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Lenovo launches less-expensive ThinkBook laptops

Plus, the company boosts its ThinkPad X1 Extreme with an OLED option as well as newer components.

The sleek and silvery ThinkBook.
Sarah Tew/CNET

For its new small-business-focused ThinkBook S line, Lenovo has jettisoned much of the traditional ThinkPad baggage in favor of a consumer-friendly but relatively durable clamshell laptop design. The ThinkBook S comes with a subset of the security and support options that differentiate Lenovo's enterprise from its mainstream hardware. There's an extended warranty, better service and some of the company's ThinkShield features, plus a physical shutter over the camera. 

Its prices are now more approachable: The ThinkBook 13s starts at $729, while the ThinkBook 14s starts at $749, and both will ship this month. We don't know pricing or availability for other regions, but those directly convert to approx £559 and AU$1,045 for the 13s and £575 and AU$1,075 for the 14s.


The ThinkBook doesn't have a typical ThinkPad keyboard.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The ThinkPad's carbon black exterior gives way to silvery aluminum for the ThinkBooks. And the ThinkBook breaks with the past in a way the ThinkPad can't without causing a riot: The keyboard has the same sculpted keys, but it puts the ctrl and fn keys in more familiar locations (they're swapped on the ThinkPad keyboard). It also has a mainstream touchpad instead of the TrackPad, and there's no Trackpoint stick.

Why two models in such similar sizes and prices? Variations in regional demands. 

Comparative specifications

ThinkBook 13s ThinkBook 14s
CPU Up to 8th-gen Core i7 Up to 8th-gen Core i7
Graphics AMD Radeon 540X or Intel UHD 620 integrated AMD Radeon 540X
Memory 4, 8 or 16GB DDR4 8, 16GB DDR4
Storage up to 512GB SSD up to 512GB SSD
Battery Up to 11 hours Up to 10 hours
Display 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 300 nits 72% NTSC gamut 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 250 nits
Size 12.1x8.5x0.6 in. (308x216x16mm) 12.7x8.8x0.7 in. (323x223x17mm)
Weight 3.1 lbs. (1.4kg) 3.3 lbs. (1.5kg)
Connections 1 x USB-C 3.1 Gen 2, 2 x USB-A 3.1 Gen 1, 1 x HDMI 1.4b, 1 x combo audio 1 x USB-C 3.1 Gen 2, 2 x USB-A 3.1 Gen 1, 1 x HDMI 1.4b, 1 x combo audio
Starting price $729 $749

They're the same except in a few key ways: The 14s' base configuration has more memory and comes with the AMD discrete graphics. But it also has a lesser screen -- it's bigger but dimmer and with a smaller color gamut -- and the battery life is slightly lower, likely because of the discrete graphics. 

On the other end of the spectrum, Lenovo also refreshed its ThinkPad X1 Extreme, its business laptop for people who need a little more power under the hood. The X1 Extreme Gen 2 will be getting an option for a 4K OLED touch display and processor choices up to a ninth-gen Core i9 (8 cores). 

Lenovo's also upgrading the discrete graphics from the current Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti to the newer GTX 1650 Max-Q, which should offer a small bump in performance, though it still feels underpowered for a system that starts at $1,500 (directly converted, £1,150 and AU$2,150). And it will seem especially low-rent if you configure the system with the pricier i9 and OLED panel. But Lenovo's 'real' prices tend to be 10% lower than its nominal prices, so do the math. 

The updated model is slated to ship in July, though the OLED option won't appear until closer to the end of August.