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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch review

HardwareReviews
8/10
by Joel Santo Domingo, 02 Jul 2013Reviews
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch review

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch is an executive's Ultrabook. It's priced at almost £1500, and is slim, boasting a lovely carbon fibre construction, and it’s powerful enough to view and edit large spreadsheets. It's light enough to be carried around the corridors of your office, and indeed from building to building. It has a rugged solid-state drive (SSD) for storage, so you won't have to worry about losing your data if you jostle the system while it's in use. Plus, it's a corporate manageable system, so your execs won't have to bring in their own Ultrabooks and make a mess of your IT security setup. In short, the Carbon Touch is a corporate Ultrabook that can service the most demanding executive.

Design and features

Outwardly, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch resembles its brother, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (which is just over £1200). It's just about as thin, measuring 330 x 230 x 19mm (WxDxH), and weighing in at 1.47kg. This is imperceptibly heavier than the 1.33kg non-touch model, and likewise just a bit lighter than the 1.77kg Dell Latitude 6430U.

Like the previous model, the X1 Carbon Touch uses carbon fibre to replace magnesium and plastic in some of its construction to give strength to the chassis and to save weight. Though it comes with a 14in screen, its compact size means that this laptop will fit in most travel bags and will be easy to carry from meeting to meeting, whether that meeting is across the hallway or across the country. The height of the system means that you may be able to get away with using this Ultrabook on an airline tray table without having the top of the seat in front of you push the screen back too much. Then again, the system seems tailor-made for executives travelling in business or first class.

That screen has a larger than usual 1,600 x 900 resolution, while most mid-tier Ultrabooks come with a 1,366 x 768 resolution screen. This means that more columns and rows will show up on the spreadsheets you view, no matter if you view them at 75 per cent or at 150 per cent. The screen has a matte finish, so it can handle glare from the windows in your office. Be warned that it does so at the expense of some colour fidelity, as with all matt screens. However, videos and graphics looked fine on the system.

The X1 Carbon Touch has an excellent backlit keyboard, with scalloped keys that help you touch type once you're used to them. The keyboard has excellent key travel and feel, something that can be lacking in ultrathin Ultrabooks. The X1 Carbon Touch has dual pointing devices: There's a glass touchpad below the keyboard, along with a TrackPoint pointing stick in the middle of the keyboard. Business systems like the X1 Carbon Touch and HP EliteBook 2170p come with pointing sticks to accommodate business users who have been using them for years. You can switch either pointing device off to prevent inadvertent cursor movement.

The X1 Carbon Touch has a limited port selection as a result of its compact chassis. It only has room for a pair of USB ports (one USB 2.0, one USB 3.0). The ports are the same black colour, so make sure you plug into the correct side if you're connecting a hard drive (the faster USB 3.0 port is on the right). Also on the right is the system's mini-DisplayPort, along with a headset jack, Kensington lock port, and SD card reader. The power port is on the left.

The X1 Carbon Touch has a SIM card slot on the back for systems equipped with the optional WWAN modem. Though your IT techs should be able to get into the chassis to replace the system's battery, run of the mill users and execs won't be able to access the sealed battery. This may be an issue if you have a user that prefers to use spare batteries to extend his computing sessions while away from the desk. The system comes with a USB to Ethernet dongle, which your user will have to remember to take with him if he travels as well.

Though you can have your IT folk send Lenovo a list of programs to install or leave off the system, this review model came with a few pre-installed apps. These include Lenovo Companion, Skitch Touch, Evernote Touch, Accuweather.com, Kindle, Norton Internet Secutiry, Skype, Intel AppUp, and an ad for Microsoft Office.

One notable pre-installed program is Lenovo's QuickLaunch. It sits on the desktop taskbar, and replicates many of the main launcher and search functions of the Start button in Windows 7. This could help your users transition to Windows 8, although it's not a complete Start button replacement (it won't let you boot into the desktop mode, for example). The X1 Carbon Touch comes with a fingerprint reader, TPM, and Windows 8 Pro, so it can support your company's security mandates. The system comes with a three year standard warranty (with one year on the battery).

Performance

The X1 Carbon Touch we reviewed came with an Intel Core i5-3427U processor, 4GB of memory, Intel HD Graphics 4000, and a 128GB SSD. These components combined to give the X1 Carbon Touch very good performance levels, in lock step with the Dell Latitude 6430U on most of our performance tests, including PCMark7 (day-to-day operations), 3DMark11 (3D rendering performance), CineBench (3D software performance), Handbrake (video transcoding), and Photoshop CS6 (photo editing).

About the only area where the X1 Carbon Touch fell short was its five and a half hour battery life. This is a middling result, and a fair bit away from the aforementioned Latitude 6430U, which lasted just over two hours longer in our rundown test.

Verdict

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch is an executive's dream laptop. It is made with the same carbon fibre that makes his golf club shafts so light and strong. It's nice to look at and is comfortable to use. It's got the power to do real work, from shredding through large spreadsheets to proofing web pages.

This Ultrabook does have slight weak points, however, namely in terms of the port count and battery life – and of course it’s not cheap by any means. However, if you have the money to shell out for the X1 Carbon Touch, you'll find it to be a good companion on your day-to-day business dealings, particularly if you're meeting with another company you're looking to acquire.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch

Processor Name

Intel Core i5-3427u

Operating System

Microsoft Windows 8 Professional

Weight

1.47kg

Graphics

Intel HD Graphics 4000

Screen Type

Touchscreeen

Type

Business, Ultrabook

RAM

4GB

Networking Options

802.11n

Processor Speed

1.8GHz

Screen Size

14in

Storage Capacity

128GB SSD

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