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Lenovo ThinkPad 13 (2017)

Introduction, Design Features

The initial era of a Lenovo ThinkPad 13 debuted in 2016 as an affordable 13-inch ultrabook with many of a normal ThinkPad DNA, yet though a normal high price. Equipped with a 6th Generation (“Skylake”) Intel Core i3 CPU, it offering good-enough opening for a torpedo $600 cost and was ideal for students, small-business buyers, or anyone who wanted a ThinkPad yet who had to squeeze it with their own money.

This second iteration of a ThinkPad 13 layers in some enhancements, such as a options for 7th Generation Intel Core i-class CPUs and reason screens, as good as USB Type-C connectivity. But in a inserted year, foe in 13-inch ultrabooks has gotten stiffer—a lot stiffer—and a ThinkPad 13 has gotten pricier.

Yes, it still sports an affordable starting price. When we started this review, that was $629 for a ThinkPad-heretical china model, or $699 for a normal black model. (Both bottom models have a same specs, yet opposite extraneous box materials.) But be warned that your “out a door” cost is expected to be a good bit higher, given checking off a many fascinating options pushes adult a cost quickly. That said, Lenovo’s pricing on a laptops tends to be volatile, and that was a box here; as we went to tell this review, a prices of a Celeron-based starting indication in both framework colors had forsaken to $549. That competence change serve by a time we examination this.

Our black ThinkPad 13 exam section came with a Core i3 CPU in place of a customary Celeron (which adds $200), a 1080p touchscreen (a $120 add-on), Windows 10 Pro (a $30 uptick), and a fingerprint reader (another $20). At a start of this examination that remarkable adult this affordable laptop to a $1,069 proposition, pulling it into a association of sleeker, faster ultrabooks and more-flexible 2-in-1 convertibles. But a few weeks later, a same pattern rang adult for $869 on Lenovo’s direct-sales site, with many of a options ignored a bit off a prices cited above. So, your pricing mileage competence vary, depending on when we examination this and Lenovo’s mood of a day.

In short, this value favorite from final year stays a clever collect for budget-minded buyers in a updated trim, yet a foe has gotten correct to it. Let’s take a closer look.  

Design Connectivity

The ThinkPad 13 doesn’t wandering many from a matte-black ThinkPad formula, unless we opt for a china book that sports a brushed-aluminum lid. (We tested a black, as we can see.)

The new ThinkPad 13 uses a same framework as a effusive first-generation model, so a weight (3.2 pounds) and measure sojourn a same. The china book uses cosmetic for a bottom and a piece of aluminum for a lid, while a classical matte-black chronicle is assembled of polycarbonate and ABS plastic. We presupposition that that accounted for a initial $70 cost disproportion between a two, and also creates a black chronicle marginally thicker: 0.78 inch, contra 0.75 in. for a silver. But as we noted, that cost disproportion competence or competence not be a thing when we examination this.

Even if they finished adult being a same price, given a obtuse bulk on a silver, we would opt for that one. At slightest in part, that’s given after decades of matte-black ThinkPads, opening a box is starting to feel like we’re stranded in a deleted stage from a movie Groundhog Day.

Sticking with a bottom build nets we one of a thinnest, lightest laptops we can buy in a $600-to-$700 cost band. But during north of $1,000 like a as-tested unit, a ThinkPad 13 runs into extremely some-more stylish competitors such as a Asus ZenBook 3HP Spectre 13 (2.45 pounds, 0.41 in. thick). Of course, a ThinkPad 13 does offer some-more dongle-free connectivity than those razor-thin alternatives.

The ThinkPad 13 is flattering skinny (0.78 inch) and light (3.2 pounds) for a bill ultraportable. Problem is, a fascinating options pull a laptop into a cost operation where chosen 2-pound, half-inch-thick inclination strive for your selling attention.

But where a ThinkPad 13 has those ultra-trim machines kick is on connectivity. The machine’s left corner houses an always-on USB 3.0 pier and Lenovo’s OneLink+ advancing pier (the wharf itself is a $150 accessory), along with a rectilinear energy connector…

The right side is packaged with a four-format SD-card slot, a headphone/mic combo jack, dual USB 3.0 ports, a full-size HDMI connector, and a USB Type-C pier to accommodate a new era of inclination that support that standard…

Lenovo has enclosed what it calls “anti-fry protection” into that USB Type-C port. Intelligent electronics inside a ThinkPad monitors and prevents feeble designed third-party USB Type-C cables and accessories from promulgation improper voltages that could repairs a ThinkPad. Note: The laptop itself does not assign over USB Type-C, only particularly over Lenovo’s exclusive port. But a anti-fry underline is meant for reserve if we were to assign a mobile phone or other device off a port, or bond a USB advancing or storage solution.

