Lenovo just put its flag on the shore of Meteor Lake, Intel's next-gen Ultra Core processor, with its ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 12. Intel's new chip promises not only better speed and power management but also onboard AI to help usher in the next generation of personal AI computers.
It's not just what's inside that might excite the average laptop user. Lenovo subtly redesigned the chassis and is now using carbon fiber recycled from Boeing airplane parts. Lenovo partnered with carbon fiber company Toray and Boeing to source waste material from the production of airplanes. It's all part of Lenovo's efforts to create a closed-loop or sustainable supply chain in the manufacture of its laptops.
Along with recycled materials, Lenovo redesigned the laptop body to be smaller and thinner than the last model. It reduced the bezel size around the 14-inch screen OLED screen, which supports up to 120Hz refresh rate and 400 nits of brightness. There's also a more visible communication bar at the top of the display which houses an 8MP webcam that includes a privacy shutter.
In addition to being more sustainable, Lenovo sought to make the X1 Carbon G12 more inclusive. It worked with The Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, North Carolina, to develop new keyboard markings, such as ones for volume control and the Insert key, to make it easier to use for the vision impaired. Lenovo plans on using the keyboard on all ThinkPads and hopes to encourage the Windows laptop industry (possibly with arm-twisting from Microsoft) to make it a standard. The keyboard, by the way, still includes an integrated fingerprint reader.
The laptop's new Intel Ultra processors, which are also being introduced in Lenovo's new IdeaPad Pro 5i include three processing engines, the CPU, GPU, and a new NPU (neural processing unit). With the latter, these systems can offload AI tasks, such as requests from Windows 11's new GPT-4-based CoPilot, to the NPU.
Lenovo showed me a few other enhancements including speakers that now drive Dolby Atmos-supporting audio through the keyboard, a larger 25W max power system (the battery is still 57Whr), and a completely new thermal management that evenly spreads the heat load across two spaces.
Along with the Intel Core Ultra CPU, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 12 will support up 64GB of RAM (LPDDR5X), and a 2TB SSD. Graphics support comes from the onboard Intel Arc GPU. There will be support for Wi-Fi 6e and the emerging Wi-Fi 7 standard, along with Bluetooth 5.3, and 5G.
Ports include 2 USB-C thunderbolt-4 ports and 2 USB-A ports, along with an HDMI 2.1 port and (still) a 3.5mm headphone jack.
I got to spend just a little time with the new laptop, which was not powered up. The body felt thin and light (it weighs just 2.42 lbs / 1.1 kg) and the keyboard with its TrackPoint center button triggered a wave of nostalgia. There's a decent amount of space for your palms and the trackpad.
While these recycled materials are currently only part of Lenovo's business laptop line, it's safe to assume that similar eco-friendly manufacturing strategies might make their way to more consumer-friendly laptops like Lenovo's IdeaPad line.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 12 will start at $2,989 and be available this month in limited configurations. A wider range should show up in March of 2024. Perhaps it'll take that long to collect the requisite carbon fiber refuse.
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A 35-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.
Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, Fox News, Fox Business, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.