30 Nov 2012
In Fine Form
Why ThinkPad X1 Carbon and HP Envy Spectre XT are strongly recommended
ThinkPad X1 Carbon
What I Liked: ThinkPads have long captivated the imagination of business users, but with the X1 Carbon, the family gets an ultrabook makeover. The design aesthetic is typical ThinkPad, so it either looks a tad dated or comfortably familiar (depending on how you see it!). It’s seriously light at less than 1.36kg yet in no way does it feel flimsy, and the slim wedge-shaped carbon fiber outer shell takes the legendary ThinkPad reliability up a few notches, and this is an ultrabook that’s built for rough use. The keyboard is very comfortable to use, but what I really was impressed with was the excellent gesture-friendly glass touchpad, probably the best I’ve seen outside of Apple. Performance is good, but there seems to be a battery-first approach here, which is perfectly reasonable for the largely business audience who will pick this up. The RapidCharge feature, which lets you perform a super fast 80 per cent charge in 30 minutes is incredibly handy, one wonders why more manufacturers don’t do this.
Where It Lacks: While the 14-inch display with its 1600x900 pixel resolution looks good on paper, in everyday use the display is a bit of a let down, both in terms of sheer clarity and brightness. While connectivity options are good, I found that not having an Ethernet port on board might be a little limiting for the business user, as may the lack of a quick-replaceable additional battery. Plus it’s on the pricey side of things as well. And then there’s the broader question for all existing ultrabooks – what will the launch of the “touch-first” Windows 8 mean for non-touch laptops?
Verdict: Truest to the ultrabook spec, the X1 Carbon is a great option for business-types looking for a solid, reliable companion.
HP Envy Spectre XT
What I Liked: Look at the Spectre XT from across the room, and the shiny silver ultrabook may fool you to believe it’s something from Apple’s stable. I mean sure, it has a different lid, hinge and trackpad but the overall effect feels crafted to appeal to people who’d want a Mac ultraportable with Windows. That said, there are plenty of things the Spectre XT gets right. The brushed-aluminum body looks lovely and the chassis is rigid and feels durable. The keyboard and trackpad are a pleasure to use as well. Connectivity options are generous – a full sized HDMI port, a USB 3.0 socket, an Ethernet port and a full-size SD card slot, among others. Audio, courtesy the Beats Audio enhancements, is pretty great for a laptop this size. Performance is pretty good, and the capable processor options and fast SSDs ensure things are zippy all round.
Where It Lacks: The Achilles’ heel for the Spectre XT is its lower resolution 1366 x 768 pixel display, which is a dash on the dim side and loses brightness and suffers from images washing out when you move off center. For a laptop that screams high-end in every other respect, it is a let down. Battery life, while not bad, is a bit middling and I managed a little less than five hours of use. And yes, the Windows 8 question applies here as well.
Verdict: Sexy package? Check. Good performance? Check. Screen resolution aside, this one earns a strong recommendation.
ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Price: starts from Rs. 85,000/- (plus taxes)
Envy Spectre XT
Price: starts from Rs. 64,990/- (plus taxes)
technocool at kanwar dot net