Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch review

10 Apr 2013

Lenovo adds multitouch to its business Ultrabook, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, but it’s far from an essential upgrade

Price when reviewed: 
1,678(£1678 inc VAT)
4

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon has spent the last few months atop PC Pro’s A-List, and for good reason: it’s the first business Ultrabook worthy of the name, with gorgeous design meshing seamlessly with office-friendly features. Now, however, Lenovo’s added touch to its list of talents.

At first glance, it’s difficult to tell the two models apart. There’s the same silky matte-black finish, and every edge softens into a smooth, gentle curve – it’s just as sleek and smart as ever. Cramming in a touchscreen has swelled the chassis a little, though. Overall thickness has increased from 19mm to 22mm, and weight has increased, too – the X1 Carbon Touch tips the scales at 1.51kg, 151g more than the non-touch model.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch

The display was one of the strongest features of the X1 Carbon, and the addition of touch doesn’t change that. Its maximum brightness of 309cd/m2 is just about bright enough for outdoor use, and the matte anti-glare finish does a great job of fending off reflections. Contrast remains good, too, with a measured contrast ratio of 583:1, and while colour accuracy has slipped a little, the panel still covers the whole sRGB gamut. The touchscreen layer isn’t completely invisible, however: closer inspection reveals an ever-present grain.

Performance is nigh-on identical. Our model’s Core i5 processor and 180GB SSD made for rapid startup and near-instantaneous resume times, and helped the Lenovo to a result of 0.68 in our Real World Benchmarks. The touchscreen takes its toll on battery life, however: in our light usage tests the X1 Carbon Touch lasted 6hrs 35mins – over an hour short of the standard model.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch

In terms of usability, though, the X1 Carbon Touch remains one of the best out there. The keyboard, touchpad and trackpoint are all as good as it gets, and the addition of touch does come in handy on occasion. The more we used the Lenovo, the more often we found ourselves taking advantage of the touch features, whether to scroll through our Outlook inbox, scan around documents or to quickly zoom in and out of densely packed spreadsheets.

Lenovo has done a good job of accommodating a touchscreen without sacrificing the best qualities of the X1 Carbon. Ergonomics, screen quality and performance are all more than up to scratch. The glaring question, however, is whether touch is worth paying a premium for on a business laptop. With the standard X1 Carbon delivering better battery life and twice the amount of RAM for over £200 less, we’re not convinced.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,398
Price inc VAT £1,678
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 3
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 3 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 331 x 226 x 22mm (WDH)
Weight 1.510kg
Travelling weight 2.0kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-3427U
Motherboard chipset Intel HM77
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 0

Screen and video

Screen size 14.0in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,600
Resolution screen vertical 900
Resolution 1600 x 900
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4000
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Hard disk SSD
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

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 no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad, trackpoint, touchscreen
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 6hr 35min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.68
Responsiveness score 0.80
Media score 0.72
Multitasking score 0.53

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 8 Pro 64-bit
OS family Windows 8