The ThinkPad line is full of workhorses, and Lenovo’s most adamant customers like it that way. But even a workhorse can wear some fancy tack. Such is the case with the latest high-end ThinkPads, the newest updates to the X1 Carbon flagship and X1 Yoga convertible unveiled at CES.
ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Generation)
The 7th-gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s new aesthetic touches mean it finally looks the part: the cover, usually a soft-touch plastic or similar finish, now shows off the carbon fiber weave of the ultralight frame beneath. It’s subtle—almost too subtle to see in the photo below. But Lenovo’s representatives say it’s so that the “Carbon” branding aligns more visibly with what customers expect, from similar applications in sports cars and high-end bicycles.
The carbon fiber allows it to be astonishingly light for a 14-inch machine at under 2.5 pounds. Even so, Lenovo managed to include options for fingerprint authentication, CAT-16 LTE wireless, and a battery quoted for 15 hours of normal use. (As always, take that estimate with a grain of salt.) The screen, often a low point of the ThinkPad line, looks brilliant: the one we tried had a 4K panel with 500 nits of brightness. Users who don’t need that sharpness can opt for a 1080p screen with a new power-efficient 400-nit mode.
Lenovo is particularly proud of the new speakers integrated into the keyboard deck, certified for Dolby Atmos and packing tweeters and woofers. While they aren’t booming by any means, they’re a notable improvement in clarity and range over last year’s version. The PrivacyGuard feature detects prying eyes with the webcam, alerting the user to people who might be peeking at their TPS reports. If you’re worried about remote spying, a hardware shutter cover carries over from the older design. And of course, it comes with the latest 8th-gen Core processors from Intel.
The new ThinkPad X1 Carbon will be available starting in June, with a base price of $1709.
ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Generation)
The ThinkPad X1 Yoga, now in its fourth revision, is much more substantially updated: it uses a full aluminum alloy body. This allows Lenovo to shave all of its dimensions and combined with the ultra-thin bezels, it’s now among the smallest 14-inch laptops around. It’s odd to see the normally utilitarian brand wrapped up in something so, well, trendy, but the simple body looks good with the classic keyboard and design elements.
The Yoga is just under three pounds, justifying its higher price with the convertible form factor and integrated stylus. The new version is also compatible with all of Lenovo’s ThinkPad docks, making an easy mechanical connection to a bigger desk setup. The X1 Yoga can also be configured with an LTE radio, and it includes the camera shutter and PrivacyGuard feature. It’s coming in June for $1929 to start.