Walt Mossberg, dean of technology journalists whose reviews carry a lot of weight, gives a mostly thumb’s up review after testing Lenovo’s new ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

But he is critical of its “middling” battery life and labels it “pricey.”

In a just published review, Mossberg describes the ThinkPad X1 Carbon as a “high-end, thin and light ultrabook with a high price tag.”

Like $1,399.

He also reviewed the Hewlett-Packard HPQ +1.44% Envy 6 Sleekbook, describing the HP model as a “handsome, midrange machine meant for the budget-conscious.”

Mossberg’s review focuses on new models coming out ahead of Windows 8 in October, with the Lenovo and HP newbies expected to accommodate the new software.

“Both machines have their virtues,” Mossberg wrote. “I much preferred the ThinkPad, from a design and performance standpoint, but it starts at a whopping $1,399 and is meant for people like business travelers with deep pockets. The H-P delivers good value and a larger screen for a very attractive $599 starting price, and is meant more for students or people who are willing to trade price for somewhat slower performance, and greater bulk and weight.

“Neither machine was very impressive in my battery tests, and the costly Lenovo did worse than the much more affordable H-P,” he warned.

Lenovo trails HP – just barely – in the battle to be the world’s No. 1 PC manufacturer. Lenovo rolled out the Carbon – so called because it features carbon materials in construction and therefore is lighter – in Beijing earlier this week.

The Carbon is just one in a series of new products Lenovo keeps rolling out worldwide. Its forthcoming tablet is viewed as a direct challenger to Apple’s iPad, especially in China.

As for the X1, Lenovo designers, especially those based in Morrisville where the company operates its executive headquarters, are probably breathing a sigh of relief that Mossberg likes it. He touts the back-lit keyboard, higher resolution screen, screen size and more.

Just like show producers hold their breath on Broadway as they wait for the first reviews, the Lenovo crew can now breath a bit easier with Mossberg’s positive remarks.

The battery criticism, however, is like to trigger some internal reviews and discussions. The end of his review is a bit of a downer.

“The X1 Carbon continues the tradition of the ThinkPad’s superior design and performance,” Mossberg says, “and is a solid choice for those who can live with its price tag and middling battery life.”


[LENOVO ARCHIVE: Check out six years of Lenovo stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]