BARCELONA: Biometric security is nothing new. For years enterprises have experimented with fingerprint and eye scanners as a means to lock down sensitive office or lab areas.
However, it's only recently that biometric security checkers began to start appearing in mobile devices.
While Apple was the first to bring the technology to the masses with its Touch ID fingerprint scanner, Fujitsu has been experimenting with biometric security checkers for quite some time and in the past year integrated its custom Palm Vein scanner into a number of its ultrabooks.
At MWC, Fujitsu showed off a smartphone prototype boasting an iris authentication lock that could revolutionise mobile device security.
The technology lets users register their iris ring pattern, which is unique to each human, and use it to unlock devices or access sensitive work systems from their smartphone or tablet, simply by looking at them.
How it works
The iris authentication system we saw was built into a prototype smartphone Fujitsu claims is already "a few steps behind the version its developing in its test labs".
Authentication is a two-stage process. First, the system shines a specific waveband of infrared light at the user's face using the high-output infrared LED and an infrared camera takes a series of photos. The smartphone then compares the captured iris patterns to stored user profiles and unlocks when it finds a match.
Setting it up
After clicking on the Iris registration application, we were instructed to position our eyes within two on-screen circles and hold the phone steady while it scanned our irises.
The entire process took around 20 seconds to complete.
Once set up we attempted to use the technology to wake the prototype smartphone from sleep.
Fujitsu claims the technology works at distances up to 25cm. We tested the prototype 10 times at different distances between 10cm and 25cm from our face, and not only did the prototype recognise and unlock to our face within three seconds at each attempt, it also refused to unlock when faced with other people's irises.
Sadly the prototype unit had a bare minimum of applications of the Iris Authentication tool so we didn't get to see how it would work for more advanced tasks, like say approving in app purchases or NFC payments.
Fujitsu says it is "conducting ongoing research and development on this iris authentication technology and ways to broaden its scope, with the goal of a commercial implementation during fiscal 2015".
While we only got to see an early prototype of the technology, we were impressed with Fujitsu's smartphone iris scanner.
It's no secret that most smartphone users are fairly lax when it comes to mobile security. Even Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer openly admitted she doesn't have a password lock on her smartphone because "it slows things down".
With this in mind, we can see the iris scanner being a great security solution that could even entice the laziest of employees to lock down their handset.
Hopefully some smartphone device makers will share our enthusiasm and begin working to integrate the iris scanner into their handsets in the near future.
02 Mar 2015
Acer has been working hard to carve out a niche in the Android smartphone market for the past few years, and has shied away from using other mobile operating systems.
In an interview with V3's sister site The INQUIRER, Acer argued that this was because Windows Phone's application system was "too underdeveloped" for its tastes.
So we were surprised when Acer kicked off proceedings at MWC by unveiling its first Windows 8.1 smartphone, the Liquid M220.
Design and build
The Acer Liquid M220 is a fairly unique-looking device as it features a custom "faux silk" finish chassis that hides the fact it's actually made from polycarbonate.
Apart from this, it's a fairly standard, boxy design with dual sim inputs.
While we didn't get a chance to drop test the device, the 4in Liquid M220 does feel reasonably robust.
Screen technology is always one of the first corners most companies cut when designing affordable smartphones and this is certainly the case with Acer's first Windows Phone 8.1 handset.
Testing the Liquid M220's 4in 480x800 display on the brightly lit MWC showroom floor, the screen often looked washed out.
We found the screen was very reflective and brightness levels were also noticeably lower than we'd have liked, even when compared to other cheap handsets, like the Huawei Honor Holly or Motorola Moto E (2015).
Being fair to Acer though, the Liquid M220's display isn't any worse than competing budget Windows Phones, like the Lumia 535.
The Liquid M220's most interesting feature is its Windows Phone 8.1 operating system. As we've noted in past Windows Phone reviews, Microsoft's mobile operating system is one of the best available to business users and comes loaded with a wealth of security, productivity and enterprise focused features.
