Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon: Ultrabooks Get Their Flagship for Business [HANDS ON]

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon: Ultrabooks Get Their Flagship for Business [HANDS ON]
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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Built for business travelers, the Lenovo X1 Carbon isn't the sexiest laptop ever made, but it impressively fits a 14-inch screen into the footprint of a 13-inch laptop. It also has many practical features such as an anti-glare screen, a rugged carbon-fiber exterior and a large-size trackpad. It's not cheap, though, starting at $1,399.

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Here it is -- the Ultrabook aimed right at businesses and business travelers: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

Lenovo is known for building solid, if unsexy machines for, you know, actually getting things done. The Carbon is the company's attempt at applying that work-first practicality to an "ultra-light" PC.

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We've been checking out the X1 Carbon for a few hours. From a distance, it looks like any other Lenovo laptop, but when you pick it up you can tell it's something special.

For starters, it's very lightweight, about the exact same weight as the 13.3-inch MacBook Air at just under 3 pounds. However, the X1 Carbon has a 14-inch, 1,600 x 900 screen -- the company hails it as a 14-inch Ultrabook in a 13-inch footprint. At its thickest point, it's just 0.71 inches. Compare that with the Dell XPS 14, which is 0.81 of an inch thick.

That thin body carries a burden, however: There is no Ethernet port or optical drive on this machine. That's typical -- if not the very essence -- of Ultrabooks, and I suspect most won't miss the optical drive. But virtually all users will be often turning to the Ethernet adapter, which plugs into one of the two USB ports. Only one of those ports is USB 3.0, the other being merely 2.0, a rather frustrating design choice.

If that choice is keeping costs down, it's hard to see it. The X1 Carbon starts at $1,399 -- with a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 processor and 128GB of solid-state storage and 4GB of RAM (up to 8GB supported). There are three other configurations, the top-tier being a 2.0GHz Core i7 chip with a 256GB SSD for $1,849. (All go on sale "this month.") To put that price in perspective, Apple's newest 13-inch MacBook Air starts at $1,199 and the base model has a slightly faster 1.8GHz processor, 128GB SSD and 4GB of RAM.

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That's X1 Carbon is pricey, but some businesses might see the value. Lenovo build this machine to be a powerful on-the-go machine for businesspeople, and it shows in the many design choices. For starters, the anti-glare screen doesn't have that sexy shine like you might see on a MacBook, but anyone who's spent hours poring over Excel spreadsheets under fluorescent lighting will appreciate it.

The carbon-fiber construction and ruggedized exterior won't turn any heads, but you can tell just by handling the Carbon that it can take some punishment (although the trackpad on our review unit was detached as soon as we touched it... it still worked).

The design of the Carbon provides an interesting bonus: You can unfold the screen so it's at a 180-degree angle with the keyboard. The usefulness of this ability is a little questionable -- it's no IdeaPad Yoga -- but if you want to flatten out your laptop and still keep it on, you can with the X1 (but, trust us, watch your fingers!).

A couple of other nice extras: The keyboard -- which feels fantastic to type on -- is backlit, and there's a fingerprint reader to the right of the trackpad.

Lenovo rates the battery life at "up to" 6.3 hours, but with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi active and at full screen brightness you can expect significantly lower than that. At least the indicator that shows how much time you have left on the charge will change to reflect your new settings.

Lenovo says its RapidBoot technology shaves off boot-up time by caching boot files in RAM. That's all well and good, though I didn't feel the Carbon booted much faster than other Ultrabooks I've checked out, bringing me to the desktop screen in about 30 seconds.

So far we like what we've seen in the Lenovo X1 Carbon, although we're not sure if it's worth the larger price tag. After all, the top-tier configuration is getting close to the price of the coveted MacBook Pro With Retina Display. For businesses who need something for their road warriors, though, the Carbon is no copycat.

What's your take on the Lenovo X1 Carbon? Share your thoughts in the comments (even if it's just "WANT").

This story originally published on Mashable here.

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