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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014

Andrew Williams

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
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Summary

What is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014?

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is an Ultrabook, but one that subscribes to ThinkPad design philosophies, which are a lot less sugar sweet than those of the competition. It won't get passers-by coo'ing jealously. But it is technically excellent in many respects, and has a few great hardware features worth shouting about.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 – Design

The new ThninkPad X1 Carbon looks a good deal like the last one, which we reviewed back in mid-2013. It's all-black apart from a few little bits of red trim, has a 14-inch screen and a rubbery TrackPoint mouse nib, stowed away in the middle of the keyboard. You rarely see this in an Ultrabook – and it's a good sign you're dealing with something a little different here.

The 2014 X1 Carbon shell is made from layers of carbon fibre, interspersed with a layer of foam to give some extra damage prevention. It doesn't have the cool feel of aluminium, commonly used in Ultrabooks to give that conspicuously high-end feel, but its smooth, hard finish is far removed enough from plastic to avoid feeling remotely cheap.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon 3

And carbon fibre lets the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 shrink down to just 1.28kg, just under 100g lighter than the previous version. Lenovo claims it's the lightest 14-inch Ultrabook in the world. This makes the X1 Carbon a great all-day carry-around laptop.

The look has also been improved slightly over the last model. Where the old version had unusual-looking oversized mouse buttons above the trackpad, here they're much subtler – built into the trackpad itself. Again, they sit on the top part of the pad, rather than at the bottom as in most laptops.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon 1

In common with most ThinkPad devices, there are plenty of concessions to business users. There's an optional desktop docking station, which provides lots of extra connections and easy monitor connection, TPM support and an optional fingerprint scanner, which sits to the right of the keyboard.

Here are some pics of the dock, and the laptop's connections

ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7

ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6ThinkPad X1 Carbon 4ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 – What's new?

Many of the 2014 X1 Carbon's upgrades are predictable, but its new contextual keyboard is quite unusual. The normal row of function keys has been replaced by a smart touch strip, whose light-up icons change depending on the situation.

This isn't a fully versatile OLED display - which we've seen in similar implementations of this idea - but a display with pre-defined icons, but you do have some control over which show up depending on the app you're running. It doesn't call too much attention to itself either, which is a bonus. ThinkPad X1 Carbon 5

The more 'predictable' updates we were talking about include the use of the latest-generation Intel Core Haswell processors – of the top i7 variant – and an increase in screen resolution. The top resolution of the last X1 Carbon was 1,600 x 900 pixels, and the screen type was TN. This time, the top screen spec available is 2,560 x 1,440 pixels with an IPS-type touch display.

Battery life is rated at nine hours this time around. In the previous 'Touch' variant we found that actual stamina fell well below Lenovo's claims, but hopefully the battery efficiency of Intel Haswell should improve performance with this model. ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Early Impressions

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 edition deserves to make a bit more of an impact than the last model, which still lagged behind a little in terms of screen tech. This version has it all, it seems, although there is a chance its clever adaptive keyboard strip could become an annoyance rather than a convenience.

Next, check out our best laptops round-up

Prem Desai

January 14, 2014, 8:38 am

Decent spec. But it's so ugly!!

apparent_x1_fan

January 16, 2014, 6:17 am

I've had the previous model for about a year and will enthusiastically get the new one - pretty much the only thing I ever wish were better is the screen, and now 'tis.
One huge plus for me turned out to be the keyboard. I'd been buying laptops mostly based on lovely screens for years and sort of stumbled into this one (I needed touch, it was early). I'm no expert on the details, but clearly the X1's keyboard is at least one significant step "more real" than that on most ultrabooks. I'm considerably faster and considerably more accurate on it than on any previously. In fact I'm typing this on my wife's Vaio and am gradually getting frustrated by how slow I am ...
And it isn't "ugly". Not really. It's not fancy. It's not lovely. No one will look at you sitting with it at Vivace and think perhaps they'd like bear your children. But if the notion of attraction by proxy via computing devices seems, frankly, stupid, then you're golden.
"Say, that's a really good looking keyboard. And I can't help but notice how fast you're typing..."

Fin dec Anor

January 18, 2014, 8:30 am

Note the keyboard layout. It is very non-standard. The Caps Lock has been removed, in lieu of Home/End and the Backspace key has been split into Backspace and Del.
Myself, I always remap the Caps Lock to Control in the OS, so for me the Control key is only gone.

I could rant on and on about how this is a bad decision, but I'll stop here.

RoseFlorida

January 23, 2014, 2:35 am

With such a screen, and the Intel 4400 graphics, is the 8 gb RAM limit a handicap? The T440s can be had in generally the same dimensions (thicker, heavier), with 12 gb ram, but screen with lower resolution. The Intel graphics borrows system RAM. I keep my laptops an average of five years, does this one have the specifications that will keep it useful over such a time period?

RoseFlorida

January 23, 2014, 2:36 am

How big and heavy is the charging brick?

mick

March 20, 2014, 6:41 pm

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! And to me the X1 is a beauty.

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