20 years ago, the world was introduced to a black slab that had been named a "Thinkpad". Starting off with the ThinkPad 700 series in 1992, these little black slabs of 'sexy' hardware soon became the notebook of choice for many enterprise users. No surprises there because they had a no-nonsense identity, backed by IBM's computing legacy, well-built with several innovations well ahead of their time to address several concerns such as achieving rigidity in a small frame, boasting an expandable keyboard and even expandable display options. Of course, many of them were also built to withstand operating in some of the most hostile environments known to man - outer space. Certain models were specially modified to operate effectively in the weightlessness of space aboard the Space Shuttle and it is also the only laptop certified for use on the International Space Station. That's certainly a tall order and a testimony to IBM and now Lenovo's R&D team to continually bring about innovative and desirable notebooks.
To commemorate this milestone, Lenovo pulled out all the stops and had a grand showcase of Lenovo's key Thinkpad notebooks from the past two decades that helped build their legacy at the Marina Bay Sands' ArtScience Museum. But what's a celebration without a new Thinkpad model to mark the occasion? And that they did with the all new Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon. We first reported this in May, but it's only now that it's ready for retail.
Last year, we reviewed the Lenovo Thinkpad X1, and it easily became one of the best enterprise notebooks that you could find in the market. Today, building on the success of the X1, Lenovo launched the 14-inch Lenovo X1 Carbon.
This time round, the X1 Carbon is much lighter (1.36kg) than last year's edition (1.69kg), bringing its weight in-line with that of Ultrabooks in the market today. What's even more impressive is that the X1 Carbon is fully constructed from light and durable carbon fiber, making it the first such notebook to be built from this material all throughout (giving rise to its "Carbon" name). Given its 14-inch form factor, it's probably the industry's lightest and toughest notebook yet. That's not all Lenovo improved in their latest X1 Carbon as they decked the X1 Carbon with a higher resolution screen (1600 x 900 pixels resolution) than last year's X1, making it more useful in the productivity department.
Another very interesting and rarely seen feature is the optional 3G SIM card slot that allows the user the flexibility to stay connected to the internet just about anywhere they choose. To round off the other positive traits of the notebook, Lenovo also equipped the X1 carbon with a backlit keyboard, and a clickable glass trackpad (clickpad) - and it's a sizable one that you won't complain.
We managed to give the keyboard a brief trial at the event and sure enough, it felt as robust as the name "Thinkpad" indicates. Last year's Thinkpad X1 had one of the best keyboards we've ever come across and we're more than happy to see it repeat on the X1 Carbon. Not only was it very comfortable to type on, we also found it to be quite responsive.
We haven't had the chance to challenge Lenovo's battery life claim (8 hours) as of now. But you can be sure that the moment we get one of these beauties in the lab, you will be the first to know how this corporate bad boy fares. While its features and design screams at corporate environment usage, there's nothing to stop the X1 Carbon from being recommended to the typical end-user who wants to look cool with one of the best designed and specced notebooks around. In fact, Lenovo recognizes this trend for crossover usage and will be ensuring the X1 Carbon is made available in regular retail outlets too.
Processor and Memory: Choice of Intel Core i5 (2.6GHz or 2.8GHz), or Intel Core i7 (3.2 GHz) processors. Up to 8GB RAM.
Display and Graphics Processor: 14-inch Anti-Glare (Matte), 1600 x 900 pixels resolution, 300 nits. Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU
Storage: 128GB or 256GB SSD (SATA 6Gbps)
Dimensions and Weight: 331 x 226 x 18.85mm, 1.36kg
Wireless Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, 3G (optional)
Ports: Mini DisplayPort, Combo audio jack, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, card reader and RJ45 via USB attachment
Price and availability: Starts from S$2349, available from Comex 2012
While the highlight of the day was the Thinkpad X1 Carbon, Lenovo also took the chance to reveal their latest T-Series notebook - the 14-inch Lenovo Thinkpad T430u. It may not be as flashy as the Thinkpad X1 Carbon, but it's this model that will likely move higher volume in the long run. If the X1 is targeted at the CEO and upper management, the T430u would be the notebook that a typical company would get for all other staff (or probably just middle management).
This enterprise Ultrabook has very similar internal specifications as the X1, and is built almost just as robust. It even has discrete graphics (NVIDIA Geforce GT 620M) for better graphics software compatibility and offer rendering muscle (via its CUDA processing cores) for working on more intensive projects that could benefit from a more qualified GPU than the one built into the CPU. The Thinkpad T430u will be available for sale soon, but it will only make an appearance after the upcoming Comex 2012 tech bazaar. What will be available however is the Thinkpad T430 (non-Ultrabook) version.
Processor and Memory: Choice of Intel Core i3 (1.8GHz), Intel Core i5 (2.6GHz or 2.8GHz), or Intel Core i7 (3.0GHz) processors. Up to 8GB RAM.
Display and Graphics Processor: 14-inch Anti-Glare (Matte), 1366 x 768 pixels resolution, 200 nits. Intel HD Graphics 4000 and NVIDIA Geforce GT 620M
Storage: 320GB/500GB/1TB (5400RPM HDD) or 320GB/500GB (7200RPM HDD) or 128GB SSD
Dimensions and Weight: 340 x 236 x 21mm, 1.852kg
Wireless Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, 3G (optional)
Ports: Mini DisplayPort, Combo audio jack, 2 x USB 3.0, HDMI , Card reader and RJ45 via USB attachment
Price and availability: Starts from S$1799, available after COMEX 2012