Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon: Substance over style

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon: Substance over style

The quintessential workplace laptop goes thin and light and has new features

For many years, a ThinkPad was my daily companion. A trusty one at that, working through the day every day and doubling up as a status symbol of being in the management set at the office. I loved my ThinkPad and the fact that I could take it everywhere — to meetings, off-sites, and of course home where I could then work whenever I liked.

But the ThinkPad of old was also one big heavyweight. It had to go into a bag along with its clunky adaptor and I usually looked around for someone else to carry it for me. That era, of course, was when the ThinkPad still belonged to IBM.

Over the years, Lenovo, which subsequently acquired the product and the brand, evolved the ThinkPad and had it keeping pace with new technology while still retaining its iconic features. Today a ThinkPad still thankfully looks like a ThinkPad. It’s so familiar with its little red track point in the middle of the keyboard — users protested at the very idea of its removal — its instantly reachable power button and its unbeatable keyboard. And yet, it’s now incredibly light and sleek.

In its 6th gen version, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon has become really portable and light and slim at just 1.13 kg. At the same time, it doesn’t let go of its solid feel. It doesn’t feel as vulnerable as an ultrabook or hybrid and isn’t for those who want a pretty and elegant notebook. It’s for those who want a workhorse. It’s in the same colour it always was — a metallic grey-black with nothing but the ThinkPad logo on top in a corner. Inside, everything is where it always was. The legendary keyboard is still the best in the business — springy solid keys that are comfortable and fast to type on for as long as you can think.

The X1 Carbon’s 14-inch display is really bright and rich. It’s a touchscreen on some configurations. In fact there are many options for different configurations depending on what is important to a particular workplace and since these can be confusing, they’re best handled by IT personnel. Some of the features highly appreciated at work are a fingerprint sensor or facial recognition via a webcam, many ports including two USB Type C, and Type A slots, HDMI, and even a SIM and MicroSD card slot.

A ThinkPad is conservative and understated and it’s also a known quantity and totally familiar to the IT guys in a company. Strictly speaking, it’s one of those machines that the company’s technology team decides on and gets a good deal on. For individuals, it’s rather expensive considering it comes without the styling of a personal device like the hybrids available, including from Lenovo’s own Yoga line.

Price: Starting at R29 000

Pros: Military grade build, has security features, port options, legendary keyboard and track point, beautiful touchscreen, improved portability

Cons: Expensive, all surfaces show finger smudges and oiliness