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Community SeniorMod
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Message 1 of 22

ThinkPad X280: First Look

ThinkPad X280 Flat With Power RESIZED.pngX280 and USB-C charger

 

Another year, another CES, and another pre-production laptop to test and enjoy.  This year it’s a high-spec X280.  The below is not a review – more of a quick survey of specifications and a look at the usual things that I find of interest.  But first:

 

From time to time  Lenovo sends me a gadget. They’re handy to have around – both for my own use and when trying to help out in the Lenovo forums. I do some testing and writing as well. Beyond the use of the laptop, I’m not otherwise compensated.

 

Professional images are Lenovo’s.  Amateur snapshots are mine.  Opinions are exclusively mine.  I do not work for, represent, or speak for Lenovo.

 

 

Introduction

 

This X280 is the successor to the X270. I haven’t had any keyboard time with the earlier x270 but looking over its specs and documentation I’d call it a compact “conventional” laptop.  The X280 moves more into the ultrabook range (non-removable battery, proprietary small Ethernet port…).  Specifications and major differences between the ‘270 and ‘280 are called out below.

 

 

Lenovo Gallery

 

Please see the ThinkPad X280: Images thread for Lenovo images of the X280.


 

Specifications

 

Note: all specifications here are based on currently available documentation and the evaluation X280 as delivered.  I’ve done my best to check them – but this is preliminary.  Please do not make a purchase decision based on what you read here without verifying yourself.


 Lenovo Data Sheet

 Lenovo X280 Datasheet-0003.PNG

 

My unit’s major specifications

 

  • CPU: Quad Core Intel i7-8550U @ 1.80GHz – 1.99GHz
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 @ 2400 MHz (soldered)
  • SSD: 512GB Lenovo-branded PCIe
  • Graphics: Intel UHD 620
  • Display FHD IPS Touch – 10 touch points
  • Camera: 720p HD with privacy shutter
  • WLAN: Intel 8265 AC
  • WWAN: none

 

X280 / X270 specification major differences

 

  • CPU: up to 8th gen i7 quad core up to 6th or 7th gen i7 dual core
  • RAM: up to 16GB DDR4 soldered / up to 16GB DDR4 single socket
  • Storage: PCIe SSD / 7mm HDD or SSD, m.2 PCIe SSD
  • Graphics: Intel UHD 620 / Intel 520 or 620
  • Display: HD TN, FHD IPS, FHD IPS Touch / HD TN, FHD IPS, FHD IPS, Touch
  • Camera: 720p HD Camera with ThinkShutter or IR Camera without ThinkShutter / 720p HD
  • LAN: proprietary GigE port + RJ45 Dongle / GigE standard RJ45
  • WLAN: Intel (2 x 2) AC, Bluetooth 4.2 / Various including WiGig
  • WWAN: (optional?) LTE-A L850-GL and Fibocom L830-EB / Various
  • Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB Type-C, 1 Thunderbolt™ 3, 1 x HDMI, 1 proprietary Ethernet with RJ45 dongle,  1 x headphone and microphone combo jack / Two USB 3.1 Gen 1 (USB 3.0, one Always On), USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 1, HDMI 1.4b, Ethernet (RJ-45), Dock connector
  • Docking: Side Dock using USB-C and Ethernet connectors / bottom port
  • Card reader: combo SIM + uSD carrier on back, (optional?) Smart Card reader / 4-in-1 reader (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC), (optional) Smart Card reader
  • Battery: fixed internal / removable external + (optional) fixed internal
  • Power: charge via either USB-C port / charge via Slim Tip or USB-C port
  • Dimensions: mm: 307.7 x 209.8 x 17.4-17.8 inches: 12.11 x 8.25 x 0.68-0.70 / mm: 305.5 x 208.5 x 20.3 inches: 12.03 x 8.21 x 0.80
  • Weight: 1.16 kg/2.56 lbs – 1.30 kg/2.87 lbs / 1.27 kg/2.7 lbs – 1.52 kg/3.33 lbs

Among the welcome enhancements to the new model are a quad-core i7 CPU option (linked above) and a camera privacy shutter.

