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Review: Lenovo Carbon X1

After the mauling I gave Lenovo’s previous offering, they actually had the balls to send me another one. Kudos to you guys ;) So, round two.

Lenovo sent me their Carbon X1. This is their flagship ultrabook with carbon fibre providing a lightweight yet super tough structure. It’s practically indestructible according to the ThinkPad product marketing VP (although I’m sure the box it came in was labelled fragile).

Lenovo have stuck to the tried and true format, with an ultra slim body wrapped in carbon fibre, but with some nice touches. The ‘F’ key row has been replaced with a touch screen which recognises specific applications and adjusts its functionality to match. Lenovo have also spent a lot of time ensuring the Carbon doesn’t suffer from dust clog up like many laptops seem to do, shortening their life considerably.

With an Intel i5 processor, there’s plenty of oomph in the machine, although the lack of a dedicated graphics card does impact its power.

The Carbon celebrates and builds on its core functionality. It’s a business machine, ideal for road warriors and those who want a machine that’ll take the knocks in life and keep on trekking.

With a weight of 1.3kg, the Carbon has enough heft so you know it’s there, but is light enough not to be a burden. As standard, it comes with a 14” HD+ screen (1600 x 900), but this is configurable to a 14” WQHD touch screen (2560 x 1440) for Macbook Retina comparisons.

Another feature of the Carbon which ups its marks is the inclusion of a RapidCharge battery. In one hour, the battery can reach 80% of charge. This definitely boosts its longevity in the workplace.

We shared the Carbon with some developers at Rainfall, a local startup working on big data. There was a lot of positive feedback, although there was concern that as more work gets offloaded onto graphics cards, the Carbon’s onboard graphics will suffer.

Now despite all the good comments, Lenovo must be waiting for the bad ones. And here it is: cost.

In New Zealand, the Carbon starts at NZ$2099 inc GST without a touch screen. In the US, it’s currently available for a shade under US$1187. That’s $1400 in local money. Adding in duty of approximately $260, that’s still almost $500 less than here. I understand there will be an increased cost of maintaining a presence here, but the NZ tax is starting to get silly. Almost a 50% markup?

I await Lenovo’s response.