Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review

Lenovo's updates its business Ultrabook with a handful of office-friendly features - but is it enough to convince you to part with over £1,000?

Ergonomics

The trackpad has seen a size upgrade since the original X1, and there's still nothing wrong with its smooth, comfortable surface, nor the way it depresses responsively no matter where it's prodded. The two buttons in either corner aren't marked out, but they're just as easy to use, and one of the big ThinkPad hallmarks the trackpoint and second pair of buttons work as well as ever here: the trackpoint is easy to use and offers a fair degree of accuracy, and the buttons are comfortable if much softer than the trackpad itself.

The keyboard doesn't use the traditional structure of older ThinkPads, instead opting for Scrabble-tile keys with a slightly concave design. It doesn't look much like a ThinkPad, but quality is of the high standard we've come to expect. There's plenty of travel in each key, the action is consistent, and there's nothing wrong with the layout: the double-height Return key, wide spacebar and full-size cursor keys indicate that Lenovo hasn't compromised because of the Carbon's smaller dimensions.

Lenovo X1 Carbon

Changes have been made to the keyboard, but it's still one of the best on the market

Performance

The ThinkPad we've reviewed comes with a reasonable specification. The Core i5-3427U processor runs at 1.8GHz and ploughed through our benchmarks to a score of 0.67 a sliver behind the 0.68 scored by the MacBook Air. That's enough to handle desktop applications, although more intensive software will cause problems even though 8GB of RAM is included along with Intel HD Graphics 4000.

Storage comes from a 256GB Sandisk SSD that's larger than many of the drives you'll find on rival Ultrabooks, and there's a wealth of connectivity options. The 802.11n wireless module is dual-band, Bluetooth 4 is included, and there's also integrated 3G and GPS from the Ericsson H5321gw chipset. Businesses will be happy with the fingerprint reader, TPM 1.2 module and the inclusion of Intel vPro.

The superb wireless connectivity doesn't carry over to physical ports, though, with single USB 2 and USB 3 ports, no sign of Ethernet, and only a DisplayPort output. There's no socket for a docking station, either a feature we've long appreciated on ThinkPads, and miss here.

Battery life is middling. The X1 lasted for 7hrs 43mins in our light use test and, while that's decent, it can't match the MacBook: in OS X, the Apple didn't run out of juice for more than eleven hours.

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