The ThinkPad Goes Ultra: Hands-On with Lenovo's Hot ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook

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News Posted: Wed, Aug 8 2012 5:07 PM
Lenovo's venerable ThinkPad line of notebooks has likely won more awards over time for the product's durable, functional design elements than just about any other notebook on the market. However, over the years it could be said that the business class workhorse line of laptops wasn't winning any beauty contests any time soon.  This wasn't necessarily a bad thing.  ThinkPad's traditionally have been known for their high quality fit and finish and unfailing dependability but there are far more glamorous notebooks out there for those looking for style over substance.

However, recently Lenovo unveiled the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook and though there are some unmistakable ThinkPad design cues, this 3lb little minx of a machine is about as sleek and nubile as any Ultrabook we've laid eyes on to date.  The good news is, we've now got one on the test bench here and it's as gorgeous in the flesh as it is in stills.

As such, we thought it fitting to offer a quick hands-on preview tease of the new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon and then we'll follow-up shortly with our full review and all the nitty-gritty.  For now, let your geek senses feast...



Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon PCMark 7 Results

We'll have a lot more to chew on and the full gauntlet of benchmarks as usual real soon, so stick around.  So far, this is shaping up to be one fine Ultrabook from Lenovo.

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3vi1 replied on Wed, Aug 8 2012 10:22 PM

Great rundown.

That's pretty sweet looking! I'd love to have that instead of my huge ThinkPad. Though... I miss my older Thinkpads with the higher end (for the time) nVidia chipsets.

Great point about the memory. That config would give me pause if I were comparing it to the alternatives.

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InsideSin replied on Thu, Aug 9 2012 12:26 AM

As long as it's as durable as the previous generations then that's all that matters for me. My old ThinkPad is still holding up. May be time to upgrade though however.

"You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new."

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Sweet machine, Dave ! Given what you report about viewing angles, am I correct in suspecting that this 14" 1600 x 900 screen (not quite up to the 1920 x 1080 found on the ASUS ZENBOOK* Prime UX 31A 13.1" screen) boasts an IPS panel ? I must say that I find the absence of an ethernet jack a bit of a downer on these machines - coupling via an USB port (is the dongle USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 ?) greatly reduces effective net bit rates. I suspect they're designed for Wi-Fi use, but still I prefer my cable, which currently gives me around 95 bit/s downstream. In any event, I'm greatly looking forward to that coming full-scale review !...

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Dave_HH replied on Thu, Aug 9 2012 7:49 AM

mhenri, you raise a good point about the dongle but you're correct, most of these machines are WIFI connected these days. I'll have to check that out though. Might be an interesting test to see what sort of perf degradation we see.

The screen is gorgeous and I find that 1600X900 is about perfect for me on a 13 - 14-inch screen. 19X12 is too tight for me on that size panel, though I do like the extra real estate.

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Erakith replied on Thu, Aug 9 2012 3:05 PM

Every time I purchase a laptop, Lenovo are always one of my considerations. I've owned HP, Sony, Acer and ASUS, but never a Lenovo. Why? Because their consumer grade laptops don't make the cut, and the ThinkPad laptops are incredible unattractive. Yes, it's not a reason not to buy something, but looks are important.

I still wouldn't buy the X1.

The red cues and the throwback mouse "nipple" are still there, and there are so many more notebooks on the market that can do well in performance tests but also look stunning at the same time.

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I've never owned a ThinkPad, but when I've helped people who have, I've always been impressed with the obvious quality of the machines. Nor have I found them «incrediblYes unattractive» - quite the contrary - but de gustibus non est disputandum....

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rapid1 replied on Thu, Aug 9 2012 3:51 PM

IBM as one of if not the sole inventor of laptops has years more experience than anyone else. The biggest thing I could say about them though is in regard to all brands of laptops I have seen them fail far less than any other brand. That is with 18 years now of experience and many of those as the laptop lead from the consumer to the federal user level in Atlanta for various brands (mainly IBM, Toshiba, DELL, Sony, and HP as there the widest used but all major brands sold in the US) which I have experience with from a professional perspective. This one definitely looks to be a step above though. Of course with the efficiency of the current I5/7 and the respective chipset/board these almost have to be great performers all around.

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mhenriday replied on Fri, Aug 10 2012 10:44 AM

Update : I note that James Kendrick over at ZDNet (http://www.zdnet.com/thinkpad-x1-carbon-able-macbook-air-competitor-review-7000002294/) reports that the X1 Carbon's screen is indeed an IPS panel «I reported it is IPS because Lenovo told me it was». Good to know and explains those excellent viewing angles reported by Dave....

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skatanic replied on Mon, Aug 13 2012 4:51 PM

I'm very interested in what Lenovo is coming up with these days. I love their T series laptops, they are so sturdy and reliable. I'm hoping these new batch of ultrabooks measure up to them in build quality.

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