. I once tried to turn off Dolby Audio, but I do not advise you to do this since the sound has become empty, deaf. I was pleased that you can choose the desired audio profile, depending on what you are listening to, as well as to watch movies and TV shows.

Keyboard, touchpad and track point

I have a friend who can talk enthusiastically for hours about the keyboard, and especially about the track point of his ThinkPad. I was always a little skeptical about his words, and sometimes I did not believe frankly. But my opinion has changed completely after almost a month of using the keyboard of the Lenovo ThinkPad X280 Smart Laptop.

Indeed, the keyboard of the hero of our review is very comfortable. It should be borne in mind that the laptop has a 12.5-inch form factor, but the buttons of its keys, though small, are not so strong as to create discomfort at work. The laptop keyboard unit is relatively compact and does not occupy the entire width of the working surface. The keyboard itself ThinkPad X280 is very convenient, provides instant feedback, confident pressing and has a convenient key layout.

Naturally, the shape of the keys will immediately remind you that you are working for the ThinkPad, since it is made in a recognizable style. And it is really recognizable (the stories of my friend often surfaced in my head): at the bottom, each button is carefully rounded, while the surface itself is slightly concave. Now I understand why he hinted that typing on it is a pleasure. In addition, I was pleased with the clear marking of the keys, the optimal distance between them, the springy motion with noticeable impact and the backlight.

By the way, the very backlighting of the keys in a laptop is quite good and has two gradations of brightness. It is quite pleasant to shine, giving more comfort using the keyboard in poor lighting. Sometimes it seemed that the keyboard itself prints, it is so convenient and practical.

The highlight of this notebook is undoubtedly track-point. Someone will ask about why he is there at all, what is his role. In order to understand, feel its expediency, you just need to use it. You can’t tell by words that at some instant you stop using the touchpad or mouse because there is His Majesty track point. You just can easily, without looking up from the keyboard, especially when typing blindly, copy the file, open / close the application, actually do all that with the touchpad. Although, of course, not all.

By the way, he habitually located in the center of the keyboard between the buttons [G], [H], [B]. Already literally after a couple of hours of use, I gave preference to this particular controller and consider it more convenient for the touchpad because of the incredible accuracy and the ability to use without taking my hands off typing.

Nevertheless, the majority still cannot get used to the track point – for them the good old touchpad remains. It is relatively small in the ThinkPad X280 – 9.9 × 7.3 cm, but very responsive, provides smooth and accurate navigation. Reacts quite accurately to multi-touch gestures. The entire touchpad area is clickable, in its lower part there are two buttons that are easily pressed. I didn’t have any inconvenience when using it, although I rarely used it, preferring track points.

Performance and Graphics

Lenovo’s new ThinkPad series laptops boast an eighth-generation processor, a fast and reliable SSD drive, integrated graphics and enough RAM, but there are also configurations with seventh-generation chips.

In my test sample, I installed an Intel Core i5-8250U processor, supplemented by an integrated Intel UHD 620 graphics card, which has more than enough performance to work with or edit a photo, but it is not designed for demanding games, 3D animation or video editing.

Also, the ThinkPad X280 boasts 8 GB of DDR4 RAM, an integrated 256 GB solid-state drive, which is enough to store various files.

Unfortunately, there are no modifications with a discrete video card, that is, you cannot play more productive games. All this works under the control of Windows 10 Pro.

I have bad news for lovers to upgrade my laptop. Alas, in a laptop ThinkPad X280 to increase the amount of RAM you can not, as it is soldered on the board.

But do not worry, the manufacturer did everything correctly, and we have a memory that works in 4 + 4 dual-channel mode. This has a positive effect on the operation of the device from Lenovo. Also, you will not find an additional slot for the drive. As for me, this set of RAM and internal memory is enough for effective work.

 

Experience using the Lenovo ThinkPad X280 Smart Laptop

During the entire period of using the device from Lenovo, there were no particular complaints about it. He easily copes with everyday office tasks.

It must be remembered that the graphics are purely integrated, so it’s impossible to count on high power in working with graphics. Accordingly, the performance in games will be limited, although it is possible to launch popular network toys like World of Tanks at medium settings. Unless, of course, does not confuse the modest diagonal of the display.

In other words, you can play at your leisure only in simple network games, graphics processing is available at the user level. But there is no problem with power when working with office applications – the laptop does an excellent job with peak loads, it also withstands long-term load well. True, it is worth being prepared for the fact that the cooling system of the Lenovo ThinkPad X280 works a bit noisier than other similar solutions. But you don’t have to worry about overheating.

Autonomy

The laptop’s strengths also include its autonomy – with a full battery, the manufacturer promises up to 16 hours of battery life. The Lenovo ThinkPad X280 is equipped with a non-removable 6-cell lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 4800 mAh. The device also supports Rapid Charge fast charging technology, which allows you to charge from 0% to 80% in just 1 hour by connecting a 65 W power supply. It took me about 1 hour and 30 minutes to fully charge.

Autonomous operation of a laptop depends on how you use it. In practice, I managed not to achieve the maximum result, but to get as close as possible: with the minimum screen brightness and low load, without using a wireless connection, the Lenovo X280 managed to survive 14.5 hours. When connected to Wi-Fi and a greater load on the system, the laptop was able to live a little over 5.5 hours. This is quite a normal result for laptops of this class.

Is it worth buying?

For me, a laptop in the business class segment has always been associated with the ThinkPad line, and therefore its specific requirements. It should have an image, immaculate design, compact size, the necessary set of ports and communications, a powerful processor that would easily cope with everyday work. This is the hero of our review.

By purchasing a Lenovo ThinkPad X280, you will receive a reliable business assistant, a faithful traveling companion who fits comfortably in a bag or backpack shows your favorite movie or TV series and provides the opportunity to enjoy your favorite music. But most importantly, you will be confident in its strength and calm for the security of your personal data. In this case, not just catch the envious glances of others, because you are the owner of a laptop world-famous series of ThinkPad.

 

Conclusion

The impression of the ThinkPad X280 is twofold. It would seem that it is compact, durable and powerful, but something is missing. It would be possible for such money to install a better display, add autonomy, and quietly construct a fan. But then you realize that in your hands is the laptop of the legendary ThinkPad series, and instantly you forget about all the problems.

Pros

Image, compact, durable carbon fiber body, light and thin, a fingerprint scanner, quite powerful and productive, a good set of ports, excellent autonomy and support for fast charging, a patented ThinkShutter curtain, a well-designed cooling system

Cons

Not a high-quality display, noisy fan, high price

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