Key positives include Windows Phone's Cortana, OneDrive, Office 365 and Exchange features.
As an added bonus, Acer has also confirmed the Liquid M220 is "Windows 10 ready". Windows 10 was unveiled by Microsoft in October and is designed to bridge the gap between the firm's desktop and mobile operating systems, giving developers a single platform to work on.
Microsoft released a technical preview of Windows 10 for mobile in February for select Lumia devices.
Windows Phone has always been one of the least demanding mobile operating systems available.
In fact, its low system requirements have in the past meant Windows Phones have managed to match if not beat the performance of competing Android handsets, despite featuring lower end internal components. So in theory the Liquid M220's use of a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 512MB RAM could be forgiven, although during our hands-on we did notice a few performance issues.
Testing the handset, we found it could at times stutter or take a fraction of a second longer to respond to commands than we'd like.
We didn't get a chance to benchmark the handset or see how it performed tasks with demanding tasks like 3D gaming.
Hopefully our performance issues were due to software bugs that will be ironed out come the Liquid M220's full release.
Acer has loaded the Liquid M220 with 5MP and 2MP cameras. Looking through the demo units app list we found the Liquid M220 only features Windows Phone's bare-bones camera application and doesn't offer any of the custom settings seen on Acer's Android handsets.
This is a little disappointing as the manual camera controls Acer added to its Android phones, which let you control things like the ISO and white balance, were very useful.
Snapping a few shots on the MWC showroom floor, we found picture quality is what you'd expect from a 5MP rear camera. While usable for blogging or social media purposes, images were often slightly fuzzy.
Though again, being fair to Acer, we find this is the case with most sub-£100 smartphones.
Storage and battery
We didn't get a chance to battery test the Liquid M220. In terms of storage it comes with a barebones 4GB built-in storage but further space can be added using the Liquid M220's microSD.
The Liquid M220 will launch in Europe in April with pricing starting at €79. Acer is yet to give it a firm UK price or release date.
While we noticed some issues on the demo unit we used, our opening impressions of the Liquid M220 are positive and a sign Acer is moving in the right direction.
By confirming the Liquid M220 is "Windows 10 ready" Acer's shown it's starting to understand the need to future-proof its devices - something it's been slow to do for its Android range, which regularly aren't upgraded to new versions.
Combine this with the Liquid M220's super affordable price, which targets a currently underserved segment of the market, and we can see the Acer Windows Phone being a solid choice for any business looking for a mass rollout device.
02 Mar 2015
BARCELONA: Samsung had a tough time in 2014. The firm kept its place as the world's top Android smartphone maker, but lower than expected sales of the Galaxy S5 enabled key rival Apple to gain ground in the global battle for dominance.
Despite its disappointment in the mainstream space, a ray of hope for Samsung appeared at IFA in the shape of the Galaxy Note Edge, which featured an innovative curved screen around its right side.
Commonly viewed as a proof-of-concept for the firm's then rumoured Galaxy S6, the Galaxy Note Edge justifiably caught the world's attention.
As a result, come MWC we're pleased to see that Samsung has followed up the Galaxy Note Edge with what appears to be an even more innovative handset, the Galaxy S6 Edge.
Design and build
Visually the Galaxy Note Edge shares the same design philosophy as its sibling, the Galaxy S6, and features a metallic chassis and Gorilla Glass back. This combination of factors made the Galaxy S6 Edge feel like a hybrid of the Sony Xperia Z3 and iPhone 6 during our hands-on.
The only noticeable difference between the Galaxy S6 Edge and Galaxy S6 is that it's slightly fatter at 7mm, and has twin Super Amoled Edge Screens, like those on the Galaxy Note Edge, wrapped around its left and right sides.
We were impressed with the design and found it noticeably more solid and premium than past Galaxy handsets. This is due to the cold forged steel used in the chassis, which Samsung claims is "50 percent stronger than the aluminium used in competing handsets".
