The T431s values form over function; offering a great portable design, but with subpar specs for its high-end price point.
Lenovo makes a return to its mainstream business line with the ThinkPad T431s. The device not only serves as a refresher for the popular enterprise line, but a reaffirmation of everything that the ThinkPad T-series values. Form has always been the focus of the T-series, and the T431s exemplifies this notion incorporating a new and improved build design, while retaining the same dependable durability that the series has become known for.
While the ThinkPad T431s' durability and usability remain in top form, its dedication to design comes at a price. With a sleek utility driven design, the T431s certainly looks cutting edge, but in terms of actual performance, the Lenovo ThinkPad is anything but. With a third generation i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD the ThinkPad has difficult time justifying its steep price point.
Not many devices offer a better build design than the Lenovo ThinkPad T431s, but does that justify the notebook's mid-tier specs at its high-end price? Read the full review to find out.
Build and Design
The Lenovo ThinkPad T431s improves upon the already impressive design of the ThinkPad T430; offering excellent durability in the slimmest 14-inch T-series notebook seen to date. The business oriented ultrabook employs a black carbon fiber lid that proves resistant to fingerprint smudges and smooth the touch.
The chassis of the T431s is outfitted in a black magnesium shell cover. The bottom portion of the device is coated in a thin protective plastic layer providing a sleek resistant finish while the raw magnesium surface of the deck offers a tactile textured feel and added grip.
Similar to its predecessor the Lenovo ThinkPad T431s incorporates a roll cage into its chassis design, affording the device a considerable amount of durability. Despite its petite 0.8" thickness the ThinkPad proved resistant to incoming pressure, as the chassis easily held its form even when extreme pressure was applied. The carbon fiber lid allowed for considerably more flex when pressure was applied, but with its sturdy 180 degree hinge design the display is more than durable enough to handle the normal ins and outs of travel.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T431s manages to achieve this durability with an incredibly portable form factor. Measuring in at 13" x 8.9" x 0.8" the T431s shaves down considerably from its predecessor dropping from 4.77 lbs. to a sleek 3.4 lbs. With its sturdy durability and lightweight design the Lenovo ThinkPad T431s is ideal for travel.
Ports and Features
As a business oriented device the Lenovo ThinkPad T431s makes sure to offer solid connectivity via its wide array of ports. The left side of the chassis is outfitted with a power jack, an Ethernet connector, a VGA connector, a USB 3.0 port, a headphone jack and a 4-in-1 memory card reader. The right side also offers a Mini-Display port and a USB 3.0 port that can charge devices while the laptop sleeps. It's nice to see Lenovo opting for only USB 3.0 ports; however, it would have been nice to see a third USB port on the right side of chassis.
|Left:Power USB, Ethernet connector, VGA connector, USB 3.0 Port, headphone jack a 4-in-1 memory card reader||Right:Mini Display port, chargeable USB 3.0 port|
The Lenovo ThinkPad T431s also offers additional security to users via its fingerprint scanner which is located just the right of the arrow keys. The notebook comes equipped with ThinkVantage Fingerprint Scanner software, which guides users through the initial setup process and offers a wide range of detailed options. Users can select any finger to work with the scanner, and the software requires users to register a number of swipes before setting that finger to the account to assure for accuracy. The meticulous setup process proves to be worth it however, as the fingerprint scanner afforded excellent accuracy only failing to register a scan on one occasion.
Display and Speakers
The Lenovo ThinkPad T431s houses a 14" LED Backlit Display. The screen offers a decent amount of real estate thanks to its standard 1600 x 900 resolution, as opposed to the 1366 x 768 resolution seen on most business notebooks. The lack of touch controls and a 1920 x 1080 resolution option are unfortunate, but the bigger issue lies with the display's mediocre color contrast. The screen appears rather dull with limited brightness causing images to often appear faded or washed. However, the display does still prove serviceable for viewing documents and webpages as text remains clear and easy to read.
Users can also expect a restrictive viewing experience, as the device offers limited viewing angles. Noticeable image distortion sets past 100 degrees on the horizontal axis with disruptive reflections appearing on screen. The same issue occurs on the vertical axis as images quality quickly dissipated when moving the display forwards or backward. Business notebooks typically don't offer high-quality displays, but even by that standard the ThinkPad T431s falls short.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T431s houses two speakers along the bottom back-end of the chassis. While their location is peculiar, the pair manages to provide boisterous sound levels adequate for presentations, meetings or providing a moderately sized room with audio. The T431s also boasts excellent sound quality, as the speakers where able to detail the delicacies of an orchestral track with minimal distortion even at 100 percent capacity.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The ThinkPad T431s incorporates the same Chiclet island-style spill-resistant keyboard that has been seen in other ThinkPad notebooks throughout the year. Without a number pad the T431s makes use of the full length of its chassis offering solid spacing between each of its squared keys. The keys offer a smooth glossy finish with an inward curve design that helps to provide added grip. The keyboard offers surprising compression depth despite its sleek form factor, and each key offers solid tactile feedback quickly snapping back into place once struck.
The TrackPoint stick another ThinkPad staple also makes a return in the T431s and is located directly above the "B" key. However, Lenovo has done away with dedicated mouse buttons for the point stick and instead is opting to use the top portion of the touchpad as designated mouse buttons. The area is denoted by a raised texture design that runs between two red line graphics. Interestingly those designated areas only function as right and left mouse-clicks while using the TrackPoint stick, when using the actual touchpad the designated mouse button area is located at the bottom portion of the pad.
The T431s offers a generously sized touchpad located directly below the spacebar on the keyboard. The rubberized surface is easy to grip, but also allows for fluid movement and gestures offering a surprising level of sensitivity and accuracy. The Pad itself is devoid of mouse buttons, instead designating the right and left bottom portion of the pad to act as a right and left mouse buttons. Unlike the top of the pad, which offers both visual and tactile cues, the bottom of the pad provides no information to user, making it difficult to discern exactly where the designated portion of the pad begins and ends. Luckily the pad also offers multi-finger gestures with a single finger click reading as the left mouse button and a two-finger compression registering as the right mouse button.
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