Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon: An Enterprise-Class Notebook to Fall in Love With

ThinkPads have been a class act among business laptops since IBM launched the line over two decades ago. As a Lenovo brand, they remain pricey, but they're also exceptionally easy to carry and comfortable to use. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch stands out even from its forebears.

By W. Bryan Hastings
Mon, January 06, 2014

PC World — ThinkPads have been a class act among business laptops since IBM launched the line over two decades ago. As a Lenovo brand, they remain pricey, but they're also exceptionally easy to carry and comfortable to use. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch stands out even from its forebears.

I recently took this Windows 8 Pro model with me on a flight from San Francisco to the East Coast and quickly fell into serious like with it. Fabricated from carbon fiber, it's one of the thinnest and lightest 14-inch Ultrabooks around, and I found its low-glare touchscreen big enough to view spreadsheets without stressing my wrists and fingertips while panning and scrolling. The display was easy to read even in the constantly changing lighting conditions inside the aircraft's cabin.

The X1 Carbon Touch comes with other intelligent design elements, too: A perfectly tensioned screen panel that I could quickly flip open to the exact viewing angle I wanted; a quiet, cushy keyboard that's a pure joy to type on; a large, smooth glass multitouch trackpad with excellent palm rejection to minimize fly-away cursors while I typed; and a case that's tough and stiff, yet soft enough I could comfortably perch my palms on the keyboard deck for long stretches while I pounded out notes for this review.

I do have a few complaints. My biggest beef is the short battery life. I flipped open the X1 Carbon Touch soon after we lifted off from SFO, and it expired more than an hour from Boston. I'm used to getting to New England with juice to spare. I have a few other gripes, which I'll mention later. All in all, though, the X1 Carbon Touch is a terrific machine. It's one of the most comfortable and easiest-to-use notebooks I've laid eyes and hands on, and it's amazingly tough for such a thin and light model.

If all you're after is speed and feeds, you can find much of what the X1 Carbon Touch offers in machines costing hundreds of dollars less. Its most exciting silicon is the lightning-fast 180GB SSD that gave it the edge in our performance tests (more on that below). The processor (Intel's 1.8GHz Core i5-3427U, with its HD Graphics 4000 integrated GPU) and the 4GB of memory are standard fare on small notebooks, and you can't upgrade either.

The Carbon Touch shines--truly shines--when you take it with you and actually use the thing. It's so light and slim I hardly noticed it in my carry-on bag. It weighs only 3.4 pounds and measures 0.75 inches thick. Still, this ThinkPad hardly flexed at all when I gripped its ends with both hands and gave it the torque-twist test.

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