Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review
14 in 1,600x900 display, 1.3kg, 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3427U, 8.00GB RAM, 256GB disk, Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
The ThinkPad laptop range is essentially the de facto standard for professionals. It’s been around in one form or another for over 20 years, but until now their uniform appearance and business-centric features haven’t exactly resulted in mass market appeal. That could all change with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook, however, which is arguably the best looking ThinkPad laptop ever.
Built from a combination of soft-touch plastic and tough-yet-lightweight carbon fibre, the X1 Carbon weighs a miniscule 1.3kg and is ideal for frequent travellers that like to stay light when on the move. Only 18mm at its thickest point, it’s the perfect size for slipping in and out of a laptop bag. Despite its size, it still feels incredibly sturdy. There’s only a small bit of flex in the screen and keyboard tray, with the rest of the machine showing very little give or bend.
The keyboard was a source of much discussion in the office. Some people thought it was one of the best they’d ever had the pleasure to use on a laptop, but others thought the keys felt sticky at times. The consensus was that Lenovo had done an excellent job creating keys with so much travel in an ultra-thin laptop, using Chiclet-style keys that were firm and responsive. The entire keyboard tray is backlit with incredibly bright white LEDs, meaning we had no trouble working in low lighting conditions.
We also liked the all-in-one touchpad, which worked incredibly well despite the absence of physical buttons. It’s a comfortable size, albeit a little close to the edge of the chassis, with a satisfying click that lets you know when your inputs have registered. It fully supports multitouch gestures and sensitivity was spot-on. Of course, as this is a Lenovo laptop, you also have the option to use the integrated touch stick instead of the touchpad. It takes some getting used to if you haven’t used one before, but Lenovo veterans will appreciate its inclusion.
The display is a step above most of the competition, too. Lenovo has fitted a 14in, 1,600x900 display into a chassis roughly the same size as most 13in laptops, and it feels expansive. The extra resolution makes it easy to work on two documents side-by-side, and although the TN panel has only average viewing angles, the screen will tilt completely flat, so finding a working position shouldn’t be a problem. The matt finish helps reduce light reflections without dimming colour reproduction, so images look vibrant. It’s not quite as bright as Samsung’s Series 9 display, or up to the same high standard as the Asus ZenBook Prime UX31A, but it’s still one of the better Ultrabook displays we’ve seen.
Understandably for such a thin laptop, even by Ultrabook standards, the X1 Carbon is light on connectivity. Besides the two USB ports, 3.5mm combination audio jack and multiformat card reader, Lenovo has used mini DisplayPort for video output instead of HDMI. It might be more common in a business setting, but it means you’ll need an adaptor to run the laptop through a TV. It would also have been nice if both USB ports supported the faster USB3 standard, but unfortunately only one does. The other is a slower USB2 variant. There’s also an integrated 3G modem for wireless internet access, although you’ll need to pay extra to use it.