Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon a top business Ultrabook

By Paul Mah, CIO |  Hardware, Lenovo, Ultrabook

What I really loved was the backlit island-style keyboard, which offered exceptional tactile feel. Unlike the shallow key pitch of most ultra-thin laptops, the keyboard on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon feels satisfying, yet is whisper quiet. As a bonus, the keys are backlit for folks who don't touch-type. The backlight is controlled by hitting the Function key and Spacebar, and toggles between three off, low and high settings.

Even though it's thin, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon has a tactile keyboard that's less ultrabook and more laptop.

Commentary: Dirty Secrets of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, 3 Other Ultrabooks

Despite Lenovo's claims of up to 8.2 hours of battery life for the X1 Carbon, real-world tests (Internet browsing and office productivity tasks) done with the screen brightness set to 75 percent resulted in up to 5.5 hours of usage. This is still pretty decent, though you are unlikely to leave the office with the power adapter at home.

On the bright side, the Lenovo RapidCharge capability makes up for this by its ability to charge up to 80 percent of its battery capacity in just 30 minutes. This is extraordinarily useful, especially for executives who have to run from meeting to meeting. Even a short 10-minute stint at your desk with the X1 Carbon plugged in should see it good to go for another hour.

One downside of the RapidCharge technology is that it didn't work with at least one vehicle inverter that I tested it with-the Kensington dual Auto/Air inverter. This could be due to the chargers larger power draw. And while I've not had the opportunity to test it on a plane, it seems that you may not be able to recharge it on the plane as well.

For all its strengths, the X1 Carbon is far from perfect. One glaring downside of the top business ultrabook from Lenovo was its lack of an integrated Gigabit Ethernet port and VGA port. Wired Ethernet offers much faster transfer speeds than Wi-Fi and is important for quick turnaround times for IT department working on recovery or upgrading tasks. In addition, while DP is expected to be leading display interface port in the next few years, many corporations and exhibition venues still offer only legacy options such as the VGA port.

To make up for this, Lenovo offers an Ethernet USB dongle as an option, while you can get the Lenovo USB 3.0 to DVI/VGA Monitor Adapter to connect to legacy display devices. Of course, these additional gadgets are more things that can get left at home by mistake or misplaced.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon: The bottom line

Despite some shortcomings, the overall performance and features of the Lenovo X1 Carbon make it a highly desirable business device. The fact that it will doubtlessly turn heads and serve as a conversation starter comes as an added bonus, as will its light weight and slim form factor.

Related: Lenovo Shows Windows 8 Ultrabook-Tablet Hybrid With Touchscreen

On the flip side, the X1 Carbon with Windows 7 Professional preinstalled is priced at $1,759, which places it in the price bracket for premium laptops. Price aside, and assuming you don't mind the absence of an integrated Ethernet port and VGA port, the X1 Carbon could well be the best business ultrabook that you can buy right now.

With the upcoming Windows 8 release, you may be tempted to wait for the new OS before buying an X1 Carbon. However, a touch-screen version of the X1 Carbon will probably not improve productivity all that much. Given that its hardware specifications are already top-tier, you may want to go ahead and get the X1 Carbon now if you don't mind upgrading to Windows 8 yourself later.

Paul Mah is a freelance writer and blogger who lives in Singapore. Paul has worked a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. You can reach Paul at paul@mah.sg and follow him on Twitter at @paulmah.

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