ThinkPad X250 review: Workhorse for the road warrior

  • Editors' rating
    9.1 Spectacular

Pros

  • Rugged construction
  • ThinkPad quality
  • Good keyboard
  • Two battery system

Cons

  • Heavier than some thin and light Ultrabooks
  • Expensive

Frequent business travelers need a notebook that is easy to carry on the road with a battery that can make it through long days. The ThinkPad X250 meets those requirements handily, and with a rugged case that can handle rough handling.

This notebook has the typical look of a ThinkPad with a black matte finish. The lid is made with carbon fiber reinforced plastic The X250 features durable construction meeting mil-spec standards. This means it has been tested to withstand the following conditions:

  • Temperature: -10 degrees Celsius; 30 - 60 degrees Celsius
  • Humidity: 91 - 98 percent
  • High Vibration: Multiple tests
  • Sandy conditions: Subjected to six hour exposure
  • Mechanical shock: Over 18 cycles
  • Altitude: 15,000 feet
  • Solar radiation: 3 X 24 hours
  • Temperature shock: Changes of -20 - 60 degrees Celsius
  • Fungus: 28 days of exposure

Specs as reviewed:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5- 5200U
  • OS: Windows 8.1
  • Display: 12.5-inch, 1,920 x 1,080, touch
  • Memory/ storage: 8GB/ 180GB
  • Ports/ slots: 2-USB 3.0, VGA, miniDP, Ethernet RJ-45 / 4-in-1 memory card slot
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi ac; Bluetooth 4.0
  • Webcam: 720p
  • Dimensions: 12 x 8.21 x 0.85"; 305.5 x 208.5 x 21.5mm
  • Weight: 2.88lbs

Hardware

All of this ruggedness is packed in a laptop only 20.3 mm thick weighing 2.88 pounds. This is truly a road warrior's laptop.

The X250 as reviewed has a 12.5-inch touch display with a resolution of 1,920 x 1.080 that works well with Windows 8.1. The screen has a full 180 degrees of rotation and can be adjusted to a viewing angle to fit any environment. This combined with a very functional trackpad with two buttons and the familiar red TrackPoint has every situation covered.

Stepping around the ThinkPad X250 finds a full complement of ports to support most common peripherals. On the left side are the proprietary power port, VGA, USB 3.0, and miniDP ports. The right side features the audio port, USB 3.0, memory card slot, SIM slot, and RJ45 port. The 4-in-1 memory card slot can handle MMC, SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards.

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The Intel Core i5 in the review unit is fast and keeps Windows running smoothly. This is aided by the 8GB of memory and 180GB of SSD internal storage.

ThinkPad keyboard and trackpad

ThinkPads are known for good keyboards, and the X250 is no exception. It features a standard layout with a top row of control keys. The keys are backlit, toggled with the Fn-Space combination. There are two brightness levels for the backlighting.

Typing on the ThinkPad X250 is as good as it gets on a laptop. Keys provide decent tactile feedback when typing, and have reasonable travel when pressed.

The relatively large trackpad provides precise control, and the entire surface is clickable. Above the pad are three buttons for those preferring more traditional mouse button control. These buttons work well with the standard ThinkPad red TrackPoint embedded in the keyboard.

There is a fingerprint reader on the lower right of the keyboard.

Power Bridge dual battery system

Lenovo's technology is designed to put battery life in the hands of the owner. The Power Bridge technology as implemented on the ThinkPad X250 uses an internal sealed 3-cell (23 Whr) battery that is augmented by user-replaceable batteries.

power-bridge.jpg

The X250 ships with a 3-cell (23 Whr) battery that snaps into a slot on the bottom rear of the laptop and is flush with the notebook. This battery is hot-swappable, so additional batteries can be used to extend the battery life for long trips. Users can purchase additional 3-cell batteries or go big with 6-cell (72 Whr) batteries for maximum time away from a power outlet. The 6-cell battery sticks out of the bottom of the X250 providing a slight incline when sitting on a flat surface.

We had both sized batteries for our testing and the hot swapping worked well. Batteries are easy to remove with the two unlock switches with the laptop running.

Lenovo claims that the X250 will get up to 20 hours using two 3-cell batteries along with a 6-cell and our testing showed that to be optimistic. Using the 3-cell plus a 6-cell regularly yielded 14 hours.

Good for business travelers

After using the ThinkPad X250 a while it is clear this is one of the best laptops available. It has all of the benefits of the ThinkPad product line in a portable form factor that begs to be taken on long business trips. It performs well and the touch screen makes Windows 8.1 really shine.

The ThinkPad X250 is available from Lenovo starting at $755, and the configuration as reviewed is $1,400.

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