It’s been a while since I had any interesting tech that I was actually able to write about. Today, that changed with the arrival of the brand-new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. For the international audience, I will write this and maybe a few follow-up articles in English as opposed to German.
Specs wise, it’s pretty standard with the 3rd gen Core i5 3427U processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD. The Ericsson WWAN card is included, the USB 10/100 Mbit/s Ethernet adapter is not. I’ll have to check if and when I can expect delivery of that. I did not order from Lenovo directly, so I will have to go through my dealer for that. Anyway, enough has been written about the specs and parts in other places.
Because I haven’t seen any other shots of a final system board, I included my own. As you can see, the RAM is soldered to the board. Opened up, more than half the system is taken up by its battery. Just to make clear: This was “just for fun”, there were no build issues whatsoever with my model that would have necessitated opening up the system. As far as build quality is concerned, this machine easily beats any one of the older ThinkPad models I owned or worked with. For the record: X21, T42p, T60p, T61, T400, T400s, T500, T410, T510, T420, X220, T430. Yes, I know that’s a lot but I spent quite a while in recent years supporting a fleet of ThinkPads for my last employer.
The X1 Carbon has probably the stiffest base I’ve ever experienced on a laptop. There’s less give than I have in my 11” MacBook Air (2011) which is impressive, considering the X1 has a much larger chassis that could bend. Lenovo did change the color finish on the bezel and palm rest surrounding the keyboard. It is now much closer to the soft-touch finish normally found on the display cover. Oddly enough, I prefer its texture and softness to that of the new all-glass touchpad. Now, the latter is a big improvement to the touchpads found previously on ThinkPads (even the newer ones that started to be introduced with T400s). Its somehow not quite as smooth as you would expect from a glass touchpad – something of a problem for me as I have dry skin and I noticed it had something of a sandpaper effect on my fingertips. For those who absolutely have to use a touchpad: The ones build by Apple are still the top of the crop. This being a ThinkPad however, there’s still the good-old TrackPoint and it hasn’t changed a bit.
The LCD screen is of the TN persuasion and it’s a pretty good one. Colors are vivid and the contrasts are excellent to my eyes. Other people have noted the LCD grid. The effect indeed is noticeable if you have really good vision and you’re looking at a mostly white screen (e.g. MS Word). I mostly just noticed it because I read about it and looked for it. In regular use with what I’d call an ergonomic distance between your eyes and the screen it’s much harder to see, certainly if you don’t have perfect eyesight like me. The resolution is still spot on, 1600 by 900 on a 14” screen is the sweet spot for me. It’s enough to enable some multitasking on the road while keeping the machine portable. For serious work I still recommend a 24” or larger external screen.
I can’t say I spent too much time with the stock Windows installation. It’s not as bad as other PCs I’ve seen (HP, Sony) but it’s probably not worth keeping if you are the least bit technical and know how to install Windows and drivers. It’s a long shot from the Microsoft signature builds. Anyway, I wasn’t going to have Windows 7 on this machine anyway and progressed to installing Windows 8 Professional RTM on it:
Here’s a couple of pointers that might help you avoid some of the stumbling blocks I met:
Some general early impressions about system performance and such:
That’s it for my early thoughts. The X1 Carbon for me is the perfect workhorse computer right now. I don’t need computationally intensive applications on a daily basis (that’s what servers and desktops are for!) and I appreciate the portability. I’ll probably buy a second power supply and I’m seriously considering the USB 3.0 dock.
Otherwise this computer is what I always thought the Macbook Air should have been: Black, no-nonsense, non-glare, non-shiny, all serious, with a great keyboard and a little red dot right smack-dab in the middle where it belongs.
-JanTags: Lenovo, tech, ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Windows 8