back to article Stand back, we're going in: The Register rips a 7th-gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon apart. Literally

Nippy, fixable but oh-so-scuffable. Lenovo's premium X1 Carbon ThinkPad has had an update, but is it any good? For those of a certain age, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is very much the Ford Cortina GXL of its generation – the tippety-top of the line handed out to workers who almost, but don't quite, merit a MacBook Pro. Now in its …

  1. stiine Silver badge
    Facepalm

    re: function key/control key

    There's a way to remap them, but you'd have to go to eBay to get correctly labeled replacement physical keys to fit unless, like me, you're a touch typist.

    I have a thinkpad. I searched for, found, and purchased a wireless keyboard that sits perfectly (all of the feet sit on the shell and not the keys) overtop the keyboard. This also gives me a number pad.

    1. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: re: function key/control key

      Two Doraemon stickers* from a 7-Eleven and a black marker pen and the Stinkpad Fn/CTRL key swap is complete.

      *Other give-away mylar-film like stickers are available.

    2. Outer mongolian custard monster from outer space (honest)

      Re: re: function key/control key

      I've got a french keyboard (azerty) on my thinkpad, but its mapped to qwerty layout. Its great, nobody else can ever really get their heads round where things should be, unless they're touch typists used to qwerty layout. :)

      to the article, I have been issued a macbook pro by the corporate overlords, and I hate it (the keyboard really sucks, the oversize hipster touchpad is crap, and when it comes to doing really low level stuff, its hard sometimes to wrest complete control of the underlying bluetooth/audio etc hardware to do stupid things in the name of research and have it work as a corporate build afterwards...). I much prefer my stinkpad, and use it in preference whenever its permitted...

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: re: function key/control key

        The touch pad is one thing that Macs do way better that than PCs.

        Keyboards and mice, not so much. The butterfly keyboard is a disaster area. The magic mouse is not the worst mouse Apple has ever made, that would be the hockey puck mouse, but it isn't particularly great.

      2. Phil Kingston

        Re: re: function key/control key

        Have to ask, why?

  2. Lazlo Woodbine

    Screw count

    I was doing a tidy up & service on a neighbour's Lenovo ideapad at the weekend, the RAM and SSD were both behind panels secured by a single screw, which is nice.

    If you want to do more, such as find out what's causing the ominous rattle when you tip the notebook, then the total number of screws you have to remove is 15, including 2 hidden under the SSD hatch.

    At least I didn't have to remove the rubber feet like you have to on HPs

    1. Benson's Cycle

      Re: Screw count

      15 screws doesn't bother me, glue does. I use glue when I intend something to be extremely permanent. I used nearly 800 screws in my last garden shed, but in the unlikely event we ever move, I can dismantle it and pack it flat in a reasonable time with a power screwdriver.

    2. ChipsforBreakfast

      Re: Screw count

      Don't start me on HP! When recently my trusty almost 10-yr-old HP Envy laptop finally died of a broken case I bit the bullet and bought a new one. Seeing as I'd only recently replaced the SSD in the old one I opted to save a few quid and got the model with the basic spinning-rust disk. I also happened to have a shiny new M2 disk lying about (I forget why, I think I got it for a friend's machine that ultimately couldn't make it work). Should be simple enough to swap the disk....

      And the fun began.

      - First, you have to pull off the rubber feet/strips that hide all the screws. A right pain in the neck.

      - Then you have to undo the multitude of screws hidden below, all so tiny you practically need a microscope to see them

      - But the fun isn't over yet, oh no. Now you have to literally prise the case apart and prey you don't actually break anything. Easier said than done.. thankfully I had a plastic lever I used for dismantling equally reluctant phones handy.

      Finally, I can swap the disk & stick in the M2. An hour and half just to swap a disk... and most of that spent trying to actually GET to the the disk in the first place!

      And how long to remove the drive from the old laptop... under 2 minutes and 2 simple screws.

      Progress... you can keep it!

