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Thinkpads: An overview

Lenovo’s Thinkpads encompass the apex of industrially designed portable computers for a wide range of user demographics. Overall, the Thinkpad lineup is intended for business consumers rather than casual, recreational users. Nonetheless, they are highly capable machines that are ideal for almost any reasonable use case scenario expected from a mobile computer. This emphasis is evident in the unified minimalist and utilitarian design language constantly deployed across various makes and models. While some consumers may find this lack of adornment to be a drawback, many appreciate its sleek presence without excessive visual distractions on its exterior, ideal for corporate environments.

bento box

Brief History

Thinkpad-branded laptops originally were the property of IBM starting in 1990. Industrial designer Richard Sapper based his utilitarian, functionalist design for the initial Thinkpad concept on the Japanese concept of the Bento Box. He emphasized how the full capacity and presence of the designed object was intentionally concealed at first glance, only to be revealed upon opening the laptop’s clamshell hinge. From the start, the laptop's minimalist design has always been amongst its most salient characteristics and appeal factors for those who enjoy related aesthetics.

T460s

T-Series (T460s)

The Thinkpad T460s depicted here is a modern iteration of Lenovo’s T-series lineup of laptops. This series is defined by its 14-inch display and plethora of connectivity options, the robust and varied extent of which far surpasses that which is usually found on popular laptops today made by competing manufacturers, even in similarly high priced PC market brackets. Newer models in this series, such as the T460s (shown here) are configurable with high resolution displays. Yet, the T460s weighs in at only approximately 3 lbs, making it highly portable machine despite its relatively large screen size of 14 inches and robust internal processing capacity, available with an Intel i5 or i7 processor and up to 12GB RAM.

X250

X-Series (X250)

The Thinkpad X250 shown here is a recent release of Lenovo’s X-series lineup of laptops focused on portability, squarely fitting into the “Ultrabook' product category descriptor due to a small footprint and lightweight yet sturdy build quality. This series is defined by its 12.5-inch display alongside a plethora of connectivity options, the robust and varied extent of which far surpasses that which is commonly found on popular laptops today made by competing manufacturers, even in similarly high priced market brackets, much like its T series counterparts. Newer models in the X-series, such as the X250 (shown here) are configurable with high resolution displays. Yet, the X250 weighs in at only 2.9 lbs - clearly a highly portable machine, thanks to a compact screen size of 12.5 inches and constrained yet sufficiently robust internal processing capacity, available with an Intel i5 or i7 processor but only up to 8GB RAM, a significantly smaller maximum limit than the T450 or T450s, for example among others. This obvious tradeoff of increased portability due to a reduced physical footprint comes at the expense of computational operation capacity.

Reddit

Thinkpad Loyalists

Although Thinkpads do not possess the flashy exterior that is often sought after by laptop enthusiasts, there maintains a steady following of people who are avid Thinkpad loyalists. Cursory research through Reddit procures an active online community of more than 15K readers that most likely self identify as market consumers interested in Thinkpad products. Clearly, there is a devoted fanbase for these well-crafted machines.

limitless

Thinkpads On Television

This is scene from the TV show Limitless, first aired in 2015. Here, one of the main protagonists is shown using a Thinkpad laptop, likely a T series model judging from the size and apparent design. Devoid of any further context, reading this image alone, there seems to be an implication that the male figure shown is being productive and working on something important, even though the viewed contents on his screen is not displayed. This image effectively captures a popular stereotype of Thinkpad computers and their primary user base.

immigration

Thinkpads in the News

This photo depicts several immigration lawyers in Chicago at O’Hare International Airport working in response to President Trump’s controversial travel ban. Two modern Thinkpads are shown, further underscoring the popularity of Lenovo’s PC designs within professional spheres. Judging from the screen size of the two Thinkpads shown in comparison to the Macbooks, they most likely belong to Lenovo’s T or W series. The illuminated power button lit with green lights on the upper right corner of the Thinkpad in the photo’s utmost foreground clearly deliniates the machine as one of an older make, likely a T430 - the last of its kind to possess this specific design feature.

ISS

Thinkpads in Space

Throughout much of recent history, Thinkpads have been among the few widely available, mass-market electronics deployed in outer space. For a long time, Thinkpads were the only laptops certified for use aboard the International Space Station (ISS). NASA regularly purchases laptops from Lenovo to equip astronauts with on their extraterrestrial voyages. Considering the extraordinary use cases demanded by such large-scale scientific institutions speaks to the reliability and success of Lenovo’s Thinkpad and its utilitarian, functionalist design emphasis.