Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano First Impressions

Posted on April 2, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 10 with 21 Comments

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano takes the notion of a thin and light Ultrabook to a new extreme, and I mean that in a good way.

My literal first impression of the X1 Nano came as I lifted it out of its box. Was it really this light? As it turns out, yes: Despite its 13.3-inch display panel, the ThinkPad X1 Nano weighs just 2 pounds. That’s about 1 pound lighter than the typical Ultrabook, so it’s about 30 percent lighter than most of its competition. It’s also the lightest ThinkPad that Lenovo has ever made.

Of course, when you shave that much weight off of a laptop, something’s gotta give. And sure enough, the keyboard and wrist rest are both a bit smaller than full-sized, though they appear perfectly adequate for the job. The display doesn’t support multi-touch or smartpens, which is fine on a laptop-class PC. And there are only two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports, both on the left side of the PC, as with the Apple MacBook Air.

That’s not ideal, but Lenovo is probably making a good bet that an audience exists for a laptop this thin and light and that they will put up with the absence of any legacy ports. And ThinkPads buyers, unlike Apple fans, at least have many choices with those ports if that’s what they need.

Beyond its epic thinness and lightness, there’s a lot more to like about the Nano. That display sports a desirable 16:10 aspect ratio, making it more ideal for productivity work than more typical 16:9 displays. And it sports a very high, if unusual, 2160 x 1350 resolution. Oddly, the bezels are bigger than I’d expect in such a PC.

The build quality is also exactly what we’ve come to expect from ThinkPad, and with its carbon-fiber top and magnesium-alloy bottom, it offers the same durability promises as well.

Internally, the Nano is all modern. It’s powered by 11th-generation Intel Core processors—a Corei7-1160G7 in the case of the review unit—up to 16 GB of RAM, and up to 512 GB of PCIe NVMe SSD-based storage. As an Intel Evo PC, the Nano also sports Intel Iris Xe Graphics, which is perhaps the biggest step up when comparing this processor generation over the previous. It also sports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.

The Nano also supports Windows Hello fingerprint recognition via a small, square sensor on the right wrist rest, and Windows Hello facial recognition via the 720p webcam, which even has a manual cover for privacy.

The ThinkPad X1 Nano starts at about $950 for a configuration with a Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of storage. That’s quite reasonable, but the review unit with its Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of storage is currently about double that cost, which seems exorbitant.

More soon.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano First Impressions”

  1. Username

    > sports a desirable 16:10 aspect ratio, making it more ideal for productivity work than more typical 16:9

    pftttt. Two side-by-side windows will be 8:10 instead of 8:9. Who’s gonna notice/care?

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Username:

      Who’s gonna notice/care?

      If the 16:9 would be 1600x900 and the 16x10 would be 1440x900, the former would be better because more pixels. OTOH, if the 16x10 would be 1600x1000, then it'd be better for the same exact reason. Without a doubt, the most difficult transition for me from one work laptop to the next was 1280x800 to 1360x766. If I had ever had a 1280x1024 laptop, that transition to 1280x800 would have been worse, but (ignoring the 1990s) I went from 1024x768 (4:3) to 1280x800 (16:10) to 1360x766 (16:9). IOW, I wound up with fewer vertical pixels. That REALLY sucked when MSFT introduced the vertical screen-wasting ribbon UI.

      However, I'd agree that 16:10 is so little different from 16:9 that why bother? 3:2 should be the goal for laptops.

      • Username

        In reply to hrlngrv: 3:2 should be the goal for laptops.

        No way. With two side-by-side windows each would be 3:4 - wide applications (Excel, art, video, etc.) will be unusable without persistent side scrolling.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to Username:

          If the 16:9 were 1360x766 while the 3:2 were 1200x800, I'd take 600x800 side-by-side windows over 680x766 side-by-side windows. Granted that's subjective preference.

          For any objective assessment, one would have to ask what the exact 3:2 resolution would be. 1536x1024 would be great for me. Obviously 1920x1080 would be better, but would that be the standard 16:9 laptop screen? If the standard 16:9 laptop screen were instead 1536x864 (FWLIW, my Chromebook's highest resolution), I'd prefer more vertical pixels.

          Also, consider paper in portrait mode. US letter is 8.5x11, so 0.773 as a ratio of width to height. European A4 is 210x297, so 0.707. 3:4 happens to be 0.75, right between US letter and A4 in terms of aspect ratio. OTOH, 16:9 split in half left-to-right is more like 2 Post-It notes side by side.

          From my perspective, given my own usage and subjective preferences, 16:9 and wider SUCK. And, FWIW, I'm a daily Excel user. And if I'm designing workbooks which would print in landscape orientation on US letter paper, the reciprocal of 0.773 is 1.294. 3:2 is 1.5 while 16:9 is 1.778, so a maximized 3:2 screen would be much closer to the landscape page target than 16:9.

          16:9 is for watching movies on PCs. That's all it's good for.

          • JanesJr1

            In reply to hrlngrv: I wonder if tying the display ratio (h/w) to the same ratio in the printout is the first priority, since you can always finesse the height/width of the printout when the spreadsheet's almost done or ready to print. But most of my screen time is building the spreadsheet.
            I'm an Excel user, too, and I think it's simple. In Excel, it doesn't take much vertical screen to get lots more rows. But it takes lots of horizontal screen to get more columns. That's the first reason I like a wide screen for productivity work.
            The second reason is that I do a lot of split screen work in Excel when I'm not docked. That is also helped by a wider screen (especially for Excel). WQHD also helps because it renders small type more clearly (= more legible rows and columns).
            For browsing and for note taking (with clients and at conferences), I definitely like 3:2 on my Surface Pro. But for productivity and especially for Excel, for a given number of square inches of display, I'll take wide over tall any day (along with WQHD).
            There's no perfect display ratio for all seasons. It's all about the use case and where you spend your time.