 

ThinkPad X280 Shutter Open and Closed EDITED.png
Privacy shutter open and closed

 

 

Front/Rear/Side Views and Ports

 

ThinkPad X280 Front EDITED RESIZED.png

Front

 

ThinkPad X280 Rear With SD Tray EDITED RESIZED.png

Rear with SIM/uSD Tray

 

ThinPad X280 Left EDITED RESIZED.pngLeft – USB-C, Thunderbolt, Proprietary Ethernet, USB 3.0, HDMI, Audio Combo

 

ThinkPad X280 Right EDITED RESIZED.pngRight – Smart Card, USB 3.0, Lock

 

 

Assorted Information

 

The Lenovo-branded PCIe SSD is fast.  Wireless AC hooks up with my AC 1900 router at 867mbps.  SSD partitioning is as expected for a machine running a Push-Button Reset preload.  (The ADATA in Disk Management is a flash drive … I forgot to unplug…)

 

ThinkPad X280 Dev Mgr Thunderbolt Wifi SSD Perf.png SSD Model, Partitioning, and Performance, Thunderbolt Details, WLAN Details

 

 

Virtualization

 

Intel VT-x was turned on by default in the test laptop’s BIOS.  In my working life I did some *nix driver development and support.  VMs were handy when coding and for occasional use of tools that weren’t available in windows (less of an issue now with Ubuntu & Bash on Windows).  This i7 16GB laptop had no problems at all running multiple VMs.

 

ThinkPad X280 3 Virtual Machines RESIZED.png

 

 

Linux

 

I don’t often run Linux as a bare-metal install these days unless I’m testing a device driver (usually on a desktop).  There are times when it’s useful to run a live distro for forensics and/or recovery  – and there are lots of folks who simply prefer Linux on their daily driver.

 

Testing with a live Ubuntu 16.10 and 17.04 produced mixed results.  (I’m staying away from 17.10 until the dust settles on the UEFI “corruption” problem.  There seems to be a fixed kernel now, and it doesn’t seem to be an issue for ThinkPads – but better safe than bricked.)

 

A serious problem was lack of UltraNav input once booted to Ubuntu.  The TrackPoint was completely unresponsive, and the touchpad would only occasionally respond.  There’s a long thread in the Lenovo Linux forum on what seems to be a similar [edit: perhaps unrelated] issue.  I’m confident that the open-source wizards will fix this eventually.  For now I did my testing with my favorite accessory: a Lenovo compact USB keyboard/TrackPoint combo. It at least allowed some continued testing and may help when trying fixes in the future.

 

[edit] Tested Ubuntu 17.10.1 live on a flash drive.  The UltraNav problem persists.  No TrackPoint, intermittent touchpad response, TrackPoint buttons clicks not recognized.  Interestingly the "clickpad" aspect of the touchpad does seem to be recognized.

 

[more edit] Adding "psmouse.proto=bare" (without the quotes) to the linux line in the live flash boot stanza gets the basics of the TrackPoint and touchpad working Smiley Happy  The full grub2 stanza looks like the below.  This is with Ubuntu 17.10.1:

 

menuentry "Try Ubuntu without installing" {
    set gfxpayload=keep
    linux    /casper/vmlinuz.efi  file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed boot=casper psmouse.proto=bare quiet splash ---
    initrd    /casper/initrd.lz

 

I didn’t give things a very thorough workout but the basics – wifi, touchscreen, and SSD access - all seemed OK.

 

Screenshot from 2017-12-30 00-47-44.png


ThinkPad X280 Linux and Keyboard RESIZED.jpg

 

 

A Few Quick Tests

 

I haven’t had this unit long enough to do really exhaustive testing.  I did make time to try some brief basic fiddling with USB-C accessories.

 

An Anker USB-C to USB 3.0 hub with GigE port worked fine.  As did a CableMatters USB-C to HDMI adapter.  I was able to run 3 displays – 720p TV, laptop display, FHD monitor – independently using the adapter and the laptop’s HDMI port.

 

[edit] This requires using the laptop's forward USB-C port.  The rearward port will support a USB-C to HDMI adapter but its use is exlusive of the laptop's HDMI port (one or the other - but not both).

 

I did not have time or appropriate displays to test resolution and refresh rate options.

 

Battery runtime looks to be 10-12 hours in my normal use mode: ~half screen brightness, ~half way on the performance slider, a few tabs open in FireFox, maybe a text editor running.  It’s too soon to make a very accurate call on runtime.

 

 

The Last Word

 

As stated, this is more  a quick survey than a review.  I’ll edit and add as/when/if things change.  In the meantime, I’m happy to try to answer questions as time and available gadgets permit.

 

I have noticed that the TrackPoint buttons require a firmer press than my other ThinkPads - perhaps due to size and thickness constraints.

 

I’ve also received a mechanical dock that works with the X280.  It’s a “side dock” that uses the laptop’s regular USB-C, Thunderbolt, and Ethernet connectors.  A look at that interesting design will come along in the fullness of time.  There just weren’t enough hours before CES to get to the dock.  I’m looking forward to it.

 

For now, here’s snapshot of the X280 parked in the mechanical Side Dock:

 

ThinkPad X280 Side Dock EDITED RESIZED.png

Basic Side Dock – Ports: Audio, Slim Tip Power, Display Port, VGA, USB x4, RJ45

 


The large print: please read the Community Participation Rules before posting. Include as much information as possible: model, machine type, operating system, and a descriptive subject line. Do not include personal information: serial number, telephone number, email address, etc.


