Lenovo has announced a successor to its 13.3-inch flagship X301 laptop with twice the processor performance and four times the graphics capabilities. Features of note in the new X1 include second generation Intel Core processor options, a choice of solid state or hard drive storage, Dolby Home Theater v4 sound through stereo speakers, new fast battery top-up technology and a brand new keyboard design. The military-spec rugged ThinkPad credentials continue through to the new model, with a toughened-up SuperBright, high definition display and protective chassis and frame.

Making its debut in the new ThinkPad X1 is Lenovo's newly developed RapidCharge technology, that can recharge the integrated battery up to 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes. The company says that's significantly faster than equivalent efforts from HP and Dell, and that RapidCharge batteries have been designed to be good for at least 1,000 recharge cycles. Battery life for the X1's integrated battery has been set at 5.2 hours.

This can be extended to 10 hours by attaching a RapidCharge external slice battery, making it comparable to the U36JC from ASUS, but not quite as impressive as HP's slightly bigger EliteBook 8460p.

The X1 has a 13.3-inch, 1366 x 768 resolution, glossy Infinity display with Corning Gorilla Glass. It's brighter than Samsung's recently announced Slider PC7, which should make it good for both indoor and outdoor use. Lenovo boasts that the new laptop has passed no less than eight military specifications, and it sports interior carbon fiber Roll Cage technology and a magnesium chassis to back the claim up. Security features include a fingerprint reader and encrypted drive protection.

The three processor options are Intel Core i3-2310M (at 2.1GHz), Core i5-2520M (at 2.5GHz) or Core i7-2620M (at 2.7GHz). DDR3 system memory of up to 8GB is available, and there's up to 320GB HDD or 160GB SSD storage. Connectivity on offer includes Wireless-N WLAN and integrated 3G mobile broadband options, optional WWAN, Bluetooth 3.0, one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0 and an eSATA/USB combo port and a 4-in-1 media card reader. HDMI 1.4a and Intel Wireless Display technology cater for onward display of digital content on a big screen TV.

A 720p HD webcam with low light sensitivity and built-in dual digital array microphone with advanced noise and echo cancellation lend themselves to business-quality VOIP or videoconferencing needs, and the unit benefits from Lenovo Enhanced Experience 2.0 for Windows 7 that's said to offer quicker boot and close-down times over non-optimized systems.

The X1 is also the recipient of a totally new LED backlit, spill-resistant keyboard with smile-shaped keys that are said to offer an enlarged forgiveness zone and a superior typing experience. Lenovo has also taken the opportunity to dispense with some rarely used keys, like SysRq and Break. A buttonless trackpad sits below.

Its 13.26 x 9.1 x 0.65 to 0.84-inch (337 x 231 x 16.5-21.3 mm) dimensions are not quite in the same thickness ball park as Samsung's Series 9 laptop or the MacBook Air from Apple, but it isn't too far off, and still lays claim to being the thinnest ThinkPad yet created. It is a good bit heavier than both of those models, though, at 3.73 pounds (1.69kg).

The ThinkPad X1 laptop is available now for a starting price of US$1,399.

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