Lenovo has put on sale the 2014 edition of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, the company’s flagship business notebook. It’s the world’s lightest 14″ laptop and brings to the table several improvements such as faster computing, longer battery life, and better screen resolution over the previous version, as well as some new and innovative features such an adaptive row of function keys to complement the keyboard.
The weight of the new ThinkPad Carbon X1 starts at just 2.83 pounds, primarily because of use of light and sturdy carbon fiber material. However, the chassis is wholly made of it. According to the official specifications, the display lid is made of “Carbon-Fiber Reinforced Plastic + Glass-Fiber Reinforced Plastic”, while the bottom is made of “Magnesium/Aluminum”. Lenovo claims the X1 Carbon is the “toughest ThinkPad ever made” and that users “can laugh in the face of spills, drops, heat exposure” and other threats. The overall thickness of the chassis is between 0.7″ and 0.73″, depending on selected display options.
This Ultrabook laptop packs the latest generation of Intel Core “Haswell” processors, with improved performance-per-watt ratio, so computing speed is greater than on the previous generation X1 and also the battery life is significantly longer. The offered CPUs are the i5-4200U, i5-4300U, and i7-4600U, all with two cores and the Intel HD 4400 integrated graphics. Lenovo has also said the 2014 Carbon X1 will have an HD 5000 graphics option, but no CPUs with it are listed in the official specs sheet. In the future, they’ll probably offer a CPU which has it, presumably the i7-4650U. The system comes with either 4GB or 8GB of RAM. It’s not upgradeable since it’s soldered to the motherboard and there are no additional memory slots for expansion. For storing data, there’s up to 512GB of solid state drive-based storage, which comes in a form of the new M.2-based module instead of mSATA or classic 2.5-inch form factor.
Lenovo claims the battery life will last up to nine hours with the built-in Lithium Polymer 8-cell 45WHr battery. Besides the long run time, the battery is good because of quick charging. Thanks to RapidCharge technology, 80% of battery capacity can be restored in under an hour.
The display resolution got a bump from 1,600×900 to above full HD 2,560×1,440. True 1,600×900 will still be present on the lower-end configurations. Upgrading to 2,560×1,440 is recommended not only because of greater pixel density, but also because the higher-res screen is supplemented by IPS screen technology for wider viewing angles and its brighter and better contrasted. It has a brightness of 300nits versus 250nits on the lower-res screen, while the contrast ratio is 700:1, up from 400:1. Touchscreen input is provided only in combination with the 2,560×1,440 panel. Regardless of these options, the display is covered with anti-glare coating.
While we are at input, Lenovo has implemented a unique feature on the spill-resistant backlight keyboard. The so called Adaptive Keyboard consists of a row of capacitive keys which replaces the classic function keys, normally positioned in the top row. The adaptive keys dynamically change based on the current type of use of Windows 8 and applications and you can see a demonstration of it in the video below at 1:05.
The rest of the keyboard got a couple of big (and somewhat weird) changes. The Caps Lock button doesn’t exist on this notebook. On its location Lenovo has put Home and End keys, while Escape key is on location where usually “tilde” key resides. Tilde has moved on the right side of Space button, while Backspace and Delete are placed together in the upper right corner.
The old-style TrackPoint in the middle of the keyboard is still there. It’s accompanied by a pair of TrackPoint click buttons integrated on the upper part of the trackpad. The trackpad itself has a glass surface and its own click buttons are also integrated.
Other important features are a built-in 720p webcam accompanied by dual array microphones, stereo 2×1-Watt speakers, Dolby Home Theater audio technology, Wi-Fi wireless with optional latest generation 802.11AC standard support, Bluetooth 4.0, and optionally built-in 4G LTE mobile broadband. Wired Ethernet connection is provided via a small proprietary jack and compatible adapter cable. Other embedded ports are two USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, and Lenovo’s OneLink connector for docking and battery charging. Interestingly (and disappointing for some users), there’s no any kind of a built-in memory card slot, so if you use them you’ll have to rely on an external reader.
Since this is primarily an enterprise-class machine, some necessary security and system management features are there, from a built-in fingerprint reader and Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip for data encryption to Intel vPro system monitoring and management suite.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 starts at $1,299 for a configuration with the 1600×900 display, Intel Core i5-4200U CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB HDD.
ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 Images