The fine print: I do not work for, nor do I speak for Lenovo. Unsolicited private messages will be ignored - questions and answers belong in the forum so that others may benefit. ... GeezBlog

 

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Community SeniorMod
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Message 2 of 22

Re: ThinkPad X280: First Look

Hi

Very informative review, thanks.

The 1st question:
could you specify the method of the laptop and dock connection? You say about "USB-C, Thunderbolt, and Ethernet connectors". While the Ultra dock datasheet says "Dual USB-C and ethernet side connection".

2. How do the parts interconnect exactly? Do the male/femail parts of the connectors on the dock side are being "coming forward" from the dock and inserting into the laptop connectors once the laptop is docked and secured?

3. Is the dock charger enough to use it for both dock and laptop together?

4. Do you know the difference between the docks versions - Base, Pro, Ultra, except of their charger type/wattage?

Thanks.
Serge


x220 • Gobi 2000 3g  |  x220 • hdd, msata ssd, 3g, wifi, gps -- unique hand-made config
x1c Gen3 (2015) • WQHD MT IPS, PCIe ssd
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ThinkPad Stack • 2.4/5 wireless router, hdd 1 TB, BT speaker, power bank

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Community SeniorMod
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Message 3 of 22

Re: ThinkPad X280: First Look

Let me try to answer your questions...

 

1) I believe that one of the USB-C connectors has Thunderbolt capability, so either description would apply.

 

2) The dock has a sliding mechanism that engages the left-side ports on the laptop.  Image below.

 

3) The dock's connectors "consume" the laptop's three ports mentioned - which are also the charging ports, so yes, the power "brick" provided with the dock handles both devices.  Mine - which I believe is a basic dock - has a 90W power supply.  The laptop's normal supply is 65W.

 

4) I don't have full details on the range of docks yet.  Others here may.  Some preliminary data I've seen indicates that the pro dock provides additional USB and Display ports, and the ultra adds (at least) an HDMI port - but don't take that as gospel.

 

Z.

 

X280 Lenovo Closeup Mechanical Docking Station.jpg


The large print: please read the Community Participation Rules before posting. Include as much information as possible: model, machine type, operating system, and a descriptive subject line. Do not include personal information: serial number, telephone number, email address, etc.


The fine print: I do not work for, nor do I speak for Lenovo. Unsolicited private messages will be ignored - questions and answers belong in the forum so that others may benefit. ... GeezBlog

 

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Community SeniorMod
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Message 4 of 22

Re: ThinkPad X280: First Look

Thanks

> 2) The dock has a sliding mechanism that engages the left-side ports on the laptop. Image below.

I saw that image in the marketing materials, it differs from your one above - the left-side laptop' ports look free, not connected with dock, except for the power port. What position do mean the laptop is docked and secured?


x220 • Gobi 2000 3g  |  x220 • hdd, msata ssd, 3g, wifi, gps -- unique hand-made config
x1c Gen3 (2015) • WQHD MT IPS, PCIe ssd
Miix 2 10"  |  Yoga Tablet 2-1050F (Android 5.0), BKC800 BT Keyboard, FolioCase
ThinkPad Stack • 2.4/5 wireless router, hdd 1 TB, BT speaker, power bank

Do it well, worse becomes itself

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Community SeniorMod
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Message 5 of 22

Re: ThinkPad X280: First Look


x220forme wrote:

Thanks

> 2) The dock has a sliding mechanism that engages the left-side ports on the laptop. Image below.

I saw that image in the marketing materials, it differs from your one above - the left-side laptop' ports look free, not connected with dock, except for the power port. What position do mean the laptop is docked and secured?


The image in my reply and below shows the laptop "above" the docking postion.  It's not quite installed on the dock.

 

The snapshot at the bottom of the original article shows the laptop engaged with the dock - but it's a little hard to see.  If you look at the image below, one of the arrows shows (tries to show...) where the laptop would go when pluggd in.  The other arrow indicates how the slide mechanism should move to engage the laptop's ports.

 

I'll try to take some snapshots later today to show how it all goes together.

 

Z.

 

14_Thinkpad_X280_STD_Camera_Closeup_Mechanical Docking Station_unlock_Black ARROWS.png


The large print: please read the Community Participation Rules before posting. Include as much information as possible: model, machine type, operating system, and a descriptive subject line. Do not include personal information: serial number, telephone number, email address, etc.


The fine print: I do not work for, nor do I speak for Lenovo. Unsolicited private messages will be ignored - questions and answers belong in the forum so that others may benefit. ... GeezBlog

 

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Community SeniorMod
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Message 6 of 22

Re: ThinkPad X280: First Look

Here are some snapshots that may make things clearer.  I apologize for the poor quality.  They are strictly amateur pics.

