Lenovo intros new Ivy Bridge ThinkPads, including X1 Carbon ultrabook

Playing it safe, Lenovo's latest business laptops span the gamut but stay largely traditional for Intel's latest processors.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
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Scott Stein
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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Watch this: The new X1 Carbon from Lenovo

If you're looking for "new and exciting" regarding Lenovo's newest ThinkPad laptops, you'll have to hone in on the small details. For instance, Lenovo's latest lineup of third-generation Intel Core i-series processor ThinkPads have adopted the more modern raised keyboards that have been seen on models such as the ThinkPad Edge and X1.

Lenovo ThinkPads: T, W, L, X, and X1 (photos)

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Beyond that and some additional port additions -- the inclusion of built-in 4G wireless on certain models -- the biggest news is the tease of the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon, a 14-inch ultrabook that's a sleeker update to last year's somewhat clunky X1 laptop. These new ThinkPads are also compatible with Lenovo's new third-generation docks, which include USB 3.0 ports.

Here are all the new ThinkPads, by category.


ThinkPad X1 Carbon
The new ThinkPad X1 Carbon, curiously, has nearly the same name as last year's ThinkPad X1, even though the differences are fairly dramatic. Unlike the previous laptop, which was more of a slimmed-down ThinkPad, the carbon-fiber 2012 ThinkPad X1 is a true 14-inch ultrabook that claims to be the world's lightest at that size (3 pounds). A 1,600x900-pixel resolution screen, carbon fiber roll-cage, 3G broadband, and the return of last year's Rapid Charge battery (which charges the battery up to 80 percent in 30 minutes) round out the features. The X1 Carbon will be available "at the start of the summer" for an unspecified price. Check out our first-hand video.

ThinkPad X230t. Lenovo

ThinkPad X230, X230t
In the ultraportable space, the new 12-inch X230 and X230t add backlit keyboard options, USB 3.0 and Mini DisplayPort, and what Lenovo claims is enhanced Dolby sound. The swivel-tablet version is similar to other Lenovo ultraportables we've seen before. The X230 and X230t start at a princely $1,179 and $1,479, respectively.

The ThinkPad T430s. Lenovo

ThinkPad T430, T430s, and T530
The update to last year's meat-and-potatoes ThinkPad T420 is lighter than last year's model. Optional backlit keyboards and the aforementioned new keyboard design are the key new cosmetic changes. The thinner T430s also includes a Thunderbolt port on its Core i7 configurations. The ThinkPad T430 will start around $879, while the T430s will start around $1,399 (Lenovo's documentation only mentions pricing as "approximate").


ThinkPad L430, L530
A step below the T series in price, the slightly thinner-and-lighter-than-last-year 14- and 15-inch ThinkPad L series laptops are aimed at small business, with a feature set that's similar to the T430 and T530. The entry-level models will start at around $879 (if so, it's hard to tell what the advantages are over the T series based on Lenovo's press releases).


ThinkPad W530
Aimed at high-end graphics professionals, the ThinkPad W530 mobile workstation has a color-calibrating wide-view screen and much more robust graphics -- Nvidia Quadro optional -- along with the capability of running four external displays at once via a ThinkPad Dock. Prices start around $1,529.

All of these laptops, with the exception of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, will be available at the beginning of June.