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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2013)
LG/IBM (1996–2004, only for South Korea branding)
Acer (1998–2002, i series only)
|Release date||October 1992|
|Units sold||100 million+ (c. 2017)|
ThinkPad is a line of business-oriented laptop computers and tablets designed, developed, marketed, and sold by Lenovo, and formerly IBM. ThinkPads are known for their minimalist, black, and boxy design which was initially modeled in 1990 by industrial designer Richard Sapper, based on the concept of a traditional Japanese Bento lunchbox revealing its nature only after being opened. According to later interviews with Sapper, he also characterized the simple ThinkPad form to be as elementary as a simple, black cigar box, and with similar proportions that offers a 'surprise' when opened.
The ThinkPad line was first developed at the IBM Yamato Facility in Japan, led by Arimasa Naitoh, who is now dubbed the "father" of ThinkPad. The first ThinkPads were released in October 1992. Considered innovative, it became a large success for IBM during that decade.
ThinkPads are especially popular with businesses. Older models are revered by technology enthusiasts, collectors and power users due to their durable design, relatively high resale value, and abundance of aftermarket replacement parts. Aftermarket parts have been developed for some of these models, with custom motherboards with current processors being created for the X60 and X200. ThinkPad laptops have been used in outer space and, by 2003, were the only laptops certified for use on the International Space Station.
The name "ThinkPad" is a product of IBM's corporate history and culture. Thomas J. Watson, Sr., had first introduced "THINK" as an IBM slogan in the 1920s. With every minicomputer and mainframe IBM installed (almost all were leased – not sold), a blue plastic sign was placed atop the operator's console, with the "Think" command on an aluminum plate. For decades, IBM distributed small notepads with the word "THINK" emblazoned on a brown leatherette cover to customers and employees. The name "ThinkPad" was suggested by IBM employee Denny Wainwright, who had a "THINK" notepad in his pocket. The name was opposed by the IBM corporate naming committee as all the names for IBM computers were numeric at that time. "ThinkPad" was kept due to praise from journalists and the public.
ThinkPad was IBM's answer to Toshiba and Compaq, which were both in the notebook market, as well as Apple and DEC. The task of making a notebook was given to the Yamato Facility in Japan and it was led by Arimasa Naitoh, a Japanese man who joined IBM in the 1970s and is now dubbed the "father" of ThinkPad. IBM was pushing the ThinkPad for its 1992 launch to keep the Harvard Business School happy.
In April 1992, IBM announced the first ThinkPad tablet computer at a news conference. The first ThinkPad tablet, a PenPoint-based device formally known as the IBM 2521 ThinkPad, was positioned as a developer's release. The ThinkPad tablet became available for purchase by the general public in October of the same year.
In addition to giving it an innovative name, IBM marketed the ThinkPad through imaginative activities such as early customer pilot programs, numerous pre-launch announcements, and an extensive loaner program designed to showcase the product's strengths and weaknesses. IBM even worked with archaeologists excavating the ancient Egyptian city of Leontopolis to field test the ThinkPad. The device was loaned to the dig team for the summer. The resulting report documented the ThinkPad's excellent performance under difficult conditions. The report said, "The ThinkPad is an impressive machine, rugged enough to be used without special care in the worst conditions Egypt has to offer."
The first ThinkPad model, announced in April 1992, was the 700, which was renamed to 700T after the release of three newer models, the 300, (new) 700 and 700C in October 1992. The bright red TrackPoint, a kind of pointing stick embedded in the keyboard, enabled the notebook to be used without an external pointing device. The first ThinkPads were very successful, collecting more than 300 awards for design and quality.
ThinkPad 755C laptop computers were used as Payload and General Support Computers aboard the Space Shuttle in the 1990s. The ThinkPad 760ED was also tested as part of the Shuttle–Mir Program in that same period. The 760ED computer was used without modification. The model used by the space program contained an Intel 133 Mega Hertz Pentium Processor with 48 Megabytes of RAM, a four speed CD-ROM, a power supply unit, a 1.44 Megabyte floppy disk drive, two 1.2 Gigabyte hard drives, and accessories. While in use in space, the laptops were subject to radiation, which could cause errors, and the 760ED was noted as an improvement in this area over the 755C.
Traditionally black, ThinkPads have commonly featured magnesium, carbon fiber reinforced plastic or titanium composite cases. The ThinkPad has introduced innovations, including the TrackPoint pointing device, the ThinkLight, an LED keyboard light at the top of the LCD screen, the Active Protection System, an accelerometer sensor which detects when a ThinkPad is falling and shuts down the hard disk drive to prevent damage, roll cage design to minimize motherboard flex, stainless steel hinges, a biometric fingerprint reader, Client Security Solution, which improves security using a built-in Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and facilitates deployment in corporate environment, the ThinkVantage Technologies suite of computer management applications, and drain holes to help reduce damage to the keyboard and components from accidental spillage.
The original design concept of ThinkPad was created in 1990 by Italy-based designer Richard Sapper, a corporate design consultant of IBM and, since 2005, Lenovo. Sapper is noted for the design of classic products such as the Tizio lamp for Artemide, office chair for Knoll, kitchenwares for Alessi and ballpoint for Lamy. The design was based on the concept of a traditional Japanese Bento lunchbox revealing its nature only after being opened. According to later interviews with Sapper, he also characterized the simple ThinkPad form to be as elementary as a simple, black cigar box and with similar proportions that offers a 'surprise' when opened. These computers are also known for their red TrackPoint, a variation on a joystick, in the middle of the keyboard.