We were also pleased to see the return of the custom fingerprint scanner debuted on the Galaxy S5. Housed in the Galaxy S6 Edge's physical home button, the scanner offers similar functionality to the TouchID sensor on Apple iPhones.
It means that the Galaxy S6 Edge can be set to unlock or approve certain actions, like in-app purchases or mobile payments, only after the user has proved their identity.
Samsung made a big song and dance about the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge displays at MWC, claiming that they are the "most advanced ever seen on a smartphone". Putting aside the Galaxy S6 Edge's displays, we can understand why.
The Galaxy S6 Edge features the same 5.1in Quad HD 2560x1440 577ppi main display as its Galaxy S6 sibling. As with most Samsung Super Amoled displays, we were impressed with the Galaxy S6 Edge screen.
It's super vibrant, colour balance levels are great, viewing angles are wide and text and icons are wonderfully crisp.
The Galaxy S6 Edge comes with Google's Android Lollipop operating system, overlaid with the latest version of Samsung Touchwiz.
We've found Touchwiz to be a negative in the past, as it floods Samsung handsets with bloatware applications and makes needless changes to the user interface.
Testing the Galaxy S6 Edge, however, we were impressed at how good a job Samsung has done in cleaning up Touchwiz and most of the additions we noticed were positive.
Key positive additions included the latest version of Knox and Samsung Pay. Knox is a security service compatible with most enterprise mobility management services that lets users create a sandboxed, managed area on the Galaxy S6 Edge.
Samsung Pay is similar to other payment services, but is based on NFC and MST.
The MST tech offers mobile payments "even when a merchant only accepts magnetic stripe wipes". Samsung has already inked deals with payments services including MasterCard to support Samsung Pay.
The one problem we noticed is that Samsung hasn't done the same good work it did optimising Touchwiz to work with the Edge displays that it did on the Galaxy Note Edge.
Samsung set up a custom application shortcut menu and push notification menu for the Edge display on the Galaxy Note Edge. We didn't see either of these services on the Galaxy S6 Edge.
The Galaxy Note Edge is powered by the same "one of a kind" 14nm, 64-bit octa-core processor that combines quad-core 2.1GHz and 1.5GHz parts demonstrated on the Galaxy S6 and boasts 3GB RAM.
We didn't get a chance to properly benchmark or see how the Galaxy S6 Edge dealt with demanding tasks like 3D gaming during our hands-on.
However, with regular use we found the handset fairly fast and it opened applications and web pages very quickly.
Camera technology is an increasingly competitive area with smartphones. Samsung has loaded the Galaxy S6 Edge with a 16MP rear, F-1.9 with Real Time HDR and Optical Image Stabilisation camera and custom application.
Samsung claims that the F-1.9 lens lets in 60 percent more light than the Galaxy S5's lens and will radically improve low light performance.
The Real Time HDR shoots several images and combines them to create a more consistent and accurate photo.
The custom camera application adds a number of shot options, the most interesting of which is the Pro mode. This offers manual control over things like ISO and white balance.
Backing this up the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge feature completely reworked internal components.
Testing the auto mode, we found the Galaxy S6 Edge's camera fairly impressive. Shots taken on the brightly lit showroom floor on the rear camera featured decent brightness and contrast levels. Shutter speeds were also good, and in general our opening impressions are positive.
Battery and storage
Powered by a 2,600mAh non-removable battery, the Galaxy S6 Edge features fast and wireless charging technologies.
Specifically the Galaxy S6 Edge features fast charge tech which Samsung claims "charges four hours worth of charge in 10 minutes" and built in WPC and PMA wireless charging technology.
We didn't get a chance to test the fast charge tech or battery life during our hands-on, but will do so for our full review.
Storage wise Samsung is offering the Galaxy S6 Edge with 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of internal space and custom eMMC, as opposed to SSD, storage technology which Samsung claims will radically improve performance and write speeds.
