Monday , May 29 2017

Lenovo X1 Carbon — Laptop Review

Lenovo is a name that anyone who has shopped for computers in a retail superstore will know. They’re well respected for providing quality products through a range of hardware specs, particularly corporate targeted hardware and at a reasonably affordable prices.

The Lenovo name has been around since the 1980s and have steadily grown their brand and recognition in the 35 years since, to a point where they are one of the largest companies in the world, are the largest PC company in the world and are still relatively firmly entrenched in the top smartphone manufacturers list also.

So let’s get it out in the open straight away, this is not an Android device – if you’re waiting for a reference to hybrid technology or a detachable screen then I’m sorry this is going to disappoint you… It’s a Windows 10 Ultrabook and from my time with it, a very good one.

Personally my daily use laptop is a Macbook Pro, but my work PC is a Windows 10 machine so the adjustment wasn’t troublesome for me when the X1 Carbon arrived for me to take a closer look at. I’ve also got a few tablets at my disposal (including an iPad), my gaming PC (Windows 7) and of course a Chromebook. So the switch between OS really didn’t present a challenge to me for long.

Lenovo X1 Carbon Design

I liked the design of this a lot, it’s a really nice but simple looking machine that just works when you take it to an office for daily use, a high level executive meeting or even to a mates place to help them with some study.

The feel of the laptop is smooth and sleek, as the name suggests “X1 Carbon” – it’s made of carbon fibre and it is super lightweight, perhaps even a bit too light. It almost feels like a toy it’s that light and it is anything but a toy. Regardless of the impression of it feeling like a toy because it is so lightweight, it still feels solid and doesn’t’ offer some of the chassis flex that other lightweight laptops have in the past

There is little by way of included goodies in the box with the X1 but to be fair, the laptop is the goodies and there’s a lot to like. The physical size of the laptop is clearly geared at the power commuter, it’s bigger than the MacBook Air and noticeably more powerful, but is a long way from being a desktop replacement. That being said it really does look great and looks the part if you’re a casual user sipping latte’s at a cafe and “working”, in a boardroom meeting with a bunch of suits or anything in the middle.

Once you open the laptop up you’ve got one last great surprise in store, that screen is GORGEOUS! I’ll preface this with a penchant for high resolution screens, I find them easier on my aging eyes when I need to use them for long periods of time and silky smooth (when driven by a decent GPU) for video playback and other graphic work. Much like a display on a mobile phone, a great screen on a laptop can take an OK device and make it great – The screen Lenovo have built into here have taken a really good device and made it outstanding, you’re looking at at either 1920 x 1080 resolution and they deliver it very well.

The issue I found with the hardware is the combination of the mousepad, buttons and that nipple thing… That was dated 8 years ago when I was working in IT Wholesale and I honestly don’t know anyone that likes and uses it. I also found (probably because of the way I type and I’m sure I’d adjust longer term) that I all-too often clipped one of the mouse buttons while I was typing which made for some interesting adventures figuring out where one paragraph was interrupted with another half way through. That being said, the keyboard had a lovely feel to it which I could easily be very happy with as a daily driver.

Lenovo X1 Carbon Hardware

The specs on the Thinkpad X1 Carbon laptops are pretty slick for an Ultrabook starting with the i5 6200 processor up to an i7 6500u processor in the top model so you’re not going to lack grunt for pretty much any daily requirements. The 14” 1920 x 1080 screen is driven by Intel HD 520 graphics with a 256GB SSD and all of the connectivity you’d expect from a current age laptop.

All of this combines to ensure that you’re going to get the best battery life possible out of the 4 cell battery and on most days I got close to a full day of work out of it. This is a huge leap forward for battery life in laptops and hopefully it will get to a stage soon(ish) where users can expect to only need to charge their laptop overnight like they would a phone.

Personally I don’t tend to rely on the sound output from laptops, but I have also made a fairly significant investment in a really good set of headphones. When it comes to sound though, I found I was more prepared to listen to the speakers on this than my daily driver Macbook because the output volume is quite good but the quality of sound is very good (for a laptop at least). You’ll get clear mid range, crisp high range and no bass at all but if you’re expecting bass you should probably have the headphones I mentioned earlier.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone when you look at the other connectivity on the X1 Carbon either. All 3 of the USB ports are USB 3.0, there’s a MicroSD slot, HDMI and Mini Displayport for video output as well. For those of you looking to use something like this as a desktop replacement, you may need to invest in some HDMI – DVI converters (which aren’t brilliant if I’m honest) or upgrade your monitors to HDMI or Mini Displayport input. While it’s a natural evolution of a working environment, it’s also an added cost if you’re looking at this as an upgrade so keep that in mind.

