Lenovo showed off their brand new laptops in NYC last month, with updates to basically every Think-branded portable the company owns. New ThinkPad L series, T series, W series and X series were unveiled, as well as the super-chic new ThinkPad X1 Carbon.
From Lenovo's point of view, most of the additions made to the L/T/W/X series were unremarkable, save for the newer chips and better performance. To many longstanding ThinkPad fans, however, the changes might not seem so subtle. There are several things that the ThinkPad brand of notebooks are known for - the nipple mouse, the rugged durability, and, of course, the keyboard.
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It's to this last that Lenovo made the biggest change. Gone are the full-area, key-to-key notebooks of ages past. No, in this new ThinkPad era, Chiclet-style keyboards reign supreme. These new keyboards will span the whole line, and Lenovo is fully committed to its choice. I asked them whether they expected any feedback for the design choice, considering the, ah, hostility, with which such decisions have met in the past, but the notebooks' product managers feel that this is a good move, and that the community will move with them.
After fiddling around for a bit, I'm inclined to agree; the community may or may not be so quick to jump. Not only do the keyboards look much more modern, but they still feel sturdy, with minimal flex - keep in mind, however, that these are early models (and some mere prototypes and models) and any impressions should be taken with a grain of salt until we get honest-to-goodness review units in-house.
ThinkPad T Series
New models: T430, T430s, T530
Lenovo is playing coy in terms of publishing exact specifications for the new year's crop of ThinkPads. Here's what we do know, however, about the T430 and T530:
The ThinkPad T430s gets a slightly different (read: better) set of specifications, though again, nothing concrete was really tossed around:
Frankly the biggest news for most people is going to be the fact that Lenovo's ThinkPad T430s may be the first non-Apple laptop to ship with Intel's high-speed Thunderbolt interconnect. For the moment, Thunderbolt's cost (cable? $50) keeps it firmly within the realm of the professional, but as more and more computers ship, the cost will eventually ebb.
The new T430s comes in at under 4 pounds, making it a perfect choice for users who want a really light laptop, but need something with more power or features than the X series can really offer. That light weight combined with the new rapid charge options will make this thing a real force for mobile warriors.
ThinkPad L Series
New models: L430
The Lenovo ThinkPad L430 sits in the middle in a lot of ways. It's not their biggest, nor fastest, nor sleekest, slimmest or prettiest. It gets the job done just the same, however, and it might just do it more affordably, to boot. This year, Lenovo is making a few modest, but necessary improvements to the lineup, which includes, happily, USB 3.0 and mini-DisplayPort.
Lenovo promises up to 9.5 hours of battery life on the new L430, as well as:
ThinkPad W Series
Ah, the ThinkPad W. Always ready to get the job done thanks to its big and beefy workstation performance, the ThinkPad W530is ready to help you out. Or help hurt your back, I'm not sure which (seriously have you lifted one of these monsters). Thanks to its quad-core Ivy Bridge CPUs or double RAID solid state storage, the W530 will be probably be up to the task.
Some new options include:
Other than that, there isn't a whole lot to say - like the rest of the lineup, Lenovo isn't really changing the design of the W series apart from the keyboard. One notable expectation for this model, was Thunderbolt, since the T430s has it. Despite the high-end performance nature of this model, Lenovo doesn't see the value - it's likely testing the water with the T430s as it is. Still, you'll be able to get RAID 0 or 1 arrays as well as a screen with 95% viewing angles.
Up to 32GB of DDR3 RAM and a 10-hour battery life round this guy out. Not a bad deal, all told.
ThinkPad X Series
New models: X230, X230t (tablet form factor)
MacBook Air? Pssh. Lenovo has been doing powerful ultraportable computers since before they were the hottest new thing. At under 3 pounds, the X230 and X230t can give any other ultralight a run for its money. Not much changed at all for the 2012 model, save new buyers will get 2 USB 3.0 ports standard on every machine - an important consideration on units where space is at such a premium.
You can also expect:
Tablet lovers who buy the X230t will get the pen support they always loved and the same up to 24 hour battery life. More than the other models, Lenovo is really pushing the teleconferencing capabilities of these machines, with HD webcams and "HD" microphones.
ThinkPad X1 Series
New models: ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Possibly the star of the show, Lenovo's new ThinkPad X1 Carbon offering is slicker than slick, with the company proudly proclaiming it to be the "World's Lightest 14-inch Professional Ultrabook". Well, okay, Lenovo, how many of those have there honestly been? One or two? Still, that shouldn't take anything away from the Carbon's sleek crown.
As a happy MacBook Air user, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a tempting purchase. First of all, the whole package is one of the most attractive notebooks we've ever seen - period. It's something of a surprise, coming as it is from Lenovo, but there you have it. The X1 Carbon just screams that it means business, and its got the build quality and specs to back it up.
In order to maintain their "world's lightest 14-inch ultrabook" claim at 3 pounds, Lenovo built the standard ThinkPad roll cage into the X1 - but this one's composed of carbon fiber. Combine this with a 300-nit, 1600x900 screen and a standard backlit keyboard (finally), and Samsung's new high-end thin and lights are going to have a fight on their hands.
ThinkPad X1 Carbon specifications:
You'll be able to get 3G connectivity built in with the X1, too, but regrettably no 4G - which is offered for the first time on some of Lenovo's other new models.
OMG OMG TAKE MY MONEY
Calm down! You'll be able to get your hands on these new notebooks soon enough. When? Well, that depends on the model:
The ThinkPad L430 and L530 will start at ~ $879. The ThinkPad T430 will hit around $879 as well, whlie the T430s gets bumped up to around $1,399. The X230 will start at around $1,179 while it's pen-enabled brother, the X230t, will launch near $1,479. The ThinkPad W530 models are the most expensing, starting at around $1,529.
Each of those new laptops will launch at the beginning of June.
Regrettably, pricing and launch information for the X1 Carbon is being kept under wraps for the moment, but Lenovo promises that the new business Ultrabook will launch before the end of summer.