The first ThinkPad notebook (700C) announced in 1992 was the first new product to emerge from the IBM "differentiated product personality" strategy resulting from a collaboration between Sapper and Tom Hardy, head of the corporate IBM Design Program. Development of the 700C also involved a close working relationship between Sapper and Kazuhiko Yamazaki, lead notebook designer at IBM's Yamato Design Center in Japan and liaison between Sapper and Yamato engineering. This 1990–1992 "pre-Internet" collaboration between Italy and Japan was facilitated by a special Sony digital communications system that transmitted high-res images over telephone lines. This system was established in several key global Design Centers by Hardy so IBM designers could visually communicate more effectively and interact directly with Sapper for advice on their projects. For his innovative design management leadership during ThinkPad development, Hardy was named "innovator of the Year 1992" by PC Magazine. Since 1992, the ThinkPad design has been regularly updated, developed and refined over the years by Sapper and the respective teams at IBM and later Lenovo, which included Yamazaki, Tom Takahashi, Sam Lucente and, since 1995, David Hill, Vice President of User Experience & Design, who leads and manages the design/user experience of ThinkPad. Hill's approach to maintaining the evolution of Sapper's original ThinkPad design is analogous to how Porsche manages evolution of the classic 911.
The fold-out butterfly keyboard, which appeared in the ThinkPad 701 series designed by Sapper in collaboration with Sam Lucente and John Karidis, is widely considered a design masterpiece and is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
The ThinkPad 760 series also included an unusual keyboard design; the keyboard was elevated by two arms riding on small rails on the side of the screen, tilting the keyboard to achieve a more ergonomic design.
Although almost all models feature a trackpoint, not all models have a touchpad; of those that do, not all have left and right buttons below, possibly making mouse clicks less ergonomic. The touchpads of the X220 double as regular mouse buttons, which is also the case with some newer models (as of December 2013). This can cause problems, such as accidental clicking if too much pressure is exerted during mouse movements.
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of ThinkPad's introduction, David Hill authored and designed a commemorative book about ThinkPad design. Titled ThinkPad Design: Spirit & Essence, the book was revealed at an event held at the MoMA.
Reviews and awards
ThinkPads are especially popular with businesses. Older models are revered by technology enthusiasts, collectors and power users due to their durable design, relatively high resale value, and abundance of aftermarket replacement parts. ThinkPads have received a somewhat cult following and a small but loyal fanbase throughout the years.
The Lenovo ThinkPad was the PC Magazine 2006 Reader's Choice for PC based laptops, and ranked number 1 in Support for PC based laptops. The ThinkPad Series was the first product to receive PC World's Hall of Fame award.
The ThinkPad X Tablet-series was PC Magazine Editor's Choice for tablet PCs. The 1.6 kg (3.5 lb) ThinkPad X60s was ranked number one in ultraportable laptops by PC World. It lasted 8 hours and 21 minutes on a single charge with its 8-cell battery. The Lenovo ThinkPad X60s Series is on PC World's Top 100 Products of 2006. The 2005 PC World Reliability and Service survey ranked ThinkPad products ahead of all other brands for reliability.
In the 2004 survey, they were ranked second (behind eMachines). Lenovo was named the most environment-friendly company in the electronics industry by Greenpeace in 2007 but has since dropped to place 14 of 17 as of October 2010.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T60p received the Editor's Choice award for Mobile Graphic Workstation from PC Magazine. Lenovo ThinkPad X60 is the PC Magazine Editor's Choice among ultra-portable laptops. The Lenovo ThinkPad T400-Series was on PC World's Top 100 Products of 2009.
Use in space
ThinkPad laptops, by 2003, were the only laptops certified for use on the International Space Station. As of 2017, they currently operate on Linux, Windows XP and Windows Vista software.
NASA purchased more than 500 ThinkPad 750 laptops for flight qualification, software development, and crew training.
ThinkPad models used on Shuttle missions include:
- ThinkPad 750 (first use in December 1993 supporting the Hubble repair mission)
- ThinkPad 750C
- ThinkPad 755C
- ThinkPad 760ED
- ThinkPad 760XD (ISS Portable Computing System)
- ThinkPad 770
- ThinkPad A31p (ISS Portable Computing System)
- ThinkPad T61p
Laptops used aboard the space shuttle and International Space Station feature safety and operational improvements for the weightless environment they must operate in. Modifications include velcro tape to attach to surfaces, upgrades to the CPU and video card cooling fans to accommodate for the microgravity (hotter air doesn't rise) and lower density of the cabin air, and an adapter to the station's 28 volt DC power.
The ThinkPad 750 flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour during a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope on 2 December 1993. The ThinkPad 750C's task was to run a NASA test program which determined if radiation inherent in the space environment causes memory anomalies in the 750C or generates other unexpected problems. The 755C was also used and the 760ED was tested as well as part of a Shuttle–Mir test.
