back to article Before dipping a toe in the new ThinkPad high-end, make sure your desk is compatible

Lenovo has given its Carbon and Yoga business flagships a makeover – but you won't be able to use one in anger until June. As well as a revised styling, the 7th generation X1 Carbon features better audio – four speakers and far-field microphones, the latter in the expectation that voice interaction is an increasingly used …

  1. Lomax
    Thumb Down

    Bah

    Trying too hard to be like everyone else; huge touchpads that serve no function whatsoever. Flat top chicklet keyboard which impedes typing. Page Up/Down keys in the wrong position. No ThinkLight. Obsessively thin chassis. This is not a Thinkpad, it's a Macbook Air in black :(

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: Bah

      Give me a chassis 2mm thicker, an extra 100g of weight and a couple of hour's extra battery life any day ...

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Bah

      The mobile workstation P series are updated later in the year, as noted.

    3. Ken 16 Silver badge

      Re: Bah

      I could do without the Thinklight if the keyboard is backlit, I'd probably want a hinged foot at the back to tilt the keyboard to a working angle though.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah

      this is a a fancy toy for the usual weight obsessing, gimmick chasing road warrior suckers. Lenovo is only playing "metoo" against it's usual foes macbook, and ms surface, "thin and light" (and CARBON, lol), is what gives them good margins, I suppose.

      p.s. for real people, doing real work offsite, well, there's always used t and x series, can be had for 100 - 200 GBP. Well, maybe not when you need 32 GB RAM ;)

      1. bytemaniak

        Re: Bah

        I second the used T series argument. I got a T430 a year ago for £120 and bought a new battery and a 120GB SSD for it. Works like a champ!

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      3. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Bah

        > for real people, doing real work

        That comment again. Curious that their idea of machines that fit the bill of 'real work' is Goldilocks, sitting as it does between the thin and light, and the workstation-class P range (successor to the W range) Lenovo laptops.

        Real work predates the IT admin by millennia. A farmer using a thin n light to monitor his herds, or a mechanical engineer using a mobile workstation to build a bridge have perhaps stronger claims to be doing 'real work'.

      4. Groaning Ninny

        Re: Bah

        Yup, loving my X220, bought for £110, with a bit of second hand RAM and an SSD making it rather lovely.

      5. David Beck

        Re 32GB RAM

        Maybe not 32GB but I've no problems with my X220 (real keyboard) and 16GB of RAM. You may need to update the BIOS to a modded version.

        The big stuff can run on the desktop (HPxw6600 with 32GB RAM and 2xXeon (8xCores). The RAM was £40 when I bought it but it's on eBay for £26.00 just now. The chassis with two CPUs was £189.

        I haven't anything but used for 15 years.

    5. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Bah

      Why does a large touchpad serve no purpose? Do they still not support all the cool stuff Mac's MAgic Trackpad do?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Bah

        Shh JDX, dont remind them Linus Torvalds uses thin and light (and quiet) laptops. I'll upset them. Oh sod it, do remind them. They might learn eventually, even if they try hard not to!

      2. Lomax
        WTF?

        Re: Why does a large touchpad serve no purpose?

        I can only assume that you are not a ThinkPad user. Any long time TP user would know that the machine is already equipped with a far superior pointing device: the little red TrackPoint that nestles between the keys, right where your finger rests when your hands are in the typing position. It is a major selling point to us. Why on earth would I want to use a sluggish, imprecise touchpad which necessitates shifting my hands away from the typing position just to move the mouse pointer!? Why on earth would I put up with having a huge surface right under my thumbs the only purpose of which seems to be to teleport the cursor around as I type, and randomly click on things? Why on earth would I sacrifice vital keyboard space in a subnotebook in order to equip it with one of these stupid and evil contraptions? The ThinkPad is supposed to be a machine for people who do actual work on their computers - everyone else already has plenty of choices! I am a computer programmer, which means I actually use all those funny looking keys with letters and shit on them. A lot. I need a portable computer that i can work on - this is not it.

        > all the cool stuff

        *groan*

        1. Rockets

          Re: Why does a large touchpad serve no purpose?

