/ off-topic

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018: personal impression of laptop

It was quite a while since the last time I composed a blog post. And this time it's going to be an off-topic laid-back article about my new toy.

I have not used my old laptop regularly for at least 5 years - always preferred working on my desktop PC over it. However, in the past, when I was a university student, I used to work a lot on it. Why things changed? Because I graduated from the university, hence didn't want to take it with me every day, because it's quite heavy and not comfortable to be taken casually, and maybe because it's not that cool to open a full-sized notebook from 2008 in a cafe in the era of MacBooks.

On the other hand, recently I often was in a situation when I lack a device on a conference or even on a workday meeting. So, I started to scan the market casually to find out what machine I would like to obtain. And when I came across a tweet by Tim Hall about his new purchase, I dared and got my Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th gen). And here's my personal impression of it.

This is not going to be an ordinary review of the laptop (if you still need one, you can get it here or here), it's rather going to be a kind of my answer on the question Why?. There's not going to be much of technical stuff or specs, but rather more personal impressions and thoughts. So, if you like this kind of reading, enjoy!

Criteria of choice

I may seem naive, but what I value the most in my devices is not the specs or numbers in review tests, but comfort and pleasure when using them. I am a developer and I spend a lot more time with my tech than with family or friends, which sometimes frustrates me. Hence my life partially consists of using this tech, and since we have only one life, why waste it on devices we don't like. So, I advocate subjective approach here than following the objective guidelines (within reasonable limits, of course).

That's why I paid the most of my attention on such things as look and feel of laptops, their mobility and keyboard usage comfort. It was also crucial for me to have a good set of ports (which is not an often case nowadays), because I wanted to be able to connect even my old peripherals to the machine. Then, I'm not that guy who changes their tech every year, so I wanted a device which would be actual for at least half a dozen years.

Well, I suppose that is it, let's start with what models I took into consideration.

Competitors

There's a number of devices which meet my expectation at least to a certain extent. Though there was a bit of a problem - unfortunately, it was impossible for me to phisically play with the devices before buying, because the local shops in my town don't have them in their show rooms. Hence I could rely only on the reviews in the web. And here's what I had.

Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13
The full review is here.

Likes

  • Tim Hall uses the 15-inch version of it. This means this piece of tech is awesome.
  • Really nice overall dimensions - it is one of the smallest in the niche.
  • Very thin screen bazels.
  • Shell materials.
  • Well-known and reliable brand.

Dislikes

  • Awkward camera placement - and this was unacceptable for me. I know that I'm not Brad Pitt, but such camera would make me look just ridiculous during video calls.
  • Not the best keyboard for me.
  • Not enough ports (seriously, let me live with more than 3 USB-C ports for the at least next five years).
  • Lid opens only up to 135 degrees. I sometimes like laying on my sofa with my knees bent and a laptop laying on them. It's a very comfortable pose to read or watch some videos, or even to type someting. But to make it comfortable, the device should be opened up to about 160 degrees.

HP Spectre 13

HP Spectre 13
The full review is here.

Likes

  • Very light and thin.
  • They promised that there won't be fingerprints on the laptop's surface.
  • Bundled cover case.
  • Better keyboard layout. Really liked the PgUp, PgDn, Home and End buttons placement.

Dislikes

  • Not really my design, no, it's awesome, but just not mine - don't like all these gold and bronze shiny elements. Although, I'd definitely consider this notebook for my girlfriend.
  • Very weird lid opening mechanism - the device don't look solid when opened.
  • The trackpad don't look great.
  • Very few very strangely places ports (again only three USB-C ports over here).

Huawei MateBook X Pro

Huawei MateBook X Pro
The full review is here.

Likes

  • The design is very appealing to me. I find it nicer than the MacBook's.
  • Very thin bazels around the display.
  • Good battery lifetime promised (about 12 hours).

Dislikes

  • Again very awkward camera placement.
  • Keyboard sucks in all aspects (layout and look and feel).
  • Very few ports one more time (only two USB-C here and one USB-A).
  • No options without useless touchscreen.
  • No localized version for my country.
  • No SD card slot.
  • Huawei making notebooks? Okay, they convinced me they can make good phones, but I can't say the same about laptops.

Apple MacBook Pro

Apple MacBook Pro
The full review is here.

