Lenovo ThinkPads at CESby Jarred Walton on January 10, 2012 1:14 AM EST
Lenovo had a large area reserved where they could display all of their new and upcoming hardware along with some of their recently released products. While there were various ThinkCentre offerings on display, the majority of the space was occupied by a plethora of laptops, tablets, and smartphones. We didn’t spend time with every product on offer, but there were a few interesting items worth pointing out. We’ll focus on their laptop offerings from the ThinkPad and IdeaPad lines for this post.
We’ve often complained about the dearth of quality displays in laptops—and it’s particularly irksome considering how many tablets are now sporting higher quality displays. Well, I finally got a chance to put my mitts on the ThinkPad X220, and it’s everything you’d expect from a high quality IPS panel. Contrast ratios look very good, with bright whites and dark blacks, but more importantly you get excellent viewing angles. I generally like the look of ThinkPad laptops, and the build quality of the T- and W-series is excellent. The X220 is probably one of the most compelling laptops you can find at under 13.3” right now, and while you’ll pay more for the privilege it’s money well spent. There are aspects of ThinkPad that I don’t like much—the touchpad on the X220 in particular is small and not particularly comfortable for me to use—but given the choice between an excellent touchpad with a crappy display and a mediocre touchpad with an excellent display, I’ll definitely take the latter. None of the other displays could match the quality of the X220, sadly, though the W520 is at least close.
Other ThinkPad offerings run the usual gamut of T-series, W-series, and ThinkPad Edge to name a few. Lenovo has also decided to move away from the s-suffix (e.g. T420s) and created a new S-series line. The ThinkPad Edge S430 is interesting in that it’s one of the few laptops we’ve seen so far at CES with a Thunderbolt port. Another cool ThinkPad is the X1 Hybrid, which is the same as the X1 but with a mini-PCIe card that contains an SoC capable of running a Linux-style. If you need more battery life and don’t need the performance of a full Core i5/i7 processor you can switch to the SoC. At that point, the Windows environment goes into sleep mode and you switch to a Linux-based (Android-based) environment. There’s shared flash memory storage that can be accessed by both the Windows and Linux platforms, but the Linux OS can only read from the flash memory. The battery life benefit is claimed as being up to 2X when in SoC mode, though others have reported even lengthier runtimes.
Overall, the ThinkPad line continues to deliver as a well-built business laptop series. Not all ThinkPads are created equal of course—I’m partial to the T-, W-, and X-series—but the hinges are all solid and for the increased price you get a laptop that should last a good five years. I'm also (apparently like many of you) more than a bit concerned with the move away from the classic ThinkPad keyboard to a new chiclet-style design; all of the new ThinkPads are sporting chiclet keyboards, and while they're not bad I definitely prefer the current "classic" keyboards. Finally, while there weren’t any Ivy Bridge models on display yet, those are obviously coming and we’ll keep an eye out for the spring refresh.