ThinkPads were used in conjunction with a joystick for Portable In-Flight Landing Operations Trainer (PILOT).
Throughout 2006, a ThinkPad A31p was being used in the Service Module Central Post of the International Space Station and seven ThinkPad A31p laptops were in service in orbit aboard the International Space Station. As of 2010, the Space Station was equipped with 68 ThinkPad A31 computers along with 32 new Lenovo ThinkPad T61p laptops plus a dedicated IP phone which also has limited video phone capabilities. Work incorporating those laptops into the station's LAN continued into June 2011. All laptops aboard the ISS are connected to the station's LAN via Wi-Fi and are connected to the ground at 3 Mbit/s up and 10 Mbit/s down, comparable to home DSL connection speeds.
Acquisition by Lenovo
In 2005, Chinese technology company Lenovo purchased the IBM personal computer business and the ThinkPad as a flagship brand along with it. Speaking about the purchase of IBM's personal computer division, Liu Chuanzhi said, "We benefited in three ways from the IBM acquisition. We got the ThinkPad brand, IBM's more advanced PC manufacturing technology and the company's international resources, such as its global sales channels and operation teams. These three elements have shored up our sales revenue in the past several years."
Although Lenovo acquired the right to use the IBM brand name for five years after its acquisition of IBM's personal computer business, Lenovo only used it for three years.
The majority of ThinkPad computers since the 2005 acquisition of the brand by Lenovo have been made in China. In addition to these Chinese manufacturing facilities, Lenovo employs 300 people at a combined manufacturing and distribution center near its American headquarters in Morrisville, North Carolina. Each device made in this facility "is packed in a box that sports a red-white-and-blue sticker proclaiming "Whitsett, North Carolina."
In 2012, Lenovo partially moved production of its ThinkPad line of computers to Japan. ThinkPads will be produced by NEC in Yonezawa, Yamagata. Akaemi Watanabe, president of Lenovo Japan, said, "As a Japanese, I am glad to see the return to domestic production and the goal is to realize full-scale production as this will improve our image and make the products more acceptable to Japanese customers."
In 2014, although sales rose 5.6 percent from the previous year, Lenovo lost its position as the top commercial notebook maker. However, the company celebrated a milestone in 2015 with the shipment of the 100 millionth unit of its ThinkPad line.
Some Lenovo laptops (such as the X230, W530 and T430) block third-party batteries. Lenovo calls this feature "Battery Safeguard". It was first introduced on some models in May 2012. Laptops with this feature scan for security chips that only ThinkPad-branded batteries contain. Affected Thinkpads flash a message stating "Genuine Lenovo Battery Not Attached" when third-party batteries are used.
ThinkPad Yoga (2013–current)
The ThinkPad Yoga is an Ultrabook-class convertible device that functions as both a laptop and tablet computer. The Yoga gets its name from the consumer-oriented IdeaPad Yoga line of computers with the same form factor. The ThinkPad Yoga has a backlit keyboard that flattens when flipped into tablet mode. This is accomplished with a platform surrounding the keys that rises until level with the keyboard buttons, a locking mechanism that prevents key presses, and feet that pop out to prevent the keyboard from directly resting on flat surfaces. Lenovo implemented this design in response to complaints about its earlier Yoga 13 and 11 models being awkward to use in tablet mode. A reinforced hinge was required to implement this design. Other than its convertible form factor, the ThinkPad Yoga retains standard ThinkPad features such as a black magnesium-reinforced chassis, island keyboard, a red TrackPoint, and a large buttonless trackpad.
Released in August 2011, the ThinkPad Tablet is the first in Lenovo's line of business-oriented Tablets with the ThinkPad brand. The tablet has been described by Gadget Mix as a premium business tablet. Since the Tablet is primarily business-oriented, it includes features for security, such as anti-theft software, the ability to remotely disable the tablet, SD card encryption, layered data encryption, and Cisco Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Additionally, the ThinkPad Tablet is able to run software such as IBM's Lotus Notes Traveler. The stylus could be used to write notes on the Tablet, which also included software to convert this handwritten content to text. Another feature on the Tablet was a drag-and-drop utility designed to take advantage of the Tablet's touch capabilities. This feature could be used to transfer data between USB devices, internal storage, or an SD card.
Slashgear summarized the ThinkPad Tablet by saying, "The stylus and the styling add up to a distinctive slate that doesn't merely attempt to ape Apple's iPad."
ThinkPad Tablet 2
In order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ThinkPad, Lenovo held a large party in New York where it announced several products, including the Tablet 2. Lenovo says that the ThinkPad Tablet 2 will be available on 28 October 2012 when Windows 8 is released. The ThinkPad Tablet 2 runs the Windows 8 Professional operating system. It will be able to run any desktop software compatible with this version of Windows.
The Tablet 2 is based on the Clover Trail version of the Intel Atom processor that has been customized for tablets. The Tablet 2 has 2 gigabytes of RAM and a 64 GB SSD. The Tablet 2 has a 10.1-inch IPS display with a 16:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1366 × 768. In a preview, CNET wrote, "Windows 8 looked readable and functional, both in Metro and standard Windows-based interfaces." A mini-HDMI port is included for video output. An 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera are included along with a noise-canceling microphone in order to facilitate video conferencing.
