Lenovo X1 Hybrid ThinkPad review: Hands-on

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Battery-saving Instant Media Mode perfect for movie and music hounds

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Lenovo's doubles that battery life of its original X1 with a new Instant Media Mode that brings a Linux-based interface, it's own dual-core processor and storage

The Lenovo X1 Hybrid laptop was one of many somewhat unorthodox products on show at the Chinese manufacturer's tour bus-esque stand at CES 2012. We had a laptop/tablet called the Yoga and the 55-inch Lenovo SmartTV K91 with Android Ice Cream Sandwich.

This newest addition to the ThinkPad range comes with a twist. Not only does it boast an Intel i-Series processor, but there's also a Qualcomm dual-core chip on-board which essentially allows the laptop to become an Android-based media player.

That's where the Hybrid comes in. The new X1 shuts down Windows completely and launches a battery-conserving Instant Media Mode, which serves only as a media player. We gave the hybrid a test run...

Lenovo X1 Hybrid: Build

The Hybrid, like all of Lenovo's ThinkPad range looks and feels like a tough son-of a gun. Despite its svelte body - it's thinner than the original X1 at just 0.6-inches thin and 3.87lbs - it has passed all of Lenovo's insane "corner dropping" tests, which tend to dish out a damn good kicking.

The design features the same matte black finish and protruding keyboard as on the original Lenovo ThinkPad X1, while connectivity brings a Mini Display port, HDMI out, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports and a 4-in-one card reader. There's a 250GB SSD and 8GB of RAM. The familiar gauze-like trackpad and centre 'nipple' are also present.

All in all, it's not the sexiest laptop we've ever seen, amid the sea of Ultrabooks unveiled at CES, such as the Dell XPS 13 and HP ENVY 14 Spectre, but it's definitely ruggedly handsome.

Lenovo X1 Hybrid: Features

On the surface, the Lenovo X1 Hybrid appears to be like every other Windows 7 on the block, complete with the Intel Ivy Bridge processors on-board. However, the Hybrid is named such thanks to the Instant Media Mode.

The custom build UI, which is based on a Linux OS allows users to instantly shut down Windows 7 and all non-essential services at the touch of a button. From there the Snapdragon processor kicks-in and bring up the four-pronged user interface: Watch, Email, Listen and Browser.

From there, you can launch your movies and music which are stored on a separate 16GB flash drive. It's a surprisingly simple interface.

Both the browser and the email client are custom build and leave no real shadow of Windows 7. Once you're done with the Instant Media Mode, it's easy to summon the full Windows 7 experience in hardly and time at all.

Lenovo X1 Hybrid: Screen

Living up to the ThinkPad series' tough reputation, the Lenovo X1 Hybrid, like its predecessor, features a 13.3-inch Gorilla Glass display with a "SuperBright" resolution of 1366 x 768. Nothing out of the ordinary here.

Lenovo X1 Hybrid: Battery

The reasoning behind the introduction of the Instant Media Mode is simple. Lenovo reckons it has been able to double the battery life from five hours on the original X1 to 10 hours in the IMM. So it's perfect if you're on a long journey or have to survive without a wall socket for a considerable period of time.

Once you can get to a power socket, the battery can receive an 80 per cent charge in around 30 minutes thanks to Lenovo's RapidCharge tech.

Lenovo X1 Hybrid: Performance

The Instant Media Mode brings similar performance to an Android tablet device, in terms of speed and battery life, while the upto i7 processor and potential for 8GB of RAM brings all of the power you could need to keep things ticking over at a rapid place. The ThinkPad's tough reputation also means this thing has been build to last.

Lenovo X1: Verdict

The Hybrid edition of the X1 is an interesting move from Lenovo in a world where both power and battery life are becoming increasingly important in the face of competition from the Ultrabook and MacBook Air families.

While the Instant Media Mode and its separate processor and storage is an excellent means of keeping you going longer it does seem like taking the longer, more expensive way around.

Lenovo X1 Hybrid availability: Q2 2012

Lenovo X1 Hybrid price: From $1,600. UK prices TBC

Chris Smith

Chris Smith studied journalism at Liverpool John Moores University, graduating with a First Class degree. He joined T3.com as video producer and editor, but you can also find articles written by Chris on the topics of gaming, wrestling, phones, future tech, mobile payment systems, tablets, streaming services, apps, and much more.