With Intel's 4th Generation Core Series "Haswell" processors now ready to appear in business laptops, Lenovo has announced a major refresh of its ThinkPad X and T Series laptops. Perhaps the most interesting of these systems, the 12.5-inch ThinkPad X240 Ultrabook weighs just 2.94 pounds and offers screen resolutions up to full HD with or without touch, along with over 10 hours of battery life and a completely new industrial design that promises a much better typing experience than its predecessors.
We had a chance to go hands-on with the ThinkPad X240 and were most impressed with its thin profile and new, longer palmrest that can support two adult hands. We loved the previous-generation ThinkPad X230's long battery life and solid performance, but found our wrists hanging off of the narrow palmrest, which made long typing sessions uncomfortable. This lack of wrist support had also been a problem on the X220, X201 and X200, which dates all the way back to 2008. The keyboard itself will be available with or without a backlight.
The trackpoint / touchpad combo on the X240 also has a new look. Consistent with the design on the ThinkPad T431s and ThinkPad Helix, the X240 builds the buttons for the pointing stick into the top of the touchpad. While we preferred the dedicated trackpoint buttons on prior-generation ThinkPads, it appears that Lenovo is using buttonless designs on all of its new models.
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Despite its svelte 12 x 8.21 x .79-inch profile, the X240 makes room for plenty of ports, including an SD card reader, Ethernet port, VGA out, HDMI and two USB 3.0 connections. Considering that many Ultrabooks save space by getting rid of SD card readers, Ethernet ports or VGA, the ThinkPad X240 has a distinct advantage over other business notebooks in this weight class, including the 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Carbon which lacks Ethernet and VGA.
Like the new ThinkPad T440 and T440s, the X240 combines a 3-cell internal battery with a 3 or 6-cell external pack. Because the internal battery discharges last, users can carry a spare and hot swap the external unit without rebooting. Lenovo conservatively estimates the ThinkPad X240's battery life at 10+ hours, but with the 6-cell unit, the 3-cell internal battery and low-power Haswell CPU, it should beat the X230's time of 12 hours with its 9-cell battery. Lenovo will not offer a battery sheet as it did with the X230.
On the inside, the ThinkPad X240 will sport up to a Core i7 CPU, a maximum of 8GB of RAM and storage options that include a hard drive up to 1TB or an SSD. The laptop will also have an NFC transmitter that will allow it to pair more easily with smartphones and accessories.
The ThinkPad X240 will be available at the end of October with a starting price of $1,099.