Announced and released in January 2014, the ThinkPad 8 is based on the Intel's Bay Trail Atom Z3770 processor, with 2 GB of RAM and up to 128 GB of built-in storage. ThinkPad 8 has an 8.3-inch IPS display with a 16:10 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1920 × 1200 pixels. Other features include an aluminum chassis, micro-HDMI port, 8-megapixel back camera (with flash), and optional 4G connectivity. It runs Windows 8 as an operating system.
Announced in May 2014, Lenovo ThinkPad 10 is a successor to the ThinkPad Tablet 2 and was scheduled to launch in the summer of 2014 along with accessories such as a docking station and external detachable magnetic keyboards. It used Windows 8.1 Pro as its operating system. It was available in 64 and 128 GB variants with 1.6 GHz quad-core Intel Atom Baytrail processor and 2 GB or 4 GB of RAM. It optionally supported both 3G and 4G (LTE). Display resolution was announced to be 1920 × 1200, paired with a stylus pen.
ThinkPad X1 Tablet
The ThinkPad X1 Tablet is a fanless tablet powered by Core M CPUs. It is available with 4, 8 or 16 GB of LPDDR3 RAM and SATA or a PCIe NVMe SSDs with up to 1 TB. It has a 2160 × 1440 IPS screen and supports touch and pen input.
ThinkPad 11e (2014–current)
The ThinkPad 11e is a "budget" laptop computer for schools and students with an 11-inch screen and without trackpoint. 11e Yoga is a convertible version of 11e.
E Series (2011–current)
The E Series is a low-cost ThinkPad line, designed for small business mass-market requirements, and currently contains only a 14" and 15" sub-lines. The E Series line of laptops replaced Lenovo's Edge Series, but somewhere (in some countries) currently (May 2019) offered as both of "Thinkpad Edge/E series" names.
L Series (2010–current)
The L Series replaced the former R Series, and is positioned as a mid-range ThinkPad offering with mainstream Intel Core i3/i5/i7 CPUs. The L Series have 3 sub-lines, the long-running 14" and 15.6" (and as launched this line had two models, L412 and the L512 in 2010); and as of 2018 there is also a 13" L380 available, which replaces the ThinkPad 13.
The main difference between the E Series and L Series is a basic MIL-STD-810 certification for L Series ThinkPads.
T Series (2000–current)
The T Series historically had high-end features, such as magnesium alloy rollcages, high-density IPS screens known as FlexView (discontinued after the T60 series), 7-row keyboards, screen latches, the Lenovo UltraBay, and ThinkLight. Models included both 14.1-inch and 15.4-inch displays available in 4:3 and 16:10 aspect ratios.
Since 2012, the entire ThinkPad line was given a complete overhaul, with modifications such as the removal of separate buttons for use with the TrackPoint (**40 series - 2014, then reintroduced **50 series - 2015), removal of separate audio control buttons, removal of screen latch, and the removal of LED indicator lights. Models starting from the **40 series featured a Power Bridge battery system, which had a combination of a lower capacity built-in battery and a higher capacity external battery, enabling the user to switch the external without putting the computer into hibernation. However, beginning with the 2019 **90 series models, the external battery was removed in favor of a single internal battery. Also, non-widescreen displays are no longer available, with 16:9 aspect ratio as the only remaining choice.
The most famous T-Series ThinkPad is the Tx20 Series of ThinkPad. The Laptops came in two editions: 15"(T520) or a 14"(T420). These ThinkPads are widely known to be the last ThinkPads to use the classic 7-row keyboard. Even though Enterprises and Governments have mostly phased out this 2011 ThinkPad, this is still one of the most popular models with I.T users (T-Series or Otherwise.) The Tx20 line of laptops is also known for its outstanding Linux compatibility.
Over time, The T-Series ThinkPad's purpose has changed. Initially, the T-Series ThinkPad was meant to have high-end business features and carry a 10-20 percent markup over the other ThinkPads. Starting with the T400, The ThinkPad T-Series became a less of a high-end business laptop and became more suited as a mobile workstation, becoming similar to the W-Series or P-Series ThinkPads. Achieving similar performance to the W-Series, but with a 5-10 percent smaller profile than the W-Series ThinkPads. In 2013, the T440 introduced another major shift in The ThinkPad T-Series. The ThinkPad became more of an overall office machine than a mobile workstation. By today's standards, The ThinkPad T-Series is thicker than most of its competitors.
X Series (2000–current)
The X Series is the main high-end ultraportable ThinkPad line, offering a lightweight, highly portable laptop with moderate performance. The current sub-lines for the X series includes:
- 12" X2**,
- 13" X3**
Yoga (convertible sub-line),
- 13" X3** Yoga (convertible sub-line),
- 14" X1 Yoga (premium convertible sub-line),
- 14" X1 Carbon (premium sub-line), and
- 15" X1 Extreme (premium sub-line).
The daughter line includes the X1 Tablet (not to be confused with the 2005-2013 X Series tablets).
The mainstream current "workhorse" models is a X390 and X390 Yoga, the 13" successors of the classic discontinued 12" line of Lenovo X Series ThinkPads.
