First look: Lenovo's new ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2017 edition)

By David Flynn, January 5 2017
First look: Lenovo's new ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2017 edition)

The 2017 edition of Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop is slimmer, lighter, runs for longer and – here's a twist – it now comes dressed in look-at-me silver as well as traditional no-nonsense black.

That shiny cladding will appeal to ThinkPad owners who've never quite been sold on the brand's unique Bento Box appearance, although a mere change of garb doesn't instantly elevate the X1 Carbon into the same high-design league as some of the models we've seen from Dell and HP.

But then, you're buying an X1 Carbon for what's inside this business class ultrabook.

The 2017 series retains a 14 inch screen, which along makes the X1 Carbon a great machine for the road warrior.

Most ultrabooks top out around the 13.3 inch mark, and then there's a gap until you hit the land of thicker, heavier notebooks with 15.6 inch displays.

Compare a 14 incher like the X1 Carbon with the next size down and you'll definitely appreciate the extra screen real estate in day-to-day use.

Lenovo has shaved a little off the X1's weight and waistline, although not the extent that you'd notice anything other than this being a pleasingly slim (1.6cm) light (1.12kg) and well-balanced laptop.

This time around there's a touted 15.5 hour battery life. That's the maximum time promised on a single tank, as measured by MobileMark software – but even if real-world usage scales closer to 10 hours that's a solid working day, or most international flights when the at-seat AC socket isn't working (as long as you charged up the X1 at the airport lounge).

Something that really hasn't changed, thankfully, is that superbly comfortable and precise ThinkPad keyboard, even if the physical 'mouse buttons' and red TrackPoint stick seem out of place in a largely trackpad-only world.

Slide in a SIM card and the X1 can take advantage of 4G LTE networks with even higher LTE speeds.

A pair of USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports also make their debut on this fifth-gen X1, but not at the expense of other outlets including two USB 3.0 ports, full-size HDMI and even an RJ45 network jack (with optional docking stations if you want even more ports on tap).

To keep your data secure there's an IR camera with face recognition support (for Windows Hello logon) and tighter protection woven into the fingerprint sensor chip.

Buyers can specify up to Intel's seventh-gen Core i7 processor with up to 16GB of RAM and a maximum 1TB solid state drive; the  ThinkPad X1 Carbon will land in Australia in March 2017, with local pricing still TBA – but to give you some idea the stateside stickers start at US$1,349, so we'll be looking at upwards of $2,000.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.