I was a huge fan of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga when I reviewed it last year. For me, it was the perfect combination of technology, form factor, and good looks.
This January, the machine is receiving a modest, third-generation refresh that threatens to make the best laptop even better. The basic size and concept remain the same as before—a 14-inch laptop with a 360-degree hinge and integrated stylus. This update is a refresh driven by a generational update of its CPU—the processor is being bumped from 7th-generation Kaby Lake to 8th-generation Kaby Lake-R, giving it four cores and eight threads. But Lenovo has also made a number of small modifications beyond this, addressing perhaps my one quibble from last year’s model, and more.
My gripe with Yoga was that the webcam didn’t support infrared and hence didn’t offer Windows Hello facial recognition. I’ve grown to love these features from my time using Surface devices and the Logitech Brio webcam on my desktop PC; the convenience of unlocking simply by sitting at the machine is hard to beat. The new 3rd-generation Yoga addresses this: while it continues to offer fingerprint authentication, it now also has an option of an IR camera for Windows Hello facial recognition. Lenovo has also built a physical shutter for the camera to ensure privacy when you’re not using it.
The screen has received a big upgrade, too; it’s now a high-dynamic range 2560×1440 display, supporting 100 percent of the Adobe RGB color space and peak brightness of up to 500 nits. The system’s microphones have also been improved, with a 360-degree far field array microphone. This is useful for audio and video conferencing; it also helps when talking to digital personal assistants. Both Microsoft’s Cortana, built in to Windows 10, and Amazon’s Alexa, coming to PCs later this year, work better with this kind of microphone configuration. The Yoga will also support wake-on-voice.
If you like the X1 Yoga but prefer a conventional laptop hinge, its close sibling, the X1 Carbon, is also being refreshed. The new 6th-generation X1 Carbon sports many of the same improvements as the Yoga—the HDR screen, the IR webcam with physical shutter, the new microphones—packed into what Lenovo claims is the lightest 14-inch business laptop. It will weigh a hair under 2.5lbs.
And if you’d prefer something a little more tablety, the X1 Tablet has also been refreshed. This is a kickstand tablet with a detachable keyboard cover. While its 13-inch screen is a bit smaller than the 14 inches sported the Yoga and Carbon, it’s higher resolution, at 3000×2000, and Lenovo describes the X1 Tablet as “HDR-ready.” Like its laptop siblings, it’s being updated to Kaby Lake-R, and it now supports Windows Hello facial recognition.
While the appearance of all three machines remains unmistakably ThinkPad, Lenovo has added some refining touches; the devices have a new “blacked out” logo, combined with X1 branding on the lid.
All three systems support Thunderbolt 3. Lenovo also has a Thunderbolt 3 monitor with matching styling to go with the portables. The ThinkVision X1 monitor is a 27-inch 4K display that’s just 4.7mm thick with extremely narrow bezels. The display supports 99 percent of the sRGB color space and 10 bits per pixel. It includes an embedded, motorized webcam with dual microphone arrays.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th generation will start at $1,709 while the ThinkPad X1 Yoga 3rd generation starts at $1,889. Both will be available in January. So too will the ThinkVision X1 monitor, priced at $799. The ThinkPad X1 Tablet 3rd generation ships in March and starts at $1,599.