Product Notes: Lenovo ThinkPad (IvyBridge)
May 15, 2012
In mid May 2012, Lenovo announced its next generation ThinkPad enterprise class notebooks, based on Intel's Ivy Bridge platform. These new models, designated X230, X230t (t is for Tablet PC), T430s (lightweight but full featured 14-inch), T430, and T530, will be available starting in June 2012, with a significantly updated X1 shipping later in the summer. While Apple and Dell have not yet announced their enterprise class Ivy Bridge notebooks, these new Lenovos give some hints about what we can expect to see.
Design and Changes
By far the most significant difference on the exterior of these notebooks is the move from the traditional ThinkPad keyboard to a backlit "chiclet/island" keyboard design similar to the keyboard that debuted on the first generation ThinkPad X1. This new design allows much easier backlighting, but will probably meet with resistance from some longtime ThinkPad customers - providers who have users that want the traditional keyboard will need to buy quickly, as the Sandy Bridge ThinkPad systems with the traditional keyboard will be phased out within three months.
The biggest single internal change for the new ThinkPads is the move to Intel's Ivy Bridge platform, which brings improved general performance, significantly improved HD 4000 integrated graphics, improved battery life, and integrated USB 3.0.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon (pictured) marks a major change from the original X1. Despite moving from a 13-inch display to a 14-inch display with significantly higher resolution, the new X1 is almost a pound lighter than its predecessor and at slightly less than 3 pounds is easily the lightest 14-inch Ultrabook in the world. A carbon fiber chassis gets most of the credit for the weight savings. Like the previous X1, the battery is integrated and non-replaceable and there is no optical drive.
Most of the other new Ivy Bridge ThinkPads are approximately the same size and have approximately the same configuration of the previous generation Sandy Bridge systems.
All new ThinkPads include multiple USB 3.0 ports and most now include Mini DisplayPort connectors. The T430s, T430, and T530 can be ordered with the latest version of Intel's vPro and most of the new ThinkPads can be ordered with 4G mobile broadband.
When appropriately configured, these new ThinkPads are EPEAT Gold-compliant and Energy Star 5.2-certified.
See ISC's Notebook Purchasing Guide for configuration suggestions.
ISC sees these new ThinkPads as solid upgrades, but is particularly interested in the second generation X1, the X230t (with its Windows 8 touch readiness), and the T430s.
ThinkPad X1 Carbon graphic courtesy of Lenovo
--John Mulhern III, Lead for Client Technologies, ISC Technology Support Services (May 15, 2012)