The premium 14"/15" thin-and-light line were the 13.3" ThinkPad models (the X300/X301) with ultrabay CD-ROM and removable battery, but are now replaced by the modern premium X1-series ultrabook line, such as the X1 Carbon, X1 Yoga, and X1 Extreme sub-series.
Discontinued mainstream lines such as the 12" X200(s), X201(s), and X220 models could be ordered with all of the high-end ThinkPad features (like Trackpoint, ThinkLight, a 7-row keyboard, a docking port, hot-swappable HDD, solid magnesium case and optional slice battery). The discontinued 12.5" X220 and X230 still featured a roll cage, a ThinkLight, and an optional premium IPS display (the first IPS display on a non-tablet ThinkPad since the T60p), but the 7-row keyboard was offered only with the X220. However, it lacked the lid latch mechanism which was present on the previous X200 and X201 versions. The discontinued slim 12" line contained only X200s and X201s with low power CPUs and high resolution displays, and X230s with low power CPUs. The 12.5" X series ThinkPads (such as X240 and later) had a more simplified design, and last 12" X280 model had only the Trackpoint feature, partially magnesium case and simplified docking port.
The now obsolete low-cost 11.6" (netbook line) X100e and X120e were are all plastic, lacking both the latch and the ThinkLight, and using a variant of the island keyboard (known as chiclet keyboard) found on the Edge series. The X100e was also offered in red in addition to blue, and white in some countries. Those were more like high-end netbooks, whereas the X200 series were more like full ultraportables, featuring Intel Core (previously Core 2 and Celeron) series CPUs rather than AMD netbook CPUs.
The X Series with "tablet" suffixes is an outdated variant of the 12" X Series models, with low voltage CPUs and a flip-screen tablet resistive touchscreen. These include the traditional ThinkPad features, and have been noted for using a higher quality AFFS-type screen with better viewing angles compared to the screens used on other ThinkPads.
P Series (2015–current)
The P Series line of laptops replaced Lenovo's W Series and reintroduced 17" screens to the ThinkPad line. The P Series (excluding models with 's' suffix) is designed for engineers, architects, animators, etc. and comes with a variety of "high-end" options. All P Series models come included with fingerprint readers. The ThinkPad P Series includes features such as dedicated magnesium roll cages, more indicator LED lights, and high-resolution displays.
ThinkPad Stack (2015–current)
The ThinkPad Stack line of products includes accessories designed for portability and interoperability. This line includes external hard drives, a wireless router, a power bank, and a Bluetooth 4.0 speaker. Each Stack device includes rubber feet, magnets, and pogo-pin power connections that allow the use of a single cable. The combined weight of all the Stack devices is slightly less than two pounds. The Stack series was announced in January 2015 at the International CES. The Stack series of accessories was expanded at the 2016 International CES to include a 720p resolution projector with 150 lumens of brightness and a wireless charging station.
The Stack has a "blocky, black, and rectangular" look with the ThinkPad logo. It shares a common design language with ThinkPad laptop computers.
Dock Stations (1993–current)
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ThinkPad USB 3.0 Secure Hard Drive
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The Japan-only ThinkPad 235 (or Type 2607) was the progeny of the IBM/Ricoh RIOS project. Also known as Clavius or Chandra2, it contains unusual features like the presence of three PCMCIA slots and the use of dual camcorder batteries as a source of power. Features an Intel Pentium MMX 233 MHz CPU, support for up to 160 MB of EDO memory, and a built-in 2.5 in (64 mm) hard drive with UDMA support. Hitachi marketed Chandra2 as the Prius Note 210.
The ultraportable ThinkPad 240 (X, Z) started with an Intel Celeron processor and went up to the 600 MHz Intel Pentium III. In models using the Intel 440BX chipset, the RAM was expandable to 320 MB max with a BIOS update. Models had a 10.4 in (260 mm) screen and an 18 mm (0.71 in) key pitch (a standard key pitch is 19 mm (0.75 in)). They were also one of the first ThinkPad series to contain a built-in Mini PCI card slot (form factor 3b). The 240s have no optical disc drives and an external floppy drive. An optional extended battery sticks out the bottom like a bar and props up the back of the laptop. Weighing in at 2.9 lb (1.3 kg), these were the smallest and lightest ThinkPads ever made.
The 300-series (300, 310, 340, 350, 360, 365, 380, 385, 390 (all with various sub-series)) was a long-running value series starting at the 386SL/25 processor, all the way to the Pentium III 450. The 300 series was offered as a slightly lower-price alternative from the 700 series, with a few exceptions.
The ThinkPad 360PE was a unique model in the series in that it could be used as a regular laptop, or transform into a tablet by flipping the monitor on top of itself. Retailing for $3,699 in 1995, the 360PE featured a touch sensitive monitor that operated with the stylus; the machine could run operating systems that supported the touch screen such as PenDOS 2.2.
The 500-series (500, 510, 560 (E, X, Z), 570 (E)) were the main line of the ultraportable ThinkPads. Starting with the 486SLC2-50 Blue Lightning to the Pentium III 500, these machines had only a hard disk on board. Any other drives were external (or in the 570's case in the UltraBase). They weighed in at around 4 lb (1.8 kg).
