REVIEW: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch

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The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch has been out for quite a while now but we’ve finally got a chance to review this great device. This Ultrabook has been designed to be durable with a carbon fiber body, spill resistant keyboard and a thin and light figure, the X1 Carbon Touch is perfect for business or recreational users. Weighing in at approximately 1.40 kg, the X1 Carbon Touch is easy to carry around or use on your lap.

Design

We’ve always liked the look and feel of IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad devices. The X1 Carbon Touch is no exception. The X1 Carbon Touch features a clean and modest design with few vents and grills to distract you. This laptop is thin and I mean thin, at just 18.85mm at it’s thickest point, the X1 Carbon Touch enters MacBook Air thinness territory. The X1 Carbon Touch is also light, weighing in at approximately 1.40 kg, it’s definitely a huge advantage for those that require processing power and battery life but also want to keep weight and size down.

When you first pickup the X1 Carbon Touch, you know it’s ready for business.

While handling the X1 Carbon Touch, it feels tough and sturdy, never flimsy or delicate like other Ultrabooks. According to Lenovo, the X1 Carbon Touch has passed eight Military-Specification Grading which includes high pressure, humidity, vibration, high temperature, temperature shock, low pressure (15,000 ft), low temperature, and dust. When you first pickup the X1 Carbon Touch, you know it’s ready for business.

lenovo-thinkpad-x1-carbon-laptop-keyboardWe think the best thing about the X1 Carbon Touch is the keyboard. Lenovo is renowned for it’s keyboards and the keyboard on the X1 Carbon Touch is no different. The keys have been redesigned with a slight curve on the sides and have been evenly spaced out for comfort. Even though the space of the keys is a little different to what you are used to, it’s definitely a noticeable improvement once you get used to it, making the X1 Carbon Touch a pleasure to type on. The keyboard also contains backlighting which is a welcome feature for those who type a lot in the dark. There isn’t any ambient light sensor but the two-level brightness can be cycled by folding the Function key and the space bar together.

Unfortunately, the X1 Carbon Touch was let down by the trackpad. While it was a very smooth, very large and nice feeling feeling trackpad, it was unresponsive and jumpy at times. While it was a pleasure to use most of the time, it was definitely a let down. For those who are used to Lenovo’s TrackPoint in the middle of the keyboard, well it’s still there and is much the same.

ThinkPad-X1-Carbon-Laptop-PC-Close-up-Keyboard-View-2-gallery-845x475On the left side of the X1 Carbon Touch you’ll find it’s new charging port, which looks much like a USB port and I found myself trying to plug USB devices into it. While it doesn’t look exactly like a USB port, for the first few days, it was definitely confusing. You’ll also find a USB 2.0 port which doubled as a quick charge port for devices. You could also enable this USB port to charge devices while the laptop was asleep or switched off – which was a good feature. Lastly, there is a physical Wi-Fi switch allowing you to quickly switch off the radio when you need to. On the right side you’ll find a USB 3.0 port, card reader, Display port, headphone/microphone port and a Kensington Lock.

Display and Sound

The 14″ 1600×900 resolution screen was a delight to use.

The 14″ 1600×900 resolution screen was a delight to use. Even though there is a lack of a Full HD screen, we didn’t find any major issues with the screen. The display looked crisp and vibrant. The included touchscreen was great as well. Even though the high resolution may introduce a little difficulty tapping on smaller icons, the touchscreen really made itself useful when using the Start screen or using the Windows Store apps. The viewing angles on the screen weren’t the best, you needed to adjust the screen sometimes when moving around but it should be sufficient for most applications. Thankfully, Lenovo opted for a Matte screen meaning glare was to a minimum, however, using the X1 Carbon Touch outside in the sun was problematic since the screen brightness wasn’t overly high – that being said, it was perfect inside.

The speakers on the X1 Carbon Touch were positioned at the bottom of the unit meaning any sound which did come out would be echoed on the surface which made it a little louder. While we didn’t expect the speakers to be fantastic, they were certainly loud but lacking punch.

Performance and Software

The configuration of the X1 Carbon Touch were were provided with included a Intel Core i7-3667U, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. While we didn’t perform any official performance testing on the machine, it definitely felt snappy and responsive when performing tasks. You were able to multitask with ease, snap videos or other apps to the side and still work uninterrupted by loading screens. With the inclusion of an SSD, boot time was just under 20 seconds which allows you to start your work straight away. Copying files to and from the machine was quick and easy thanks to the speed of the SSD but of course, you were limited to the speed of USB 2.0 or USB 3.0.

The X1 Carbon Touch had Windows 8 Pro loaded on it. I won’t go into the features of Windows 8 but the operating system definitely felt at home with the included touchscreen. Apps downloaded from the Windows Store were fast and snappy plus games downloaded were also fast and efficient and a blast to play on the touchscreen. During our review, the Windows 8.1 update rolled out, which we updated to. While it wasn’t a massive improvement over Windows 8, we did find that performance did lift slightly and general annoyances and bugs were fixed with the update.

There was a small amount of bloatware included on the machine which included the normal Lenovo ThinkVantage software. Lenovo also selected to have Norton Anti-Virus preloaded on the machine which displayed a message every few minutes or so letting us know the machine was unprotected – the trial will last 30 days but of course, you can always uninstall it and use your own.

Battery Life

The X1 Carbon Touch did last 5 hours 30 minutes with our battery test.

Lenovo promises “Up to 6.3 hours” of battery life with the X1 Carbon Touch. Even though we didn’t quite make it that far, the X1 Carbon Touch did last 5 hours 30 minutes with our battery test – which was looping a video with Wi-Fi switched on. Even though this isn’t all day battery life which we have come to expect from our devices this year, Lenovo has included RapidCharge technology which will charge the machine to 80% in just 30 minutes. A complete charge will take another hour but when you’re in a rush, the RapidCharge does make a big difference.

  • Score:

    9.0 / 10

  • The Good:

    Clean and thin design, great touchscreen, fantastic keyboard, HSPA+ included

  • The Bad:

    Small amount of bloatware, touchpad unresponsive at times, viewing angles

  • Bottom Line:

    A perfect Ultrabook for those looking for performance but still want to keep weight and size down.

In conclusion, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch strives to be the best Ultrabook on the market. With the inclusion of a touchscreen, HSPA+ connectivity and a fantastic keyboard, it definitely tries to please. It’s thin and light, so won’t weigh down your bag and feels great to carry around or use on your lap. With a few let downs including the viewing angles on the screen and small issues with the touchpad – it is still a very impressive machine.