CES 2024 | Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G12 & X1 2-in-1 hands on: Huge redesign with accessibility focus
Among managers and other frequent travelers, Lenovo ThinkPad laptops are a common sight. Especially popular in the premium segment is the ThinkPad X1 series, Lenovo's most premium ThinkPad series.
Each year, there is a new model of this high end laptop series, but not every new generation is equal: With the ThinkPad X1 Carbon G9 and X1 Yoga G6 as a major redesign in 2021, the subsequent X1 Carbon G10 and X1 Carbon G11 (available at Amazon for $1,527) as well as their convertible counterparts X1 Yoga G7 and X1 Yoga G8 were mere updates with newer CPUs and not many other changes.
This is not the case for this years models: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 12 and the newly renamed Lenovo ThinkPad X1 2-in-1 are completely redesigned - or as Lenovo calls this step, a cleansheet.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 2-in-1: New naming replaces ThinkPad Yoga sub-brand
First off, we asked Lenovo: Why retire the ThinkPad Yoga sub-brand, which has been around since 2013, marking the ThinkPad convertibles since then? According to Lenovo, the reason was to avoid confusion with the consumer brand Lenovo Yoga that has increasingly moved away from being a convertible-series to just a brand name for Lenovo's premium consumer laptops. The "2-in-1" moniker was chosen, since this is the most common way that the industry describes such convertible designs.
Cooling system upgraded to sustain TDP of 25 W
Both new systems are powered by Intel Core Ultra aka Meteor Lake - the X1 Carbon G12 is already available in the USA with the H series CPUs. In March, the X1 2-in-1 will follow, though this unit will only feature the U series CPUs. In the same month, U series configurations of the X1 Carbon will also become available.
To be able to cool the new CPUs, Lenovo has apparently spent a lot of resources on the cooling system. This includes two bigger fans, a complete internal redesign as well as increased airflow through the bottom cover and the keyboard. All of these measures combined were able to increase the TDP of this design from 21 W on the predecessor to 25 W - not a minuscule increase for such thin and lightweight laptops.
A consequence of the internal reshuffling of components: The number of speakers has been reduced from four to two, and the speakers now fire through the keyboard. Luckily, as we could test in our hands-on, the new speaker system is still quite loud, retaining its Dolby Atmos certification as well.
Many changes to the ThinkPad input devices
The X1 Carbon G12 and X1 2-in-1 bring the first large redesign of the ThinkPad input devices in many generations. Among the changes are new markings on many important keys, including Enter, FN, Insert or the Volume up/down buttons. These markings are intended to make ThinkPads more usable for visually impaired users and will also improve usability for touch typists.
Speaking of the FN key: Lenovo has finally swapped around the FN and Ctrl keys, a change that will come to all 2024 ThinkPads. According to Lenovo, the majority of users simply wanted them to switch the keys to the layout they have on most other laptops. ThinkPad diehards will be able to switch the keys back, however.
Unlike this change, the new haptic trackpad is completely optional. This new, bigger glass touchpad design with integrated TrackPoint buttons was first featured on the ThinkPad Z13 of 2022, though this time, the hardware is supplied by Sensel - we reported on this supplier of haptic touchpads before. In our short time with the new X1 Carbon G12, the haptics of the touchpad were excellent, with an extremely good feedback. While Lenovo hopes that this touchpad will make many users happy who ignore the classic ThinkPad TrackPoint, the traditional design with dedicated TrackPoint buttons and a mechanical clickpad is still available.
Not optional is the fingerprint reader that is now part of the keyboard, next to the arrow keys. This new fingerprint reader is more accurate according to Lenovo, and integrating it into the keyboard saves some room.
ThinkPad X1 2-in-1: Pen is now outside the chassis
Up until now, all generations of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga had a small pen inside a silo. The new model forgoes the stylus and its silo in favor of a bigger pen, which can be attached to the right side of the system via magnets - either to the screen or the base, with the magnets of the base being stronger. Lenovo asked their users if they preferred a pen with a silo or a larger one, and apparently, the larger pen won out. Also, the space of the silo could be used to make the cooling system bigger. The new pen is charged via USB C through the removable back of the stylus.
Last but now least, there is a small design change that may not be immediately apparent from the outside: The ThinkPad logo is no longer a sticker, as it has always been up until now. Instead, Lenovo now uses a debossed version of the logo.