Ubuntu on Lenovo X1 Carbon - Great First Impressions

After a bit of research on the level of http://www.ubuntu.com support, I decided to get a Lenovo X1 Carbon for my new development machine.

If you have never seen the X1 Carbon, its like a really special edition of a Mac Book Air, except much more awesome and more powerful. Here are my impressions so far.

The things I value the most are:

  • Fast Processor - i7 cpu @ 2GHz dual core & hyperthreading CPU (virtual 4 cores)
  • Decent size RAM - 8 Gb
  • 14” Matt screen display with IPS for a very bright screen
  • Thin bezel around the display means the 14” screen sits in a typical 13” form factor
  • High Definition resolution - 1600x900
  • Decent battery life, between 4 to 6 hours and a 30 minute quick charge to ~80% full
  • A really great keyboard - perfect for Emacs and command line junkies
  • A hardware switch for WiFi and Bluetooth
  • It comes in black, as all technology should

The most important thing is that it runs http://www.ubuntu.com and it runs Ubuntu very fast!!

Great Ubuntu support so far

I have not found anything that does not work as yet (although its only been 2 hours).

WiFi network - this worked without any problems (even after suspend). I did pick up a USB ethernet connector just in case, but have not needed that as yet. The WiFi is very fast, especially when connected to a 5GHz network. The WiFi also works with 2.5GHz networks too.

Back-light keyboard - use Fn + Space keys to cycle through 2 different levels of brightness and off. Unlike the Mac, there is no low-light level detector, but I can provide that service myself :)

Display brightness - use Fn + F8 / F9 to change the brightness of the screen and there is a decent stepping range of brightness.

Volume level & sound mute - these buttons all work, although the microphone mute button does not seem to work.

Suspend on closing the laptop lid works just fine and the WiFi network came back along with everything else when opening the lid. The Ubuntu installer does not create a swap space by default (or this may be because I selected an encrypted disk partition), so hibernate does not work at present.

Lock Screen button Fn + F3 works just fine and is a quick way to put the screen to sleep.

External monitor also tested okay. I plugged in a Dell 24” monitor using the Display Port to VGA adaptor (additional purchase) and got the full 1920 x 1200 output. The Lenovo display can also run its display of 1600x900 at the same time and I notice no loss of responsiveness in either display.

Web Camera works very well and I tested it out via a Google hangout with myself.

Impressions overall

The Lenovo X1 Carbon laptop is a pretty impressive piece of kit on paper. I was excite when I was reading about it and worried it would not live up to the hype.

I didn’t have to worry. From the moment I pulled it out of the box it has been a joy. I still cant believe how light it is, it feels half the weight of any laptop I’ve ever held. Despite the light weight, it feels very robust and seems like it will last a long time.

Using the laptop is a joy, mainly down to the keyboard. Its a full size keyboard and has the keys laid out in there correct places. I dont have to go hunting for the @ ~ | and # keys.

Battery life seems pretty good. I have been writing this article on an off over the last 4 an a bit hours. There is still an hour and a half left on the battery indicator. Admittedly I haven’t run any websites running flash or played any games, but I am pretty sure I can last all day at a conference using WiFi. I will test out the 30 minute quick charge over the next few days.

Update: The Lenovo X1 Carbon charges up really quickly, easily charging to over 80% capacity in 30 minutes and full charge in about 45 minutes.

Compared to the Mac Book Pro I was given via the company I work for, the Lenovo X1 Carbon wins on every count.

In the next few blogs I’ll cover setting up this great laptop to be an awesome development machine.

Thank you.

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