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Inside the Lenovo ThinkPad durability labs

CNET Australia took a tour of Lenovo's ThinkPad testing facility, where notebooks are dropped, chilled, heated, pushed and pulled to their limits.

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Seamus Byrne

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1 of 18 Seamus Byrne/CNET Australia

The Lenovo ThinkPad is known and trusted for its durability, and Lenovo's testing procedures are generally a well-guarded secret. While a few doors remained closed, and a number of tests appeared literally under wraps, CNET Australia was given the chance to visit the Lenovo test facility in Japan to see ThinkPads being put through their paces.

Lenovo's Yamato Labs has been the home of ThinkPad design since its origin with IBM 20 years ago. It is a centre for design and for testing the durability of new hardware under a range of conditions. CNET Australia took a tour of the test labs to see exactly what a ThinkPad is subjected to, from everyday usage to tests beyond any typical performance scenario.

Direct and prolonged pressure is applied to a ThinkPad, focusing on a series of different zones on the lid. You can see a grid of zones where the weight shifts for testing.

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Another pressure test, this time more intense, more concentrated and in shorter bursts.

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The lab technician shows how these tests mean that even a large man could stand on the X1 Carbon and it will still work just fine afterwards.

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Machines open and close the ThinkPad lid thousands of times, testing for both left- and right-handed use.

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Another pressure test repeatedly pushes the edge of the LCD to twist the screen and ensure that it will still perform.

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A corner-drop test from hip height onto a metal plate tests for weakness and fragility.

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A flat-drop test from closer to head height tests that the ThinkPad will work again after such a fall.

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This surface damage from the corner-drop test is deemed acceptable. Any cracking or deep indentation would be deemed a failure.

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There's also a tilt drop on the hard-drive side of the ThinkPad while the drive is actively reading and writing.

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This lab tests for radio-frequency leakage from a ThinkPad performing various processes.

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The frequency testing is observed by cameras from outside the sealed lab.

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A ThinkPad is tested in an acoustic chamber, monitoring for vibration and other noises that may cause mechanical problems or simply disturb user comfort.

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A thermal-shock chamber rapidly takes a ThinkPad from hot to cool environmental conditions.

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Another chamber test, this time for zero-degree performance.

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We stood inside the zero-degree chamber, which was essentially an industrial fridge.

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This chamber tests temperature ranges and also performance in high-humidity conditions.

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And one more temperature and humidity chamber for good measure.

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This was a vacuum oven. A powerful tool, but we couldn't work out what they'd do to a ThinkPad with this one!

Seamus Byrne attended a lab tour in Japan as a guest of Lenovo.

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