          I'd love to see a ThinkPad without a touchpad and only the "Gspot" TrackPoint. It's far more efficient and accurate in use. My first laptop was a lovely Toshiba Portege which only had a TrackPoint and I've used the TrackPoint on various ThinkPad's since then. I always disable the touchpad in software, I can't stand them and hate when I have to use one on a laptop that's only got it as an option but I know we are in the minority with most users hating the TrackPoint.

        2. Jakester

          Re: Why does a large touchpad serve no purpose?

          I've tried using the Track Point in the past and can't stand them. Track Pads would be easier to deal with if they were at the top of the keyboard and not the bottom to keep from erratic cursor positioning while trying to type. But, everyone has their preferences and I prefer to not use either a track pad or cursor stick if there is any other option (mouse, even on a pant leg, is better than a stick mouse or track pad for me). Use whatever floats your boat.

          1. Lomax
            Flame

            Re: Why does a large touchpad serve no purpose?

            > Use whatever floats your boat.

            I would love to, but unfortunately Lenovo are working hard to eliminate that option. I will blame people like you when they finally ditch the TrackPoint altogether, Mr Mouse on a Pant Leg.

            New rule: anyone who wants to call themselves a ThinkPad user has to first learn to get along with the TrackPoint. Can't do it? Lucky for you there are plenty of other brands available. Now piss off.

        3. Efer Brick

          Re: Why does a large touchpad serve no purpose?

          Have to concur, on my p50 I disabled the pad.

        4. Wincerind

          Re: Why does a large touchpad serve no purpose?

          In my experience the only use for a touchpad on a laptop is for when you've forgotten/lost your mouse or it's inconvenient to use a mouse.

    6. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Bah

      PHBs everywhere will be reaching for the requisition forms.

      The intended market isn't 'Us wot do da real work'

      1. Wincerind

        Re: Bah

        I concur with that. Reminds me of 2 or 3 years ago whe the MD of the company I was working for ordered top of the range MacbookAirs for all the directors at around 2k a pop (plus dongles). Within the month all but him and his trusty sidekick had handed them back in and asked for their old laptops back.

    7. Daren Nestor

      Re: Bah

      Never mind the up-down keys, what lunatic decided to switch the Fn and Ctrl keys!

      1. Lomax

        Re: what lunatic decided to switch the Fn and Ctrl keys

        OMFG, I didn't even spot that. What the hell is wrong with these people? Or are they just trolling us?

      2. MMR

        Re: Bah

        That question is like two decades late to the game. In 2019 Lenovo still don't see anything wrong with that.

    8. Rockets

      Re: Bah

      I'm not a fan of the chiklet keyboard either. I have a couple of old T420 & X220 in my collection of 9 ThinkPad models of varying age, these being the oldest. The X220 with SSD and 8GB of RAM is still great device for basic use. These two were the last series to have the regular keyboards instead of the chicklet keyboards that came on the 30 series and boy are they are delight to type on. Going to a newer X230, X1 Carbon or T460s and the keyboard just isn't the same. Still the Lenovo chicklet keyboards are truckload better than the last gen Apple Macbook Air keyboard that my daughter has, that thing is mushy as. The newer Macbook butterfly switches are just as bad. My old man has an Asus laptop with a chicklet keyboard and I was pretty impressed with it, pretty close to a ThinkPad, as it's a much cheaper laptop than a ThinkPad.

      The biggest complaints I have about ThinkPad's is the screens, most models have god awful ones. That's one thing that the Gen 6 X1 Carbon finally fixed, it's got a excellent screen.

    9. rnturn

      Re: Bah

      It may have a crummy keyboard so I wouldn't buy one but I sure am lusting over one of those monitor setups in that last photo.

    10. James Anderson Silver badge

      Re: Bah

      If you want better battery life and bigger keys just buy a T series --- you have choices.

  2. Kevin Johnston

    OK, so I am liking the look of that monitor. I could replace my current config of two 22" Widescreen monitors plus laptop screen with a simpler and cleaner...

