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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – Keyboard, Touchpad and Screen

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



  • Recommended by TR
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon


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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon - Keyboard and Typing

Lenovo has a well-deserved reputation for providing the best keyboards to grace laptops bar none, and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon doesn’t break that tradition. Though the ThinkPad line has transitioned to isolation/Chiclet style keys, they’re large and slightly concave, which fits them to your fingers just right.

Layout is generally superb, though Lenovo is one of the few manufacturers clinging to having the function key to the outside of Ctrl, making classic shortcuts like Cut/Copy/Paste more fiddly. Key feedback is also excellent, with more travel than most slim Ultrabooks (heck, most laptops for that matter) manage and a nicely defined click. Basically, typing on this X1 is a genuine pleasure and if word processing is your bread and butter, there are no slim laptops we’d rather do it on.

As the Carbon is a premium ThinkPad, the keyboard is also fully backlit and here the backlighting is even adjustable. The keyboard is spill-resistant too, meaning you can upend your cuppa over it without any dire consequences.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon - TrackPoint and Touchpad

Of course, no ThinkPad would be complete without its TrackPoint, a little red rubber pointing stick nestled between the G and H keys which you can use to move the mouse cursor without moving your hands from the typing position. After a short learning curve this can essentially replace the touchpad, though they’re best used together, with each offering strengths in different usage scenarios.

As with TrackPoints that went before, the one here has its own set of dedicated buttons located between the keyboard’s bottom edge and the touchpad’s upper one. They’re ergonomically shaped to accommodate your fingers while remaining clearly differentiated, and sport lovely crisp action too.

The touchpad is actually one of the biggest areas of change from many previous ThinkPads. For one thing, it’s absolutely massive. For another, its surface is now glass and its buttons are integrated, just like most other premium Ultrabooks.

As this was the one area where ThinkPads lagged noticeably behind the competition, we’re glad to report that this latest touchpad iteration works beautifully. The pad’s smooth surface is a pleasure to run your finger across, it’s nicely responsive, and its buttons offer a defined click though this is not as crisp as the action found on some rivals.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Screen

Considering Lenovo was one of the pioneers of high-quality IPS screens in laptops like its ThinkPad X220 long before other manufacturers were offering them on anything but high-end workstations, it’s disappointing to find that the X1 still uses a TN-panel display. Mind you, as these go the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is top of its class, if not quite as good as last year’s Samsung Series 9 900X3A.

First off, it’s worth pointing out that the 14-inch X1 Carbon comes with two different display resolutions, depending on which model you go for. The cheaper Carbons offer a standard 1,366 x 768 resolution, while the high-end variants – like our review sample – come with a much nicer 1,600 x 900 pixel count (you can upgrade from the regular resolution to Premium HD Plus for £62 when buying direct from Lenovo). Either way you get a great matt finish, avoiding the annoying reflections of glossy screens – though it does also make pixel structure a little more visible, but that’s a small price to pay.

Viewing angles are also very good by TN standards. Horizontally they’re almost flawless, with only a slight bit of contrast shift betraying that we’re not dealing with IPS here. Vertically there’s less leeway, but you can still tilt the display with a little more freedom than most. And as with every premium ThinkPad, you can fold the screen back to 180 degrees.

Combined with good maximum brightness, excellent dark detailing, decent contrast, punchy colours, and no signs of backlight bleed or other undesirable artefacts, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon offers a pleasant visual experience - not just for work but entertainment too.


December 4, 2012, 8:02 am

A lot of people seem to complain about a "screen door effect" in the display used for the Carbon X1, and some have returned it because of that.

As I haven't seen the Carbon anywhere yet to check for myself, do you notice this "screen door" or anything abnormal about the pixel spacing – especially with light backgrounds?


December 4, 2012, 11:24 pm

Thanks for your comment. Yes I did notice it, which is why I mention "visible pixel structure" in the review.
TBH this is something you'll see on many laptops and is easy enough to live with. Try checking out other laptops that suffer from the same effect in a store if you want to see it in the 'flesh'.


December 13, 2012, 2:46 pm

It seems screens are the only downside to Lenovo machines these days. I've got a U300s which is gorgeous except for its less than perfect display. Sounds like the same is true of the Carbon X1. It's not a deal breaker for me though, I'd love one of these!


January 23, 2013, 7:15 am

What's the story with the battery when it reaches the end of its service life? Can it be replaced or does the whole laptop get discarded (or returned to the manufacturer for a whole laptop replacement - like the Mac?).

Dom Jolly

February 22, 2013, 2:00 pm

The complaint about the Fn and Ctrl keys being the "wrong" way round isn't really applicable with a ThinkPad - you can map them the "right" way in the BIOS. Obviously the labels will still be wrong, but it's not as big of an issue as with other laptops where that's not an option.

royan naimi

April 12, 2013, 9:09 am

mantap gan, nice info...


November 7, 2013, 8:29 pm

Really nice laptop aesthetically BUT the sound doesn't work randomly for like no reason and even the IT guys at work can't figure it out - it's a common problem apparently with other machines at work too. Also, I use a USB wireless keyboard and mouse that always worked just fine with my old T41 but now with the x1 carbon the mouse jiggles about like it's running out of battery and when typing, the keyboard misses out letters... Very annoying! The battery isn't running low btw and I've tried changing USB ports etc - it's a commonly reported problem at work too with these laptops. Such a shame as I was expecting so much!

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