Since Lenovo bought the brand of 'ThinkPad' from IBM in 2005, its fans have been debating over whether the product line retains the original characteristics and value. Needless to say, till today, it is still one of the best-selling PC brand in the market and it is seen as a perfect companion for business use. Today my review is on Lenovo's latest ThinkPad family member, X1 Carbon.
ThinkPad is well known for its state-of-the-art industrial design. It is simple, durable and reliable (that may depend on personal expectation). ThinkPad X1 Carbon inherits the merits from its family. Following the trend since Apple's MacBook Air, Ultrabook that emphasizes on mobility is now the mainstream in the laptop market. As the name suggests, the case is built using carbon fibre. That makes X1 Carbon lightweight (1.36kg!) and yet not compromise in its strength.
The X1 Carbon has the typical Bento lunchbox design like its predecessors, with slightly rounded edges. The surface is matte finished which helps reduce fingerprints compared to a glossy one. However, it could still be obvious if anything oily is touching on it.
When opened up, the ThinkPad logo is right at the palm rest area. You'll probably spot the fingerprint reader in the photo if you have used a ThinkPad before. The fingerprint reader provides another layer of security to the content in the laptop.
The iconic red dot joystick makes less sense nowadays: people are getting used to the multi-gestures on the trackpad. The backlit keyboard helps work in dim environment and you can switch between weak and strong light. The touchpad has the same matte finish as the case and it is so responsive that I have even less motivation to use the joystick.
The input and output extension is fairly standard, 1 USB 2.0 port and 1 USB 3.0 port, a media card slot and audio combo jack. The video output is mini DisplayPort. One thing I need to mention is that there is one slot hidden behind the back edge of X1 Carbon. It's the SIM card slot. It means that you can easily connect to Internet if you have a data service with the telco.
ThinkPad X1 Carbon is definitely competing against Apple's MacBook Air since they are both well known for its design and portability. My MacBook Air is more than 2 years old but it's the same design as the latest generation. As you can see, X1 Carbon and MacBook Air are about the same size, and actually similar weight as well (1.36kg versus 1.35kg). MacBook Air, however, still wins by margin in the thickness (17mm versus 18.9mm).
ThinkPad X1 Carbon has a 14 inch IPS display while MacBook Air is 13 inch. But they have different screen ration (16:9 for X1 Carbon and 16:10 for MacBook Air 13''), so the actual sizes of the screens are not much different. Also, X1 Carbon's matte display helps reduce glare and reflection compared to MacBook Air's glossy screen.
In addition, I did a simple side-by-side comparison to see how different the display could be. The brightness and contrast of two laptops are on par with each other. However, to my surprise, the color management seems totally different. The picture on X1 Carbon looks cooler while the same on MacBook Air is warmer and yellowish. I've not yet confirmed what the correct color setting is. Maybe someone who has a calibrated monitor could comment below whether my blog background is grey or milky yellow?
In all, I like the way ThinkPad X1 Carbon is designed and specifically, it is light in weight and solid in build, thanks to the carbon fibre technology. The ability to use cellular work also greatly enhance its connectivity. Small tweaks such as fingerprint reader and Kensington lock slot make it a better fit for business use. To see whether the performance is as good as its exterior design, kindly subscribe to my blog and it should be out pretty soon!