Upgraded Professionalism.

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The 2012 refresh of the X2trăng tròn may look the same on the outside, but the X230 is the first in the 12.5-inch lineup to lớn introduce both the an Ivy Bridge CPU & the new "Precision" Chiclet keyboard in place of the traditional beveled thiết kế. Has Lenovo hit a home page run? Or is the backlash against the new keyboard design really warranted?
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When it was revealed bachồng in 2008, the Lenovo ThinkPad X200 series was striving to offer the same high-chất lượng ThinkPad feel and experience for the first time in an extremely small but portable 12-inch form size. The original X200, however, lacked numerous built-in connectivity options & may have sầu potentially turned off the same business users that it was attempting to attract.

Fast forward khổng lồ today & the ThinkPad X200 series has now become the de facto lớn notebook for business users alike looking for a 12-inch secondary or even primary notebook. The launch of the ThinkPad X220 last April was highly lauded by reviewers as worthy of the ThinkPad name despite the minute kích cỡ. In our last review, we particularly praised the X2đôi mươi for its sturdy case, low noise, long battery life và for having one the most impressive sầu displays for its kích thước class.

The ThinkPad X230 updates the lineup not with brand new looks, but with the new Precision Keyboard layout & the all-important Ivy Bridge chipset under the hood. Otherwise, exterior qualities remain largely the same as last year’s Model. Although seemingly trivial at first glance, these two changes directly affect the user experience và can actually make the X230 feel like a different beast compared to lớn the X2đôi mươi despite their similarities. In this review, we investigate the changes both inside and out and give sầu our final thoughts on the rather controversial keyboard update.


Case


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Soft-textured lid
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Opened to maximum angle

Lenovo decided to take the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach lớn the thiết kế of the X230. Indeed, the 2012 Mã Sản Phẩm is every bit as similar lớn the 2011 mã sản phẩm at first glance, but the manufacturer has managed lớn shave off a third of an inch from the 34.6mm (1.36 inches) rear over of the previous Mã Sản Phẩm khổng lồ just 26.6mm (1.05 inches) in the lachạy thử offering. The thickness of the front edge remains at 19mm, meaning that users will be getting the same resistant chassis but in a sleeker and somewhat lighter (1.34kilogam vs. 1.54kg) package. It’s still stocky khổng lồ be sure, and users will still need both hands to lớn open the lid, but the classic ThinkPad professionalism & appearance are unmistakably preserved.

It’s true that Ultrabooks have sầu since risen into the scene and now competes with the X230 to lớn some extent. The ThinkPad X220 faced no such problems during its launch, but we can say with confidence that although the Hãng Intel ultrathins are much thinner, lighter and more stylish than the conservatively built ThinkPad, the construction of the latter is in a class of its own & even maintains around the same level of portability. The magnesium alloy chassis is thick, the dual hinges are firm with little lớn no vibration & both the case & lid experience little to no side-to-side twisting or creaks.

But since the all-matte kiến thiết has remained essentially unchanged, a few issues we found on the previous model have sầu yet khổng lồ be amended. Aside from the notebook being a complete fingerprint magnet, the left palm rest is still noticeably more susceptible lớn finger depressions due lớn the hollow ExpressCard slot immediately underneath & the textured outer lid sinks slightly when pressure is applied. Fortunately, the cheap-feeling ThinkVantage bar of the X2đôi mươi is now a part of the keyboard for better stability & no wobbling issues. As for the warping display border, we experienced no such issues when using the notebook outdoors under 80 degrees F (27 C) weather.

For a full walkthrough of the unique of the case, see our Reviews on the previous X2đôi mươi. But in short, you’d be hard pressed khổng lồ find a consumer-oriented 12-inch notebook with similar construction chất lượng & connectivity options. It’s worth noting that the new Samsung Series 4 directly challenges the ThinkPad in terms of exterior build and longevity, but users who go for the latter option will give up certain important performance advantages that the X230 offers.


For connectivity, the X230 is littered with the same options as its older sibling as expected. In other words, the notebook offers more connections than what its small form size would otherwise suggest.

Three USB ports are included just like the X220, but two of these ports are now standard USB 3.0 ports regardless of configuration. Apart from that, all physical ports can all be found exactly where they were on the 2011 mã sản phẩm. They are easy lớn reach as none are on the baông chồng và most are cđại bại khổng lồ the front of the side edges. Unfortunately, this also means that cables can more easily entangle the user if multiple devices are connected simultaneously. The Gigabit Ethernet port is also still oddly positioned up front instead of its more typical location further back.


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Front: No interfaces
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Left: 2x USB 3.0, VGA-out, Mini DisplayPort, ExpressCard 54milimet, Wireless switch
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Rear: 20V AC connector
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Right: 4-in-1 SD card reader, always-on USB 2.0, Gigabit RJ-45, 3.5mm full bộ audio jack, 2.5-inch drive sầu caddy, Kensington Lock

A downside of having so many available ports on such a small notebook is the issue of space. For example, connecting a USB device with a thiông chồng plug can potentially bloông xã access khổng lồ adjacent ports. For example, utilizing the ExpressCard slot can easily make both the USB 3.0 port & WiFi switch underneath very difficult khổng lồ reach. Still, we’re appreciative sầu that these ports are available lớn begin with and we definitely welcome their company despite the tight legroom. eSATA và HDMI ports are most notably missing, but users can always invest on an aftermarket DisplayPort-to-HDXiaoMi MI adapter. Although not configured into lớn our thử nghiệm unit, certain models can also be equipped with a SmartCard reader.

