Technology gets faster, smaller and better on a weekly basis. Thus, creating a product with a design that can hold up year after year is no easy task. But that’s exactly what a ThinkPad is. I bought my first one over a decade ago and yet the new X1 Carbon that landed in our offices some time back was instantly identifiable to the machine I used and abused at work day after day.
Design & Build Quality
The design of the ThinkPad has always been one that can be described as understated- maybe that is a characteristic of a classic design, and you can clearly see that Lenovo does not want to mess with that. It has a beautiful matte black finish that is soft to touch. Measuring 331.0mm x 226.0mm x 18.9mm and weighing 1.36kgs, the Lenovo X1 Carbon is a laptop that is easy to carry, and one you want to carry without a bag to show its elegance.
Lenovo has put careful consideration in the location of all ports and connectors on the X1 Carbon Touch. On the left, you have the power connector all the way at the back so the charging cable does not come in the way. Just below that you have a USB port that can charge your phone even when the laptop is in standby more. Another USB port is present on the right along with a Thunderbolt port, a 3.5mm audio jack and an SD slot. Also present on the back and out of the way is a SIM card slot; not one you would access often.
Specs & Performance
Although the X1 Carbon is a thin and light laptop, Lenovo has not skimped on the specs. With a Core i7 3667U processor running at 2.0GHz and equipped with 8GB of DDR3 RAM, the X1 is a fairly fast system. To avoid bottlenecks related to storage, Lenovo has equipped the X1 Carbon Touch with a 240GB Intel Solid State Drive making it extremely fast to launch applications and load up Windows.
On the graphics side, you have the integrated Intel Graphics HD4000 which is good enough for watching or editing videos. Although you can play games, neither the laptop nor the GPU is particularly designed for that. Coming to the radios, Lenovo had our review sample equipped with the Intel Centrino 6205 adapter that supports 802.11a/g/n with a 2×2 dual band 5GHz antenna, Bluetooth 4.0, and an Ericsson H5321qw 3G mobile broadband module.
Screen and Audio
Lenovo has added touch capabilities to the latest revision of the X1 Carbon but other than that the laptop is almost identical to the previous version. Sadly the addition of the touchscreen has made it a bit heavier on the top, thereby not making it as easy to flip the lid open as the older model. The touch aspect of the screen works well with scrolling and zooming of pages along with bring up the Charms bar or the multi-tasking panes.
The 14” anti-glare coated screen has a resolution of 1600×900 which is not as high a some of the ultra-high resolution screens we’ve looked at. However in all fairness, Windows doesn’t exactly scale up well to ultrahigh resolutions so you’re quite ok. Viewing angles are quite good vertically and horizontally although you might have to turn the brightness up by a notch if you are looking at your laptop sideways. The screen also bends down all the way 180 degrees, although I’m not sure why you would want to do that.
The Lenovo X1 Carbon has stereo speakers and supports Dolby Home Theater v4. Now that doesn’t mean that you’ll get the same quality or loudness as you would from a Home Theatre, bu, for a laptop the loudness is quite alright. For some reason, I felt that audio from the left speaker was a bit louder than the one on the right, but that’s just my observation.
Keyboard and Mouse
I’ve said this before on a previous ThinkPad review and I’ll say it again – the keyboard on these laptops is legendary. It’s probably the best keyboard I’ve used on any laptop- including my MacBook Pro. The chiclet style keyboard has slightly curved keys that makes your fingers rest perfectly. The keys are a tad bit springy – I think I prefer them to be a bit more soft to press, but that could just be my years of using the MacBook Pro/Air. There is a two-level backlight on the keyboard that can be enabled using the Fn+Space key and the chassis size allows for a very roomy keyboard with large Shift, Enter and Backspace keys. Really, the keyboard is about as good as it gets on a laptop.
For moving the pointer, Lenovo adds a trackpad as well as their pointing stick which, when mastered can offer a better experience than the trackpad. Sadly, and this is a complain I have with almost all Windows laptops, the trackpad is nowhere as smooth or functional as the ones found on Macs. Often times, scrolling with two fingers doesn’t work as expected and taps are registered or charms bar brought up unexpectedly. The pointing stick works much better in this regard allowing you to scroll which holding the middle button.
Battery and Heat Levels
Lenovo equips the Carbon X1 with a 45Wh battery that although not very high in capacity, supports rapid charging that can charge almost 80% of the battery in just 35 minutes. This makes it easier to get the X1 back on track which lasts about four hours of average usage. Using the latest PCMark 8 and the Home test has a workload made of web browsing, writing, gaming, photo editing, and video chat, I got just over 3 hours.
Priced at AED 6,999 (US$1900), the Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch is a superb laptop for a business user. It is plenty fast, has a beautiful screen and an excellent keyboard. Battery life is a bit underwhelming though. If you don’t prefer a touchscreen, you could go for last year’s non-touch model that is equally impressive but costs a bit less.