Lenovo brings Think to the budget market with new ThinkPad 13

The new ThinkPad 13 is a pleasant departure from the norm for Lenovo

Mention the word ThinkPad to someone, and they’re likely to imagine a black laptop, clean and blocky, with a fat lip around the front to seal it up tight when closed. It’s a look that Lenovo has been desperately trying to escape, despite its users preferences, and the ThinkPad 13 is the newest result of that effort.

And not only does the ThinkPad 13 take a departure from the norm aesthetically, but also does so in platform. In addition to both aluminum and classic black finish, it’s offered with a choice of Windows 10 or Chrome OS.

It’s a decidedly different approach for the normally quite serious ThinkPad line, but is a change of pace really what Lenovo needs?

What’s old is new again

The ThinkPad 13 is available in two colors. The first is a standard black ABS material, which is a fancy way of saying plastic. Though not as durable as the magnesium alloy used in more expensive ThinkPads, the ABS looks similar. It’s not an exciting aesthetic, but it’s one that’s traditionally successful for the ThinkPad line. The other variation is draped in sleek silver aluminum, at the cost of a little bump in thickness. It’s a more significant departure from the classic ThinkPad look, but one that will work to its advantage in a more consumer-oriented sphere.

Whichever color or OS you choose, there’s a lot to love about the ThinkPad 13.

Whichever design you choose, there’s a lot to love about the ThinkPad 13. Both models are extremely sturdy, meeting the same military durability specifications of the rest of the line. The keyboard has a satisfying clack to it as well, with the same great shape and layout that’s become the norm for Lenovo laptops.

The differences aren’t all cosmetic though, as there are some more subtle changes that might go unnoticed by the novice user.

Plug it in

The connectivity is different too, highlighting the differences between the two operating systems.

Windows users will find a trio of USB ports, a full-sized HDMI, Lenovo’s single-link, and a lone Type-C USB port, plus the obligatory SD slot. The Chrome OS version, on the other hand, doubles down on Type-C ports, while preserving the full-sized HDMI and SD card slot.

lenovo thinkpad 13
Matt Smith/Digital Trends
Matt Smith/Digital Trends

There’s another element of ThinkPads that’s notably missing from the Chrome OS version. The TrackPoint that typically sits between the G, H, and B keys doesn’t play well with Chrome OS, so it’s been removed in order to keep things simple. Lenovo says it may be revived in the future, but not for the initial ThinkPad 13.

Conclusion

Lenovo’s redesigned ThinkPad 13 is a welcome expansion for the line, and one that Lenovo is managing carefully. Its users have expressed a continued desire for black laptops, clean design, and the same keyboard they know and love.

The ThinkPad 13 ditches the disappointing Atom processor for a Core i3 or i5

The catch is that many users don’t need nearly the performance they think they do, and that’s one that Lenovo is taking advantage of to offer a laptop with decent specs at a better price. The ThinkPad 13 ditches the disappointing Atom processor for a Celeron Core i3 or i5, a move that’s becoming increasingly common in similar systems like the HP Pavilion 13. Even the Celeron option crushes the Atom offering in other Chromebooks.

Lenovo is taking a gamble with the ThinkPad 13, one that will either end with the system finding a home in the marketplace, or in tears. But the bottom line is that the ThinkPad 13 is going to more than meet the needs of most ThinkPad users, whether they know it or not. It’s also a machine that doesn’t forget the traits, like tough construction and solid feature set, that brought the ThinkPad line into the limelight in the first place.

Buy on Lenovo

Highs:

  • Adventurous design
  • Solid performance for the price
  • Highly configurable

Lows:

  • Chrome option is spendy
Computing

We want every laptop to be as thin as an iPhone. But is it practical?

The Acer Swift 7 is the thinnest notebook you can buy, and it feels like the notebook of the future. But it makes too many compromises along the way, and some weird design choices hold it back.
Computing

Does Qualcomm's latest laptop processor hold up against Intel's Core i5?

Qualcomm has been nipping at Intel's mobile CPU heels for years and now it might finally have overtaken it. To find out whether it's new SoC can hold its own in mid-range computing, we pitted the Snapdragon 8cx vs. Core i5.
Product Review

How does the sleek MateBook X Pro hold up to the modern day competition?

Huawei impressed us with the MateBook X, a solid competitor to the 12-inch MacBook that beat Apple at its own game. Now, Huawei is taking a shot at premium 14-inchers with the MateBook X Pro, but it’s not without oddities – like a…
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

There are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, and though the selection is robust, finding a solid solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here, we've rounded up best PDF editors, so you can edit no matter your budget or OS.
Computing

Heal your wrist aches and pains with one of these top ergonomic mice

If you have a growing ache in your wrist, it might be worth considering changing up your mouse for something ergonomic. But which is the best ergonomic mouse for you? One of these could be the ticket to the right purchase for you.
Computing

Nvidia’s Jetson AGX Xavier module is designed to give robots better brains

Nvidia's pricey Jetson AGX Xavier might help drive the next generation of smart robots. Nvidia hopes that developers will use its new Xavier module to power AI-driven machines like delivery drones and robots used in manufacturing.
Computing

Leaked AMD Ryzen 3000 mobile benchmarks look fit for thin, low-power laptops

AMD is poised to give Intel a run for its money in the ultra-low-power processor space for laptops. Leaked benchmarks for the Ryzen 3000 APU series show the AMD processor besting Intel's Core i7 Y series in multicore performance.
Computing

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will update your OG Windows skills

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience and save more time!
Mobile

Apple is spending $1 billion to hire up to 15,000 new employees in Austin

Apple has announced a series of expansions across the U.S. -- including a massive expansion to the company's Austin campus that will see it spending $1 billion to accommodate for up to 15,000 new employees.
Computing

Will Windows 95 be reimagined? Microsoft’s tweet hints at a throwback

The classic Windows operating system may just be getting a reboot of its own. Microsoft tweeted a cryptic message involving the Windows 95 logo and saying that it had a special announcement for its customers today.
Computing

Microsoft Surface Pro 6: Everything you need to know

The Surface Pro 6 is officially here, though it's not as big of a redesign as you might have hoped. With a new coat of black paint and an 8th-gen processor, this is a small update. If you've been eyeing a Surface Pro, you may want to wait…
Computing

Style up your MacBook Air with one of these great cases or sleeves

Whether you’re looking for added protection or a stylish flourish, you’re in the right place for the best MacBook Air cases. We have form-hugging cases, luxurious covers and padded sleeves priced from $7 to $130. Happy shopping!
Computing

Want to make one hard drive act like two? Here's how to partition in Windows

If you don't want all of your files stored in one place but only have one drive to work with, partitioning is your best way forward. Here's how to partition a hard drive in Windows 10, step by step.
Mobile

Leave the laptop at home, the iPad Pro is the travel buddy to take on vacay

The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet that's perfect for creatives and professionals. How does it fare when traveling with it as a laptop replacement? We took it on a two week trek in Japan to find out.