Hands on with the ThinkPad X240: Two batteries are better than one

Summary:The ThinkPad X240 uses Lenovo's Power Bridge technology to provide hot swappable batteries to keep you running for up to 17 hours.

ThinkPad X240 side profile
ThinkPad X240 Image: Lenovo

The ThinkPad X240 from Lenovo is a powerful laptop with Haswell inside that uses an internal battery in conjunction with a second battery to keep the road warrior working for hours. There are two external battery options that can keep the X240 running for up to 17 hours.

The X240 is not the thinnest nor the lightest notebook you'll find, but the weight is just over three pounds so it's very portable. It's a ThinkPad so Lenovo has packed mil-spec ruggedization in a small form.

Hardware specifications as reviewed:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5 2.6 GHz (Haswell)

  • Memory: 8 GB

  • Display: 12.5-inch IPS, 1366x768, touch option

  • OS: Windows 8.0 (reviewer upgraded to 8.1 for review)

  • Storage: 256GB SSD

  • Camera: 720p webcam

  • Ports: 2-USB 3.0, 1-USB 2.0, audio combo, mini DisplayPort, VGA, 4-in-1 SD/MMC card reader

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, mobile broadband

  • Battery: 3-cell internal (23.2 Wh), 3-cell external (23.2 Wh), optional 6-cell external (72 Wh); up to 17 hours

  • Dimensions: 12.02" x 8.19" x 0.79"

  • Weight: 3.2 lb
ThinkPad x240 closed
Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

The 12.5-inch IPS display on the ThinkPad X240 is not the brightest on the market but it is a decent screen. It's surprising the resolution is so low in this day and age of high-res screens. There is a touch option (currently $280) for the display to allow taking full advantage of Windows 8.

I have gotten so accustomed to using Windows 8 laptops with touch that I found myself tapping on the screen for a good 10 minutes before I realized this unit did indeed have the touch option. The touch screen is very well calibrated and touch control is very precise, something lacking on other laptops.

The X240 hardware is typical of the ThinkPad line, very solid and well constructed. The lid can be opened a full 180 degrees and the hinges are very durable.

ThinkPads are famous for good keyboards, and this one is one of the best. The chiclet keys are very tall, and the key travel feels like keyboards of old. Touch typing is as fast as can be and it is a joy to use.

ThinkPad x240 keyboard
Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

The smooth trackpad works well and has a 5-point button integrated into the pad. I do find that I keep inadvertenly activating Windows 8 edge gestures so I need to deactivate those if possible. There is a red trackstick in the middle of the backlit keyboard and there are three mouse buttons for use with the stick that are at the top of the trackpad and clearly marked.

The Haswell Core i5 processor in the review unit keeps the X240 running fast. This is the best performing ThinkPad I've used, and I've used a lot of them. Even with lots of apps running, things happen instantly, and scrolling in apps is smooth.

Power Bridge

ThinkPad X240 bottom
ThinkPad X240 with 3-cell battery Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

The ThinkPad X240 is one of several laptops with Lenovo's Power Bridge technology. The notebook has a 3-cell internal battery and a battery bay on the bottom that accepts either another 3-cell battery or an extended 6-cell battery. Whichever battery is plugged into the bay, the two batteries work in conjunction. I'm seeing almost 8 hours of battery life with a 3-cell plugged in, and over 15 hours with the 6-cell battery.

The 3-cell battery fits flush with the bottom of the X240, and the larger 6-cell extends out the bottom of the laptop and creates a slight lift at the back. This creates an excellent ergonomic typing angle for the notebook.

Conclusion

The ThinkPad X240 is one of the finest notebooks of the product line. It is a solid work laptop that is designed to keep the mobile professional working for hours. That work will benefit from the great keyboard designed for productivity.

The X240 starts less than $900 but when you bump up the configuration it can get expensive. The review unit as configured is $1,555, making it a top dollar laptop. That's a lot of money but it's clear the ThinkPad X240 is a lot of laptop.

See related: 

Topics: Mobility, Laptops, Lenovo, Windows 8

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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