We were lucky enough to get an invite down to Lenovo HQ in Jozi today to have a first look at the latest generation of its flagship ThinkPad notebooks, the X1 Carbon.
The X1 Carbon of course owes its name to its carbon fibre exterior and the traditional ThinkPad rollcage – also made from the same light weight material – that ensures all of its components can survive a fall without breaking. Completing the look is the standard soft touch black plastic exterior with the off-angle ThinkPad logo which, for the first time ever, is facing right-way-up when you look at the Carbon while it’s open. All told, the carbon fibre build manages to keep the total weight of the ThinkPad Carbon down to a mere 1.4kg.
On the hardware side, the new X1 Carbon is running on the latest generation of Intel’s ultra power-efficient Haswell processors. It can be outfitted with either a Core i5 or Core i7 processor with up to 8GB of RAM and a 512GB solid state drive. The display is a new 2560 x 1440, 14-inch IPS touchscreen which can tilt down all the way down to 180 degrees. It can fold flat on the table, in other words.
One of the most distinctive features of the ThinkPad range is their fantastic keyboards. The X1 Carbon has a new new backlit keyboard which has the same island style keys with small indentations that seem to cradle your fingers as you type. The function keys in the top row on the keyboard however are complete gone, replaced by an LCD touch bar that adapts its buttons to suit the app that you’re in, changing from volume and brightness controls to media controls when you go into the music app, for instance.
Included with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a host of Intel’s “perceptual computing” tech with voice and gesture controls for changing slides, music tracks and the like which seemed to work well enough during our brief play with the device. Networking is handled by a Gigabit Ethernet adapter (included in the box) or wirelessly with dual-band 802.11ac WiFi (i.e. Gigabit WiFi) and a SIM card slot for LTE.
One of the more interesting features is the ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s battery which, according to Lenovo, can go from flat to 80% charge in under an hour. It’s something we’re definitely looking forward to testing out when our review unit arrives.
So far, we like most of what we’ve seen of the X1 Carbon, with the new context-sensitive LCD touch bar the only real concern. But that could just be because we haven’t used it too much. That minor (and possibly unfounded) gripe aside, it’s looking to be yet another excellent business Ultrabook from Lenovo, and we can’t wait to get our hands on one.