The new ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga looks good in the photos, yes. But some things need to be felt to be fully appreciated.
Once I had the Titanium Yoga in my hands — to feel the insane thinness and the satisfying textured metal on the lid — there was no going back. I never thought I’d be one to say this about a ThinkPad, but no laptop at CES 2021 had me more excited to use again than the X1 Titanium — which ranks among the best new laptops from the event.
The ThinkPad is a brand more known for its familiarity than for its evolution. But with the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga, Lenovo is pushing these popular business laptops into new territory.
There’s also a legacy to titanium itself too. It was the metal that graced the chassis of Apple’s PowerBook G4, almost exactly 20 years ago. It hasn’t been used much since, but it plays just as well now as it did then. The titanium is only used in the cover lid, but boy — is it glorious! It’s a refreshing change from standard aluminum or magnesium alloy, which is used throughout the rest of the chassis. More importantly, the titanium offers a confidence in its construction that few laptops this thin can.
There are two small problems with the build quality, though. First, the feet on the bottom of the laptop just don’t have quite enough grip on them. When you go to shut the lid, you really need a second hand there to make sure it doesn’t slide across the table. The hinge in general may just be a bit too tight because you also can’t open the laptop one-handed. There isn’t much of a notch there for your finger either, so opening it is a little awkward.
The tighter hinge does mean that the X1 Titanium Yoga avoids screen wobble better than many convertible laptops. Tapping or swiping on the screen doesn’t make the thing feel like it’s going to tip over. It holds up well enough when you flip it over into tent mode too.
Thanks to its size, this might be one of the first convertible 2-in-1s that made me feel like I could actually use it in tablet mode. Not only does the 3:2 aspect ratio feel a bit more natural for tablet use, the weight and thickness finally feel comfortable to hold. It’s only 0.45 inches thick, making it thinner than the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, the MacBook Pro 13-inch, and every ThinkPad ever made. It’s only outdone by the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook and Acer Swift 7 — neither of which have the rigidity and performance capability of the X1 Titanium Yoga.
Trying to be the thinnest laptop in the world doesn’t usually end in good results, as manufacturers have to compromise something essential just to knock off a couple of millimeters. But here, Lenovo has finally designed an ultra-thin laptop that makes you wonder why all laptops aren’t this small.
It also supremely light, weighing just 2.5 pounds. That portability makes the X1 Titanium Yoga easy to carry around, even if it’s just from room to room.
The shape of the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga is also unique. It’s much boxier than your standard laptop thanks to its 3:2 aspect ratio. Microsoft’s Surface Laptop pioneered this type of look, but Lenovo has perfected it here by squeezing the same 13.5-inch display into a chassis that’s smaller in every dimension.
And because of the 3:2 screen, the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga feels enormous with the screen open. Webpages look glorious, as do Office documents and spreadsheets — it all makes you feel like you’re working on a larger laptop than you actually are. It’s a more efficient use of space, moving millimeters around in the places where you actually need it.
So, what kind of zany resolution did Lenovo go with? It is listed as 2256 x 1504, matching the Surface Laptop 3. It’s not quite the 3,300 x 2,200 that you get with the Asus ZenBook S UX393, but it still looked sharp to my eye. Lenovo says the screen maxes out at 450 nits of brightness.
Now, I’d be lying if I didn’t mention the bezels caught my eye. The bottom bezel below the screen is egregiously large. Laptops with 360-degree hinges will always be fighting an uphill battle there, and the thinness of the X1 Titanium Yoga presents a challenge for stacking components such as the ports, keyboard, and speakers. It may be that Lenovo needed that extra inch or so to make everything fit, but that doesn’t mean my eye isn’t constantly drawn to that black bar of wasted space below the screen.
The speakers are actually decent. You still aren’t going to get much in the realm of bass, but listening to music on the X1 Titanium Yoga wasn’t a slog like it is on many laptops.
Keyboard and touchpad
The Titanium Yoga’s keyboard looks like a traditional ThinkPad keyboard, with its rounded keycaps and classic ThinkPad layout. But once you press down on the keys, you’ll know instantly something is afoot. The travel is very short at 1.35mm (instead of 1.5mm), but it was the sound of the typing that gave it away to me. They feel like butterfly mechanisms made famous by MacBooks of 2016, though Lenovo assured me they use a conventional rubber dome and scissor-switch.
But I really like what Lenovo managed to pull off given the restrained size. ThinkPad diehards who yearn for the extra travel will turn their noses up at this keyboard, but I found it to be quick and easy to get comfortable with. They’re clicky and firm, with a quick snapback that feels precise. After just a few minutes, I was typing away with speed and accuracy.
You can tell some extra engineering went into the touchpad too. Travel is once again quite short, but it still has a satisfying click. Tracking felt smooth and multi-touch gestures were responsive.
One of the downsides to the size of the Titanium Yoga is its more limited port selection. It gives you access to just two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a headphone jack. While I wouldn’t have minded at least one more Thunderbolt port, the selection offered matches what you get in laptops like the Dell XPS 13 or MacBook Pro.
The difference, of course, is that this is a business laptop. Many business folk will miss their HDMI or USB-A ports, two legacy ports that the other ThinkPad X1 laptops have held on to. Fortunately, Lenovo tosses in a handy USB-C hub, for quick access to the types of ports that you might need.
The X1 Titanium Yoga also lacks a built-in stylus slot, which the standard X1 Yoga includes.
I wasn’t able to test the performance of the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga, as this was just a first look. But inside, it features the new 11th-generation Tiger Lake vPro processors, which were just announced at CES by Intel. They include all the same goodies as their consumer counterparts — high clock speeds, Intel Iris Xe graphics, and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. The vPro, meanwhile, adds the security and manageability features that IT departments look for.
Lenovo says the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga can last for 10.9 hours on a single charge of its 44.5 watt-hour battery. Battery life has never been a strong suit for ThinkPads in our evaluations, so we’ll have to see how this one does once I can do some more testing.
Price and availability
None of the laptops in the ThinkPad X1 lineup are cheap, but the Titanium Yoga outdoes them all. The starting configuration costs you $1,899, which can be souped up with up to 16GB of RAM, a TB of SSD storage, and a Core i7 processor.
The X1 Titanium Yoga will be available for order starting later this month.
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