The slim, light, and solid X1 marks the spot for classic-laptop-loving business users
If Lenovo's X1 Carbon Ultrabook is any indication, professionals are in no hurry to move to Windows 8. Small wonder this new iteration of the ThinkPad ships with Windows 7 Professional instead. It eschews a touchscreen and a tablet form factor in favor of design elements and preloaded ingredients that appeal to both business-class users and business-class IT support folks.
At 13.03 by 8.9 inches, the Carbon X1 is about the largest Ultrabook you could want, and at only 3 pounds and 0.74 inch thick (0.31 inch at its thinnest edge), it certainly qualifies as thin and light. As its name implies, the Carbon is clad in the matte carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic common to the ThinkPad line, instead of the brushed metal that swaddles so many other Ultrabooks. It feels rugged, not cheap. The 14-inch, 1,600-by-900 screen is appealingly bright, although with a bluish cast. My review unit came outfitted with an Intel Core i5-3427U processor (1.8GHz), 4GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Ultrabooks duke it out in InfoWorld's slideshow | Dell XPS 12 review: A clever convertible Ultrabook | Review: MacBook Pro impresses, Retina MacBook Pro dazzles | Keep up with key mobile developments with the Mobilize newsletter. ]
All of the other good features we've come to associate with the ThinkPad line are here, too. Included are both nub mouse and trackpad, in case you prefer one over the other, and an excellent backlit keyboard, with its separated keys for greater typing accuracy and comfort. I wasn't crazy about the proprietary power connector, although it apparently takes a cue from the iPhone 5 and doesn't need to be inserted with a particular end up (a nice touch). In keeping with the business flavor of the machine, TPM, Intel AT (antitheft) technology, and a fingerprint reader module are all included, although there's no smart card slot.
The battery management functions also expand greatly on Windows' native power-control features. You can set different power profiles to take effect at different times of day, and the Battery Stretch feature lets you disable absolutely everything that you don't need to wring a few extra minutes of power out of the system. With the Energy Saver power plan (one of five preconfigured by Lenovo), albeit with display dimming disabled, I was able to get 3 hours, 2 minutes of continuous Netflix playback out of the system.
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