    Two 49" screens for surround video

    1. jonathan keith Silver badge

      The trouble with only two monitors is having the bezels directly in front of you. You really need *three* of them.

      There's a gaming-oriented version as well with a 144Hz refresh rate.

      To my mind though, the best thing about it is the 1200 pixel height. Now I just need to find a grand in loose change down the back of the sofa...

      1. paulf Silver badge
        Coat

        I subscribe to the Sir Terry P school of monitor provision. "The reason I have four monitors is I don't have space for six"

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          I know many people like multiple monitors, but personally I just find it irritating. I used a multi-headed UNIX workstation1 for several years earlier in my career, and found it ... fine, I suppose; but for the last quarter-century or so I just haven't felt the urge. There's always sufficient screen real estate for whatever I'm working on at the moment. I haven't even used virtual desktops in years, I think, not counting VMs.

          Eh, tastes differ.

          1IBM RT PC running AOS 4.3, which was IBM's rebranding of BSD. X11 driving the monitors, though some of them I generally just left in character mode.

    2. swm Bronze badge

      Two 49" screens for surround video

      I want two of them. I would stack them as in the picture. You can't have enough screen real estate.

    3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Don't let my son see this. He will want one for his games! Of course I also want a couple, but that is for serious work. Really! Honest!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the monitor is nice

    I only need to rebuild my home office to fit around it. And then... get 4 - 5 of those monitors, for a full, 360 degree iview (immersive, eh), open all these lovely excel sheets... excel, excel, excel. Excel everywhere...

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
      Windows

      Re: the monitor is nice

      Nice widescreen GPFs. Huge, wall spanning "Excel has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down" dialog boxes.

      (Guess what I have nightmares about?...)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the monitor is nice / re. nightmares

        there is no power button...

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: the monitor is nice

      I have a 34" 3880x1440, which seems about right, size to resolution. I would think the 49" would be very pixelated, sitting up close to it.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: the monitor is nice

        Don't sit so close to it

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: the monitor is nice

          They are selling it as a desktop monitor, desks are only so deep...

        2. Joe W Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: the monitor is nice

          Don't stand so close to me?

      2. E_Nigma

        Re: the monitor is nice

        It won't be very pixelated. It is about on par with 24" FullHD monitors as far as DPI goes. Those still look fine.

        1. PM from Hell

          Re: the monitor is nice

          i use a couple of 24 inch iiyama Prolite monitors in my home office. As a PM I spend far too much time in spreadsheets and project plans. I fond that aligning the edge of the screen with the edge of a column lets my brain completely ignore the bezels in the middle. As I managed to buy these for just over £100 each, I've paired these with a Toshiba Dynadock (new old stock) for £30 and a wireless keyboard and mouse and I'm a happy camper working from home.

          I bot the earlier version of the dock which only supports a single monitor ( i need to plug the second into the vga or HDMI port on the laptop. The v10 model supports two monitors connected directly to the dock. I'm probably going to replace that shortly. At present a new v10 dock is going for £45 on ebay. The dynadock is quick enough to handle the keyboard mouse and headset which the lenovo dock in the corporate office struggles to do. As this is a discontinued product there are no win10 drivers but you can download the generic displaylink drivers which work very well

  4. phat shantz
    Happy

    I enjoy computing again

    I own the current version of one of these jewels: a 64GB Thinkpad X1 Extreme. It is heavier than the specs for the Carbon or the Yoga, and possibly a bit thicker. It packs two 1TB SSDs so I keep everything local now where before I had to rely on external USBs. I used to lug a 7.5 pound beast around with less than half its capabilities (and about half its cost).

    I'm still on the cutting edge, until June, I guess. But I can't be happier. I have NOTHING bad to say.

    I think only those who cannot afford this gem are the ones who will find fault with it. I find none. Is the screen resolution too high for old eyes? Reduce the resolution. Is the back-lit keyboard annoying? Turn off the back-light. Is the weight too light? Carry a gallon of milk with you. Are there insufficient pointing options -- given touch-screen, Lenovo button in the middle of the keyboard, and a marvelously-capable touch-pad? Then add an external wireless mouse.