 

The first two show the laptop almost in the docking position.  You can see the dock-side connectors in the retracted postion.  I wasn't able to extend them without having the laptop secured in postition.  I'll add a pic if I'm able to do that.

 

The 3rd photo shows the laptop fully installed on the dock.  The 2x USB-C and Ethernet connectors are engaged by the dock's connectors.  One USB 3.0 port on the laptop is covered but not used.  The HDMI connector remains available.  I will try to confirm that it is still usable, and not disabled when the dock is plugged in.  Unknown at this time.

 

[edit] The laptop's HDMI port functions when the laptop is docked.

 

[more edit] It seems that the laptop's HDMI port shares logic with the dock's Display port - and their use is mutually exlusive.  If a monitor is plugged into the dock's display port, the laptop's HDMI port is disabled.

 

Z.

 

ThinkPad X280 Docking Dock Connectors RESIZED.jpgThinkPad X280 Docking Laptop Connectors RESIZED.jpgThinkPad X280 Docking Engaged RESIZED.jpg


The large print: please read the Community Participation Rules before posting. Include as much information as possible: model, machine type, operating system, and a descriptive subject line. Do not include personal information: serial number, telephone number, email address, etc.


The fine print: I do not work for, nor do I speak for Lenovo. Unsolicited private messages will be ignored - questions and answers belong in the forum so that others may benefit. ... GeezBlog

 

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Community SeniorMod
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Message 7 of 22

Re: ThinkPad X280: First Look

Thanks for the clarification and photos.


x220 • Gobi 2000 3g  |  x220 • hdd, msata ssd, 3g, wifi, gps -- unique hand-made config
x1c Gen3 (2015) • WQHD MT IPS, PCIe ssd
Miix 2 10"  |  Yoga Tablet 2-1050F (Android 5.0), BKC800 BT Keyboard, FolioCase
ThinkPad Stack • 2.4/5 wireless router, hdd 1 TB, BT speaker, power bank

Do it well, worse becomes itself

Communities:    English English    Deutsche Deutsche     Español Español     Portugues Portugues     Russian flag Русскоязычное

Community SeniorMod
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Posts: 6,303
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Message 8 of 22

Re: ThinkPad X280: First Look


x220forme wrote:

...
4. Do you know the difference between the docks versions - Base, Pro, Ultra, except of their charger type/wattage?
...


Here's a screen-grab of the docks' specification matrix.

Z.

 

ThinkPad Side Dock Matrix.PNG


The large print: please read the Community Participation Rules before posting. Include as much information as possible: model, machine type, operating system, and a descriptive subject line. Do not include personal information: serial number, telephone number, email address, etc.


The fine print: I do not work for, nor do I speak for Lenovo. Unsolicited private messages will be ignored - questions and answers belong in the forum so that others may benefit. ... GeezBlog

 

Communities:    English English   Deutsche Deutsche    Español Español    Português Português    ru.gif Русскоязычное





alex869
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Location: IL
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Message 9 of 22

Re: ThinkPad X280: First Look

I'm dissapointed Lenovo removed the standard RJ45 network port from the x280 Smiley Sad

Dell's 2018 competitor E7290 still has this port.

Lenovo makes their customers feel miserable like Apple users whom carry dongles everywhere or use slower WI-Fi Smiley Sad

 

6_4.jpg

 

Community SeniorMod
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Message 10 of 22

Re: ThinkPad X280: First Look

I suppose that's one of the trade-offs that come with making the unit thinner - and a recognition that hard-wired Ethernet connections aren't that important any more.  Whether it's good or bad depends on your use case.  I do occasionally need a wired connection, but  it's infrequent enough that a dongle isn't an issue for me.

 

As for speed, the X280 connects to my home wifi @ 867mbps - pretty close to my GigE wired connection.  YMM of course V.

 

I'm not arguing for or against - just recognizing that if laptops are going to get thinner, a standard RJ45 connector simply won't fit.  Full-sized RJ45 connectors are available on other ThinkPad lines.

 

As a cautionary note to others reading this thread:  the image in the post above is NOT the dongle that's compatible with the X280.

 

Z.


The large print: please read the Community Participation Rules before posting. Include as much information as possible: model, machine type, operating system, and a descriptive subject line. Do not include personal information: serial number, telephone number, email address, etc.


The fine print: I do not work for, nor do I speak for Lenovo. Unsolicited private messages will be ignored - questions and answers belong in the forum so that others may benefit. ... GeezBlog

 

Communities:    English English   Deutsche Deutsche    Español Español    Português Português    ru.gif Русскоязычное