  3. KorndogDev

    My Dell Latitude beats it

    Comparable price tag and size, but:

    - max RAM 64GB

    - removable RAM/SSD

    - faster CPU (not low voltage crap, but they are also available)

    - 5 year on-site warranty (extra purchase, totally worth it)

    - no "do not remove" sticker present. Dell actually posts instructions on how to disassemble each single component in the user manual and it is not against their warranty to do so.

    OK, it is a bit heavier though. WHAT? Do I see a glossy screen up there? My Dell's matte screen rules then for good.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      No "do not remove" sticker present

      That's because those stickers are illegal on this side of the pond:

      "FTC Gives Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo 30 Days to Get Rid of Illegal Warranty-Void-if-Removed Stickers"

      https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xw7b3z/warranty-void-if-removed-stickers-sony-microsoft-nintendo-ftc-letters

      One of the extremely few places we're slightly better than European consumer practices.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: No "do not remove" sticker present

        "That's because those stickers are illegal on this side of the pond:"

        There is no warranty void if removed sticker on my UK ThinkPad.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: No "do not remove" sticker present

        That's because those stickers are illegal on this side of the pond

        They are on this side too. As Apple (and various others) have discovered.

        Mind you, our Trading Stadards won't do anything about it unless a sufficient volume of people complain - and not that many people know that those stickers are illegal.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: No "do not remove" sticker present

        "That's because those stickers are illegal on this side of the pond:"

        They're illegal on the EU side of the bond too - but that doesn't stop them being used to scare the clueless

    2. esque

      Re: My Dell Latitude beats it

      "Dell actually posts instructions on how to disassemble each single component in the user manual"

      For 25-ish years, Leneovo and before IBM have provided for each Thinkpad model a Hardware Maintenance Manual (HMM) that details the complete disassembly and reassembly of the device.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: My Dell Latitude beats it

        HP use to too. But no idea what these companies do currently.

        1. Phil Kingston

          Re: My Dell Latitude beats it

          HP probably do, but their website is such and unfathomable mess they're probably near-impossible to find.

  4. Dave K Silver badge

    Glossy screen?

    A glossy screen that isn't even a touch-screen? In a business laptop? One that will likely be used in offices with lots of windows and fluorescent lights and hence will be a magnet for reflections? Very poor Lenovo. Very poor indeed.

    Where I work, we have (for some daft reason) started issuing HP laptops with glossy touch-screens to everyone (no matte option provided). Result? Roughly half the ones you see around the place have matte screen protectors crudely stuck to them and look pretty tacky and dreadful as a result.

    Dear laptop manufacturers: Glossy. Screens. Are. Shit!

    Stop fitting horrid and impractical parts to your kit!

    1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

      Re: Glossy screen?

      Good Morning Dave

      A thousand upvotes for you if I could, sir.

      1. KorndogDev

        Re: Glossy screen?

        Thank you Fred, I bet you meant me.

    2. Cavehomme_

      Re: Glossy screen?

      "Glossy screen" is exactly where I stopped reading this review. I nearly stopped when reading "ethernet adapter". Sigh. I'll just have to keep buying Dell.

      1. Tomato42 Silver badge

        Re: Glossy screen?

        The X1 is a Macbook Air of the more to the ground world. If you want a normal ultraportable, get a T480s or T490s

    3. gotes

      Re: Glossy screen?

      I came here to complain about the same. Thankfully it seems everybody agrees, so far.

    4. Xiox

      Re: Glossy screen?

      My X1 Carbon Gen 6 definitely has matte screen. I assume this is an option?

  5. Roland6 Silver badge

    " The laptop is also 6 per cent thinner than its predecessor, according to Lenovo"

    Clearly marketing types have been involved: 6 per cent trips off the tongue easier and probably sounds more impressive than saying it is .95mm thinner.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      I have to admit that 0.0068 linguine isn't better.

      6% it is !

    2. Jedit
      Paris Hilton

      "6 per cent ... sounds more impressive than saying it is .95mm thinner."