The 600-series (600, 600E, and 600X) are the direct predecessors of the T series. The 600-series packed a 12.1 in (310 mm) SVGA or a 13.3 in (340 mm) XGA TFT LCD, Pentium MMX, Pentium II or III processor, full-sized keyboard, and optical bay into a package weighing roughly 5 lb (2.3 kg). IBM was able to create this light, fully featured machine by using lightweight but strong carbon fiber composite plastics. The battery shipped with some 600-series models had a manufacturing defect that left it vulnerable to memory effect and resulted in poor battery life, but this problem can be avoided by use of a third-party battery.
The 700-Series (700, 701, 720, 730 (tablet), 750, 755, 760, 765, 770 with various sub-models) were once considered cutting-edge Intel-based ThinkPads. They featured the best screens, largest hard drives and fastest processors available at the time. This was the first successful ThinkPad introduced in 1992 (the first ThinkPad was a tablet PC 700T model without a keyboard and a mouse).
The ThinkPad 800-Series (800/820/821/822/823/850/851/860) were unique as they were based on the PowerPC architecture rather than the Intel x86 architecture. Most of the 800 Series laptops used the PowerPC 603e CPU, at speeds of 100 MHz, or 166 MHz in the 860 model, although the earliest 800 (Type 6020), the direct ancestor of the 850, used a 603 and was apparently only offered to developers. All units used SCSI-2 instead of IDE hard disks, and the ID of every SCSI device on the system could be configured in the cursor driven GUI-based BIOS. Another unusual aspect of the series is their unique startup chime, reminiscent of Apple Macintosh computers of the time.
The PowerPC ThinkPad line was considerably more expensive than the standard x86 ThinkPads—even a modestly configured 850 cost upwards of $12,000. On the other hand, the 800, 850 and 851 (and later the 860 and 861) were capable of supporting an optional web camera, one of the first commercially available webcams available on a laptop. These units could also record PAL and NTSC signals with onboard composite connectors, and the batteries contained internal processors to regulate power usage for optimized battery longevity.
All of the PowerPC ThinkPads could run Windows NT 3.5 and 4.0, OS/2 Warp Connect PowerPC Edition, AIX 4.1.x, and Solaris Desktop 2.5.1 PowerPC Edition. Many of these PowerPC operating systems and the corresponding compilers are very scarce and hard to find. However, it is also possible to run certain PowerPC versions of Linux on the 800 Series.
|CPU||603 @ 66 MHz||603e @ 100 MHz||603e @ 100 MHz||603e @ 100 MHz||603e @ 100 MHz||603e @ 166 MHz|
|Memory Bus||32 bit||32 bit||32 bit||64 bit||64 bit||64 bit|
|Maximum Memory||80 MB||48 MB||48 MB||96 MB||96 MB||96 MB|
|Display||10.4" 640 × 480||10.4" 640 × 480 or 800 × 600||10.4" 640 × 480 or 800 × 600||10.4" 640 × 480 or 800 × 600||10.4" 640 × 480 or 800 × 600||12.1" 1024 × 768|
i Series (1998–2002)
|ThinkPad i series 1998-2001|
The ThinkPad i Series was introduced by IBM in 1999 and was geared towards a multimedia focus with many models featuring independent integrated CD players and multimedia access buttons. The 1400 and 1500 models were designed by Acer for IBM under contract and featured similar hardware found in Acer laptops (including ALi chipsets, three way audio jacks and the internal plastics painted with a copper paint). Some of the i Series ThinkPads, particularly the Acer developed models, are prone to broken hinges and stress damage on the chassis.
One notable ThinkPad in the i Series lineup are the S3x (S30/S31) models: featuring a unique keyboard and lid design allowing a standard size keyboard to fit in a chassis that otherwise wouldn't be able to support the protruding keyboard. These models were largely only available in Asia Pacific. IBM offered an optional piano black lid on these models (designed by the Yamato Design lab). This is the only ThinkPad since the 701C to feature a special design to accommodate a keyboard that's physically larger than the laptop and also the only ThinkPad (aside from the Z61) to deviate away from the standard matte lid.
A Series (2000–2004)
|IBM ThinkPad A 2000-2004|
The A-series was developed as an all-around productivity machine, equipped with hardware powerful enough to make it a desktop replacement. Hence it was the biggest and heaviest ThinkPad series of its time, but also had features not even found in a T-series of the same age. The A-series was dropped in favor of the G-series and R-series.
The A31 was released in 2002 as a desktop replacement system equipped with: A Pentium 4-M processor clocked at 1.6, 1.8, 1.9, or 2.0 GHz (max supported is a 2.6 GHz), An ATI Mobility Radeon 7500, 128 or 256 MB of PC2100 RAM (officially upgradable to 1 GB but can be unofficially upgraded to 2 GB), IBM High Rate Wireless (PRISM 2.5 Based, can be modified to support WPA-TKIP) and equipped with a 20, 30, or 40 GB hard disk drive.
The A-series ThinkPad was reintroduced in 2018. The Modern A-series is similar to the E-series ThinkPad.
R Series (2001–2010)
The R Series was a budget line, beginning with the R30 in 2001 and ending with the R400 and R500 presented in 2008.
The successor of a R400 and R500 models is a ThinkPad L series L412 and L512 models.
