Lenovo has been hunkered down, doing customer surveys on what people want and wish for out of Lenovo’s longstanding ThinkPad series. The result is the T431s, which ends up being more of a tweak than an overhaul.
The ThinkPad T431s looks like an attempt to compete with ultrabooks from other hardware companies while keeping the design strictly ThinkPad. The latter part, at least, was a success – the T431s, at a glance, looks like it belongs in the ThinkPad line, with that familiar boxy look. On the other hand, this promises to be a slimmer, sturdier notebook than previous iterations. The top cover is made of carbon fiber, along with a magnesium exterior that works to put the plastic days behind the ThinkPad. It weighs 3.6 pounds, and is 0.82” inches thick. The bezel is also much thinner on the T431s. Whether or not all that will help spread the ThinkPad to new customers remains to be seen, but it seems like a good deal of loyal ThinkPad users won’t be turned off, although I’m sure that won’t be universally true.
Other than that, the changes are very subtle. The trackpad is now glass, and prepared for the Windows 8 shortcuts you get with most trackpads on Windows 8 notebooks these days. The trackpoint buttons are now integrated into the trackpad. The keyboard is now six rows, with the top row dedicated to things like play, pause, and volume control. Fans of the function buttons will be able to tap a Fn-lock key that will make that top row prioritize F1-F12. The little red dot on the keyboard will still be there, which is probably as important to the ThinkPad design aesthetic as anything else.
Inside, you’ll get your choice of 3rd generation Intel core processor, Intel HD Graphics, up to 12 GB of RAM, and either SSD or HDD storage. There will also be a couple of USB 3.0 ports. The display hasn’t gotten a huge upgrade – a 14” HD+ anti-glare display in 1600 x 900 resolution.
You’ll be able to get your hands on a ThinkPad T431s in April, starting at $949.