      True to some degree. On the other hand, saying "6%" provides context for the measurement where 0.95mm does not. Saying something is an inch longer can be insignificant or life changing; it depends on what you're measuring.

      (I'll let you use your imagination on what you might be measuring.)

  6. Richard Boyce

    Fingerprints

    I read the part about the computer being a fingerprint magnet, and immediately wondered if that made it simpler to break into after stealing. Could you just take a close-up picture and present a mirror image to the reader, or is the security more sophisticated than that?

  7. Benson's Cycle

    Ford Cortina GXL?

    Surely not. Thinkpads are reliable.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Ford Cortina GXL?

      Thinkpads are reliable.

      And don't have a suspension that, in its natural state, resembles slighty-stiffened marshmallow..

      (Yes - I had a pre-disastered Cortina MK4 - I hated the suspension so, thinking it a function of age, had it replaced. With no percievable improvement.).

      I seem to recall the Capri had a similarly bad suspension (and a set of engine specs that went straight from 'woefully underpowered' to 'dangerously overpowered for the suspension and steering' with no intervening steps).

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Ford Cortina GXL?

        "Yes - I had a pre-disastered Cortina MK4 - I hated the suspension so, thinking it a function of age, had it replaced."

        My father had one (wagon). After being in the back seat ripping along a bunch of mountain roads (not the UK) I similarly suspected the suspension was buggered and had him stop so I could have a look at the sway bar mounts - only to find.... it had no sway bar.

        I'll agree with the engine comment. It was far too easy to make the 2 litre version break traction on a bend in wet conditions at the slightest provokation and the larger displacements were a positive menace. I'm not entirely sure what Australians were thinking when they shoehorned a 4 litre straight 6 engine into the bay and was never game enough to drive one when given the opportunity.

        A couple of years later, a smaller engined one issued as "company transport" had the ignomy of not being able to get up the mountain roads I needed to drive, so got returned and replaced with my favoured 4WD (not one which "may" get you there, but one which "returns you home too") amid much grumbling by company accountant (solved by forcing him to try and drive up the roads in question, in the vehicle in question, with the loads in question - video of which ensured "no more cortinas")

  8. Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    Who actually needs the talking to?

    "That said, whoever decided to put the Function key where the left-hand Control key would be on nearasdammit every other PC keyboard needs a stern talking to."

    You are the one who needs the stern talking to. IBM and Lenovo Thinkpad keyboards have basically *always* had the Function Key bottom left with the Ctrl Key next to the right. I have a 10 year X-61s and a 10 year old T-60 here and both have the same keyboard layout as the X-1 in the photo. And, without box diving, I am reasonably sure that the 20 year old T-600 down in the basement has the same layout. (Yes, I oughta do some cleanup!).

    1. tin 2

      Re: Who actually needs the talking to?

      and also the same as.... a Macbook pro

    2. dnicholas Bronze badge

      Re: Who actually needs the talking to?

      I had an ideapad once that I swapped they key and soft modded the layout (Sharkey's, iirc) as I couldn't get on with it...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who actually needs the talking to?

      I'm pretty sure that most ThinkPad laptops have had a BIOS setting that allows you to swap the Fn and Ctrl keys since the Tx10 series, around ... 8 or 9 years ago? I have an old T510 and an old T500. You can swap the keys on the T510, and I went ahead and swapped 'em because I use other computers with "standard" layouts on a pretty regular basis. You can't swap 'em on the T500, and using it drives me up the f*cking wall. I swear to God, it takes me a good half hour to stop using the wrong key every time I go from one computer to the other. Muscle memory is a harsh mistress.

      You know, this reminds of an ad for a keyboard from back in the later 80s that bragged about still having the Ctrl key immediately to the left of the A key, "where God intended it to be." That was actually a way better place for it, ergonomically speaking, and I seem to recall that that was indeed the original "standard" position for it. With most users, the Ctrl key sees a lot more use than the Caps Lock key does. But there have been so many deeply stupid and counterproductive developments in the evolution of laptops, from increasingly short and wide aspect ratios to half-height cursor and F# keys, why single out Ctrl-key placement?

