ThinkPad 25 Anniversary Edition: Build Quality And User Experience
The first thing you notice about the ThinkPad 25 AE is the soft touch matte black finish on the entire machine and the RGB logo that colors the "Pad" in the "ThinkPad" logo with red, green, and blue fonts. That soft touch material works well for preventing fingerprints and smudges, though it's not completely grime-proof. When you do get some greasy smears on it from that lunchtime slice, the machine easily cleans up, however.
The ThinkPad 25's display isn't something spectacular. It's a workable 14-inch 1080p panel that performs adequately for watching videos and playing casual games. We do very much like its matte finish. It’s much easier on the eyes versus a glossy panel in brighter environments, though viewing angle performance left us a bit flat losing a fair amount of brightness at extremes. Touch functionality was accurate and responsive.
One of the standout features of those early ThinkPad notebooks was always the keyboard, and the ThinkPad 25 Anniversary Edition follows that tradition with a big blue enter key, which is a direct throwback to those ThinkPads of the 1990s. The good news is, it's also still one of the most comfortable and serviceable keyboards in laptops currently.
The keyboard has dedicated audio controls with no function keys required to control mute and volume of audio. The dedicated controls for volume and mute are something that seems basic, but when you are used to having to hit a Fn key and then adjust your volume, being able to quickly mute a video with the touch of a single button if the phone rings is hugely convenient. The ThinkPad 25's audio system is comprised of a pair of 2-watt speakers that provide plenty of sound for basic video watching and music, audiophiles will want more low end response, but most users with reasonable expectations for light notebook audio will be satisfied with its onboard sound.
The rectangular charge port and cable fit together much better than the standard circular plugs most are used to; it also feels much sturdier than a round pin-style cable end. The charger will also plug in no matter which side is up making it much easier than connecting a USB device and similar though bulkier than USB-C.
The ThinkPad 25's trackpad supports gestures making scrolling and other tasks a single-handed process rather than having to fiddle with holding a mouse button with one hand and scrolling with the other. That trackpad is very easy to use and accurate, however, it's a bit odd until you get used to having the left and right buttons on top, if you're coming from machines that lack that feature. The fingerprint scanner works quickly and efficiently with few false rejects and more securely than legacy designs, as we noted previously.