A notable model is the R50p with an optional 15" 2048 × 1536 IPS LCD screen (introduced in 2003).
|ThinkPad R 2001-2010|
G Series (2003–2006)
The G-series consisted of only three models, the G40, G41 and G50. Being large and heavy machines, equipped with powerful desktop processors, this line of ThinkPads consequently served mainly as replacements for desktop computers.
Z Series (2005–2007)
The Z series was released as a high-end multimedia laptop; as a result this was the first ThinkPad to feature a widescreen (16:10 aspect ratio) display. The Z-Series was also unique in that certain models featured an (optional) titanium lid. Integrated WWAN and a webcam were also found on some configurations. The series has only ever included the Z60 (Z60m and Z60t) and Z61 (Z61m, Z61t and Z61p); the latter of which is the first Z-Series ThinkPad with Intel "Yonah" Dual Core Technology. The processor supports Intel VT-x; this is disabled in the BIOS but can be turned on with a BIOS update. Running fully virtualised operating systems via Xen or VMware is therefore possible. Despite the Z61 carrying the same number as the T61, the hardware of the Z61 is closer to a T60 (and likewise the Z60 being closer to a T43).
ThinkPad Reserve Edition (2007)
The "15-year anniversary" Thinkpad model (based on a X60s laptop). This model was initially known inside of Lenovo as the "Scout". This was the name of the horse ridden by Tonto, the sidekick from the 1950s television series The Lone Ranger. Lenovo envisioned the Scout as a very high-end ThinkPad that would be analogous to a luxury car. Each unit was covered in fine leather embossed with its owners initials. Extensive market research was conducted on how consumers would perceive this form factor. It was determined that they appreciated that it emphasised warmth, nature, and human relations over technology. The Scout was soon renamed the ThinkPad Reserve Edition. It came bundled with premium services including a dedicated 24-hour technical support hotline that would be answered immediately. It was released in 2007 and sold for $5,000 in the United States.
SL Series (2008–2010)
The SL Series was launched in 2008 as a low-end ThinkPad targeted mainly geared toward small businesses. These lacked several traditional ThinkPad features, such as the ThinkLight, magnesium alloy roll cage, UltraBay, and lid latch, and use a 6-row keyboard with a different layout than the traditional 7-row ThinkPad keyboard; also SL-series models has IdeaPad-based firmware. Models offered included 14" (SL400 and SL410) and 15.6" (SL500 and SL510). A 13.3" model (SL300) was previously offered, but discontinued.
W Series (2008–2015)
The W Series was introduced in 2008 to replace the p-suffixed performance T Series (e.g. T61p), and are geared towards CAD users, photographers, power users, and others, who need a high-performance system for demanding tasks.
The W530 was released in June 2012. Minimum specifications include an Intel Core i5 (or i7) CPU, 15.6" HD screen, Nvidia Quadro K1000M graphics processor and four DIMM slots capable of accepting up to a maximum of 32 GB of RAM.
Previously available were the W7xx series (17" widescreen model), the W500 (15.4" 16:10 ratio model), the W510 (15.6" 16:9 ratio model), and W520 (15.6" 16:9 ratio model). The W700DS and the W701DS both had two displays: a 17" main LCD and a 10" slide-out secondary LCD. The W7xx series were also available with a Wacom digitizer built into the palm rest. These high-performance workstation models offered more high-end components, such as quad core CPUs and higher-end workstation graphics compared to the T-series, and were the most powerful ThinkPad laptops available. Until the W540, they retained the ThinkLight, UltraBay, roll cage, and lid latch found on the T-series. The W540 release marked the end of the lid latch, ThinkLight, and hot-swappable UltraBays found in earlier models.
The ThinkPad W series has been discontinued and replaced by the P series mobile workstations.
Edge Series (2010)
The Edge Series was released early in 2010 as small business and consumer-end machines. The design was a radical departure compared to the traditional black boxy ThinkPad design, with glossy surfaces (optional matte finish on later models), rounded corners, and silver trim. They were also offered in red, a first for the traditionally black ThinkPads. Like the SL, this series was targeted towards small businesses and consumers, and lack the roll cage, UltraBay, lid latch, and ThinkLight of traditional ThinkPads (though the 2011 E220s and E420s had ThinkLights). This also introduced an island-style keyboard with a significantly different layout.
Models included 12.5" (E220, E220s), 13.3" (Edge 13), 14" (Edge 14, E420, E420s), and 15.6" (Edge 15, E520, E545) sizes. An 11.6" Edge 11 model was offered, but not available in the United States.
S Series (2012–2014)
The S Series is positioned as a mid-range ThinkPad offering, containing ultrabooks derived from the Edge Series. As of August 2013, the S Series includes S531 and S440 models; their cases are made of aluminum and magnesium alloy, available in silver and gunmetal colors.
ThinkPad Twist (2012)
The Lenovo ThinkPad Twist (S230u) is a laptop/tablet computer hybrid aimed at high-end users. The Twist gets its name from its screen's ability to twist in a manner that converts the device into a tablet. The Twist has a 12.5" screen and makes use of Intel's Core i7 processor and SSD technology in lieu of a hard drive.
