Lenovo revamps its ThinkPad notebook design with new T431s

Lenovo's ThinkPad lineup of Windows notebooks have been acclaimed for their construction, battery life and low weight, among other things. Today, Lenovo officially revealed a new addition to the ThinkPad family, the T431s, that is also the first product based on an all new design for the ThinkPad series.

The Lenovo blog not only reveals more about the ThinkPad T431s, but also the process the company took to come up with the design. Lenovo "shadowed" both ThinkPad and non-ThinkPad users, along with other young adults, in a number of countries over a nine month period. Those people were questioned about what they liked and didn't like about using laptops and tablets.

Based on that feedback, Lenovo says that the company changed 26 percent of the ThinkPad's visual design were changed for the ThinkPad T431s. One of the biggest changes was for the notebook's touchpad, which does away with the physical buttons in favor of integrating those functions inside the touchpad itself.

The famous ThinkPad trackpad has received an update as well. Lenovo says:

The trackpad now has five buttons which you can customize for Windows 8 gestures via the device driver. There are subtle red lines on the surface indicating the trackpoint buttons. Of course, the red dot remains for all our trackpoint users.

Other changes include allowing the hinge to open by as much as 180 degrees to allow the ThinkPad T431s to lay flat on a table, hiding the notebook's speakers in its drop down hinge and more. Even the ThinkPad logo's placement on the T431s has changed. Lenovo says:

For years, the logo has been displayed oriented towards the user (some viewed this as upside down) and has long been the subject of great debate inside the halls of Lenovo. Ultimately with the other changes we’ve made, we decided now is the right time to reorient the logo so that it’s visible when someone looks at the laptop from the back. At the same time we added a living element to it with a new LED in the logo middle giving it a “heartbeat” of sorts. It’s functional too, showing the PC’s status of on or in sleep.

As far as the hardware specs, Engadget reports that the ThinkPad T431s weighs 3.6 pounds, has a 14 inch 1,600x900 display, and 4 GB of RAM with an option to raise it up to 12 GB. It also has a 320 GB hard drive as standard, with options to put in SSDs. Buyers can get the laptop with either Windows 7 or Windows 8 and while this model does not have a touch screen, future versions could have that feature included. It's due out sometime in April starting at $949.

Source: Lenovo blog | Image via Lenovo

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21 Comments

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it's amazing how Lenovo is stuck in the past. Not much different from T420S, with all its defects. This is 2013. Wake up. Still dragging with that slow hard disk. Long battery life ? A joke. What about the noisy fan ? Apple must be laughing in the background.

Argh... clickpad. Just... why? What's wrong with having proper, separate buttons that work properly and don't cause annoyance and grief like clickpads do?

At least the X1 Carbon kept the buttons for the Trackpoint.

Douglas_C said,
Argh... clickpad. Just... why? What's wrong with having proper, separate buttons that work properly and don't cause annoyance and grief like clickpads do?

I've got an E530 and HATE the trackpad on it. I can right-click about 50% of the time it seems. It almost always takes me twice to hit the right spot without the actual buttons. I has the two top buttons, but I never use those.

At least the X1 Carbon kept the buttons for the Trackpoint.

I like the new look (except the stupid chicklet keyboard as usual), but i wonder how much more flimsy they made it.

Trackpoint without buttons? I rest my fingers on the buttons of my T420 all the time. Not a fan of the redesign.

trek said,
Trackpoint without buttons? I rest my fingers on the buttons of my T420 all the time. Not a fan of the redesign.

You can tap the touchpad for click or tap twice for double click like you usually use the physical buttons. And I have a scrollbar in touchpad instead of using the mouse or up/down arrow keys.

Hopefully they would be smart enough to have the option to disable the touchpad movement and allow the taps... Otherwise it would conflict with the touchpoint

It would not conflict. If it does, then you can use the mouse via USB if you are using the laptop on your desk. If it's on your lap, then you will need a table beside you for the mouse... If I am on the road, I use touchpad. Otherwise I use a mouse if I am at home office.

shozilla said,
It would not conflict. If it does, then you can use the mouse via USB if you are using the laptop on your desk. If it's on your lap, then you will need a table beside you for the mouse... If I am on the road, I use touchpad. Otherwise I use a mouse if I am at home office.

