This Carbon is really a gem


    Mar 14, 2014

    This Carbon is really a gem

    THE Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the ultimate luxury notebook now. The souped-up version I tried comes with all the high-end features you can imagine. And its price tag makes Sony's Vaio laptops look like absolute bargains.

    Like the previous models, the new laptop has a carbon-fibre chassis that is lightweight and strong. In fact, Lenovo claims it uses satellite-grade carbon fibre and that the laptop is tested to meet military specifications for extreme conditions.

    All I know is that the new laptop feels unyielding despite my best attempts to flex it.

    At 1.42kg, the X1 Carbon is the lightest 14-inch ultrabook in the world, says Lenovo. It also holds the title of thinnest ThinkPad.

    But I found it to be heavier than its sleek appearance would suggest.

    The high-resolution 2,560 x 1,440-pixel touchscreen is the Carbon's best feature. Even with an anti-glare film that causes a dulling effect, the quality of this IPS display is evident.

    The viewing angles are incredibly wide. There is no visible colour shift regardless of which angle the display is viewed from.

    I am less enthusiastic about the keyboard. The latest tweaks will likely see purists up in arms.

    The familiar row of Function keys is now a touch-sensitive strip dubbed Adaptive Keyboard, which changes depending on the application.

    Open a browser and the strip's commands change to include Back and Refresh keys. There are four different sets, including the classic F1 to F12 keys and a set designed for Web conferencing.

    I can see how this would make for a more streamlined keyboard. There is, for example, no need to hit the Fn key to up volume or brightness.

    But, as the functions change, you must look at what you are pressing instead of relying on muscle memory. Something tells me that Lenovo will be tweaking this design for the next iteration.

    But my ire is reserved for the new layout. The Backspace key is now split into Backspace and Delete. As a result, I often hit Delete while aiming for Backspace.

    Similarly, the Caps Lock key has been split into Home and End keys. You can still enable Caps Lock by double tapping the left Shift. A tiny green LED acts as a visual cue to indicate that it is in Caps Lock mode.

    The ThinkPad's red pointing stick remains unscathed. But the touchpad seems to require more effort to register my clicks. The keyboard, too, feels stiffer.

    Ultrabooks often lose ports in the bid to keep the design sleek. In the X1 Carbon's case, the SD card reader is a glaring omission.

    The Carbon packs some of the best laptop hardware, including an Intel Core i7 Haswell chip, along with 8GB of RAM.

    Its 512GB solid-state drive SSD boots up quickly and the Wi-Fi chip is based on the latest 802.11ac standard.

    According to my tests, the performance is on a par with other laptops of this calibre. It scored almost 5,000 in PCMark 7, slightly lower than the Acer Aspire S7 and its Raid-enabled SSDs.

    I was slightly disappointed by the 6hr 16min of battery life I managed to squeeze out. This is less than the seven or so hours for rival ultrabooks.

    Chief executives, take note: This is your next laptop. A premium business ultrabook that performs well and looks great, the X1 Carbon is not perfect, but is never dull.


    Price: $3,699


    Intel Core i7-4600U (2.1GHz)


    Intel HD Graphics 4400



    Screen size:

    14 inches, 2,560 x 1,440 pixels


    2 x USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort, headphone and microphone combo jacks


    45 watt-hour