Samsung is yet to reveal the Galaxy S6 Edge's price, although it probably won't be cheap considering the Galaxy Note Edge's hefty £700-plus price tag.
Despite this, our opening impressions of the Galaxy S6 Edge's custom Edge displays, screen, camera and custom technologies make it one of the most interesting smartphones to arrive this year.
Hopefully it will make good on its opening promise come its release in April.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson
02 Mar 2015
BARCELONA: Microsoft has been working to persuade CIO and CTOs it means business when it says it wants to become the biggest player in the enterprise handset market.
As a part of this the firm has been releasing a steady stream of security- and productivity-focused software updates and affordable handsets, designed for mass rollout.
The Lumia 640 continues this trend and aims to offer business users an affordable access point to Microsoft's business cloud services that can be easily and safely deployed across enterprise environments.
However, with the release of the firm's even cheaper Lumia 535 still fresh in the memory, some buyers may justifiably wonder why they should pay attention to the Lumia 640.
Design and build
Visually the Lumia 640 has the iconic colourful design seen on past Microsoft Windows Phones and looks like a slightly blown up version of the Lumia 535.
The Lumia 635 features a polycarbonate smooth finish frame with rounded corners and flat sides. While not a significant move forward from past Lumias we found plenty to like about the Lumia 640's design.
The Lumia 640 is reasonably comfortable to hold and feels pretty sturdy, albeit a little on the 'plastic' side.
Most tech firms choose screen technology as the first area to cut when designing affordable smartphones. Microsoft has attempted to buck this trend with the Lumia 640, giving it with a 5in IPS, 1280x720, 294ppi display with ClearBlack technology.
Testing the display on the brightly lit MWC Microsoft showroom floor, we were reasonably impressed how well the display performed compared to other affordable smartphones.
Colours on the Lumia 640 jumped out and are much better than is the case with previous affordable Lumias and cheap Android competitors.
Brightness levels, while not dazzling, are also reasonably high. Thanks to its Sunlight Readability mode, the phone is usable in bright light - unlike most other affordable handsets.
The Lumia 640 is set to ship with Windows Phone 8.1 pre-installed, though Microsoft has promised it will be upgraded to Windows 10 when the next generation OS is released later this year.
As we've noted in past Windows Phone reviews, for business users embedded in Microsoft's ecosystem, Windows 8.1 is a great operating system.
Windows Phone offers users key productivity tools, such as integrated Outlook, Skype, Cortana and OneDrive, and as an added bonus, the Lumia 640 will ship with a free one-year Office 365 subscription.
Microsoft has also loaded the OS with a number of enterprise-focused management and security features, including upgraded mobile device management (MDM), VPN and Outlook S/MIME protection.
The Lumia 640 runs on a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM.
While the specs don't sound like anything to write home about, especially compared to what's on offer in the Android ecosystem, thanks to Windows Phone's low system requirements, we found the Lumia 640 was reasonably fast during our hands-on.
The Lumia 640 navigated between menus and opened applications smoothly and, while we didn't get a chance to benchmark the handset or see how it dealt with demanding tasks, we didn't notice any serious performance issues.
Microsoft managed to acquire the imaging technology that set past Lumias apart when it acquired the phone division of Nokia and has worked hard to retain Windows Phone's imaging lead since the deal closed.
While not a match for the 41MP Pureview camera seen on the Lumia 1020, the Lumia 640's 8MP rear and 1MP front cameras compare well with the competition at the affordable end of the market.
While we're a little disappointed the Lumia 640 doesn't feature the improved Zeiss Optics seen on its big brother the Lumia 640 XL, we were still able to get fairly good results using the rear camera.
Photos taken on the MWC showroom floor had noticeably better colour balance and contrast levels than those we have taken in the past using competing affordable handsets. Thanks to the Lumia app, we were also able to manually control some of the camera settings, including ISO and white balance.
