The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch is an excellent business laptop, experts say. By adding a touch screen and Windows 8 to the longtime favorite ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Lenovo delivers an even more effortless user experience than before. However, the newer Dell Latitude 6430u (Est. $900) now outperforms it in tests.=
Solid, but can't match newer rivals. The Dell Latitude 6430u blows past the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch in professional tests; startup, spreadsheets and file transfers all get done faster with the Dell. Still, the Carbon Touch can handle any task most business users will throw at it, with a third-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB solid-state drive. Battery life is just 4.5 to 5.5 hours per charge in tests while the Dell gets more than seven hours. The Carbon Touch runs hot under load, too. Keep it off your lap, advises TheVerge.com, "unless you have some leg hair you're not fond of."
Nearly flawless, but missing some ports. A touch screen makes Windows 8 much easier and faster to navigate, experts say. The Carbon Touch's works beautifully, and it adds just a few tenths of an inch and tenths of a pound to the non-touch screen Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Est. $1,230 and up) . As usual for Lenovo laptops, most experts rave over the wonderful typing experience and big trackpad. Lenovo's signature pointing stick is present and accounted for, but ports are scarce. There's no optical drive, HDMI port or Ethernet jack, although Lenovo throws in a USB Ethernet dongle.
"One of the best-looking laptops." All-black carbon fiber gives the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch a premium feel and slick look, "like something you'd see Jason Bourne open up in his getaway car," says David Pierce at TheVerge.com. "It's one of the best-looking laptops I've ever seen." Adding touch capability dims the matte screen a bit and makes for a slightly narrower viewing angle than with the original X1 Carbon, but it's still bright and vivid. The screen folds back flat, which can help in cramped spaces. The Carbon Touch's 1,600-by-900-pixel resolution is "the sweet spot" for 14-inch laptops, says CNET, rendering everything sharp but not too small as a full-HD screen can sometimes do. The speakers sound typically laptop-thin, but are fine for teleconferencing or playing a few tunes in your hotel room.
A tradition of reliability. Lenovo has "been known for laptop reliability for so many years," PCMag.com says, and readers now rate it even higher. Its one-year warranty is standard among laptops, but business laptops including the Dell 6430u often get a three-year warranty. Phone support is disappointing, however, says Laptop Magazine testers after posing anonymous questions to three different Lenovo techs.
Best business laptop with a touch screen. Experts agree that the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch is the best business laptop you can buy, if you want a touch screen. Otherwise, the newer non-touch Dell Latitude 6430u delivers faster performance and better connectivity for less.
"If you're going to buy the X1 Carbon, buy the touch-screen," Pierce says after a thorough test. It's a more natural way to navigate Windows 8, and "neither performance nor battery life takes a hit." The laptop still handles heavy multi-tasking with ease and lasts 4.5 to 5 hours per charge.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch Review, David Pierce, Jan. 17, 2013
CNET gives the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch an Excellent rating, the same as the regular ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Adding Windows 8 and a touch screen keeps the X1 Carbon Touch "in the running as one of the only really high-end crossover thin laptops you can find right now," Ackerman says.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch Review: An Upgraded Slim Business Powerhouse, Dan Ackerman, Jan. 16, 2013
3. Notebook Check.net
After an exhaustive test, Jentsch calls the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch "a premium and virtually complete business ultrabook." He praises its non-glare screen, slim build and outstanding performance.
Review: Review Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch Ultrabook, Sebastian Jentsch, March 18, 2013
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch excels in nearly every aspect of this full test. It's pricey, though, and the battery life and warranty are nothing special, Wollman says.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch Review: One of Our Favorite Ultrabooks Gets a Touchscreen, Dana Wollman, Jan. 2, 2013
Bradford agrees with other reviewers: Adding a touch screen makes the ThinkPad Carbon even better. The Carbon Touch sails through performance tests here to win a Recommended tag.
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch Review, K.T. Bradford, Jan. 24, 2013
6. Laptop Magazine
Lenovo's grade drops to a C-plus for tech support, dragged down by notably spotty telephone tech help. Finding things on your own via the web doesn't go that well, either, and there's no live chat option.
Review: Lenovo Tech Support: 2013 Rating, Cherlynn Low, Oct. 21, 2013
PCMag.com rates Lenovo and other laptop brands based on reader satisfaction. Lenovo ranks third for both home and work laptops; Apple is first for both. According to the survey, Lenovo's already excellent reliability has improved in the past year.
Review: Readers' Choice Awards 2013 Winners: Laptops and Desktops, Ben Gottesman, Feb. 20, 2013