Likes

  • It's a MacBook. We all know about a MacBook quality. MacOS works perfectly smooth, there're tons of applications.
  • Good shell materials.
  • The display quality.
  • Deeper iPhone integration - and since I'm an owner of this smartphone, this is a plus for me.

Dislikes

  • It's a MacBook. MacOS is not always the best option for a database developer. Also, people often complain how Apple ruins everything with the OS updates.
  • Gosh, it is pricey.
  • The worst keyboard ever. This was the only option which I could touch before buying, and I loathed the feel of keyboard. And when I started to hear very 'nice' feedback about it from the current users, I loathed it even more.
  • Not long battery life.
  • Very thick borders around the screen for these days.

And finally.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th gen)

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
The full review is here.

Likes

  • I just loved the keyboard. There's adequate room between the keys, the keys move deeply, good shape of the keys.
  • 14-inch screen instead of 13.3.
  • Very light (1.12 kg) and compact by overall dimensions.
  • Made of carbon, must be very durable.
  • Good battery life promised.
  • Thanks gosh, a good set of ports (two USB-C, two USB-A and separate HDMI).
  • Dispay lid can be opened up to 180 degrees (I described above why it's cool).
  • MicroSD card slot.

Dislikes

  • Keyboard layout. Placement of Fn and Ctrl buttons is very disturbing.
  • Poor fingerprint sensor.
  • Pricey.

Note: All these points were made before actual purchase of the laptop.

Personal impression

And finally, let's sort out what I ended up with.

As I already mentioned above, I went for the machine by Lenovo. For those who already desperate to know - I'm not dissapointed. I loved my new toy a lot from the first sight - this is really hard to decribe that difference between the new device and my old Samsung R460. So, the tech was definitely worth its money.

I must say that almost all the points which I made about the ThinkPad X1 Carbon before buying it came true. The only thing I'm not totally sure about is the battery life time. It rather feels like 8 to 9 hours, not 12 as was promised. But maybe this was because I used it very actively during the first days when was setting it up.

But I'm sure you are here not for the praise, but for the blame. Well, I have something to say here.

First of all, not very good quality of the fingerprint sensor was confirmed. I'm already spoiled by the iPhone's touchID, which works extremely fast and accurate, and in comparison to it, the sensor on X1 Carbon leaves much to be desired. Though, it fulfils its function and it's still more than possible to log in using it.

Then, what frustrated me the most is the soft touch surface material. It's a real pleasure to touch the device, but it's as well extremely easy to leave your fingerprints on it, and what is even worse - it's harder to remove these stains then than to leave new ones.

Also, there could be an issue with the noise when the battery charger is connected to the laptop. This is because of the default thermal settings in BIOS/UEFI - every time the laptop is on AC, it by default chooses the maximum performance profile, and starts to heat much faster, so I'd recommend to switch the profile if you don't like the noise.

But enough about the drawbacks, there're some unexpected points which made me a bit happier. First - the problem with the keyboard layout (Fn and Ctrl buttons placement) is easily fixed - you can switch the buttons functions in BIOS/UEFI or in the Windows Control Panel using Lenovo Keyboard Manager application.

Lenovo Keyboard Manager

And another nice addition - the phisical camera shutter. I guess this is a crucial feature to have in the world where even Mark Zuckerberg tapes his webcam.

Mark Zuckerberg* tapes his webcam

To sum up all this, I can say that my new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon had a really good first impression on me. However, how it often is, it's not ideal, but the found drawbacks are not crucial for me, so I'm still a happy owner of a new toy with a lot of use cases. And what I like the most about it - being this light and compact on the one hand and really powerful on the other makes this device truly universal for me.

The only thing which is left is to decide where to apply my red #orclapex sticker on this brand-new tool. And then I'm fully equiped to start with APEX development on it!

thinkpad-x1-carbon-photo1
View with the lid closed and the Lenovo ThinkPad Laser Mouse accessory.

thinkpad-x1-carbon-photo2
View with the lid opened.

thinkpad-x1-carbon-samsung-r460-photo1
Comparison with my old Samsung R460 laptop. Top view.

thinkpad-x1-carbon-samsung-r460-photo2
Comparison with my old Samsung R460 laptop. Rear view.

thinkpad-x1-carbon-samsung-r460-photo3
Comparison with my old Samsung R460 laptop. Front view.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018: personal impression of laptop
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