    Even the power brick, reduced to little more than a power "deck of cards," makes mobility a pleasure again. I got the docking station and now move between home office and the field with one connection.

    Admittedly, a user needs serious capabilities to justify this level of hardware and if you don't need it, don't spend the money. You'll waste your money under-utilize a wonderful machine.

    But don't let envy insult an otherwise amazing invention. And to those who compare it to a Macbook Air, Apple only wishes it had built this computer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I enjoy computing again

      can you update / replace components, other than hdd? RAM, wireless, screen, God forbid... BATTERY? Can you retro-fit an old-style keyboard (for those who type, rather than swipe)? How about unlocking bios to give users (who are happy to void their warranty) advanced options plus a choice to install 3rd party components?

      p.s. sure, the world's changing and all that, but when the change means locking me down, and giving me less and less control and choice, I say fuck them.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I enjoy computing again

        > Are there insufficient pointing options -- given touch-screen, Lenovo button in the middle of the keyboard, and a marvelously-capable touch-pad?

        Well, there was that W series ThinkPad that also featured a built in Wacom digitiser (and a second pull-out screen)! : D

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I enjoy computing again

        Yes, you can replace all of this in X1 Extreme without loosing the warranty. There is even a service manual.

  5. karlkarl Bronze badge

    Looking at that picture of the guy with massive monitors...

    Is it just me or does the chunky Windows 10 task bar still leave barely any screenspace haha.

    We are getting higher resolution, physically larger screens but the operating systems are just increasing text and rubrik size!

    There is more screen realestate on Carmack's old rig!

    https://www.geek.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/john_Carmack_working.jpg

    Note: Stick to X1 Carbon 3rd gen or older if you want a reliable OpenBSD or FreeBSD (and possibly Linux) experience.

  6. DrBobK

    I replaced my old X1 with a Macbook Pro (mainly for reasons to do with having to have a managed desktop and no admin rights on Windows, whereas free to do what I want with MacOS or Linux - already have Linux machines for rendering etc.) and I'm pretty happy. The keyboard on an X1 is undeniably better, but the distance between the keyboard and the front edge of the case was painful for me. I did stick with Lenovo a bit though - got the first version of the Thunderbolt 3 dock, which is an excellent thing - from laptop to dual monitor desktop with multiple external disks, by plugging in a single cable.

  7. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Just

    Plug in a decent keyboard, monitor(s) and a rodent of choice, configure the "Lid closed" function properly, stack the box at the back of your desk and get on with some real work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just

      this "shiny-shiny" is meant for anything BUT sticking it at "the back of your desk" and getting on "with some real work". It's meant to be shown and be seen, to convey owner's status: I. AM. VERY. IMPORTANT :)

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Just

      The whole reason I use laptops is because I'm often not at my desk. It would be tricky to use this arrangement when I'm 1300 miles away from my desk at my other house, for example.

  8. ninjaturtle

    well lenovo isn't a good brand anymore, don't know why that brand gets hyped on sites like this. i am typing this on a thinkpad t480 that was supposed to have a 'great' keyboard. It slides almost half a centimeter in the chassis when typing. Also missing Linux drivers for fingerprint reader and lenovo already made clear they wont bother releasing any drivers.

    Next laptop will not be a Thinkpad anymore, had better experiences with asus. really regret not buying the librem laptops as i was comparing them when i bought this t480.

  9. pavel.petrman Bronze badge

    Two things are wrong

    One, 14.95 mm - really? What does this precision even mean? It smells horribly of dead butterflies, if you know what I mean, nudge nudge.

    Two, all the carbon and micrometres and whatnot, but no decent docking station? Just look at the last photo with the two displays stacked one on the other. If I wanted cables laying about on my desk, I'd buy an Acer for 99.99, wouldn't I? Mind you, it's not Lenovo alone, recent Latitude laptops have lost the bottom connector as well, but here I find it just stupid - chasing hundredths of millimetres and carboning us to death on one hand and losing the utility and elegance of a real sit-on dock on the other. Uninformed form over function through and through.