The only issue we had during our hands-on was with the shutter speed, which is slightly slower than we'd like.
Battery and storage
Sadly we didn't get a chance to battery burn the Lumia 640's 2,500mAh removable battery during our hands-on.
In terms of storage, the Lumia 640 comes with a basic 8GB of inbuilt space. Fortunately, a further 128GB can be added using the Lumia 640's microSD card slot.
Release date, price and conclusion
The Lumia 640 will launch in April. The 3G Lumia 640 will cost €139, while the 4G will cost €159.
Considering the Lumia 640's low price our opening impressions are positive. Given its above-average specifications and the fact that it can be upgraded to Windows 10, the Lumia 640 could be one of the best affordable handsets available to business this year.
Hopefully it will make good on this promise when we test it more thoroughly for our full review.
By V3's Alastair Stevenson
02 Mar 2015
BARCELONA: Acer unveiled its first Android 5.0 Lollipop smartphone at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC).
The Acer Liquid Z220 is unlikely to get too many people excited as it's the company's cheapest Android phone unveiled at the show. The firm also unveiled the 5in Liquid Z520 and Jade Z smartphones but, oddly, decided against loading them with Android 5.0.
The Liquid Z220 isn't going to win any awards when it comes to design, but it’s by no means a bad looking smartphone.
The rear is coated in a textured material, which makes the handset comfortable to hold, and it's a nice and compact unit despite the oversized bezel surrounding the screen.
However, the white version of the smartphone (it will also be available in black) was prone to picking up fingerprints even in the short time that we handled it.
The Liquid Z220 has a 4in 480x800 display with a 233ppi resolution. This was disappointing even for a phone with a €79 price tag, especially given the Honor Holly’s 5in 720x1280 screen and similar £79 price.
It’s perhaps just as disappointing in the flesh as it is on paper, as the screen quality is poor. App icons look fuzzy around the edges and brightness levels are low.
Software and performance
The Liquid Z220 is Acer's first smartphone to ship with Google’s Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system, trumping the Honor Holly.
This equips the smartphone with all of the latest Android features, such as Google’s card-based multitasking menu and revamped Notifications.
Acer has also left the UI largely untouched, which means that the Z220 comes with Google’s Material Design language. This is all very well, but it's difficult to appreciate on the low-quality display.
However, Acer has stuffed the smartphone full of applications that nobody asked for. Head into the apps menu and you’ll find Acer Portal, '50+ free games', Puzzle Pets and Real Football, among several others.
Most of these are likely to go untouched, and take up space on the handset, which has just 8GB of built-in storage. Thankfully, there is a microSD slot to extend the amount.
The Liquid Z220 uses a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, which is a little disappointing considering the Holly’s 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek offering.
We didn’t experience too many problems in terms of performance, although apps are noticeably slower to open than on many similarly priced phones, and there was some lag when swiping through screens.
The Liquid Z220 has a 5MP camera on the rear with an 89-degree wide angle lens, which we found easy to use thanks to the smartphone's compact size.
However, the camera struggled when it comes to image quality, in particular in the dark lighting at Acer's MWC event.
The camera had difficulty focusing, and pictures lacked detail and colour. We were unable to test the camera in natural light, but will do so in our full review.
Acer clearly has some lessons to learn when it comes to competing in the low-end smartphone market.
The Liquid Z220 is cheap at €79, but Huawei's Honor spin-off and Motorola are producing much higher-spec handsets at a similar price.
The Liquid Z220's screen, for example, feels like it belongs on a phone released in 2012, paling in comparison with the Honor Holly's 5in HD offering.
What's more, Acer's software additions will put some buyers off, especially when handsets such as the Motorola Moto G offer a largely untouched version of Android.
02 Mar 2015
The Samsung Galaxy S6 has finally been unveiled after the firm hosted its keynote at Mobile World Congress (MWC). With its redesigned body, improved components and Android Lollipop OS, the Galaxy S6 certainly gives the iPhone 6 a run for its money.
