What do you do when you want a ThinkPad laptop but can’t afford one? Until now, a secondhand ThinkPad. But this summer, Lenovo hopes it will tempt you with the first in a new range of ThinkBooks.
The idea is to provide something of almost the same quality of the ThinkPad whilst stripping away some of the enterprise-focused features. And, as a result, lowering the price. Here’s our first-look review of the all-new Lenovo ThinkBook 13s.
ThinkPad vs ThinkBook – what do you lose?
Here’s a handy list. If any of these omissions make you cry, you need to stick with a ThinkPad:
- Trademark black design
- The red trackpoint
- Military-standard testing
- Intel vPro inside – so you lose some manageability and security features
- Probably £100 to £200 from the price…
- A few millimetres’ travel on the keyboard
ThinkPad vs ThinkBook: what stays the same?
While you lose Intel’s vPro certification, Lenovo insists this laptop will still be easy for businesses to manage. That means it will continue to run Windows 10 Pro and ship with Lenovo’s management software, or at least a subset of it.
In terms of the hardware, the quality of the chassis, screen and keyboard is very similar to a ThinkPad. Lenovo says the panel is the same quality, but I’ll wait to see if that’s the case when I get a sample to test.
From spending a short time with the keyboard I can say that it’s not quite up there with a ThinkPad’s; while the mechanism remains the same, you lose enough travel in the key press to make it feel less emphatic.
While the chassis hasn’t gone through the same level of hardship testing as the ThinkPads do, it feels sturdy. I don’t think we have anything to fear here.
Lenovo ThinkBook 13s – early thoughts
Without a price or detailed specifications, it’s too early to give a proper verdict on the ThinkBook 13s (the “s”, incidentally, stands for slim). Aside from the ports – full-size HDMI, USB-C (for data transfer not power supply, at least for the moment), plus a couple of USB-A – we know very little.
However, I like most of what I see. I still have question marks over the keyboard, and those will only be answered after I’ve typed a few hundred words on it. Likewise I really want to put the panel through its paces: it may well be a “vibrant IPS panel” as Lenovo says, but that doesn’t mean it’s top quality.
What I can say for certain is that this is an interesting move. Lenovo has its ThinkPads at the top end and IdeaPads for general consumers, but there has been a “missing middle” in its range.
Lenovo’s plan is for the 13s to be the start, with 14in and 15in models to follow. If it keeps the quality in the right places, it could be a very shrewd move.
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