Lenovo Announces Their 3rd Generation Intel Core Laptop Updatesby Jarred Walton on May 16, 2012 6:58 PM EST
It’s been a couple weeks since Intel officially unveiled Ivy Bridge, and we continue to see plenty of product announcements from the major OEMs. Yesterday, while we were busy writing about AMD’s Trinity APU, Lenovo fired off a barrage of new mobile devices. Whether you’re looking for laptops, notebooks, tablets, or ultrabooks, chances are Lenovo has a new product for your consideration.
Starting with the ultrabook side of things, the flashiest device in the lineup is the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon. As the name implies, the X1 has a carbon fiber rollcage that allows Lenovo to create a durable ultrabook without sacrificing weight. Lenovo claims this is the “world’s thinnest and lightest 14-inch ultrabook” and we see no reason to doubt the claim. Other interesting features include RapidCharge that allows the laptop to recharge to over 80% battery capacity in 30 minutes, a backlit keyboard, and a full 180 degree hinge. The X1 Carbon is a business class ultrabook, so it comes with Intel vPro technology for manageability, fingerprint scanner, and optional 3G mobile broadband. Lenovo didn’t provide any specifications yet, but we’ve heard elsewhere that the X1 Carbon will feature a 1600x900 LCD. We haven’t had a chance to test the laptop in person, but hopefully Lenovo can also do something about the keyboard experience on ultrabooks, as to date we’ve found that most of them have little if any key travel—a consequence of the thin form factor, unfortunately. Availability is planned for “this summer”, which is a bit nebulous, so if you’re interested in the X1 Carbon you’ll have to wait a bit longer before pulling the trigger.
The remainder of the lineup consists of the usual updates to their product stack. The ThinkPad L, T, W and X Series are all receiving upgrades to allow for Ivy Bridge—3rd Generation Intel Core processors. Common features across the lineup include mobile broadband, docking stations, RapidBoot, Dolby audio, and Lenovo’s ThinkPad Precision Keyboard (with backlit and/or ThinkLight options).
Starting with the L-Series, the L430 and L530 both support the same general set of hardware. Besides Ivy Bridge CPUs (Lenovo didn’t provide a list, but we’d assume it will be the dual-core range of processors), you can choose between several HDD/SSD configurations—including a 32GB mSATA caching SSD if you forego WWAN support—up to 8GB RAM, and either 1366x768 or 1600x900 LCDs. The L430 also has an optional NVIDIA Quadro NVS 5400M 1GB GPU upgrade available, with Optimus Technology; judging by our initial testing of HD 4000, the NVS 5400M should still boost graphics performance by roughly 2X.
Expansion ports consist of a single USB 3.0, three USB 2.0 (one always powered), Express Card 54mm, Gigabit Ethernet, and a flash card reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC). VGA and mini-DisplayPort outputs are present, along with a single headphone/microphone jack. You can also equip either laptop with the standard 6-cell battery (up to 8 hours battery life) or an extended capacity 9-cell (up to 13.5 hours battery life), and both come with optical drives. The L430 measures 13.94” x 9.57” x 1.17-1.24” (354mm x 243mm x 29.6-31.4mm) and weighs 5.0 lbs. (2.27kg) with the 6-cell battery, while the L530 measures 14.96” x 9.72” x 1.25-1.31” (380mm x 247mm x 31.7-33.4mm) and starts at 5.4 lbs. (2.45kg) with the 6-cell battery. Pricing should starts at around $879, with availability in early June.
The T-Series is the workhorse of Lenovo’s ThinkPad lineup, with higher quality build materials (e.g. magnesium alloy rollcages) and higher performance components, along with support for up to 16GB RAM. Most of the options are similar to the L-Series, but the T430 and T530 add support for an optional battery slice (up to 32.5 hours of battery life on the T430, or 30 hours on the T530!) while the T430s supports only 4-cell and 6-cell batteries but adds the option for a bay battery (e.g. in place of the optical drive). Storage options on all three models include Opal FDE (Full Disc Encryption), on either hard drives or SSDs—or you can still go with a normal HDD/SSD. The T530 is also available with a second HDD in place of the optical drive. NVIDIA Optimus switchable graphics is available on all models; only the T430s explicitly mentions the NVS 5400M, though we suspect the others will use the same GPU. The T430/T430s both feature 1366x768 or 1600x900 LCDs, while the T530 includes the two lower resolutions along with a high quality 95% gamut 1920x1080 panel.
