Durable and sleek design; Comfortable, backlit keyboard; Sharp and responsive touchscreen; Snappy overall performance
Shorter battery life than Windows 7 version; Some touchpad issues; Wi-Fi adapter can be wonky
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch is a strong and sleek Ultrabook that combines Windows 8 with a sharp touch screen, but you'll sacrifice some battery life.
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We give credit to Lenovo's designers for adding a touch screen to the X1 Carbon while keeping the dimensions just as slim and trim as in the previous version. The notebook measures the same 13.0 x 8.9 x 0.74 inches and weighs 3.3 pounds, just a bit more than the 3-pound X1 Carbon that lacks touch.
KeyboardMacBook Air. The key-feel is a bit on the mushy side compared to other Lenovo laptops, such as the T430s. But, overall, we typed this review, URLs and emails comfortably and quickly.
The keyboard's backlight has three settings: off, low brightness and high brightness. In our tests, the low setting was more than adequate and the high setting was extremely bright.
Touchpad and Pointing Stick
Those who prefer a touchpad will mostly like the large 4 x 2.5-inch glass version on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch. The smooth finish made it easy to move the cursor, but our finger stuttered on the surface when trying to select text. (You'll get the best results when using the left, bottom edge of the pad.) This touchpad's integrated buttons worked well, though, offering an audible click with each press.
At first, gestures such as two-finger scrolling and swiping in from the right to activate the Windows 8 Charms menu were smooth, but for some reason the gestures stopped working at one point. When we tried to troubleshoot via the mouse-settings menu, an error message appeared: "Unable to connect to the Synaptics Pointing Device Driver." Fortunately, rebooting solved the issue.
We also appreciated the X1 Carbon Touch's fairly wide viewing angles; we didn't have to dip the lid back to read articles. The screen washed out only slightly when viewed from the sides to look at a colorful photo of John Boehner standing next to Nancy Pelosi. When watching a high-definition version of the "Iron Man 3" trailer, we could easily make out the graying stuble on Guy Pearce's face, and his skin had a nice, warm tone.
The X1 Carbon Touch isn't quite as bright as the non-touch version, with the notebook registering 257 lux on our light meter. That score outdoes the ultraportable average (227), but trails the original X1 Carbon (290 lux), 13-inch MacBook Air (268) and ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A (423 lux).
As far as touch performance goes, this 10-point, multitouch panel couldn't be more fluid. We effortlessly switched applications via swipes, doodled in the bundled Skitch app with a finger and smoothly pinched to zoom in Internet Explorer 10 with two fingers.
Certainly, the Dolby v. 4 Home Theatre software helped, particularly when we switched it into music mode. However, when we tried using the notebook on our lap, the speakers became a bit muffled.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch remained cool to the touch during our heat test, which involves streaming a full-screen Hulu video for 15 minutes. After playback, we measured 83 degrees between the G and H keys, 76 degrees on the touchpad and again 83 on the underside of the system. All of these temperatures sit well below 95 degrees; anything above that reaches alarmingly toasty territory.
The 0.9-megapixel webcam (720 p) captured a bright, but slightly pixelated image when video-chatting via Skype. The other caller commented that our face looked a little fuzzy. However, he was impressed with how the camera compensated for darker lighting. Audio in both directions was clear.
Thanks to the use of a solid-state drive and Lenovo's own enhancements, the X1 Carbon Touch booted Windows 8 in just 16 seconds. That was nearly twice as fast as the Windows 7-powered X1 Carbon (30 seconds) and also speedier than the HP EliteBook 2170p with Windows 8 (23 seconds), though the latter notebook has a 7,200-rpm hard drive.
The SSD also impressed on the LAPTOP File Transfer Test, in which we copy a 4.97GB folder stuffed with music, videos and photos. The X1 Carbon Touch turned in a transfer rate of 111 MBps, which tops the 85 MBps scored by the original X1 Carbon, the ASUS UX31A (50 MBps) and the 80 MBps ultraportable average. However, the 13-inch MacBook Air turned in a faster 159 MBps, while Acer Aspire S7's dual SSDs blows them all away with a 318 MBps score.
In terms of overall performance, the X1 Carbon Touch holds its own. The laptop notched 4,794 on PCMark 7, lower than the Windows 7 X1 Carbon with the same components (5,297), but well above the ultraportable category average (3,260). The Dell XPS 12 scored a comparable 4,727, but this machine also has a slightly slower 1.7-GHz Core i5 CPU. The Acer Aspire S7 (4,948) and UX31A (4,989) both scored moderately higher than this ThinkPad, but they also both sport slightly faster 1.9-GHz processors.
