Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring) on ThinkPad X1 Carbon Experience

I have been using ThinkPads for the past seven plus years. I love the design, reliability and excellent Linux compatibility not to mention the best typing experience money can buy.

After three years of 10+ hours/day  and countless trips, my ThinkPad X201 finally started to act up.  Wireless  reception degraded quite a bit, track light is gone and the palm rests are broken and had to be taped to the chassis. It was time to get a new machine as I have some important business trips to attend to and being caught with a dead laptop is a show stopper.

Naturally, my target was another ThinkPad. However, I wasn't sure which model was best.  I know I couldn't wait so I had to make my choice soon. My criteria was simple. I needed something light < 3.5 lbs. with a large screen. My peepers are not what they used to be :-).  After some research, I discovered the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Of course Linux compatibility was a concern so I scoured the net looking for people who used it with Ubuntu. Luckily, there weren't any red flags so I plunked my hard earned money on a new laptop.

Upon receiving it, I immediately backed up my MS Windows 8 recovery partition to a USB key and installed Ubuntu 13.04 (still under development) and started using it on a daily basis.  Almost everything worked except the screen brightness, which is already logged here.   BT, WIFI, USB, Display Port, Camera, Mic, Audio, Suspend and Resume, etc. all worked out of the box.

Battery life was excellent. I managed to get solid ~5 hours worth of office-type work, which is very respectable for a large LCD (14") laptop. I guess you can say I am a happy camper.  On  the HW side, the machine is very well designed, stiff, and very professional looking and feeling, but suffered some blemishes that are direct result of Lenovo's manufacturing.

When I buy a top of the line ThinkPad, I expect a certain level of perfection. Unfortunately, Lenovo couldn't measure up. First, the "X1 Carbon" silk screening on the bottom right corner of the LCD is slanted by a few degrees. It is enough to immediately spot.  The Power button is not sitting horizontally. It too is slanted, which is also very visible. Finally, the top left corner of the LCD front bezel has some sort of plastic or tape sticking from it (~1 mm), which you can clearly see when the LCD is off.  These deficiencies don't affect the machine's functionality. However, they don't inspire confidence and leave you wondering what else is wrong  under the keyboard cover.  I hope Lenovo corrects these issues ASAP since they are easy to remedy.

Other than that, I love the machine and I look forward to another three years of service.