Lenovo launches ThinkPad T431, adds new version of black

Based on nine months of research, Lenovo made 26 design tweaks to its corporate workhorse laptop. Good luck spotting the changes.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Lenovo on Sunday rolled out its latest ThinkPad, the T431s, billed as the thinnest ever in the T series family, which is an enterprise workhorse laptop.

The latest T series addition is sleeker than previous battle tanks I've lugged a few T-series ThinkPads around---and takes some visual cues from the Carbon X1. The most notable changes were:

  • Lenovo's T431 weighs in at 3.6 pounds and is 0.82 inches thin. The top is carbon fiber.
  • The trackpad evolves the TrackPoint and TouchPad and is designed for Windows 8 gestures.
  • T431s open 180 degrees.
  • Lenovo's keyboard has tweaked key placement and sports shortcuts for Windows 8.
  • And there's a new color---Graphite Black. Lenovo knows black laptops are its brand so didn't want to go too crazy, but a different flavor of its favorite color is a big step.

The T431, available in April starting at $949, is the product of nine months of research from ThinkPad users as well as people who don't use Lenovo's laptops. Researchers shadowed users and observed their behavior.

Lenovo Thinkpad 011113 left (1)
26 design changes were made for the T431. Good luck spotting them. Credit: Lenovo.


Alysia Baker, product marketing manager for Lenovo's Thinkpad unit, said the goal of the research was to find better ways to accommodate business customers in a bring your own device world. Perhaps the biggest challenge for Lenovo would be creating a ThinkPad consumers would buy on their own and bring into the enterprise. 

One catch with the T431 is that the screen isn't touch enabled. If using Windows 8, a touchscreen laptop has been a popular choice. Lenovo opted for an enhanced trackpad. It's also worth noting that the T431 also comes with Windows 7, which is an enterprise staple since Windows 8 is being evaluated at best.

In a blog post, Lenovo noted that "change in ThinkPad design typically evolves rather than making radical moves." The company isn't kidding because at a quick glance the T431 doesn't look that different from its predecessors.

Among the notable points from Lenovo's research:

  • The company interviewed "young adults/millenials in the U.S., Mexico, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, China, India and Brazil."
  • Lenovo designed the T431 based on the feedback.
  • Users in Japan and Germany said that "hints of color are ok."
  • The aim was to make "ThinkPad relevant to businesses and consumers for the next 20 years."
  • Twenty six design aspects were changed in the latest ThinkPad, but the changes are hard to spot.


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