On the LAPTOP Spreadsheet Macro test, the X1 Carbon Touch matched 20,000 names and addresses in 5 minutes and 26 seconds. This beats the ultraportable average by nearly 2 minutes, also edging out the Dell XPS 12 (5:34) and original X1 Carbon (5:37). The UX31A (4:59) was faster than the rest of the field.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch makes quick work of transcoding video. It took the system just 16 seconds to transcode a 5-minute HD video into iPod touch format using Cyberlink Media Espresso software. That's only slightly behind the Windows 7-powered X1, XPS 12 and Aspire S7 (all 12 seconds), but far better than the 51-second ultraportable average.
The Intel HD 4000 graphics inside the X1 Carbon offers all the horsepower you need to watch HD video and play casual games downloaded from the Windows Store, such as "Fruit Ninja" and "Angry Birds Star Wars." However, don't expext to play mainstream desktop 3D games such as "World of Warcraft." The notebook mustered a barely playable 29 fps with that title on auto settings (1366 x 768) and fell to a sad 16 fps on full settings. These frame rates are comparable to the Windows 7 X1 Carbon (29/14 fps) and the Aspire S7 (30/12 fps). The XPS 12 scored a slightly higher 38/14 fps.
On 3DMark 11, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall graphics prowess, X1 Carbon Touch scored 629, better than the Dell XPS 12 (602) and the ASUS UX31A (594), both of which also use Intel HD Graphics 4000 chips. The Acer S7 notched 657, so they're all in the same ballpark.
The Dell XPS 12 (5:46) offered similar endurance in our tests, while the Aspire S7 lasted a measly 4:10. The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga turned in a longer 6:18. Better scores came from non-touch ultraportables, such as the UX31A (6:28) and the MacBook Air (8:10).
The good news is that Lenovo's RapidCharge technology juices up the X1 Carbon Touch in a jiffy. Lenovo claims you can get 70 percent of a charge in 30 mintues and a full charge in 90 minutes. In our tests, the X1 Carbon reached 90 percent in 40 minutes, which is pretty impressive.
Apps and Software
The bundled copy of Norton Internet Security proved more annoying than helpful, informing us on a couple of occsaions that certain programs (such as AccuWeather) were using a high amount of memory. We'd uninstall this app, pronto.
Strangely, at one point the Windows Store became inaccessible from our Windows account, but we had no problem accessing the store from the Lenovo account pre-loaded on the X1 Carbon. It worked again once we tried another Internet connection.
The Lenovo Fingerprint software allowed us to easily enroll our finger for power-on authentication. Better still, with that authentication system enabled, the fingerprint reader stays on even when the notebook is off. We were able to cold boot and log into Windows 8 with just one swipe.
Support and Warranty
Lenovo backs the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch with a one-year warranty. Upgrading to two years costs $59, while three years costs $99. On-site, next-business-day service costs an additional $79. See how Lenovo fared in our Best and Worst Brands Report and Tech Support Showdown.
Customization options include a $35 mini-DisplayPort-to-VGA cable, multiple hard-drive options (ranging from a 180GB SSD for $170 to a $280 256GB SSD).The system also includes a USB 2.0 Ethernet adapter.
If you're going to run Windows 8 on one of the best Ultrabooks on the market, it makes sense to opt for a model with a touch screen. Microsoft's latest OS just feels clunky when used with a mouse, as we discovered when we accidentally activated the app-switcher menu multiple times when the cursor hit the top-left corner of the screen. What prevents the X1 Carbon Touch from getting a higher rating is that it lasts nearly 2 hours less on a charge than its non-touch Windows 7 cousin, though Lenovo's RapidCharge technology certainly helps.
|CPU||1.8-GHz Intel Core i5-3427U|
|Operating System||Windows 8|
|RAM Upgradable to|
|Hard Drive Size||128GB|
|Hard Drive Speed||n/a|
|Hard Drive Type||SSD Drive|
|Optical Drive Speed||n/a|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD 4000 Graphics|
|Wi-Fi Model||Intel Advanced-N 6205|
|Touchpad Size||4 x 2.5 inches|
|Ports (excluding USB)||Headphone|
|Ports (excluding USB)||DisplayPort|
|Card Slots||2-1 card reader|
|Size||13.0 x 8.9 x 0.74 inches|