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

        Re: Who actually needs the talking to?

        Ctrl2Cap to the rescue! https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/downloads/ctrl2cap

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Who actually needs the talking to?

        That bios keyswap setting dates back at least 15 years. (and you can switch the keycaps)

    4. John Dawson

      Re: Who actually needs the talking to?

      Aah the T600 - I am still running one on Win 98 to support an Audio Precision analyser. It's been almost daily use for the past 15 years!

      They don't make 'em quite like they used to....

  9. ecofeco Silver badge

    Lenovo, oh no

    I am currently dealing with a large shipment of Lenovos. They are utter garbage.

    1. s2bu

      Re: Lenovo, oh no

      I quiet love my Lenovo compared to the Dells and HPs I’ve had to use in the past.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Lenovo, oh no

      You will see my pretties. You will see.

      Bwahaha!

  10. Christian Berger Silver badge

    The X1 series seems to be a test balloon...

    ... to see how bad Lenovo can make a laptop before people will stop buying it. However since we have a seller's market where the offers determine what's being sold, they get through with lots of stuff.

  11. Dog Eatdog

    Screen Resolution

    Does anyone really want or need 3840 x 2160 resolution in a 14" screen? A waste of money, surely.

    1. Annihilator

      Re: Screen Resolution

      By my fag packet calcs, it's 332 ppi in the horizontal, 274ppi in the vertical, not colossally disproportionate to retina display standards.

  12. TonyJewell

    "Lenovo also told us that there are Ubuntu-certified models lurking in the range for those who prefer to remain Windows-free. ®"

    It's great to see major manufacturers actually shipping with Linux instead of Windows. My Dell had Ubuntu from birth about 4 years ago. It's good to see Lenovo finally doing the same.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "It's great to see major manufacturers actually shipping with Linux instead of Windows"

      The trouble with manufacturers pre-installing linux is that they are aiming at a fairly small group of customers. (i.e. a group that wants linux *and* wants a specific distro (usually Ubuntu))

      I don't know whether that's a niche group or not; I tend to buy a laptop and then wipe the disk then install linux, and have assumed that's what a lot of other Linux users do, but that is just an assumption.

      1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

        At least it gives you some assurance that the hardware is supported, if your goal is to install a distro other than Ubuntu.

  13. JDX Gold badge

    Shame about the soldered RAM

    Since they have seemingly gone out of their way to make it accessible, why solder the RAM in? Is this sort of thing generally done to make them non-upgradeable, or does it offer a more robust / cheaper construction with nothing to come loose? It must take time/money to do glueing and soldering components so what are the reasons, realistically?

    1. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Shame about the soldered RAM

      Might simply be a space saver over having a socket on the board if they're trying to keep the size down.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shame about the soldered RAM

      You have to solder something on - if it's not the RAM, it's the RAM socket instead. Each task would take the same amount of time. The memory chips don't have to be soldered onto a stick of RAM anymore either.

      The job of slotting RAM into the socket is usually done by a human and adds time to the build process (not much, but it adds up over x,000's of builds) and is a failure point.

      I suspect they also looked at how many people actually upgrade...

  14. Charles Calthrop

    the tippety-top of the line handed out to workers who almost, but don't quite, merit a MacBook Pro.

    They won't like that!

  15. xj25vm

    Soldered ram, glossy screen, no ethernet - no thanks

    As title says - £1800 for a machine with non-upgradeable ram, glossy screen and no ethernet port - although it is supposedly aimed at corporate market. Hmm, not, I don't think so.

    1. Phil Kingston

      Re: Soldered ram, glossy screen, no ethernet - no thanks

      Enterprises aren't interested in upgrading RAM before the lease on the kit runs out. And ethernet ports aren't used, or are attached to the dock. Keeping the cost down however is a good thing.

  16. Roopee
    Headmaster

    GXL?

    GLX Shirley, and it wasn't the top of the range, that was the Ghia. Below the GLX was th GL, then the L.

    /childhoodcarnerd

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