As with a prior era (and many ultrabook competitors, for that matter), a ThinkPad 13’s battery is sealed, so we can’t barter in a gangling when a assign runs low. (The customary rigging is a three-cell, 42-watt-hour battery.) As we can see from a underside, there’s no entrance to a internals or a battery yet stealing a whole box bottom…

Also like a prior era (and many ThinkPad models, for that matter), a appurtenance meets or exceeds a standards for 8 MIL-STD 810G troops acceptance (a.k.a. “MIL-SPEC”) tests. These exam for insurgency to humidity, vibration, sand, automatic shock, altitude (operating during 15,000 feet), low heat (kept during -4 grade F for 72 hours), high heat (cycles of 70 to 140 degrees F), and heat startle (a pitch from -4 grade F to +140 degrees in 2 hours). Then Lenovo engineers covering on their possess tests for dust, bumps, electrostatic discharges, drops, and things being forsaken on a lid, among other hazards.

Bottom line: ThinkPads are built to withstand some-more punishment than a normal consumer-grade laptop, so they should reason adult improved to a rigors of a highway or a disharmony of a classroom. This one feels firm and well-built, that is not a given, by any means, in laptops in this cost range.


The ThinkPad 13 is a laptop with dual graphic personalities depending on that shade we choose.

The 1,366×768-pixel, non-touch TN row that comes customary with a bottom models is excellent for a bill entry. We indeed don’t mind a reduce fortitude like this one on a 13-inch screen, given it creates content and other onscreen elements easier to see yet zooming in or fussing with Windows 10’s text/icon scaling. But with a TN record of that screen, be prepared for narrower observation angles, generally when we are examination video.

Stepping adult to a discretionary 1080p row nets we 10-finger reason interaction, full 1080p (1,920×1,080) resolution, and IPS (in-plane switching) technology. That is a shade that was in a examination unit.

We found a reason shade to be accurate and easy to correlate with, with taps, swipes, and pinches creation it discerning to name items, scroll, and zoom. The higher-end row on a exam section delivered frail content and rich, jam-packed images even for viewers seated off-center. If streaming HD video is your thing, opting for a 1080p row turns a ThinkPad 13 into a personal theater.

The down-firing stereo speakers also do a convincing pursuit of delivering adequate volume to share around a table, if a appurtenance is placed on a plain surface. Placing a laptop on your lap, unfortunately yet predictably, muffles a sound. The speakers broach surprisingly good song playback for a thin, light notebook, with no exaggeration even during a tip volume level, nonetheless (again, as you’d expect) a drum participation is lacking.

The full-size, island-style keyboard on a ThinkPad 13 is second to nothing in a cost class. The somewhat cupped keytops make it easy to slip from one pivotal to a subsequent to strike your marks, and a vigour compulsory to daub a pivotal is spot-on. The keys also offer good heard and pleasing feedback. And with this new ThinkPad 13, Lenovo now offers a key-backlighting choice ($40 extra), a good investment for those who can’t touch-type and competence need to see a pivotal markings in a dark.

The all-new reason pad is also a plus, and yes, a classic, embedded TrackPoint hang has lived on here for another generation. It has a possess set of dedicated click buttons brazen of a reason pad. 

The new reason pad is also flattering damn good. Granted, it’s on a tiny side compared to a pad on other laptops these days; that’s a trade-off compulsory to accommodate a TrackPoint’s dedicated buttons. But a pad’s low-friction aspect is really responsive. The pad adheres to a new Microsoft Precision Touchpad guidelines, that aim to order that gestures do what on Windows machines, while bringing a drivers (and hence motorist updates) into Windows 10 instead of relying on third-party drivers. For example, in Windows’ Settings menu, we can mention what actions two-, three-, and four-finger taps will enact. With this comes new gestures, as well, like a accessible three-finger swipe: Move your fingers adult (toward a keyboard) to switch to “task view” to see thumbnails of all now open applications, or down to see a Windows desktop.

We’re still not fans of a ubiquitous 720p-resolution camera—yes, that’s reduction than 1 megapixel—that Lenovo uses opposite a ThinkPad line. We know some conferencing services competence throttle on multi-megapixel video streams, yet a soft-focus picture peculiarity here only looks so 2002. We also don’t adore a expostulate choices (or miss thereof) offering for a ThinkPad 13. The bottom indication comes with a 128GB solid-state expostulate (SSD), or we can opt for a 256GB SSD for a high $160 extra. (These are particularly SATA SSDs, with no choice for quick new PCI Express/NVMe storage, yet that is excellent for a bill laptop.) If this will be your primary PC, though, devise on investing in a arguable outmost expostulate or lots of cloud storage to recompense for a low limit expostulate capacities. Rounding out a list of facilities is a discretionary fingerprint reader we mentioned earlier, and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1.

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