LAS VEGAS — ThinkPad aficionados haven't had many 13-inch options since the company discontinued its groundbreaking X300 / X301 several years ago. Enter the new ThinkPad 13, which combines high portability with low cost, starting at under $600 while weighing a mere 3.2 pounds and measuring a mere .78-inches thick. Best of all, this affordable ThinkPad features the same best-in-class keyboard that Lenovo uses on its more expensive ThinkPad T Series models.
Available with either Windows 10 or Chrome OS, the ThinkPad 13 has a wide variety of configuration options. Though its base model comes with a 1366 x 768 display, Lenovo's new laptop will also be available with 1920 x 1080 resolution and touch. On the inside, the ThinkPad 13 will have a choice of Intel Celeron or Intel 6th Generation Core i3 / i5 processors, up to 16GB of RAM and an SSD ranging in size from 64 to 256GB.
In our brief hands-on with the ThinkPad 13, we were particularly impressed with its sleek slooks and snappy keyboard. The Windows version of the laptop will be available in silver as well as the traditional ThinkPad black. We prefer the silver model, which features an aluminum lid and carries its color scheme onto the deck, where the TrackPoint buttons are also silver. However, the keys on the keyboard and the bezel are still black.
Despite its svelte profile, the ThinkPad 13 has keys with 2.1mm of vertical travel--just like larger, more expensive ThinkPad T series laptops such as the T460s and T460. By contrast, ThinkPad X Series laptops like the X1 Carbon and X260 offer 1.8mm of vertical travel, which just isn't quite as snappy for the most discerning touch typists. When we tried typing on the ThinkPad 13, the keys felt as good as any we've used. Normally, to get this kind of typing experience, you have to spend $900 or more.
The ThinkPad 13 also promises solid build quality with a MIL-SPEC tested chassis and a wide array of ports, including 3 USB 3.0 connections, 1 USB Type-C port, a full size HDMI out and an SD card reader. Though the laptop has a proprietary Lenovo charging port and comes standard with a proprietary power brick, the company told us that it will be able to charge over USB Type-C, if you buy a compatible AC adapter. The USB Type-C port will also support data and video out.
The Windows 10 version of the ThinkPad 13 ships in April for a starting price under $600 while the Chrome version will appear later in the year. If this laptop lives up to its promise, it could be one of the best deals in tech.