Lenovo’s ThinkPad notebooks have been around since 1992, since the design was debuted by IBM. While they’ve become much, much faster, their designs have largely stayed the same — flat black body, squarish design, and the company’s trade mark TrackPoint mouse stick.
The ThinkPad X1 from 2011 was the first Lenovo notebook to challenge that tradition, with the X1 Carbon of 2012 further developing a new design language that was cleaner and more consumer-friendly.
The newest ThinkPad in the company’s long-running T-Series line-up to be released is the T431s, which has evolved significantly from its predecessor. Like the X1 Carbon, Lenovo’s multi-button trackpad has been abandoned for a much larger trackpad with integrated left and right buttons — having the extra space to scroll with is much more useful in Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system. The TrackPoint is still there for any ThinkPad purists, though.
The ThinkPad T431s uses the same ‘chiclet’ keys as the X1 Carbon, which are much thinner than the traditonal ThinkPad keyboard. Despite this, Lenovo says the keyboard design still feels good to type on and is much more tactile than competitors’ boards. You can also choose a backlit keyboard for the T431s.
The T431s is also one of the first Lenovo notebooks to use a new colour finish; the long-running pure black has given way to what Lenovo calls Graphite Black, which is very slightly lighter. Despite this, the easy-to-grip rubberised coating that we love on Lenovo laptops is still there. This new ThinkPad uses the same carbon fibre chassis as the X1 Carbon Ultrabook.
Being an Ultrabook, and using Lenovo’s new design, the T431s is much thinner than the T430s it replaces. Lenovo says the T431s is 24 per cent lighter and 21 per cent thinner, much of which can be attributed to the removal of the old trackpad and keyboard design. The screen’s bezel is also significantly smaller in the T431s; Lenovo was able to install a 14-inch screen where a 13-inch display would previously have been.
The ThinkPad T431s runs standard Intel Ultrabook hardware. It’s got an Intel Core i5 CPU as standard, but can be specced up with a Core i7. Intel’s HD Graphics 4000 chipset takes care of driving the display, and 4GB of RAM can be boosted to 12GB if required. Various hard drive configurations of up to 256GB SSD or 1TB HDD can be pre-installed, although parts are as upgradeable as on any past ThinkPad.
Australian availability for the ThinkPad T431s has not yet been confirmed, and pricing is still uncertain. We’ve contacted Lenovo Australia for details and will let you know as soon as possible.