ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 First Impressions (Video)

The New ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 model is finally here, bringing an impressive blend of form and function to users that need a thin and light Windows 8.1 powered machine.

Announced at CES earlier this year, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 catches your attention with an adaptive row of keys at the top of the keyboard. These keys replace a standard function row, and change based on the app you are using so that the keys available make sense.

This special keyboard stands out, but this notebook is far more than a fancy keyboard row. Users get a 14-inch touch display in a thin and durable package made of carbon fiber and a magnesium aluminum alloy that help keep the weight in check at 3.15 pounds and the notebook thin at .73-inch thick. The version without a touch screen is under three pounds and is also thinner, but touch is a very nice addition to Windows 8.1.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 Unboxing Video

Here is our ThinkPad X1 Carbon unboxing video, which shows what comes in the package, a closer look at the connectivity and how thin this notebook is.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 review unit we have is priced at $1,529 which includes a 1.5Ghz Intel Core i5 4th generation processor, Intel HD 4400 graphics, a 180GB SSD, 4GB RAM and a 720P HD camera.

For connectivity users get Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac wireless for speedy connectivity to new routers. There are two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and Mini Display Port connection options and an adapter for an included Gigabit Ethernet port. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 also supports the OneLink docking station for easy connectivity in the office. There is no SD card slot.

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While using the ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 review unit for three to four hours three things stand out; design, keyboard and the display.

The 14-inch touch display on our New ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 review unit offers a high resolution and easy control.

The 14-inch touch display on our New ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 review unit offers a high resolution and easy control.

This model is equipped with a 14-inch 2560 x 1440 resolution touch display, which is very nice. Not only is it bright and crisp, the resolution is well matched to allow multiple windows on the screen at once in desktop mode.  On some high-resolution displays the windows and text are too small to easily use, but not with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014. The touch screen also makes using the notebook easier as many times I will use the screen instead of the touchpad to scroll or switch between windows.

The adaptive keyboard is a nice feature and one I may use more going forward, but in the first few hours of use I have only touched it a few times. The good part about it is that it fades away as I am typing so instead of being something I need to toggle or mess with I can easily tap a function without hunting for a function key.

The top keyboard row changes based on the app that is in use.

The top keyboard row changes based on the app that is in use.

What really impresses me is the keyboard. ThinkPad keyboards are some of the best in the business and while this is the newer ThinkPad style it is a joy to type on. If you spend hours typing reports, code, spreadsheets or anything similar on a laptop, this is quite possibly the best keyboard to use. The keycaps are slightly beveled to center a finger on the key, travel is also nice allowing me to type with force without constantly bottoming out by pressing the key too hard.

My regular notebook is a 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina, and I often use a MacBook Air when I need something lighter. These machines deliver power in a very well designed package. Most notebooks I review and use have trouble matching the build quality of a Mac, but the ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 does not. The notebook feels very solid thanks to the Carbon Fiber polymer on the top and a magnesium aluminum alloy on the bottom, and even with a sturdy design the notebook remains light enough to carry in my ScotteVest to an afternoon dentist appointment.

The overall design and build quality is very good on this notebook.

The overall design and build quality is very good on this notebook.

I’ll be taking a closer look at the gesture controls, The adaptive keyboard row and Dragon Assistant voice control software for the full review early next month. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 starts shipping in April and starts at $1,200 without touch and $1,291 with a touch display. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2014 took home a Best of CES 2014 award from Notebooks.com.

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