The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 ANC headphones are a pleasant surprise

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 ANC headphones are possibly the best on-ear active noise cancellation headphones you’ve never heard of.

 

 

They went completely under my radar while looking for wireless headphones. Some years ago, it wasn’t that hard to find decent on-ear headphones. This, however, seems to have changed recently. So when my AKG N60 NC gave up on me (due to poor construction of the ear cup hinges), it seemed like an impossible task to replace them with something similar and on-ear.

I want on-ear headphones for general music listening and audio interactions with my smartphone. I know most high-end over-ear headphones outperform on-ear equipment, but I like the on-ear experience. Unfortunately for me, in-ear seems to be out of the question as most of the ones I’ve tried simply fall out of my ears.

I ran across the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 ANC headphones by accident and dismissed them at first, mainly based on brand reputation. Don’t get me wrong, I love the high-end Lenovo laptops, and the X and T series truly bring joy to my everyday work, but just because someone knows how to make a great laptop doesn’t automatically mean they do audio well.

To make a long story short: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 ANC headphones are really worth looking into if you are looking for a pair of on-ear, wireless, active noise cancellation headphones.

They don’t stand out very much physically. There’s a small “Lenovo” text on the side of the headband, and there’s a subtle “X1” on the actual cup. Looking at the box, and the included carrying case, there’s no doubt it’s a “ThinkPad” device, if you know your Lenovo laptops.

This is not a What Hi*Fi review, so I’ll spare you some of the details, but here’s my “short” list:

  • Great sound, listening to these songs didn’t disappoint me:
    • Fortunate Son (Clutch)
    • Welcome to the jungle (Guns ‘n’ Roses)
    • Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd)
    • The 1968 Comeback Special (Elvis Presley)
    • What’s up (Four none blondes)
    • Hello (both Adele and Martin Almgren versions)
    • No sleep till Brooklyn (Beastie Boys)
  • Good physical controls and buttons that do what you expect them to do
  • Comfortable fit on head and ears
  • Nice and quiet design
  • Foldable (90 degree collapsible)
  • Supports USB-C quick charging and wired USB-C connection
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Appearance of great build quality
  • 40mm neodymium drivers
  • 8-12 hours playback on battery with ANC off
  • aptX support
  • Boomless microphone
  • On-ear 🙂
  • Active, hybrid, and no noise cancellation modes

You can read more about them here: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 ANC Headphones

The headphones also exist as “Yoga ANC Headphones” with identical specs as far as I can tell, but with some different color options.

(I am not affiliated with Lenovo in any way, other than being a long time user of their premium laptop segment.)

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 ANC Headphones

Why are smartphone makers ignoring human anatomy?

If you consider human anatomy (link may contain nudity #LOL), and the amount of money smartphone makers are investing in research, design, and production of their ever revolutionary new gadgets, it’s quite fascinating to see that all smartphone manufacturers seem to agree that we will have the hands of giants in the not too distant future.

This post is not about smartphone brand religion, and your mileage may vary, but I consider the size of the Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone to be pretty close to optimal (for me). It can be operated with one hand by most adults and it doesn’t look or feel like an undersized tablet. There are many things that can be improved with this smartphone, as other smartphone models clearly show, but I’m not talking about smartphone functionality or features here.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone has a 5.1 inch screen, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S9 smartphones have a 5.8 inch screen, and the Samsung Galaxy S10 is 6.1 inches! There are variants of these (the budget models, and the “plus” models), but in general terms, the screen sizes seem to be ever increasing. Why? If I want a tablet, I’ll get a tablet. If I want a laptop, I’ll get a laptop. And I don’t want to have to get a “compact” edition (which often means bad performance specs) of a smartphone either.

Last time I checked, my hands haven’t grown in the past few years, nor has the size of the pockets of my clothing, so why on earth would smartphone manufacturers keep making bigger phones? Why don’t they focus on battery life, more sharp and more “crisp” displays, cell and wifi signal management, and tolerance to people dropping their phones onto hard surfaces instead of constantly increasing the physical size of the phone?!