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Lenovo slims down, adds horsepower to new ThinkPads

Agam Shah | Jan. 5, 2015
Thinner, lighter, faster ... expensive: Here come Lenovo's new ThinkPads, which also have longer battery life.

Thinner, lighter, faster ... expensive: Here come Lenovo's new ThinkPads, which also have longer battery life.

Lenovo hasn't radically changed the new ThinkPads, and for good reason. Its committed user base resists product overhauls. Headlined by the ultrathin ThinkPad Carbon X1 and workhorse ThinkPad X250, the new laptops now have Intel's latest fifth-generation Core i3, i5 and i7 processors.

Users should see an immediate improvement in graphics, application performance and battery life with Intel's new chips, set to be announced at International CES this week and based on the Broadwell architecture. Lenovo has reduced the size and weight of the ThinkPads with the leaner chips.

There's more storage and memory, and also support for new wireless technologies like 802.11ac and 4G LTE in some ThinkPads. However, some basic screen and webcam features haven't changed.

Prices on the new laptops, in some cases over US$1,000 for the Carbon X1 and X250 models, seem high, but expect them to fall over time.

ThinkPad Carbon X1

The thin profile of Lenovo's ThinkPad Carbon X1 made it popular among business users, but the latest model is even thinner. It's 17.7-millimeters thick, weighs around 1.3 kilograms, and has Intel's fifth-generation Core i processors. It offers between 10 and 11 hours of battery life.

The Core i processor was selected over another low-power Intel tablet processor called Core M, "as our business customers continue to demand the best from our products," said Steve Gilbert, director of worldwide product marketing for Lenovo's commercial group.

Also fresh to the laptop is faster storage. Solid-state drives now plug into PCI-Express 3.0 slots, which can transfer data faster than SATA technology, the dominant laptop storage technology. PCIe SSDs are around 80 percent faster than standard SATA-based SSDs, Gilbert said.

"X1 Carbon just continues to get better," Gilbert said.

The laptop will support up to 512GB of SSD storage and up to 8GB of DDR3 DRAM. The laptop screen displays images at a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution. Wireless options include 802.11ac Wi-Fi and LTE mobile broadband. The X1 Carbon also has a 720p webcam, which is poor considering Lenovo is upgrading to higher-resolution 3D cameras in its consumer laptops.

The X1 Carbon is priced starting at $1,249 and will ship this month.

ThinkPad X250

The ThinkPad X250 takes over from the disappointing X240, which was released last year but came under fire after shipping delays and screen problems. The X250 is thinner, lighter and faster with the new Core processors. But the new model doesn't offer flexibility for screen options, which was one reason buyers shied away from the X240. The X250 also doesn't offer a screen beyond full high definition, and a touchscreen option isn't available, according to Lenovo's specification sheet.


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