Despite offering innovative designs for some of its other systems, Lenovo has stayed with the tried-and-true when it comes to the ThinkPad, its foundational business laptop. With one of the latest trio of notebooks that it's just added to the family, however, the company is slowly breaking the mold.
The ThinkPad S431 (shown above) does look sleeker than its predecessors, though you still might not confuse it with a MacBook Air or luxury ultrabook. Nonetheless, it does manage to squeeze a 14-inch display into a 13-inch frame, which is offered in silver in addition to the traditional black chassis. There's also more curve to the edges, contributing to the "floating design" Lenovo extols.
The new laptop offers a touchscreen to take advantage of Windows 8's touch capabilities, while also having a glass touch pad that supports the gestures available with the new OS. The legacy ThinkPad TrackPoint pointing stick remains in the center of the keyboard.
Lenovo offers Intel Ivy Bridge processors for the S431, along with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 500GB of storage. The S431 also supports the company's OneLink Dock, which provides additional USB 3.0 ports, video and Ethernet jacks, and recharging capabilities. It is due on May 21.
The S431 will start at $699 and be available beginning in June. If you're looking for a cheaper alternative, Lenovo has also unveiled the ThinkPad Edge E431 and E531 laptops. Neither is quite as fashion-forward as the S431, but they contain many of the same features, including touchscreen options, Ivy Bridge processors, and OneLink technology support.
The E431 starts at $599 and offers Core i3, i5, and i7 processor options, up to 16GB of RAM, and either hard drive or solid state storage options. It also includes a DVD burner and 14-inch display. Starting at the same price, the ThinkPad Edge E531 includes a 15.6-inch screen instead, with the subsequent bump in weight of several ounces. Either system can be configured with Windows 8 or Windows 7 for those businesses not yet interested in jumping to the latest Microsoft OS.