Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review (2021): Portable, Powerful and Spandex

Lenovo X1 Carbon One of the best laptops you can buy. At 2.5 pounds, it is light, thin and very portable. It provides plenty of power for most of your work, all-day battery life, and plenty of ports for all your accessories, in contrast to the competition.

We reviewed the Linux version of the X1 Carbon last year and everything in this review also applies to the updated version of the machine. The major change to the 2021 X1 Karbonn is the move toward the 11th generation Intel processor. Oh, and the new, slightly longer screen, which now has a 16:10 aspect ratio, just like the Dell XPS 13.

Carbon core

The new X1 Carbon is not a design revolution. This is a good thing though, because the design has always been very well done and it doesn’t need to be changed. It’s lighter than most competitors, especially business-class laptops like the Dell Latitude, and the soft carbon fiber surface is a ThinkPad Hallmark at the moment. It depends on your personal aesthetics, I think, but I always like the look of the ThinkPad carbon fiber and prefer it over aluminum and titanium laptops.

Here are all the familiar, and worthy famous, ThinkPad elements: The keyboard is nice; The red pointer nub is between the G, H, and B keys; And there are three buttons at the top of the trackpad.

There are also plenty of ports. Unlike other Alportable – I’m looking at you, XPS 13 and MacBook Air – it has two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, a headphone jack and a Kensington lock slot. The only thing missing is an SD or microSD card slot. Still, a dongle is better than half a dozen you need with other laptops.

The most notable change to the Zen 9X1 Carbon is the new 16:10 screen size. Like I said when Dell made the same change on the XPS, you wouldn’t think it would be a big deal, but it’s really noticeable in everyday work.

That extra half-inch screen means more vertical space for documents, web pages and spreadsheets, which means less scrolling and makes life more enjoyable in general. When I sent the X1 Carbon back to Lenovo, my X250’s 16: 9 screen suddenly cramped even more. The difference in body size and weight is negligible compared to the 16: 9 model, and any extra screen you can use from a laptop is a win for the user.

The model I tested had an FHD + (1920 x 1200-pixel) panel, but the 4K option is available if you want. The 1080p version has a matte panel, though, which is a plus if you work in bright light. It only gets 55 night brightness, which is by no means art-led, but it was bright enough to sit outside on a hot summer day and do some work in the sun. Unfortunately, there is no OLED screen, which is frustrating.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment, with the exception of the missing SD card slot, is the 720p webcam. The Lenovo I used didn’t have a great webcam, but it was bad enough that my colleagues commented on how bad it was when it was used for zoom meetings. Considering the amount of zoom meetings the average corporate worker is having these days, it looks like a huge oversight from Lenovo. To be fair, no computer-maker seems willing to put a good camera on a laptop, so if you really need high-quality video, you’re better off with a third-party webcam.

Photo: Lenovo

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