In time for spring blooming, Lenovo is out with a fresh crop of updates to its venerable ThinkPad line. The new arrivals include the X1 Carbon laptop, which the company called the lightest 14-inch Ultrabook, as well as the addition of Intel's Ivy Bridge processors to an assortment of models.
The X1 joins a variety of Ultrabook models that are beginning to pop up from various manufacturers. Or, as Information Technology Intelligence Consulting analyst Laura DiDio put it, "this is like the Easter parade for Ultrabooks." Lenovo said that its X1 Carbon "exceeds Ultrabook specifications," specifically in its use of a carbon fiber rollcage that enhances durability but keeps the weight under 3 pounds.
Other highlights of the X1 include RapidCharge for a near-full battery charge within 30 minutes and Intel vPro technology to assist with management.
Senior Vice President Lu Yan said in a statement that innovative thinking extends beyond the X1 to the rest of the new ThinkPad models, which feature "a backlit keyboard, super-bright high definition display, Dolby Home Theatre and rich communications features that balance business performance with personal use."
New models in the ThinkPad X, T, W, and L Series feature Ivy Bridge third-generation quad-core processors, RapidBoot, and Lenovo Enhanced Experience 3.0. The refreshed lineup is designed to start 40 percent faster than a typical Windows 7 computer, with optimized system files, processes and hardware settings.
Several models offer 4G/LTE connectivity, USB 3.0, and an option for contract-free mobile broadband, purchased in time segments.
The X230 Ultraportable, intended for road warriors, provides 24 hours of battery, a weight under 3 pounds, and 4G. The T430s has docking and vPro, and the T530 delivers a full 15-inch HD display.
With Windows 8 coming, there has been a great deal of speculation about tablet-laptop convertibles. The ThinkPad X230t combines both with a swivel screen that makes the device into a tablet. It offers many of the same features as the X230, and provides an optional touchscreen and pen.
'Preferences, Pricing, and Promotions'
The W530 is an independent software vendor-certified workstation for mobile workers who need high-end graphics or other processing performance. It allows up to four additional displays via the ThinkPad Dock, includes the Nvidia Quadro mobile graphics processor, and comes with professional apps for CAD/CAM, GIS and 3D modeling.
The new L series -- the L430 and L530 -- is billed as being value buys, and offers the option of HD screens in 14- or 15-inch sizes.
DiDio noted that, with new thinner, lighter Ultrabooks coming out as well as new flocks of traditional-sized laptops, business and consumer customers making purchasing decisions may find few distinguishing factors between models from Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Toshiba, Asus, or another maker.
It will come down to "preferences, pricing, and promotions," she said, with preferences being the computer brand you already own and with which you might want to continue.
On pricing, the new models range from starting suggested retail prices of $879 for the T430, L430, or L530, to a starting price of $1,529 for the W530 mobile workstation. The X1 price has not yet been announced.