There’s a reason why the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 series has been the laptop of choice for many business people and company IT buyers for some time now.
They are sturdy, well powered and while not the flashiest looking notebooks, their design has also been attractive.
Given that success, it is no great surprise then that Lenovo hasn’t tried to reinvent the wheel with the latest version, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.
It builds on the sturdy foundations of it's predecessor, adding some nice new features to provide a little extra.
The first thing you notice when you unbox the X1 Carbon is the weight.
At 1.13kg it feels light, built from carbon fibre and magnesium. And it looks it too, at just 15.95mm thick.
But that doesn’t mean it is a weak device. According to Lenovo, it has passed a dozen of the military standard durability tests - MIL-STD-810.
The traditional smooth black exterior remains the same, giving the laptop a premium feel and look.
Some may prefer the shininess and colour options on offer from many modern notebooks, but there is nothing wrong with the simple style of the ThinkPad X1.
For security, there’s a Match on Chip fingerprint reader built in, which holds all the data on the reader itself making it more difficult to hack.
There’s also a IR camera for facial recognition on some models.
One new addition is the ThinkShutter – a clever sliding lens cover for the HD 720p webcam (on the devices without the IR camera) which enables you to protect yourself from spying hackers.
Beside the camera are two far-field microphones which should be capable of picking your voice up from distance – handy for voice recognition or control of the Windows virtual assistant Cortana.
In terms of ports there is plenty to choose from - two USB 3.0, two Thunderbolt 3 sockets, a headphone and microphone combo jack and a 4-in-1 micro SD card reader, as well as a HDMI port and a docking connector.
The keyboard is as well set-up, responsive and comfortable to use as you’d now expect from the X1 range.
There’s the usual TrackPoint buried in the middle of the keyboard and a 3.9 x 2.2 inch touchpad.
There are a number of variants of the 14" screen on the X1, but all are good if not great.
My review model had the excellent WQHD option, with a resolution of 2560x1440 and anti-glare.
At 300 nits the brightness makes the picture jump out of the 16:9 aspect screen and with great clarity.
And with a 170° viewing angle, images and video look good from most directions.
There is also a respectable standard option with a Full HD 1920x1080 display and a top of the range WQHD 2560x1440 High Dynamic Range version with Dolby Vision which we didn’t get to experience, but is reportedly among the best out there.
The device is, as you’d expect for a premium business laptop, well powered.
The processor has been upgraded to an Intel Core i7 8th Generation in the machines at the higher end of the range.
This combined with 16GB of RAM means most tasks will be handled with ease – although perhaps not VR/AR as Windows 10’s Mixed Reality Portal suggests the processor could struggle.
The X1 Carbon comes with between 128GB and 1TB of SSD, depending on the model.
The laptop is powered by a 3 Cell 57Wh battery that under normal usage and conditions should give you enough power for a good day’s work and then some.
The device also supports fast-charging, so according to the manufacturer it will go from 0-80 per cent in just 60 minutes.
The audio set-up is passable but not astonishing. The speakers produce plenty of sound, but the quality isn’t wonderful.
Listening with headphones will definitely be a better option.
In summary then, the X1 Carbon offers pretty much everything a business power user could need that technology can currently provide.
The display is class leading, the design unfussy and light, the keyboard solid and comfortable and there’s plenty of power under the hood.
The price tag (ranging from €1,659 to €2991) is certainly at the higher end of normal for the category, but sometimes in life you get what you pay for and this is one of those times.
There are plenty of other machines which can offer similar type specs, like the Dell XPS 13, the MacBook Pro range and Microsoft Surface Book 2.
But buyers of the X1 Carbon are unlikely to be disappointed.
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