            • hrlngrv

              In reply to JanesJr1:

              I must work in a very old-fashioned place, but the worksheets I design/maintain are designed for how they appear on printed pages. Excel maximized on a 4:3 monitor comes closest to US Letter in landscape orientation. 3:2 split in half right to left comes closest to 2 pages of such paper in portrait orientation.

              Still, it all boils down to subjective preference. From the POV of someone who finds squarer screens more useful, there aren't enough non-16:9 choices among laptops.

    • wright_is

      In reply to Username:

      The extra pixels in the vertical direction really do make a difference. Going from my old 1920*1200 to a cheap 16:9 display makes you appreciate just what a difference those 120 pixels make (I'm assuming, when going from 16:9 to 16:10 or 3:2 that you are keeping the same horizontal resolution.

      I just changed from a 34" ultra wide 3840*1440 to a 43" 4k display and the extra vertical space is very welcome.

  2. jimchamplin

    Wh... Wh-why is Print Screen on the bottom row of the keyboard!?

  3. whiplash55

    Thin and light is fine, but we reached thin and light enough a long time ago. I'll take a little more screen real estate and a better typing experience any day. (As I sit at my T530 with an old school keyboard modified to fit.)

    • Username

      In reply to Whiplash55:

      My comments on response to Evo branding spruik Windows Weekly podcast a few weeks ago. I hope pertinent:

      Wintel’s biggest perceived strength is its greatest actual weakness - 2nd (ie. vendor-specific, after Microsoft’s) and 3rd party (peripherals) drivers. This sucks so bad it ruins the experience. Vantage for P1 G2 highlighted Thunderbolt dock, BIOS & graphics drivers for update - I searched in Lenovo forums - complaints and advice to rollback. “Evo” won’t fix. 

      Been Wintel whole life (MS-DOS 3) and dependent on two exceptional Delphi-based applications. Wintel makes sense for corporations with IT departments, but not SOHO and personal - next purchase, Mac.

  4. crunchyfrog

    It really is a great little laptop and a wonder to travel with, however it came with so many problems that neither I nor support could fix I had to send it back. I do hope that Lenovo can fix these issues in a future Gen 2 or 3 version because I would buy it again.

    • christianwilson

      In reply to crunchyfrog:

      I bought the first X1 Carbon and while I didn't have problems out of the box, it steadily developed a lot of nuisance problems over time before becoming unreliable. I still got many years of use out of it. Everything I read sounded like Lenovo did a good job of refining the X1 Carbon line over time so I am sure they will get it right with the X1 Nano.

  5. crunchyfrog

    For what it's worth: I recently bought a X1 Nano and returned it for the following issues:

    1. Bluetooth issues with my MS Mouse. Chronic signal loss causing choppy motion.
    2. WiFi connecting slowly. Booting up or waking up would take far too long to reconnect or just fail.
    3. Battery life/battery standby. Battery drain in standby with the lid closed was so short it became unacceptable. Close the lid at 6pm (fully charged) and open it at 6am and it's stone dead.
    4. Chronic BSoD's. Constant and chronic crashing, even when it's on the loading screen. Happened several times a day.

    Support tried to mitigate these issues but could not so back it went. It is a shame because it really is a beautiful laptop and perfect for travel. Maybe Gen 2 or 3 will have worked out these issues.

  6. Username

    > MSFT has never provided a keyboard remapping applet for Windows ...

    MSFT Powertoys Keyboard Manager

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Username:

      Interesting in theory, but remap is a bit literal. It only changes one set of scan codes for another. Useful for some things, but it'd be more useful if it could perform additional actions. Also, the PowerToys process needs to be active to use key remapping. 3rd party keyboard macro utilities, e.g., AIM Keys, provides more functionality.

      With respect to comparing it to Linux, e.g., the MATE desktop environment allows one to bind, say, [Win]+B to launching one's browser. The keyboard remapping PowerToy can only make [Win]+B produce the scan codes for, say, [Ctrl]+[Alt]+B assigned to the shortcut (.LNK file) in the old Start menu directory for one's browser.

      From my perspective, the old Windows XP and Windows 7 PowerToys were superior to the current crop because the old ones were SEPARATE utilities. If you wanted to use only one or two, e.g., adding copy to/move to another folder and workspaces in XP PowerToys, you didn't need to waste disk space or RAM in mouse-related PowerToys. The current Windows 10 PowerToys are an all or nothing proposition, and given the limitations of the keyboard mapping one, it's a waste of RAM and disk space for me.

  7. hrlngrv

    After looking at the bottom row of the keyboard -- ordered [Fn], [Ctrl], [Win], [Alt], [Space], [Alt], [PrtSc], [Ctrl], 6 navigation keys -- makes me REALLY appreciate the relative ease with which I can remap the keyboard in Linux. In the case of Windows, I'd prefer a full keyboard's menu key (usually immediately to the right of the right [Win] key) rather than needing to right-click or press [Shift]+[F10]. Bonus would be using, say, a shift key along with [PrtSc] for [Print Screen]. A bit of a pain that MSFT has never provided a keyboard remapping applet for Windows even though it's been possible to do keyboard remapping in Office with Application.OnKey for decades. (And it was one of the really wonderful things about LiteStep from Windows 95 to XP days.)

    That said, how many years longer is it going to take laptop makers to make better use of the dead space to the right of the now standard touchpad? There's room for a row of [Home], [End], [Delete] keys along with the other 6 navigation keys below the right [Shift] key without impinging on right wrist rest. And given my own keyboard usage, I'd remap [Fn]+[Delete] as [Insert].

  8. cnc123

    Every pixel counts on a small screen. This absolutely makes a difference.

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