Buyers caught in the middle of this tug of war between the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 face a tough decision. So to help bring some clarity to the matter V3 has put together a spec by spec comparison of the two smartphones.
Measurements and weight
Samsung Galaxy S6: 143.4x70.5x6.8mm, 138g
Apple iPhone 6: 138x67x6.9mm, 129g
The iPhone 6 appears to have the upper hand here, being both lighter and thinner, although only by a few millimeters.
Samsung Galaxy S6: 5.1in, Quad HD (2560x1440) 577ppi, Super AMOLED
Apple iPhone 6: 4.7in, 1344x750 resolution, 326ppi Retina HD display
Samsung has a well-earned reputation for offering high-quality displays, and the above specs show that this is indeed the case with the S6, with a ppi count significantly higher than the iPhone 6's.
Samsung Galaxy S6: Quad 2.1GHz + Quad 1.5GHz, Octacore processor
Apple iPhone 6: Apple A8 chip
Samsung has shunned Qualcomm for the S6 phone, suggesting rumours of overheating issues were true, and instead used its own in-house Exynos chip. Without conducting tests, it's hard to say which processor is better, but it's likely to be a close-run thing.
Samsung Galaxy S6: 2,550mAh built-in lithium-ion battery – use time not quoted.
Apple iPhone 6: 14 hours from built-in lithium-ion battery.
Samsung has not quoted a time for the S6's battery life yet, but the size of the battery suggests it should be fairly hefty. Apple has upped its game in the battery stakes with the iPhone 6 so it would be a big surprise if Samsung hasn't done likewise.
Samsung Galaxy S6: Android Lollipop 5.0
Apple iPhone 6: iOS 8
The Galaxy S6 comes with Android Lollipop, as well as Samsung's usual added extras such as TouchWiz and its Knox mobile device management service.
Picking a winner between the two dominant mobile operating systems is a tough thing to do as it's highly dependent on which ecosystem a user is is already embedded in and prefers.
Samsung Galaxy S6: 16MP with optical image stabilization, 5MP front-facing
Apple iPhone 6: 8MP, f/2.2 rear camera, 1.2MP front-facing camera
Samsung appears to have the edge in the camera department, with its lens boasting twice as many mega pixels a the iPhone 6 and coming with optical image stabilization technology too. This should improve photos taken in less-than-ideal lighting conditions.
Also, with a 5MP front-facing camera, the S6 could prove enticing to those who enjoy making video calls, as it dwarfs the 1.2MP offering on the iPhone 6.
Samsung Galaxy S6: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB – no SD card slot.
Apple iPhone 6: 16GB, 64GB, 128GB – no SD card slot.
Samsung has decided against offering a 16GB option, which may deter more budget-conscious users.
Samsung Galaxy S6: Not yet announced.
Apple iPhone 6: From £539 SIM-free
Samsung has not announced pricing yet but it's fair to assume the device won't be cheap, even on a two-year contract. We'll have more information on pricing as and when it becomes available. The Galaxy S6 will be available globally from April 10.
Microsoft delivered a new build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview late last month, following an event at which the firm disclosed more upcoming features, such as Cortana support and the Continuum technology to optimise the user interface for tablet or keyboard modes.
The new version - identified as build 9926 - shows the progress Microsoft is making as it moves closer to a full release of the new operating system. This is slated for later this year, and some rumours now indicate that Windows 10 may hit its release to manufacturing date as early as June.
However, some features are still missing for those outside the US, including the Cortana personal assistant. In our tests, Windows simply displayed the message: 'Cortana is not available in your market' (see above).
What is apparent is a number of user interface tweaks and enhancements since the first Technical Preview was released last year.
The overall effect of these is to make Windows 10 look sleek and polished, and offer an experience much closer to that of older versions of Windows, without throwing out too much of the touch-oriented enhancements added in Windows 8 and 8.1.