    (I know there is thing they sell as "dock", but the laptop can't be docked to it. At best, there will be one thick unwieldy cable that is to be stuck like a thorn to the side, with all the best of user experience we had with the original USB "a" connector.)

    1. Adam JC

      Re: Two things are wrong

      Yes, the new docks are Thunderbolt/USB-C - If they put them on the bottom of the unit, you'd end up like the Apple Wireless Mice where you can't use them whilst they're being charged as they had the genius idea of putting the charging connector flush to the bottom surface of the mouse! :-) It's hardly a major pain in the arse and requires a much smaller footprint 'dock'.

    2. Rockets

      Re: Two things are wrong

      Lenovo sell 8 different docks and docking stations that are compatible with the previous X1 Gen 6. 5 are the brick style "dock" shown in the article, 3 are the more traditional style "docking station" where you sit the laptop on it and they've got varying degrees of ports on the back. These three docks don't use the bottom docking connector any more, they have a slide mechanism on the left that has two USB-C ports and a third propriety ethernet connector which you slide into the laptop. Looking at the new X1 Gen 7 the ports on the left side of the laptop are the same as on the Gen 6 so I'd think that the older docks would still be compatible. Thinkpad's typically support the same model docks & power bricks for a number of generations.

  10. Christian Berger Silver badge

    The X1 line isn't the premium line

    It's the "consumers who have more money than brains" line, because the X1 has all the features you don't want in a laptop, including hard to replace batteries and dangerously thin cases.

  11. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  12. mediabeing

    The whole computer manufacturing world is insane as are most of its buyers.

    The keyboards are ALL tilted WRONG. The space bar side should be higher than the function keys at the top of the keyboard.

    The hands should be curved forward, not back!

    I'm amazed that it's STILL this way after decades. Sadly amazing.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Odd, when my hands are at rest on a flat surface, the ends of my fingers are higher than my wrists. The natural height of a table being an inch or so above your elbows (otherwise there's no space for your knees), combined with physics and mechanics, sort-a forces that.

  13. bish

    "far-field microphones... in the expectation that voice interaction is an increasingly used feature."

    If my voice gets far enough from my lap to validate the inclusion of those mics, I won't need a smart assistant, I'll need a surgeon.

  14. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    When will they ever learn.

    Not enough sockets on the front.

  15. MMR

    I'll think about buying one

    When

    1. Ctrl key is in the correct place

    2. Lenovo build a decent after-sale support line

  16. Norman Nescio

    Ctrl & Fn keys

    On most (if not all) recent Lenovo Thinkpads, it is possible to swap logical layout of the Ctrl and Fn keys in BIOS.

    Enter the BIOS setup, then

    config -> keyboard/mouse -> Fn and Ctrl Key swap

    save and exit.

    For really old farts like me this still does not put the Ctrl key in the right place. The correct place is, of course*, immediately to the left of the 'A' key, which is normally the Caps Lock key these days. Quite why such a little used function gets so much keyboard real-estate is a mystery to me - and for anyone used to navigating software with control-codes.

    NN

    *The correct place is generally wherever you first learned it. People get quite impassioned over this, but I don't want to get into a holy war over it. What would be nice is if hardware/firmware suppliers gave people the option of easily choosing their preferred layout, as Lenovo do in their Thinkpad range, but extended it into allowing easy remapping** so that I could choose to remap Caps Lock to Ctrl, with the bottom left key then being Fn, and the key immediately to the right of the bottom left key being Caps Lock. For those who want the Caps Lock on the same keyboard row as A, the DEC keyboards like the VT100 keyboard, the LK201 and the LK401 were nice: the Caps Lock key was placed between the Ctrl key and the A key.

    **I am aware this can often, but not always, be done in the O/S software or with other tweaks.

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. DanceMan
    Thumb Down

    Keyboard layout

    The keyboards that irritate me the most are the Acer/Asus (and even one T4xx Thinkpad I acquired) that split the left shift key into two keys and put the \ on the inside. Until you use a keymapping utility to restore order, every time you go to capitalize you get \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

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