We tested the aging VGA-out port khổng lồ confirm if the same display unique issues we found on the X2trăng tròn had carried over. Fortunately, text & colors appear crisp on two separate external monitors at the tested native resolutions of 1280x1024 và 1920x1200 pixels, respectively.

Communication

Our X230 Đánh Giá unit only came equipped with the standard single-band (2.4GHz) 2x2 dual-stream Centrino Wireless-N 2200 adapter for WiFi, WiDi và Công nghệ Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. However, users can preconfigure the system with a WWAN PCI-e Minicard lớn support Gobi 3k 14.4 Mbps/HSPA or even Gobi 4k LTE under Verizon’s wireless network. Those who wish lớn take advantage of AT&T’s network can opt for the Ericsson HSPA+ WWAN PCI-e Minithẻ instead, which will work on both WCDMA/HSPA+ & GSM/EDGE networks here in the States. WiMAX users aren’t left out either as the Hãng Intel WiFi card can be upgraded to tư vấn WiMAX 6250 and its multi-band streams. In short, Lenovo has gotten all WWAN bases covered even before the end-user has a chance to lớn add in an aftermarket PCI-e Minicard.

Fortunately, users can still swap out cards quite easily if need be by opening up keyboard và palm rest plate with a Philips screwdriver. The HDD and RAM are even more accessible & only require removing a couple of screws underneath.

Accessories

Lenovo has a history of supporting their core ThinkPad lineups with vast options & accessories in an attempt to lớn satisfy the broadest range of business users out there. As a result, expect plenty of chất lượng first-các buổi party extensions both by USB & docking port. Perhaps the most notable USB-powered accessory is the ThinkVision LT1421 – essentially a portable 14-inch external monitor powered solely by USB 2.0.

The X230 is backwards compatible with all docking stations supported by the X2trăng tròn as both models giới thiệu identical docking ports. Lenovo docking stations have one of the biggest selections of ports, including đồ họa, 2x DVI, 2x DisplayPort và 6x USB 2.0 from the Mini Dock Plus port alone. The Ultrabase Series 3 adds an Ultrabay for hot-swapping optical drives and secondary HDDs. Users simply looking for longer battery life can practically double runtime with a slyên ổn secondary battery similar to the secondary battery “slice” modules that certain Sony VAIO models offer. The wide selection và compatibility options make the X230 feel more easy-to-use và capable than many similarly-sized competing business notebooks.

Lenovo’s Service is standard with a warranty of up to lớn one year, but can be extended up khổng lồ five sầu years total for $160. The usual onsite or next business day repair & accidental damage protection services are optional coverage as well và will add $90 - $100 lớn the warranty, at least in the United States. A “no questions asked” battery replacement plan for up to lớn four years is available as a separate warranty plan for $139.


Keyboard

After years of having the same keyboard kiến thiết across their ThinkPad lineup, Lenovo will this year be introducing its new (and mandatory) Precision Keyboard to lớn many of its lakiểm tra mã sản phẩm revisions including those of the popular L, T, X and W series. The keyboards of the ThinkPad X1 or Edge E420s released in mid-2011 can be considered precursors to lớn the new kiến thiết and may be something that veteran ThinkPad users may not be very fond of at first glance.

The classic beveled keyboard layout typically associated with ThinkPads has been completely dropped in favor of a Chiclet-style build (29.0cm x 11.5cm) that now more closely resembles other keyboards found in other notebooks. The flat, evenly-spaced keys are quite an odd sight lớn see on an otherwise traditional ThinkPad. According lớn Lenovo, one of the reasons for the change is that the more modern islvà thiết kế allows for a larger target area per key, which should theoretically lead lớn fewer errors while typing.

In our opinion, the new cài đặt does indeed feel more streamlined and clean and even less cramped, although fingerprints will build up quickly. Clatter has also been reduced, but we found the keys khổng lồ be a bit softer(especially the top row F keys) than what veteran ThinkPad users may be used to lớn. Nonetheless, key depth is still adequate và feels deeper than most other Chiclet keyboards even on larger notebooks.

Perhaps the greachạy thử benefit of the chiclet style is that it allows a keyboard backlight. Although only two levels of brightness are user-controllable on the X230, the backlight is nonetheless very bright and will surely be welcomed by ThinkPad fanatics. The trademark ThinkLight feature remains as well, although the notebook does not allow both the backlight and ThinkLight to be active sầu simultaneously.

Touchpad

Traditionalists will be pleased khổng lồ hear that the tried và true ThinkPad touchpad remains more or less the same on the X230. The textured touch-sensitive surface curves downward on both the bottom and top & is overall quite small (7.5centimet x 4.5cm) since some room was reserved for the dedicated left- and right-cliông chồng keys immediately above sầu. Oddly enough, both of these keys are now flatter with no curved recesses as opposed to the X2trăng tròn, a thiết kế decision that mimics the touchpad of the X121ein appearance. Users can even ignore the dedicated cliông chồng keys altogether as the touchpad surface itself is clickable.

In terms of functionality, the touchpad works generally well. Single-touch use is responsive và works as intended, but multi-touch gestures lượt thích pinch-to-zoom or even two-finger scrolling do not register dependably. The dedicated cliông xã keys are near silent when pressed, but the tactile feedback is rather soft and spongy instead of firm as a result. Clicking on the touchpad surface provides shallow but satisfying tactile feedback và is actually very quiet as well. As with most clickable touchpads however, the upper half on the surface area is much harder to lớn cliông xã on than on the bottom half. Of course, the reliable TrackPoint returns unaltered and functions just as consistently as it has been for years.

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There is still room for improvement in terms of multi-touch capabilities and tactile feedbaông chồng, but the surprisingly quiet touchpad works just fine and swiftly for basic needs.