You've obviously misunderstood my original post. Have you ever used a trackpoint?

shozilla said,
It would not conflict. If it does, then you can use the mouse via USB if you are using the laptop on your desk. If it's on your lap, then you will need a table beside you for the mouse... If I am on the road, I use touchpad. Otherwise I use a mouse if I am at home office.

Here's a traditional ThinkPad trackpoint and buttons for reference:
http://www.thinkpads.com/wp-co...oads/2009/06/trackpoint.jpg

With your hands in the "home" position, your index fingers are on F and J and your thumbs will rest on either the left or right trackpoint buttons.

With the old design, it was easy to keep your thumbs off the touchpad. As mentioned below, it's a bit puzzling how they took design cues from the X1 Carbon (Touch) but didn't carry over the physical trackpoint buttons? (see here: http://www.lenovo.com/products...d/x-series/x1-carbon-touch/)

trek said,

You've obviously misunderstood my original post. Have you ever used a trackpoint?

I understand/know what you meant. I don't use it. I tap on touchpad/use the mouse. I have buttons near the touchpad but I never use it.

Denis W said,

Here's a traditional ThinkPad trackpoint and buttons for reference:
http://www.thinkpads.com/wp-co...oads/2009/06/trackpoint.jpg

With your hands in the "home" position, your index fingers are on F and J and your thumbs will rest on either the left or right trackpoint buttons.

With the old design, it was easy to keep your thumbs off the touchpad. As mentioned below, it's a bit puzzling how they took design cues from the X1 Carbon (Touch) but didn't carry over the physical trackpoint buttons? (see here: http://www.lenovo.com/products...d/x-series/x1-carbon-touch/)

I know about that. You use thumb for the button, I use my finger for tapping.

Try it yourself: move your cursor over an icon on the taskbar, then tap or tap twice on touchpad. Your app will be up.

While I am on the desk, I use a mouse. So I don't have to worry about tapping on touchpad unless I am on the road.

That suggestion still doesn't appease those who swear by the trackpoints and buttons over the touchpads...

Mind you I barely use the trackpoint on my work ThinkPad, but I can see why people would prefer to use that.

I understand and people have their own way on their actions with their laptops such as trackpoint buttons, touchpad, mouse..

Of course it won't be long before the motion gestures will be added to laptops ... probably in near future to be added to the PCs... such as leap motion devices. I am getting mine delivered soon.

why should i use a usb mouse when the trackpoint can just be fine. as long as the trackpad is not active while my hand rests on the notebook. nothing more annoying than that. so they need to activate the click area without activating the trackpad. and the best keep the charmbar and tabswitch for windows 8 active

[quote=-adrian- said,]why should i use a usb mouse when the trackpoint can just be fine. as long as the trackpad is not active while my hand rests on the notebook. nothing more annoying than that. so they need to activate the click area without activating the trackpad. and the best keep the charmbar and tabswitch for windows 8 active[/quote]

/face palm

like I said:
[quote]people have their own way on their actions with their laptops such as trackpoint buttons, touchpad, mouse.. [/qoute]

Meaning that everyone is entitled to their preferences for their laptops.

My laptop is tucked away in the corner and I use an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse so I can use this way. If I am on the road, I unplug the monitor, keyboard, and mouse so I take laptop with me. Simple.

Lastly, I didn't force you or anyone to use USB mouse... You 'can' use a mouse if you want to. That's why the stores have 'travel/standard mouse' for laptops if people are using their laptops on their desks... I use it... and I asked Denis to try tapping on the touchpad instead of using trackpoint buttons... I know people use touchscreens for Windows 8 but not me.. I have Windows 8 but no touchscreen yet. Of course they have wireless mouse, bluetooth mouse, as you see people come up with something new ... like Leap Motion controller.

trek said,
Hopefully they would be smart enough to have the option to disable the touchpad movement and allow the taps... Otherwise it would conflict with the touchpoint

I'm using a T420s and with both touchpad and trackpoint enabled, while using the trackpoint it overrides the trackpad. I can stretch my thumbs to the trackpad and wiggle them around but as long as a finger is resting on the trackpoint, that movement on the trackpad is ignored.