Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Ultrabook Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: January 5, 2013
Product Name: ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Warranty: 1 Year (upgrades available)
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Screen Quality

At first glance, the Carbon X1ís 1600 x900 screen provides everything someone could possibly want from a viewing experience. It uses a matte coating, neatly eliminating the horrible reflections evident on most other Ultrabooks and uses one of the better TN panels weíve seen. The relatively high resolution also places it on par with other premium notebooks and the additional real estate will come in handy for professionals and home users alike.

Unfortunately, thatís where the fun stops. A matte screen coating may be a godsend for anyone looking for a respite from the headache inducing glossy coatings that permeate the notebook market but lackluster backlight intensity sinks this ship. Even with the screen set to maximum brightness, it is nearly impossible to see outdoors or in other brightly lit environments. Lenovo certainly isnít making a convincing argument for matte screens with this one.

Click on image to enlarge

The screen also exhibited the dreaded ďscreen doorĒ effect where adjacent pixels seem too widely spaced, creating dark striations which are mostly evident in lightly colored areas. It becomes a readily apparent when using a word processing or chart creation program, creating a major misstep for a notebook targeting the professional market. According to Lenovo, this is perfectly normal for the X1 but I disagree wholeheartedly. When playing in the same price point as the 13Ē MacBook Pros, Sony Vaio Zs of this world, you need to bring your best to the table and that certainly isnít being done here.

Switching over to non-work related tasks like gaming or movie watching allowed the X1 Carbon to flex some of its display muscles. Colors were typically deep and rich with good contrast in even the darkest scenes and the foibles mentioned previous were nearly rendered null and void.

Viewing angles are adequate but on both the horizontal and vertical axis, moving to extremes will cause significant color and contrast degradations. This is to be expected with a TN panel but the effect certainly isnít as dramatic as other notebooks weíve reviewed.

Audio Quality

With a Dolby Home Theater v4 backbone, the Lenovo X1 Carbonís external speaker performance is certainly decent, if not surprisingly good for a notebook this thin. Will it fill a room with crystal clear music? Absolutely not. Even with Dolbyís software helping things along, bass is literally non-existent and the output can become severely distorted at higher octaves. There isnít any headphone-centric hardware to speak of either, which is disappointing since this Ultrabook is intended to be a portable powerhouse and savvy professionals wonít use the main speakers during their world-trekking travels.

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