Lenovo Announces New ThinkPad T, W, and L Series Notebooks with Sandy Bridge CPUs

Today, Lenovo announced updates to its popular ThinkPad T, W, and L series business notebooks, updating all models to Intel's 2nd Generation Core Series processors (Sandy Bridge) and adding faster boot times, longer battery life, and enhanced conferencing features. With model numbers each ending in "20," the new ThinkPad T420, T420s, T520, L420, L520, and W520 are due to ship at the end of March.

Lenovo Enhanced Experience 2.0

Lenovo's Enhanced Experience first appeared last year, offering faster and more efficient boot times with quicker loading utilities and a faster BIOS. With the new generation of ThinkPads, Lenovo is calling its optimizations Enhanced Experience 2.0 and promising 30-percent faster start-up times over a similar system without them. In addition, Lenovo is offering RapidDrive technology, which uses an Intel 80GB mSATA SSD as a boot / application drive, as an option. Considering that we've seen an IdeaPad with RapidDrive booting in under 15 seconds, we wouldn't be surprised to see similar times on these ThinkPads.

Improved Battery Life

Lenovo is touting its improved battery life in a big way. The vendor claims that its new ThinkPad T420 will last 15 hours with a 9-cell battery, and a whopping 30 hours with an optional 9-cell slice attached. The slim, T420s is promised to get 10 hours with its 6-cell battery and a bay battery in place of its optical drive. Both the new T and W series ThinkPads will offer Nvidia Optimus technology that automatically switches between discrete and integrated graphics for the best combination of performance and battery life.

Instant Resume Maintains Wireless While Sleeping

One of the most annoying things about waking one's notebook from sleep is waiting for it to reconnect to the same wireless network it was logged into when you put it to sleep. Lenovo's new Instant Resume feature offers to keep your wireless connection alive for up to 99 minutes while the rest of the notebook is asleep. It is not immediately clear whether this applies to only Wi-Fi connections or to mobile broadband as well.

Enhanced Conferencing

Lenovo has long touted its ThinkPads' conferencing prowess and the new T, W, and L series continue this tradition, allowing you to swtich between Private Chat mode, which focuses the notebook's microphones on a single voice, or Conference Call mode which increases the size of the audio field to take in the whole room. The notebooks also include special technology which filters out the sound of the keyboard so your conference partners won't here you typing in the middle of your conference call.

Lenovo ThinkPad T420 / T520

Targeted at mainstream business users, the 14-inch ThinkPad T420 and 15-inch T520 have been updated with 16:9 aspect ratio screens (as opposed to the 16:10 screens on the T410 / T510) and the latest Intel CPUs. Key specs include:

  • 14-inch (1366 x 768 / 1600 x 900) or 15.6-inch (1366 x 768 / 1600 x 900 / 1920 x 1080) screens
  • CPUs ranging from 2.13-GHz Core i3 to 2.7-GHz Core i7. Quad Core Core i7 available on the T520
  • Up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM
  • Dual digital mics and 720p HD camera
  • 4.84 / 5.57 pound weight (T420 / T520)
  • 9 hours / 11 hours battery life (T420 / T520)

Lenovo ThinkPad T420s

Lenovo has yet to release detailed specs for the ThinkPad T420s, but if it is like the T410s, it will carry a sub-4 pound weight. Lenovo has said the T420s will get up to 10 hours of endurance with both its 6-cell battery and an optional bay battery.

Lenovo ThinkPad W520

The ThinkPad W series provides workstation-level performance. With the W520, Lenovo has moved from a 16:10 to a 16:9 aspect ratio. Key specs include:

  • 15.6-inch 1366 x 768 / 1600 x 900 / 1920 x 1080 screen
  • Intel 2nd Generation Core Series CPUs ranging from 2.5-GHz Core i5 to 2.5-GHz quad core Core i7
  • Up to 32GB of DDR3 RAM
  • Nvidia Quadro 1000M or 2000M graphics with 96 or 192 CUDA cores
  • Up to 10.7 hours of battery life, depending on config

Lenovo ThinkPad L420 / L520

Lenovo's value-oriented ThinkPad L Series gets an update with new specs including:

  • Intel 2nd Gen Core Series CPUs ranging from 2.1-GHz Core i3 to 2.7-GHz Core i7.
  • 14-inch (1366 x 768) / 15.6-inch (1366 x 768 / 1600 x 900) screens
  • Up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM
  • 5.1 pounds / 5.75 pounds (L420 / L520)
  • 4, 6, or 9-cell battery
Avram Piltch
Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.