In terms of expansion ports, the laptops have two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports (one configurable as always on), VGA, mini-DisplayPort, a flash reader, and an optional Smart Card reader; the T430/T530 also add an Express Card 34mm slot. The T430s is the lightest and slimmest of the trio, starting at 3.94 lbs. (1.79kg) and measuring 13.50” x 9.05” x 0.83”-1.02” (343mm x 230mm x 21.2mm-26mm. The T430 is slightly larger/heavier, starting at 4.77 lbs. (2.17kg) and 13.8” x 9.13” x 1.18” (350.5mm x 232mm x 29.9mm) while the T530 tips the scales at 5.56 lbs. (2.5kg) and measures 9.65” x 14.68” x 1.25”-1.40” (245.1mm x 372.8mm x 31.8-35.6mm). Availability is again early June, with the T430 and T530 starting at around $879, the T430s starting at $1399.
The W530 is the mobile workstation upgrade to the T530, with identical dimensions (9.65” x 14.68” x 1.25”-1.40” / 245.1mm x 372.8mm x 31.8-35.6mm) but a slightly higher starting weight of 5.95 lbs. (2.7kg). Nearly all of the options are the same, but the W530 adds support for up to 32GB RAM and the graphics get boosted from Quadro NVS to full-blown Quadro cards. Lenovo lists the Quadro K1000 and K2000 as options, which are presumably the Kepler-based replacements for the Fermi 1000M/2000M; the cards are so new that we can’t even find specs on NVIDIA’s site right now! The W530 has the same display options as the T530, and about the only other difference immediately apparent is the addition of a slightly higher capacity 62Wh 6-cell battery with a 3-year warranty (instead of the 1-year warranty 57Wh battery). Pricing for the W530 starts at approximately $1529, with availability again in early June.
Wrapping things up we have the X-Series, with the X230 and X230t. The X230 is a traditional ultraportable while the X230t takes many of the elements but mixes things up to become a convertible tablet. Both models feature 12.5” IPS displays, though there’s a non-IPS panel available on the X230; the X230t comes standard with a multitouch panel but has the option for a pen-only direct-bonded Gorilla Glass display. The storage department again has a variety of HDD and SSD options, including 32GB SSD caching and FDE solutions, and despite the small size there’s still an optical drive present in the UltraBase. Battery options on the X230 cover the gamut, with 4-cell (29Wh), 6-cell (63Wh), 9-cell (94Wh), and an optional 6-cell (57Wh) slice—you can get up to 24.9 hours with the 9-cell and slice. The X230t uses different batteries, with a 6-cell (29Wh) standard or a 9-cell (62Wh) upgrade, along with a slim external battery pack (157Wh) that can provide up to 18 hours of mobility.
Expansion ports include two USB 3.0 ports, one always on USB 2.0 port, flash reader, VGA, mini-DisplayPort, Express Card 54, and optional Smart Card reader. The X230 isn’t quite an ultrabook as it’s a bit too thick, measuring 12.01” x 8.13” x 0.75”-1.05” (305mm x 206.5mm x 19-26.6mm); it weighs 2.96 lbs (1.34kg), presumably with the default 4-cell battery. The X230t is slightly bulkier to accommodate the rotating hinge, and it measures 12” x 9” x 1.06”-1.23” (305.0mm x 228.7mm x 27.0-31.3mm) and weighs 3.67 lbs. (1.66kg). As you would expect, neither ultraportable comes cheap, with the X230 starting at around $1179 and the X230t bumping that up $300 to $1479, and both are set to arrive in June.
Besides the laptops, Lenovo also offers their updated ThinkPad Series 3/USB 3.0 Dock. As the name implies, the dock now features USB 3.0 support—five SuperSpeed ports to be precise. It also comes with dual “beyond-HD” video outputs, though no mention is made of whether they’re DisplayPort, dual-link DVI, or something else. Also present is Gigabit Ethernet and always-on mobile device charging, thanks to the separate AC power.