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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review: Slightly overdone, but plenty tasty

Michael Brown | April 3, 2014
Lenovo took its sweet time cooking up Haswell versions of its flagship business Ultrabook line. While there are signs the 2014 ThinkPad X1 Carbon spent too much time in the test kitchen, it's still the best notebook I've laid hands on.

Performance and battery life

The 2014 ThinkPad X1 Carbon Lenovo delivered a Notebook WorldBench 9 score of 64, which puts it right between HP's EliteBook Folio and Acer's TravelMate Pro. The HP, powered by an Intel Core i5-4300U processor, produced a WorldBench 9 score of 61. The Acer is based on an Intel Core i7-4500U and earned a WorldBench 9 score of 68. All three chips rely on the same integrated graphics (Intel HD Graphics 4400), but the part Lenovo selected is the only one of the three that supports Intel's enterprise-oriented Stable Image Platform, vPro, and Trusted Execution Technology.

Some laptop manufacturers have said PCWorld's battery-rundown test is more demanding than what other publishers use (it seems we set the display to a higher brightness level, and we run the laptop until it goes into its deep-sleep state versus shutting down altogether), but we use the same test for all notebooks. So the X1 Carbon's battery life of 3 hours and 59 minutes is disappointing compared to what the Lab recorded with the HP (4 hours, 55 minutes) and the Acer (5 hours, 55 minutes). To its credit, the battery recharges rapidly; still, this ultimately cost the Lenovo a half-star in my final verdict.

Final thoughts

The 2014 Lenovo X1 Carbon is a very expensive notebook, but I think its robust construction, high-res display, innovative feature set, and real-world performance justify its price tag. The previous model was great, and Lenovo significantly raised the bar by adding new I/O ports and an innovative adaptive function row (although that takes some getting used to).

On the other hand, the new X1 Carbon's battery life is disappointing, and I found the Natural User Interface that Lenovo is so proud of — gesture control and voice recognition — to be borderline useless. Lenovo's radical remapping of the keyboard could infuriate many (especially if you rely on special keys such as Insert, Scroll Lock, and Break. And for heaven's sake, why do away with CapsLock?), but it didn't take long for me to adapt to the changes.

Bottom line: The X1 Carbon was and is a great computer. Last year, I convinced IDG to buy me the 2013 touchscreen model. How I wish I could have waited.

 

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