Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review

29 Oct 2012

Lenovo revisits its disappointing X1, and the result is the ThinkPad Ultrabook we’ve all been waiting for

Price when reviewed 
1,361
5

Despite a rich heritage of ThinkPad-branded laptops, Lenovo’s 2011 vision of the ultimate boardroom Ultraportable, the ThinkPad X1, simply didn’t live up to expectations. Now, however, Lenovo has taken the X1 back to the drawing board, trimmed grams off its already slim figure, and attempted to right the ergonomic wrongs of its predecessor. Enter Lenovo’s business Ultrabook: the X1 Carbon.

As the name suggests, Lenovo has whittled down the weight of the X1 by employing lightweight, yet super-strong carbon-fibre in the construction process. A carbon-fibre skeleton keeps the chassis feeling solid and sturdy, while a fibre-clad lid does its bit to protect the LED-backlit panel from harm. In doing so, Lenovo has managed to shave off more than 400g from the original X1 to end up at only 1.36kg, and the chassis’ thickness has also come down from 22mm to 19mm. For a 14in Ultrabook, the X1 Carbon is exceedingly portable.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

It isn’t just the materials that have changed, however. The sharply contoured figure of the previous model is a distant memory, with Lenovo introducing a more curvaceous design where every edge softens into a smooth, gentle curve. The result is a chassis that feels every inch the classy, practical business Ultrabook.

Elsewhere, Lenovo has responded to every one of our criticisms of the X1. We couldn’t be more pleased to see the back of the original X1’s glossy, 1,366 x 768 panel. In its place, Lenovo has used a matte, 1,600 x 900 display, and image quality is drastically improved across the board. A maximum brightness of 343cd/m[SUP]2[/SUP] is matched by a contrast ratio of 647:1, and the colour accuracy is good, too, with an average Delta E of four.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Horizontal viewing angles are wide, although tilting the display back and forth to more extreme angles results in the usual contrast shift and colour inversion. There are other mild complaints – namely, the visible pixel structure and slightly bluish tone to images due to the high 7,204K colour temperature – but these are small annoyances.

The X1 Carbon’s touchpad has undergone a radical transformation. Lenovo has stuck with the buttonless design, but the larger touch area and the silky-smooth glass finish feel far more pleasant under the finger. The pad depresses with a solid, confident click, and we didn’t experience any issues with getting the pad to recognise right-clicks, whether by dabbing with two fingers or tapping in the pad’s bottom-right corner. Two-fingered scrolling and zooming gestures work reliably and, as ever, there’s a grippy, responsive trackpoint set into the centre of the keyboard.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,134
Price inc VAT £1,361
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 3 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 331 x 226 x 19mm (WDH)
Weight 1.360kg
Travelling weight 1.9kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-3427U
RAM capacity 8.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 256GB
Hard disk usable capacity 238GB
Hard disk SanDisk
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed N/A
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter yes
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch yes
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 1
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM yes
Fingerprint reader yes

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 7hr 43min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 51min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.67
Responsiveness score 0.77
Media score 0.70
Multitasking score 0.54

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
OS family Windows 7