If you have been a keen follower of technology, you will have heard companies talk either about legacy or innovation. Legacy entails carrying on what the company has been built on from the very beginning and innovation most often is the opposite – endeavouring to research and invent technology that hasn’t made it to the mainstream yet. While most manufacturers are now considered contemporaries, there are a few companies who have been in the field for much longer than the others. IBM is one of them.
Lenovo, after acquiring IBM’s personal computing division about seven years ago, has tried to make the most of the latter’s legacy while keeping the current consumer demands in mind. The newly introduced ThinkPad X1 Carbon, in India, seems like a product born of this philosophy.
There’s no doubt about the fact that this is clearly one of Lenovo’s most high-end products in the market right now. And the company seems to have designed the X1 Carbon with enough traits to indicate the same. As the name suggests, the Ultrabook is encased in a carbon fibre top cover and a roll cage. At a press event in Tokyo, earlier this year, the company had explained its choice of carbon fibre over materials such as aluminium by stating that it was just as strong and about a third as light. During the review we could attest to the company’s claim that this is one of the lightest 14-inch Ultrabooks you can find out there today. It’s some sort of a relief to find out that you can carry a 14-inch laptop around with just one hand. The form factor of the X1 Carbon too has been designed to look extremely compact and sleek. The Ultrabook is just about an inch at its thickest. Even if the dimensions are slightly bigger, it certainly doesn’t seem so, with the classic black body masking the “extra inches”.
The laptop is powered by a proprietary rectangular plug-in. There’s a physical master control for all kinds of wireless activity that you might want to engage in. A small flip button on the left lets you turn all the wireless connections on or off at a given point of time. We don’t see why this was necessary because the hot keys already give you an option of alternating between switching the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or both off from the keyboard itself.
There’s a small key above the keyboard which takes you away from the usual Windows desktop view. The new user interface is designed to resemble that of a tablet’s with app icons adorning the 14-inch screen in a colourful matrix. Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Evernote, Skype and MTV remain some of the many apps pre-installed in this mode. Each screen is termed as a ‘Workspace’ by Lenovo and you can download or delete apps from these screens. The Lenovo Store, an app shop for Windows, is where you can download more programs from. The choice while not as endless as on smarpthone app stores, includes popular games such as The Sims 3, utility programs such as McAfee Total Protection and much more for you to buy.
The 14-inch display on the X1 Carbon comes with a 1,600x900 pixels resolution. The screen is matte, making it a more enjoyable display than a glossy one where I have to watch as much of my reflection as the movie that’s playing on screen. The screen size too just seemed perfect for me. I prefer to carry my laptop around a lot and 15-inch or more sometime becomes too bulky and a 13-inch too small to enjoy media on it.
If the X1 Carbon was crafted during an age of pets of bards, the keyboard would easily have managed to have had a eulogy or two written about it. I mean, ThinkPads are known for their uber-comfortable keys, but the one laid our across the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is just something else. Not only is there ample room for your fingertips and ideal space between two keys, the travel too seems just perfect while you type away on the machine. Coming a close second is the butter-smooth matt touchpad below the keyboard. Every once in a while I had to stop and check to believe how satiny it felt to touch. The fact that it is glass-coated is also not too obvious.
The audio through the speakers is enhanced by Dolby Home Theater v4. In the past we haven’t been impressed with the audio quality on a lot of Lenovo’s ThinkPads, but the speakers on the X1 Carbon do manage to deliver pretty decent sound. For starters, we’ve always come across abysmally low volume levels on most ThinkPads but the X1 Carbon remains an exception. The physical volume controls come handy while watching a movie or listening to a couple of tracks every morning. You probably won’t have to plug in an extra pair of speakers to make the most out of this one. A small tweak that the company has integrated in the X1 Carbon is that, the noise generated by keystrokes while typing is kept real low, more so if you are engaged in a audio chat or video conference on the laptop.
Targeted at business buyers, like a big chunk of the ThinkPads are, the X1 Carbon comes with a range of features to secure it from data theft. For physical protection, the laptop sports with a finger-print reader that you can activate and, in the process, deny others access to the workstation. It also has in-built BIOS encryption that will let you disable all input and output ports remotely without any additional hardware. We could also activate the ‘USB Blocker’ to identify and block different types of USB devices connected to the system, thus keeping it relatively safe.
The NovaBench score average, after running the test a couple of times, was around 614. The system we reviewed was running on an Intel Core i5 processor with a 4GB RAM. While we could not test out any games on the laptop, the couple of movies and high-def videos that we watched on the X1 Carbon, the graphics were rendered quite well.
Considering it’s a business laptop, Lenovo has integrated two features Rapid Connect and Rapid Charge. The former lets you connect instantly to the Web as you wake the laptop up from sleep and the latter turbo charges the X1 Carbon when it’s low on charge, taking it from zero to 60 per cent of battery power in about 30 minutes.
The X1 Carbon is one of the most elegant-looking laptops you’ll comes across in the market. And you get the crisp, minimalist build without having to compromise on the screen size or the keyboard. On the contrary, these two turn out to be some of the best features that the X1 Carbon is endowed with. If you have no qualms about shelling out the big bucks, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is one of the most well-designed and efficient workstations you can get your hands on.
Rs 85,000 onwards
Love – Excellent build, amazing keypad
Hate – No HDMI connector, average battery life