As it does each year, Lenovo this week announced a new lineup of ThinkPad portable computers and tablets on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). And some of these devices are truly interesting.
On that note, I'd like to focus on a couple of coming ThinkPads that could very well be making their way into my own regular rotation this year. These are two devices I've been looking forward to for a long time: The 2014 ThinkPad X1 Carbon and the ThinkPad 8 mini-tablet.
ThinkPad X1 Carbon
While most Ultrabook makers field 13-inch and 11-inch versions of their products, and a few offer the 15-inch screens I prefer, Lenovo splits the difference with the best-of-breed ThinkPad X1 Carbon. This device has always offered a 14-inch screen, though until this most recent revision, it was held back in a few key areas. First, it was relatively low-resolution, at 1600 x 900. And second, the touch version of the screen apparently suffered from some maxtrixing issues. (I never tested that model, so I can't personally report that to be the case.)
The new ThinkPad X1 Carbon fixes those issues and is, I suspect, the best possible Ultrabook on the market today. Since I mentioned the screen, let's hit that first: It's now available in IPS form with a resolution of 2560x1440 (WQHD) and 10-point multitouch.
It weighs just 2.9 pounds. That's less than the 13-inch MacBook Air, which features a smaller screen, lesser expansion possibilities, and the inferior Mac OS. The X1 of course has the vaunted and superior ThinkPad keyboard and nubbin pointer (plus trackpad), which I prefer. There's a new adaptive keyboard strip at the top which I've seen demoed but am looking forward to testing.
The battery life? Stellar. Lenovo reports that the new X1 gets up to 9 hours of battery life.
Spec-wise, it's what you'd expect: 4th generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, up to 8 GB of RAM, Intel HD Graphics 4400 (GT2) or 5000 (GT3), up to 512 GB of SSD storage, 2 USB 3.0 ports, full-sized HDMI for video out, OneLink Docking compatibility, mini-DisplayPort, and full-sized Ethernet.
Put simply, the 2014 ThinkPad X1 Carbon appears to be the real deal. I'm really looking forward to this one.
If you've been following along with my Windows mini-tablet reviews this year, you know that the Dell Venue 8 Pro and Lenovo Miix 2 (and most likely the Toshiba Encore) are essentially identical devices: They pack 64-bit Intel Atom "Bay Trail" processors into a device that is somewhat held back by a 32-bit version of Windows, 2 GB of RAM, and small amounts of onboard storage. Most problematic for the spec comparisons is that each device is also offered with a low-res 1280 x 800 screen.
Cue up the ThinkPad 8, which you might logically and correctly view as the ThinkPad version of the Miix 2. Here's why it's so much more.
Yes, the ThinkPad 8 features the same Bay Trail processor and 2 GB of RAM as other Windows mini-tablets, but you can configure the device with up to 128 GB of solid-state storage.
Yes, it features the same 8-inch screen size found on other Windows mini-tablets, but the ThinkPad 8 screen runs at a better-than-full HD resolution of 1920 x 1200 and offers 10-point multi-touch.
Yes, the ThinkPad 8 offers the same micro-USB 3, microSD and, on select models, LTE-based wireless as the other tablets. But it also offers micro-HDMI for video-out (in addition to the same Miracast-based video-out we see elsewhere).
Most of the rest will be familiar. Roughly 8 hours of battery life. Dual cameras. Windows 8.1 with Microsoft Office.
Put simply, the ThinkPad 8 is like other mini-tablets but with more of what we want. And it offers the ThinkPad build quality we want too, and is made of solid aluminum. It will offer an optional keyboard base and dock, and a QuickShot Cover so you can use it in tent mode on the go.
I can't wait to review it.