In a review for Engadget Dana Wollman wrote, "Lately, we feel like all of our reviews of Windows 8 convertibles end the same way. The ThinkPad Twist has plenty going for it: a bright IPS display, a good port selection, an affordable price and an unrivaled typing experience. Like ThinkPads past, it also offers some useful software features for businesses lacking dedicated IT departments. All good things, but what's a road warrior to do when the battery barely lasts four hours? Something tells us the Twist will still appeal to Lenovo loyalists, folks who trust ThinkPad's build quality and wouldn't be caught dead using any other keyboard. If you're more brand-agnostic, though, there are other Windows 8 convertibles with comfortable keyboards – not to mention, sharper screens, faster performance and longer battery life."
ThinkPad Helix (2013–2015)
The Helix is a convertible laptop satisfying both tablet and conventional notebook users. It uses a "rip and flip" design that allows the user to detach the display and then replace it facing in a different direction. It sports an 11.6" Full HD (1920 × 1080) display, with support for Windows 8 multi-touch. As all essential processing hardware is contained in the display assembly and it has multitouch capability, the detached monitor can be used as a standalone tablet computer. The Helix's high-end hardware and build quality, including Gorilla Glass, stylus-based input, and Intel vPro hardware-based security features, are designed to appeal to business users.
In a review published in Forbes Jason Evangelho wrote, "The first laptop I owned was a ThinkPad T20, and the next one may very likely be the ThinkPad Helix which Lenovo unveiled at CES 2013. In a sea of touch-inspired Windows 8 hardware, it's the first ultrabook convertible with a form factor that gets everything right. The first batch of Windows 8 ultrabooks get high marks for their inspired designs, but aren't quite flexible enough to truly be BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) solutions. Lenovo's own IdeaPad Yoga came close, but the sensation of feeling the keyboard underneath your fingers when transformed into tablet mode was slightly jarring. Dell's XPS 12 solved that problem with its clever rotating hinge design, but I wanted the ability to remove the tablet display entirely from both of those products."
ThinkPad 13 (2016–2017)
The ThinkPad 13 (Also known as the Thinkpad S2 in Mainland China) is a "budget" model with a 13-inch screen. Versions running Windows 10 and Google's Chrome OS were options. The most powerful configuration had a Skylake Core i7 processor and a 512 GB SSD. Connectivity includes HDMI, USB 3.0, OneLink+, USB Type-C, etc. It weighs 1.0 kg (2.3 lb) and is 9.7 mm (0.38 in) thick. As of 2017, a second generation Ultrabook model has been released with up to a Kaby Lake Core i7 processor and a FHD touchscreen available in certain countries. This lineup was merged into the L-Series in 2018, with the L380 being the successor to the 13 Second Generation.
25th anniversary Retro ThinkPad (2017)
Lenovo released the 25th anniversary Retro ThinkPad 25 in October 2017. The model is based on the T470, the difference being it having the 7-Row "Classic" keyboard with the layout found on the −20 Series, and the logo received a splash of colour reminiscent of the IBM era. The last ThinkPad models with the 7-row keyboard were introduced in 2011.
A Series (2017–2018)
In September 2017, Lenovo announced two ThinkPad models featuring AMD's PRO chipset technology – the A275 and A475. This sees the revival of the A Series nameplate not seen since the early 2000s when ThinkPads were under IBM's ownership, however it is likely the "A" moniker emphasised that it uses AMD technology rather than comparative product segment (workstation class) of the previous line.
While this isn't the first time Lenovo had offered an AMD derived ThinkPad, it is the first to be released as an alternative premium offering to the established T Series and X Series ThinkPads, which use Intel chipsets instead.
- A275 and A475
- The A275 is a 12.5" ultraportable based off the Intel derived X270 model. Weighing in at 2.9 pounds (1.31 kg) this model features AMD Bristol Ridge APU's, AMD Radeon R7 graphics and AMD DASH (Desktop and mobile Architecture for System Hardware) for enterprise computing.
- The A475 is a 14" mainstream portable computer based off the Intel derived T470 model. Weighing at 3.48 pounds (1.57 kg), like the A275 it features AMD Bristol Ridge APU's, AMD Radeon R7 graphics and AMD DASH (Desktop and mobile Architecture for System Hardware) for enterprise computing.
- A285 and A485
- The A285 is a 12.5" laptop which is an upgraded version of the A275. Weighing in at 2.78 lb (1.26 kg), this model utilizes an AMD Raven Ridge APU with integrated Vega graphics, specifically the Ryzen 5 Pro 2500U. The laptop also contains a Discrete Trusted Platform Module (dTPM) for data encryption and password protection, supporting TPM 2.0. Optional security features include a fingerprint scanner and smart card reader. The display's native resolution can be either 1366 × 768 or 1920 × 1080 depending on the configuration.
- The A485 is a 14" laptop which is an upgraded version of the A475. Weighing 3.63 lb (1.65 kg), this model utilizes AMD's Raven Ridge APU's with integrated Vega graphics. This model can use multiple models of Raven Ridge APU's, unlike the A285. The laptop also contains a Discrete Trusted Platform Module (dTPM) for data encryption and password protection, supporting TPM 2.0. Optional security features include a fingerprint scanner and smart card reader. The display's native resolution can be either 1366 × 768 or 1920 × 1080 depending on the configuration.
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- Lenovo ThinkCentre desktops
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