When it comes to business, critics say you can't go wrong with the Lenovo ThinkPad X230. Ultrabooks may be gaining popularity for their sleek designs, but this business notebook is just as portable without making many of the connectivity sacrifices Ultrabooks ask.
Crunches numbers in several spreadsheets simultaneously. The Core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 320 GB hard drive are relatively skimpy compared to more expensive laptops, but that lineup will handle productivity tasks and web surfing just fine. The ThinkPad X230 is highly customizable in any case, so you can tailor it to fit your needs.
If you plan to have several applications open at once, reviewers suggest upgrading to a step-up configuration with a faster Intel Core i5-3320M processor, a larger 500 GB hard drive and a DVD burner, all of which adds $350 to the laptop's price. A maxed-out version with an even faster Core i7 processor, 8 GB of memory and a 180 GB SSD is available for another $500. Battery life lasts somewhere between five and seven hours in most tests.
Lenovo's laptops feel great! The Lenovo ThinkPad line has long been famous for its extremely comfortable keyboard, touchpad and pointing stick. Although the X230 moves away from classic-style keys and toward island-style keys, reviewers say it lives up to the sterling legacy with aplomb. At 12.5 inches and 3 pounds, it's so small and light that you'll barely notice it in your travel bag. The X230 is loaded with business-friendly ports, a fingerprint reader, and optional Bluetooth and cellular Internet capabilities.
Definitely a business notebook, not a flashy multimedia powerhouse. Critics say the plain black design of the Lenovo ThinkPad X230, while incredibly sturdy, screams "boardroom" more than "home theater." The IPS display has vibrant colors and great viewing angles, and its matte finish stands up to bright lights fairly well, but the display's resolution isn't the best for watching videos. Likewise, the audio is strong and straightforward but nothing special.
Solid customer service. While the one-year warranty is standard, Lenovo has a reputation for building high-quality, durable business laptops. The company's support staff is generally considered to be more helpful than average, too.
Depends on your needs. If you're looking for sheer power, the base configuration's component specs underwhelm compared to similarly priced competitors. But if you frequently take your business on the road or need to take notes in a college course, the ThinkPad X230's top-notch keyboard and touchpad will win you over, as will the bevy of ports and customization options. It lacks the flashy 14-inch touch screen you'll find on the top-rated business laptop, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch (Est. $1,300 and up) , but the X230 makes up for it with solid performance at a reduced price.
Review Credibility: Excellent The Lenovo ThinkPad X230 earns an "Excellent" rating and an Editors' Choice award from PCMag.com for its solid performance and ergonomics, and durable build quality. The small screen and short battery life are the only flaws noted.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X230, Brian Westover, June 27, 2012
2. Laptop Magazine
Review Credibility: Excellent Piltch finds the ThinkPad X230 to be a near-perfect business laptop, stocked with features and reliable performance. "If you want the ultimate in business endurance, the X230 is a truly compelling choice," he says.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Review, Avram Piltch, May 31, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent Stein isn't floored by the tiny, all-business design of the ThinkPad X230, but its long battery life, great keyboard and everyday power lead him to give it a "Very Good" rating nonetheless.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Review, Scott Stein, May 30, 2012
4. Computer Shopper
Review Credibility: Excellent The Lenovo notebook gets 4 stars out of 5 at ComputerShopper.com. Grevstad appreciates the build quality and all-around smooth performance of the ThinkPad X230, but finds it a bit small and, compared to Ultrabooks, a bit thick.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Review and Ratings, Eric Grevstad, July 3, 2012
5. Notebook Check.net
Review Credibility: Very Good NotebookCheck.net gives a European version of the Lenovo ThinkPad X230 an 89-percent rating, one of the highest we've seen from the website. Ngo says longtime ThinkPad devotees may run into a bit of a learning curve with the newly designed keyboard.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X230 2306-2AU Laptop Review, Allen Ngo, May 31, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Wollman finds the Lenovo ThinkPad X230 to be solidly built and a great option for business users, but worries that the new keyboard could turn off would-be buyers. "We can assure you these are some of the sturdiest, most tactile keys you'll find on a laptop this size," she writes.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Review and Ratings, Dana Wollman, May 31, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Jackson has only a couple of complaints about the ThinkPad X230 after raving about its battery life, performance, display and port selection. He wishes the touchpad weren't so touchy and that there were an SSD onboard by default.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Review: Road Warrior Perfection, Jerry Jackson, May 31, 2012
8. PC World
Review Credibility: Very Good While Jacobi says the ThinkPad X230 is a great choice for business types, he drops his rating to 3.5 out of 5 stars due to the abundance of pre-installed software and average performance.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Review: Pricey, New, Tried and True, Jon L. Jacobi, June 8, 2012
9. PC World (Australia)
Review Credibility: Very Good Plastiras loves the Lenovo ThinkPad X230, giving it 4.5 stars out of 5 and an Editor's Choice award. "If you're after a small laptop that's also powerful and comfortable to type on, the ThinkPad X230 is perfect," he says, though he's less impressed with the touchpad than other reviewers.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Ivy Bridge Laptop, Elias Plastiras, July 1, 2012
Review Credibility: Good "The X230 is the perfect laptop for a road warrior," Smith says, giving the notebook 4.5 stars out of 5. Its solid construction, plethora of ports, all-around performance and glare-free display make it excellent for business users, he adds.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Review, Matt Smith, May 30, 2012