Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook Review

Design, Layout and Build Quality

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon's exterior and even its internal "roll-cage" is built from durable, light weight carbon fiber material, as its model naming suggests.  The look and feel of the machine from top to bottom, wrist rest to lid, typifies high quality throughout. The machine looks great, feels great in the hand and resists fingerprints nicely.  It's shell is rigid and there is very little flex anywhere in the machine, including the keyboard area; though the X1 Carbon somehow remains wafer thin.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon TrackPad

The all glass trackpad is very spacious and feels perfectly smooth to the touch.  Multi-gesture support is offered and works rather well, with pinch/zoom functionality, as well as two finger scrolling, exhibiting refreshing responsiveness; not something always said about most Windows-based notebooks that support these features.

Did we mention how thin this thing is?  The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is so thin actually, that a standard RJ45 port couldn't be squeezed into its side edge, so Lenovo includes a USB Ethernet dongle with the machine.  Side note: performance over the dongle proved significantly faster than a standard 802.11n WiFi connection but it's not quite as robust as a direct physical layer standard Ethernet connection.  Honestly, it's a minor variable to concern yourself with, worst case.  Beyond that you get one USB 2.0 port and a USB 3.0 port, along with a mini DisplayPort, combo audio jack, 4-in1 SD card reader and a wireless radio on/off switch. Incidentally, 802.11n connectivity is offered via an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205S radio and Bluetooth 4.0 capability is on board as well.  Finally, interestingly enough, the small AC power adapter that comes with the system plugs into what looks like a large yellow color-coded USB port (top right image) next to the side chassis vents.

The keyboard area of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is probably one of its nicest features.  Typing on this machine is very comfortable and though it's an ultralight, in use it never feels even remotely cramped.  Lenovo has improved on their contoured key cap design over the years and it cradles your fingertips nicely, self-centering your finger (Lenovo claims) for speed and accuracy.  In practice, Lenovo's keyboard design engineering paid off in spades. Simply put, we love it and it's backlit too. Big love for the backlight, Lenovo.  Big love.

Lenovo X1 Carbon LCD

Though the ThinkPad X1 Carbon's keyboard area is like midnight with Barry White piping through a candle-lit room, the display may or may not get you as hot and bothered.  Personally we found the 14-inch flat matte LCD to offer reasonably good viewing angles, perfectly acceptable brightness, good contrast and color reproduction.  There is, however, a slightly observable dot pitch issue going on here that may catch your eye and take away from what otherwise is really nice image quality.  With a solid white background going on, you can see pixel edges ever so slightly. Personally for us, it wasn't a biggie and 99.99% of the time we were coasting along completely unaware. What we were aware of however was how much more screen area we had to work with at its native 1600X900 resolution.  Too many Ultrabooks have rolled off the line with 13 - 14-inch panels at 1366X768.  The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a premium machine at a premium price point, so we're glad Lenovo took panel resolution up a notch too.

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