Whether it’s notebooks, tablets, phones, peripherals, or even software, we want three things from our mobile tools: they must be light, fast, and intuitive to use.
Here is a quartet of products that meet those rules for the road.
Thin and light — and bigger — portable PC
To fulfill the rule of lighter-faster-easier, Lenovo’s ThinkPad T430s (info page) starts with a carbon fiber–reinforced chassis that helps pare its weight down to just 4.2 pounds. For a 14-inch display notebook, that’s light! In addition, the T430s is equipped with Lenovo’s proprietary RapidBoot technology, which gives it a perceptibly faster Windows 7 Professional bootup than typically seen on many other Win7 machines. And if you’re into cutting-edge qualities, this portable has an optional Windows 8–like interface that launches applications and utilities with a single click. (See Figure 1.)
An inch thick, the T430s includes a lithium-ion battery that delivered nearly five hours of power in my informal tests — enough time to watch Avatar and get some work done, too. Watching the movie was visually pleasing on my review unit. It came with a crisp, 1600×900 HD display (a 1366×768 display knocks U.S. $50 off the standard price) driven by an optional Nvidia NVS 5400M graphics card with 1GB VRAM ($330 extra).
Most laptops and Ultrabooks have reduced size and weight by eliminating built-in optical drives. However, that’s a problem when you want to load applications or grab a movie out of Redbox. The T430s includes a DVD/CD multiburner, adding a bit to its weight and thickness. However, it’s good to have the option. You can also order a second battery that slips into the drive bay for extended power.
On the other hand, you’ll want a good set of headphones when watching movies or listening to music — Lenovo has put two mediocre speakers on either side of the keyboard.
Going back to the days when IBM held the brand, ThinkPads have always sported the best notebook keyboards — bar none. So why, oh why did Lenovo switch to the island-style (or chiclet) keyboard for the T430s? Although still comfortable with providing great feedback, the key spacing guarantees mistypes galore. I know, I know. You just have to get used to it, but it’s a pity that Lenovo had to “improve” on keyboard perfection to satisfy obvious MacBook envy.