When it comes to business laptops, chances are you wouldn’t look much beyond the iconic Lenovo ThinkPad machines. Users swear by them and wouldn’t trade these rock-solid computing devices for anything else. To their credit, Lenovo left these untouched over the years, in the sense that the core strengths remained the same—longevity, military grade strength, security features for enterprise users, good battery life and a keyboard that is a delight to type on. For that very reason, I was genuinely interested to see what Lenovo’s latest line of business laptops, the ThinkBook series, brings to the table. Why would anyone go for the ThinkBook over the ThinkPad?
One of the reasons that immediately stand out is the price. The entry price point to the ThinkBook series starts at around Rs 33,290 for the ThinkBook 14. The variant that we have reviewed here is priced at around Rs 80,000 for the very top spec variant running the 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB RAM. The idea is to offer the similar sort of “Think” personality, in terms of the design, ruggedness and peace of mind, that the Lenovo ThinkPad laptops and convertibles have offered over the year. If we are to look at Lenovo’s current line-up, the ThinkBook series offers an even more affordable entry point into the business notebook ecosystem. The ThinkPad L Series costs upwards of Rs 70,720 while the ThinkPad Yoga (starts at around Rs 89,990) and the ThinkPad X Series (starts at around Rs 88,168) are also considerably more expensive, as far as the entry price point is concerned. Only the ThinkPad Edge series comes close, the E490 to be precise, but those run older 8th generation Intel Core processors.
It is as sturdy as you expect it to be
Design, and the ruggedness that has been the hallmark of ThinkPad laptops over the years, is very much the foundation on which the ThinkBook 14 also builds. The use of aluminum for the structure makes these machines incredibly strong. And then there is the matte black colour finish which you just cannot mistake for anything else. This weighs around 1.5kg, which isn’t the heaviest laptop that you may find, and neither is it the lightest. There are a lot of connectivity options though—and by that I am specifically pointing to the five USB ports that are available. You absolutely do not need to go searching for adapters or connectors or convertors or dongles every time you want to connect something to the laptop—mouse, keyboard, external storage, a card reader, a printer and whatever else that may be part of your workflow.
My generally outrageous opinions about keyboards define this experience too
Since this is a 14-inch laptop, there is no dedicated number pad. But that is to be expected, so do not hold that against the ThinkBook 14. The keyboard is decidedly Lenovo-esque, which means adequately large keys and just enough spacing between them. You will notice that the keys themselves have a slightly textured finish, which helps your finger grip better in those seconds your finger lands on a key before gliding on to another one. The key travel is a tad more than I would have liked, but that is a personal preference which has been undeniably confirmed after many years of the consistency of the Apple MacBook Pro keyboards. Nevertheless, ThinkPad users who may be switching to this would find this exactly the same as what they have been used to all this while—except the Trackpoint that has been regularly seen in the ThinkPad laptops over the years. This keyboard isn’t backlit, and that can be a bit of a problem if you are working in a room with less than adequate lighting. Relying on the display brightness to illuminate the way forward with words, is well, a thing of the past. History repeats itself. So, it seems.
This has the fingerprint sensor integrated within the power key, which means you intuitively go for the one key that you need to every time you are switching it on or waking it from sleep. And the authentication of your identity as the genuine owner of the data that resides inside, happens there itself.
Have always maintained, you don't need 4K on a laptop
The 14-inch display with the Full HD resolution is really all about getting the basics in place. And that it does, for a business use-case in mind. It is crisp, quite bright and doesn’t really ley reflections get in the way. As you spend hours pondering over spreadsheets and replying to emails, comfort is what you will. And comfort is what this tries to put forward. It is easy on the eyes, which really helps. You might complain about the fact that colours on this display aren’t the richest or the fact that it doesn’t have great contrast, but the thing is—do business laptops really need to be primed for Netflix video streaming too? Actually, they aren’t. Honestly, they don’t need to be. Get to work!
Performance is never in short supply
At this time, you can choose to have a Lenovo ThinkBook 14 laptop with multiple 10th generation Intel Core processors. The Intel Core i3-10110U, the Core i5-10210U and the Intel Core i7-10510U. You can have up to 16GB of RAM depending on the variant you pick. You also get to choose between the hard drive and solid-state drive (SSD) storage options, and to be fair, it is a no-brainer to pick the latter because it is much faster. Performance, for the Core i7 version which I took for a spin, indicated that it would be fast enough for most usage scenarios. Yes, these are the low-voltage processors, but they still offer more than enough headroom for resource intensive tasks. Boot times are quick, and apps open in a snap—but mind you, that is till your office IT people get their hands on it, and potentially ruin the experience with a gamut of unoptimized security apps that they might insist on installing. We have seen many fantastic business laptops fall at the altar of this stupidity, and none of the machines can ever be blamed for this fall from grace. After all, your organization is only as strong as its weakest link.
Battery life is quite robust too, though this isn’t top notch by any stretch of the imagination. I got about 8 hours of battery life on a single charge when using this for the typical publishing work on a regular weekday, with the brightness at around 50%. This is around the same range as a HP Spectre and the Apple MacBook Pro 15, and yet falls short of the Apple MacBook Pro 13 by some stretch—that does upwards of 12 hours on a single charge.
The Last Word: This is not a Lite laptop, and that is a great foundation
The thing with the Lenovo ThinkBook 14 is that it is delivering on exactly what it promised, from the outset. The same robust business laptop usage experience that the more expensive ThinkPad series offers, but on a tighter budget. There are a couple of slight compromises along the way, but none are taking away from the essence of reliability and ruggedness. And factor in consistent performance too, and what you have is a ThinkPad Lite, so to say. Or as carmakers would put it, it’s a ThinkPad Superleggera or ThinkPad GT.