ThinkPad 13 offers good value and even better battery stamina

According to Lenovo, the ThinkPad 13 has been tested and passed 12 military specifications for durability. For instance, its keyboard is spill-resistant.
According to Lenovo, the ThinkPad 13 has been tested and passed 12 military specifications for durability. For instance, its keyboard is spill-resistant. PHOTO: LENOVO

I associate Lenovo's ThinkPad laptops with rugged work machines built for professionals.

I find them to be reliable performers that offer many useful features. But I would hesitate to describe them as affordable.

On the other hand, the new ThinkPad 13provides excellent value, with the Intel Core i3 base model priced at $1,196 on the Lenovo Singapore website.

A decent mid-range configuration similar to my review set - an Intel Core i5 chip with vPro technology, 8GB of system memory and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) preloaded with Windows 10 Pro - will cost $1,588 online.

Expect to pay around $1,800 if you upgrade to the best available hardware options that include the Core i7 chip, 16GB memory and 512GB SSD. This is actually slightly cheaper than the Lenovo Ideapad 710S ($1,999) that I tested in May.

There are some key differences between the two laptops. At almost 20mm thick, the ThinkPad 13 feels chunky compared with the ultra- thin 710S.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $1,588

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i5-6300U (2.4GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 520

    RAM: 8GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 13.3 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 3 x USB 3.0, HDMI, OneLink+ port, SD card reader, audio jack

    BATTERY: 42 watt-hour

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

With the logo at the corner of the lid, this laptop looks like any other ThinkPad, especially in black. But, in a break with tradition, the ThinkPad 13 is also available in silver.

I was slightly disappointed that the bezel around the ThinkPad's 13-inch screen is not as slim as the one on the 710S. On the other hand, the ThinkPad's thick and sturdy lid is reassuring. It also opens up to 180 degrees.

Lenovo says that the ThinkPad 13 has been tested and passed 12 military specifications for durability. For instance, its keyboard is spill- resistant.

The spacious island-style keyboard simply invites you to hammer on it. The key travel is good, too. However, I was a bit surprised that it does not have a backlight.

Like most ThinkPad laptops, there is a pointing stick for those who prefer it over the touchpad. But to accommodate the buttons for the pointing stick, the touchpad is not as large as it could be.

I was not impressed with the ThinkPad's display. Lenovo says it is rated at 220 nits brightness, which is relatively dim compared with the 300 nits offered by other ultrabooks. Colours also do not look as lively as I would expect from an IPS screen.

The ThinkPad strikes a nice balance between new and old connectors. It has a single USB 3.1 Type-C connector and three older, full-size USB 3.0 ports.

There is also a proprietary Lenovo OneLink+ port that connects to Lenovo's dock accessory.

Although my review set did not come with a fingerprint reader, Lenovo offers it as a standard feature if you order online.

The ThinkPad's battery stamina was excellent. It lasted 6hr 50min in our video-loop battery test at full brightness and volume.

This was about an hour longer than the Ideapad 710S.

Vincent Chang

• Verdict: With its long battery life and decent performance, the ThinkPad 13 is ideal for students and professionals on a budget.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'ThinkPad 13 offers good value and even better battery stamina'. Print Edition | Subscribe