There's a reason this too is called the X1 Carbon: it has the same look and feel as its predecessor, with a black, soft-touch finish, slightly rounded edges and a simple layout that includes very few vents or openings. It's just as durable, too, with a rock-solid palm rest and a display that's not prone to wobbling or shaking. The latchless lid stays put, too, though it's thankfully easy to open. All told, this looks exactly the way you'd expect a ThinkPad ( Lenovo Thinkpad Keyboard )to look: monotone and buttoned-up, with clean lines and angular shapes. That said, it is, perhaps, more minimal in appearance than that old T410 you have lying around your home office.
The main difference here is that the Carbon's chassis isn't quite as impressively thin or light as it was the first time around -- a necessary concession when touchscreens are involved. As a result of that touch panel, the wedge-shaped body now measures 0.74 inch at its thicket point, up from 0.71 inch. Naturally, too, it's heavier: 3.4 pounds, versus three for the non-touch model.
But before we start obsessing over tenths of a pound, let's get a little perspective here: we've seen 13-inch Ultrabooks that weigh more than this, so it's especially impressive to find a 14-incher this lightweight. (For comparison's sake, the 14-inch HP EliteBook Folio business Ultrabook weighs in at 3.6 pounds.) What's more, the X1 Carbon-series laptops ( Lenovo Thinkpad Keyboard ) are on the small side for 14-inch laptops, as they have thin bezels that make it possible to able to cram a 14-inch screen into a chassis normally reserved for 13-inch machines. It's true we've seen this technique used before, but it's still fairly rare. Basically, then, if you're looking for something with this big a screen and this light a frame, your options have already dwindled.
We mentioned that the X1 Carbon Touch is light on vents and grilles, but it does still sport a handful of physical buttons, most of them situated just above the keyboard which looks like the Lenovo G Series G555AX Keyboard . Aside from the power button, these include keys for muting the volume or just silencing the mic, in the event you're on a VoIP call. There's also a volume rocker up there, though all the other multimedia controls (skip, pause, etc.) are built into the Function keys at the top of the keyboard. Additionally, there's a fingerprint reader on the palm rest and a toggle on the left edge for putting the machine into airplane mode (you wouldn't want to make the plane crash, now would you?).
Other than that, the port selection is modest, but it should still tick off most of your checkboxes. On board, you've got two USB sockets (one 2.0, one 3.0), a headphone / mic jack, a Mini DisplayPort, a lock slot and a 4-in-1 memory card reader. The charging port, located on the back-left edge, is rectangular in shape, similar to a USB port, but we're just adding that for human interest: after all, we're used to proprietary charging gear on laptops.
The machine also ships with a USB-to-Ethernet adapter, in case you have the chance to get on a faster wired network. And if it's VGA connectivity you're after, you can add a Mini DisplayPort-to-VGA dongle for $35 while you're configuring your system online.
Something tells us we're about to preach to the choir: if you're a ThinkPad diehard hell-bent on buying another ThinkPad, it's probably because of the stellar typing experience (that or the build quality, but humor us here). This is the same spill-resistant, six-row laptop keyboard like the Compaq Presario CQ60 (Silver) Keyboard you'll find on other new ThinkPads, complete with U-shaped "Smile" keys. Aside from the fact that this is a chiclet-style setup (a big departure from the older ThinkPad keyboard), the big difference here is that the keys boast 30 percent more surface area than on the older layout. Indeed, particularly on a slightly bigger-screened ThinkPad like this, the buttons feel well-spaced -- so much so that you'll never be in danger of hitting the wrong one by mistake. The only exception might be the left Ctrl key, which has been shrunken to fit the 13-inch-wide keyboard deck. It's not like we ever missed it, per se, but it can still be tough to find when you're trying to pull off standard keyboard shortcuts.
If you're planning on upgrading from an older ThinkPad, you can take some comfort in this: Lenovo claims that although the keys are now arranged in a chiclet pattern, the actual typing experience shouldn't feel that different from typing on the old layout. We know some ThinkPad fans who swear that's not true but, no matter. Regardless of whether it actually feels like the old ThinkPad keyboard, the new one delivers feedback that's springy -- forceful, even. It remains one of our favorite laptop keyboards, and it's definitely a better typing experience than what you'll get on other Ultrabooks, most of which make do with shallow, lifeless keys.