Not to be outdone by competitors like HP, who last week announced several dozen new notebooks, Lenovo is refreshing most of its ThinkPad line, updating the vaunted T, X, W, and L series notebooks to Intel's new Ivy Bridge platform while revising their designs and offering new high-end options like 1600 x 900 screens.
Though each line of new ThinkPads is different, there are several key trends we noticed across most of these systems:
- Intel 3rd Generation Core Series "Ivy Bridge" CPUs: Intel's new CPUs promise incremental improvements in performance and power consumption.
- 1600 x 900 Screens: Though not all the notebooks will come standard with HD+ resolution screens, a Lenovo rep told us they will be optional upgrades on any L, T, and X series that don't have them by default.
- USB 3.0 and Other New Ports: Where only a few ThinkPads had USB 3.0 in 2011, they all will in 2012. Many will also have mini-DisplayPort and some will have Thunderbolt.
- New "Precision" Keyboard with Optional Backlight: All the new models will be getting keyboard upgrades and many will offer optional backlights.
- ThinkPad Enhanced Experience 3.0: Dubbed the Enhanced Experience, Lenovo's set of performance, security and conferencing optimizations promises goodies like a maximum 24 second boot time with a hard drive and a BIOS-level port lock.
ThinkPad X1 Carbon: The Ultimate Business Ultrabook
When it first launched in 2008, the ThinkPad X300 set the gold standard for business ultraportables. Lenovo followed refreshed it with the X301 a few months later and then decided to discontinue the X300 line, only to launch the 13-inch X1 in Spring 2011. The ThinkPad X1 had the best keyboard we've ever used on a notebook, but it suffered from weak battery life and an overly-reflective, low-res screen. Now, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon promises to fix all those problems and then some.
The X1 Carbon sports a 14-inch, non-reflective 1600 x 900 screen, a sealed battery that Lenovo reps say will provide more endurance than its predecessor had and the latest 3rd Generation Core Series processors. Best of all, it will weigh only 3 pounds and be just .75-inches thick. Let's just hope the battery life is at least 6 hours, because there won't be an optional battery slice.
Check out our hands-on with the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon to learn more.
ThinkPad X230 / X230t: Light Weight, Plenty of Power
We've long been fans of Lenovo's 12.5-inch ThinkPad X200 series of notebooks, because they provide incredible performance and durability with the best battery life you can get on any notebook of any kind. The new ThinkPad X230 promises to improve on this historic legacy by offering up to 24 hours of endurance, an even-lighter 3 pound chassis and an improved keyboard with optional backlight. Even better, the 300-nit screen will now be available in with an optional 1600 x 900 resolution. As in previous generations, a convertible tablet version, the ThinkPad X230t, will also be available.
We haven't gone hands-on with the ThinkPad X230 yet, but we're curious to see how its typing experience compares to those on the X220 and X210. Though the keys on the X200 series ThinkPads have always had good tactile feel the narrow palmrests left our wrists dangling over the edge, an uncomfortable position for many touch typists. Hopefully, the X230 will have a deeper palmrest, but we'll have to see for ourselves. We're also curious to put the 24-hour battery claim to the test and see how it compares to the 20+ hours we got on the ThinkPad X220 with a 9-cell battery and battery slice.
The ThinkPad X230 and X230t will be available in North America on June 5th with models starting at approximately $1179 and $1479 respectively.
Lenovo ThinkPad T430 / T530: Mainstream Power
The popular ThinkPad T Series has been Lenovo's mainstream business anchor for many years now, because it powerful, affordable, and loaded with options. The new 14-inch T430 and 15-inch T530 promise up to 30 hours of battery life when users configure them with 9-cell batteries and optional battery slices. In addition to new 3rd generation Intel Core series CPUs, they sport new precision keyboards with optional backlights. The T430 is also said to be lighter than its predecessor.
Lenovo ThinkPad T430s: Light and Quick
The ThinkPad T420s (for slim) was one of our favorite notebooks last year, because of its lightweight power. The new T430s promises to continue that heritage by offering Rapid Charge, a backlit keyboard option, and a Thunderbolt port in addition to a powerful new 3rd generation Intel CPU. Let's just hope it gets more than 5 hours of endurance.
ThinkPad W530: Workstation Power in a Portable Form Factor
If you're a graphic artist who needs to crunch HD video, a CAD user or just a developer who needs to do a lot of compiling, the 15-inch, sub 6-pound ThinkPad W530 has enough power to help you with all your high end tasks. With high-end 3rd generation Core series processors, a 95 percent color gamut screen with optional color cablibrator, Nvidia graphics with support for up t0 4 external displays, Dolby Home Theater v4 and a new precision keyboard with optional back light, the W530 could be the ultimate mobile workstation.
ThinkPad L420 / L520: Great Usability on a Budget
The ThinkPad L series sits on the low end of Lenovo's business offerings, but still has plenty of power, along with a great keyboard. New features for 2012 include the precision keyboard, optional switchable graphics, USB 3.0, and optional an 1600 x 900 screen.