The reinstated Start menu (see above) was present in the first Technical Preview but has now gained the option to expand to full-screen using a button at the top right. This principally provides more space for the Metro-style or Windows Store apps rather than anything else, but is welcome nonetheless.
There's also a new look Settings app (above), which delivers the Settings screen from Windows 8 in a format that somewhat resembles the old Control Panel in older versions of Windows, in yet another attempt to make existing Windows users feel more at home.
Also new is a beta of a new-look Windows Store app (see above), which introduces an updated visual design which will be common across PCs, tablets, phones and the web. However, Microsoft warned that apps purchased from the Windows Store Beta (represented by a grey tile) work only on devices with the January Technical Preview.
The Continuum feature, which dynamically adapts Windows for a desktop or touch-optimised tablet experience, is also implemented in this release. This is intended for two-in-one devices, where a keyboard can be attached or removed at any time, but users can also manually activate it using the Notifications panel accessible by swiping in from the right of the screen.
Overall, our impressions of Windows 10 from this updated Technical Preview are encouraging, and we could easily imagine using this as our everyday compute platform in place of Windows 7, something that we would not have sanctioned with Windows 8.
We look forward with interest to further developments from Microsoft.
LAS VEGAS: Lenovo unveiled its third-generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook this week, featuring Intel's 5th-generation Core processor to bring the best possible performance for the form factor.
We got a chance to play with the device while running between the booths at CES 2015.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon looks all but identical to its 2014 predecessor, with the same black finish and red detailing.
The updated features are subtle, but very welcome. The laptop features an even thinner and lighter chassis, weighing just under 1.3kg and measuring 17.7mm thick, almost a full millimetre thinner than last year's model which measured 18.5mm.
The laptop felt especially light and thin in our hands and we can see it being ideal for travel or business trips.
Another new feature is PCIe SSD storage in a similar vein to the MacBook Air, which can take advantage of faster onboard SSD drive storage. The laptop will ship with up to 512GB drives.
The Thinkpad X1 Carbon (2015) is available in touchscreen and non-touchscreen versions. The demo unit we tried boasted a 14in, 10-point multi-touch display, with WQHD in-plane switching.
As well as being nicely responsive to touch, the new Thinkpad X1 Carbon's screen is pleasant to look at. Using the Thinkpad X1 Carbon in the brightly lit showroom floor, the ultrabook's display proved suitably bright and remained legible even when hit with stray light.
We were also impressed with its viewing angles, as text remained crisp even when viewing the screen from the side.
Colours were suitably vibrant and, while not as crisp as the Retina displays seen on Apple Macbooks, the Thinkpad X1 Carbon's screen was far better than those seen on most competing Windows 8 ultrabooks.
The laptop will be available with FHD display options.
Performance and software
Lenovo didn't go for an Intel Core M design and instead opted for the chipmaker's latest 5th-gen Core processor. The model we tested was running a Core i7 chip, and felt super fast in our initial tests.
It seemed to handle Windows 8.1 very well. There was no lag when swiping between pages, and programs popped up almost as soon as we selected them. It handled everything we threw it at with ease.
Beyond its performance-boosting powers, the real benefit of Intel's new Broadwell chip architecture is its ability to boost ultrabooks' battery lives.
Lenovo lists the Thinkpad X1 Carbon as being able to last for 10 hours of regular use from one charge, one hour more than last year's Broadwell model.
Intel's Core update packs in 35 percent more transistors than in Intel's previous 4th-generation Haswell CPU, while also shrinking die size by 37 percent, allowing for super powerful machines with form factors like the XPS 13, so expect many more like it to pop up from other OEMs later this year.
In terms of other features, there's wireless connectivity in the form of 802.11ac Wi-Fi and a selection of USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI output.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon starts at $1,249 and will be available in the US from January. UK release dates are yet to be announced.