Computers and Internet

ThinkPad X1 Carbon and T430s Mini-Reviews

As I’m evaluating options before I pick my next primary laptop, I had a chance to spend few hours with the new ThinkPad T430s and ThinkPad X1 Carbon (not touch). Here are my notes.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

  • The model I have been able to borrow does NOT have touch; if rumors are to be believed, the touch display will be IPS. The display on this one is exactly the same as that of T430s, which shows the grids and also I find myself constantly adjusting the angle.
  • Overall display has high brightness that can be adjusted with sufficient granularity. However, if you have good eyes you will see the black lines that I think is called “screen door effect”. I have a microscope shot later to show what I mean.
  • I like the overall form factor. Very thin. Feels “dense” and solid.
  • Bezel is not as thick relative to T430s, which is nice.
  • No heat or hot blow issues. Completely silent and cool on normal web surfing / emailing.
  • Not that I care much but you cannot lift the lid with a single finger and open. You must hold the bottom portion down.
  • Only hesitations are compromises: non-standard power plug; irreplaceable battery (can’t have a spare or use some bay for more juice), no built-in Ethernet port, no built-in VGA for presentation/projector scenarios.

Here some details:

Display

Resolution: 1600×900

Screen door effect that I mentioned can be seen in below microscope shots. On the right is a comparison photo of the display of my ThinkPad W500.

T430s and X1 Carbon 1600 x 900 display

W500 1920 x 1200 display

            

You can see above how the T430s and X1 Carbon (non-touch) 1600×900 displays have proportionally much higher always-black horizontal lines. This may not bother many people but I saw it immediately and had to dig deeper. Difference with W500 is quite clear. Despite the better contrast, everywhere white on the screen has these black grids that annoy me.

 

Speakers

I’d say speakers are OK. Doesn’t have anything good or bad to call out.

 

Keyboard

I was skeptical about these island style keys but I can type fast. Clicks are quiet, I like the backlight with the exception that from a low angle you can see the bright LEDs from under function keys.

 

Battery

It appears to charge fast and last quite a bit. I have not had a chance to do accurate measurements but after about 2 hours of light use, indicator dropped to 79%

 

Resume from standby performance

System turns on quicker than you can open the lid. No issues here. Very fast.

 

Cold boot observations

22 seconds from cold start, ctrl-alt-del to logon, including me typing a password and reaching to Windows 8 start screen.

It reaches to password prompt in about 15-16 seconds. Easily 3-5 seconds are spent in POST ThinkPad logo screen. Not sure what it’s doing there. TPM/BitLocker comes to mind but not sure.

 

Heat/Noise

System is absolutely silent. Upon 30-40 minute constant on-lap typing and web browsing, I didn’t feel uncomfortable or heat anywhere. To be clear, it wasn’t hot to legs, it wasn’t hot to hands. I like it.

 

ThinkPad T430s

 

Well… To be honest, this was the most surprising one for me. “T” series is flagship of ThinkPad and I wasn’t expecting the issues I’m noting below:

  • Fan noise. Yes, this T430s is noisier than my W500. CPU is idle. Power not plugged in. Fully patched. Didn’t investigate anything about power profiles of ThinkPad. Fan is audible and blows hot (hotter than W500 when idle).
    • System SKU is 2352CTO – though this may be specific to our corporate purchase SKUs and may not be available directly.
  • Display is very bright; but has screen door effect (as mentioned earlier on X1 Carbon). W500 by comparison is yellow by now (probably age) but the grid-showing problem definitely does NOT exist in W500. Display in T430s is not IPS (not a surprise; but at this day and age, really was hoping for something better from Lenovo).
  • Thick bezel. Feels like they could put 1.5″ larger display in this case. It is a very thick, ugly black bezel all around — doesn’t make much sense to me.

So overall I’m disappointed in T430s.

Keyboard is good; same as X1 Carbon

Battery is replaceable although I haven’t measured battery life. It does have the slim optical bay, not sure if there is a battery accessory that slim but worst case spare battery will save you. X1 Carbon doesn’t have that option.

 

Conclusion

Because of the display issue, I will wait to see X1 Carbon Touch which is rumored to have IPS display. If I get hold of one I’ll update this post.

2 replies »

    • I’m not much of a trackpad person myself — that said, yes it did support pinch to zoom and left-right scrolling of the start screen. I don’t have much experience with state-of-the-art trackpads out there so I couldn’t tell you how these compare; overall it felt OK.

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