The built in web camera is much like many other built in options, it works well but isn’t going to give you spectacular results. If you’re looking for spectacular then you should be looking at one of the top end stand alone cameras.

Lenovo X1 Carbon Performance

When you sit back and look at the big picture, the Lenovo X1 Carbon Ultrabook is a really nicely built laptop with a few areas of improvement to make but a heap of good points that more than counteract the detractions and when you add Windows 10 into the mix it really does complement quite well.

Working at a software development house we’re always messing around with various software versions so I was already really comfortable with Windows 10 before I fired up the X1. I like the layout and the fact that they’ve moved back to the traditional start button vs the tiled (Windows for Dummies) GUI. There’s also a lot of smarts in the OS that have steadily developed since Window 7 and mean that you’ll get the maximum out of your battery life without sacrificing too much in performance.

It’s a far cry from the first generation of Ultrabooks that either performed well and got uncomfortably hot on your lap or the battery lasted for ages, but that’s ok – It took ages to achieve anything! I’m trying really hard to not sound like an advert here, but it really is a solid package when you look at the laptop design, hardware specs and performance to match with particular note to the battery performance coupled with the latest Microsoft offering – if you’ve got the money to spend on these you won’t be disappointed.

Lenovo X1 Carbon Conclusion

I’m not going to lie – right now, I’m not going to drop any coin on one but there’s a couple of good reasons for that. My Macbook Pro is still going strong and it’s a lot of coin to drop on something that won’t get daily use but if you’re going to make use of it – Hell yes, I’d recommend you go, check one out and give it some serious thought because in my experience with electronics you get what you pay for.

There’s a number of iterations you can buy in the X1 Carbon range with price ranges from $1679 right up to (you better sit down for this one…) $2749. That’s a lot of money, but you’re getting a lot of laptop including 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD and a top end i7 processor. What it really boils down to is that if the X1 is sounding like something you might like to check out, you can do so online or go through one of the major retailers to check one out in store.

 

Phil Tann   Senior Associate

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8 Comments on "Lenovo X1 Carbon — Laptop Review"

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Rhys Daniell
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Rhys Daniell

Go easy on the Trackpoint, I refuse to use a portable without one. Why would a competent touch typist want to be groping around for a touch pad? And where’s the mouse that works on a lap?

Btw the X1 Yoga (similar specs, converts to a tablet) is even yummier. Fabulous keyboard and just feels incredibly well sorted. I’m even starting to like Windows …

zeitgeb3r
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zeitgeb3r

After the Macbook Pro 2016 touchbar backlash by the developer community on Reddit and Hackernews, I’ve been looking for a gear with the best Linux support, and this X1 Carbon is the one that keeps popping up in linux forums.

MO
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MO

Problem with Lenovo is the poor quality of their battery, something you don’t experience with Macbook

Really
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Really

You should have a look at the real world battery times on the 2016 MacBook – people are getting 4-6 apparently

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Darren

I’ve got a Carbon X1 as a work machine and can’t really fault it much except for the stupid touch panel that replaces the function keys. I’d much prefer buttons that you can actually feel when you press them. It can change depending on what you are doing, but I’ve locked mine to just the F buttons as it was a pain when I went to use it and it was different.

jeffmaz
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jeffmaz

Bought a refurbished 2nd gen with QHD touchscreen, i5, 8 GB RAM and 256 SSD for $500 on Woot. Very happy, but wouldn’t pay 3 or 4 times that.

Really
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Really
Have this with i7 and QHD screen, built in 4g, 256gb, 8 of Ram – after using MacBook Pro’s and MacBooks for 8 years. Struggled a little with W10 to begin with but now I’d say it’s as good if not better than any MacBook I’ve owned. Matt screen is brilliant, touch pad is great and the keyboard is without doubt the best in class – it’s a real pleasure to use. You can hunt around or wait for Lenovo sales online and save 20-30% easy on retail – I saved $800.00 on mine which bought it to basic MacBook… Read more »
Geoffrey D'Unienville
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Geoffrey D'Unienville

my work just rolled out the choice of these or lenovos thinkpad x1 tablet to everyone, the tablets arent in yet but theyve pretty much done the rollout to the carbons and so far the reception to them has been quite positive

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