The Lenovo ThinkPad X220 made such a good impression on me when I reviewed it last year I jumped on the chance to get my hands on its successor, the X230. It's only been here a few hours but the ultraportable already shows what makes ThinkPads the top of the Windows notebook heap.
The 12.5-inch IPS display is the perfect size for portability and functionality while mobile, although the standard resolution of 1366x768 might not be enough for some. The matte screen is viewable from almost any angle, and the IPS display means you can view this thing outdoors. The outstanding display can be opened all the way flat behind the laptop, making any viewing angle possible.
The first thing you think of when you think ThinkPad is the keyboard as Lenovo excels at getting those right. The X230 is no exception as the chiclet style keyboard has great spacing to go along with a good key layout. This is the best keyboard I have used to date on an ultraportable notebook.
Lenovo has addressed one complaint about the previous model by putting a backlight on the keyboard. This can be toggled among two different brightnesses and an off state. The old ThinkPad light by the webcam above the screen is still there for those who prefer that method of lighting the keyboard.
The trackpad on the X230 is very good, so good I haven't plugged a mouse into the laptop as I usually do. Those looking for the familiar red trackstick made famous by Lenovo on the ThinkPad will not be disappointed, as it is there too. There are three mouse buttons between the keyboard and trackpad for those who prefer clicking, or you can push the buttonless trackpad if desired.
The X230 looks to provide about seven hours of battery life under normal circumstances based on my usage so far. There is also a slice battery option like that of the X220 that could take that to the 20 hour mark, for those who need the most time away from the power outlet.
The ThinkPad X230 starts at about $1,200, so it's not quite as cheap as Intel thinks Ultrabooks should be. It's a little thicker than most of them, too, but still very portable for taking the X230 on the road. I will offer further coverage of this laptop as I get more time with it.