As we lean into a few more months of WFH life, none of us are looking for the thinnest and lightest laptops out there. The road warriors hunting for something slightly lighter than a cinder block are stuck inside, and couch surfing is now usually done on the phone, not on some wafer-thin slab of plastic and silicon. But we’ll be taking to the air soon enough, I reckon, and you’ll probably want to bring the Lenovo X1 Nano along.
This ultra-thin laptop is the lightest Lenovo makes. It’s exactly 1.99 pounds (907 grams) but is as capable as a laptop twice its size. This laptop is Intel Evo-certified, which means a Core i7 chip powers this laptop along with Intel’s Iris Xe graphics chipset. You’ll also get Wi-Fi 6 and USB-C or Thunderbolt built in, and this new specification supposed to offer one-second wake from sleep and nine or more hours of “real-world” battery life, according to Intel. In reality it offers much more.
The model I tested ran Windows 10 but you can also get Ubuntu pre-installed if you’re more of an open-source fan. Windows ran surprisingly fast on this little guy, so you’re good either way.
There are some tradeoffs for the size, however. The laptop has two only USB-C ports on the left side of the laptop next to a headphone jack. If you were looking for an HDMI port or even a USB-A port, you’re out of luck. This is a barebones machine that is more akin to a non-touchscreen tablet-and-keyboard combo than a full laptop. But sometimes that’s all you need. Again, you’ll want this if you’re traveling or moving from room to room or office to office. For real desktop performance, you’re going to want to look elsewhere.
True Lenovo fans will enjoy the backlit scissor-lift keyboard familiar across the ThinkPad line. These machines have always had excellent keyboards with plenty of travel and a comforting click, and except for obvious design considerations, you get all that here. Although it doesn’t have that much travel, the chiclet-style keys are big, very readable, and can take some solid tapping. The key material is slightly rubbery, making them a pleasure to touch, and the springs offer excellent return with each key press.
The key depth is sufficient, especially for a thin and light laptop. These are not MacBook Pro keys, to say the least: They are beefy and solid, as befitting a ThinkPad workhorse. The keyboard has three levels of backlighting, from dim to bright. The brightest definitely makes things visible in the dark. This shot, taken in the late afternoon in a dark room, shows the keyboard shining with lots of light leakage from around the edges of each key.
The laptop has a full trackpad as well as the traditional ThinkPad TrackPoint nubbin at the center of the keyboard. Both of these input devices are very usable and should be familiar to anyone who has used ThinkPads in the past. I found no discernible difference in them except that once I started using the nubbin I stopped using the trackpad. Old habits die hard.
The system also includes two security features: a fingerprint sensor and a physical webcam switch that blocks the top camera entirely. The laptop also offers “zero-touch login,” which wakes the computer when you approach it and then, using Windows Hello, logs you in automatically. The ultra-wide-band radar sensor built in can sense a human approaching the laptop, thereby reducing power consumption and allowing for quicker laptop access.
The 13-inch screen on this laptop is gorgeous. It has a matte surface and offers a 2K display with 450 nits of brightness. In real terms it’s not exactly hitting 4K levels, but the pixel density is more than enough for watching videos and getting work done. The screen brightness is surprising and definitely adds clarity to the package.
One thing you might miss is a touchscreen. Because of the small size, my hand was drawn to the screen more often than not, which was an odd feeling. Because it’s as thin and light as a 13-inch tablet, you forget that this thing is a standard laptop. Obviously expectations will vary when it comes to what you want a laptop this size to be, but it’s something to consider when comparing it to similar touchscreen models.
When it comes to performance, the latest Lenovo is respectable. The WebXPRT 2015 score, a test of simple office-type computing, was 388—higher than WebXPRTs standard Core i7 score of 277. This improvement has a lot to do with the chipset and the 16GB of on-board memory. GeekBench spat out an acceptable 13,607.
But battery life came in at a surprising 16 hours and 13 minutes in our video playback test at half brightness with the keyboard backlight turned off and, even taking into consideration the diminished resource usage, that’s an impressive number. Only the M1 MacBook Air performed better in recent memory.
Overall this is still a thin and light laptop. Media professionals will want to look elsewhere if they’re planning on rendering video or audio, but everyone else—including coders—will find their needs satiated by this light little machine.
I like the X1 Nano. It’s a great machine that brings to mind another thing and light favorite, the early Dell XPS 13. If I were traveling, it would definitely be a tossup between this and a MacBook Air in terms of portability and usability. The Nano is one of those laptops that could actually be very easy to loose in a stack of papers on your desk but it definitely would work wonderfully as you move around your WFH space or—dare we dream?—needed to get some work done on a long red-eye flight. As a laptop for browsing, web work, and office apps, it’s a definite winner. It just goes to show that Lenovo is still able to hit that sweet spot of design, usability, and power.
- Over 16 hours of battery life
- Amazing size and power for the price
- No touchscreen but do you need one?
- Only two ports
- A great little laptop for nearly everyone