Lenovo Thinkpad T440s Ultrabook Review

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In terms of its look, the Lenovo Thinkpad T440s ultrabook is exactly what you’d expect from one of the company’s business-facing laptops: a black somewhat boxy design with a red dot in the middle of the keyboard. There’s that classic soft matte black finish all around as well as the Thinkpad logo on the keyboard area of course.

However, Lenovo has done a bit of work tweaking the overall design, most notably as it pertains to the glass touchpad. For starters, it’s twice the size of the old trackpad, and the five clickable buttons are all integrated. The result is a smooth, clean look without losing any of the old functionality. For example, the middle scroll button is gone, but it’s been replaced by subtle bumps so you can find it by feel alone, and the TrackPoint buttons are indicated by red stripes.

The spill-resistant keyboard has optional backlighting (with three brightness settings) and offers the same keyboard we’ve come to know and love on previous generation Lenovo Thinkpads. The blocky keys have a nice indentation for better tactility and plenty of travel. Across the top are numerous dedicated keys, including volume and mic controls, brightness, WiFi toggle on/off, settings, search, and more. One key brings up options for projecting, extending, duplicating, or adding a second screen to a connected display.

There are also two Alt keys (one on either side of the spacebar), PrtSc, and directional keys. The circular power button is up and off to the right all by itself, and the fingerprint scanner is several inches below that.

Despite the same-old, same-old first impression the Thinkpad T440s might make, it’s thinner than you might expect at 0.8 inches, and lighter, too.  It's a ThinkPad but on the Atkins diet, so to speak, lean and muscular.

The 1920x1080 IPS display offers 10-point touchscreen capabilities, and although the viewing angles are impressive, we’re not so sure this machine delivers on the promise of “nearly” 180-degrees. We do like that the screen isn’t so glossy that reflectiveness is a problem, though.

Lenovo’s approach to the battery life situation is to give users options. There’s an internal 3-cell (23.5Wh) battery, and you can augment the system’s battery life with an external 3-cell (23.5Wh) or 6-cell (72Wh) battery with the Power Bridge feature. Thus, you can optimize the system’s weight and battery life depending on your needs at a given time. Even better, the external batteries are hot-swappable, so if you need extra juice while you’re in the middle of something, you can pop one in without powering down the system. Nice, very nice actually.

There are more features that lend themselves to the business life, too. The ThinkPad T440s has a docking connector on the bottom to make it as easy as possible to use the ultrabook as both a desktop and a portable computer, and the all-black ports help the machine keep a low, professional profile.

Lenovo designed this machine to offer strong durability, as lifecycle management is a huge expense for businesses, and to that end the company has introduced new cover paint, more robust hinges for the lid, and carbon fiber construction. It’s a good thing Lenovo went with the more protective carbon fiber on the lid, because T-series notebook have historically shown a bit too much in the dirt, dust, and wear-and-tear department, and you don’t want your company’s fleet of machines looking rough.

The interior components are all protected by a roll cage, and Lenovo boasts that the ThinkPad T440s is built to MIL-SPEC standards, which presumably will help the ultrabook survive longer in the business wild through bumps, drops, humidity, and extreme temperatures.

Being a laptop, it’s no surprise that the ThinkPad T440s doesn’t produce audio with very much bass response--or mids, for that matter--but the higher frequencies are crisp and clear, and there’s little to no distortion even at the highest volume settings. Further, it’s worth noting that when you crank it up to the proverbial “11”, this machine can produce a lot of sound--enough to fill a room.

We should also mention that the ThinkPad T440s was remarkably quiet during our testing. Less power consumption and therefore less generated heat was a goal of Intel’s Haswell platform, and between the Haswell chip, integrated Intel graphics, and Lenovo’s chassis design, the machine’s fans essentially never kicked on during our benchmark runs. This system is extremely quiet; the ambient noise from fluorescent lights are louder.

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