The new Millennial and Gen Z workforce wants portable, powerful laptops that look great, and they want them at a price that they can actually afford. Is that too much to ask?
Lenovo doesn’t think so. And to this end, they’ve answered the call with the ThinkBook 13S. It’s a great alternative to the loyal ThinkPad, whose business-minded performance is found in each of the sub-brand’s design choices, while throwing in a more modern, premium design that will satisfy any user. It does have a few shortcomings, of course, and I’ll talk about these in detail throughout this review.
Let’s dive right in to see how the ThinkBook accomplishes all this.
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While you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you have to admit that the ThinkBook is a looker. Gorgeous slabs of silvery machined aluminum on the outer lid and body, a narrow plastic bezel, and a subdued rear grille all work together to forge a clean, minimalist appearance.
The resulting build quality is near flawless, and even if you press down anywhere on the metal chassis, it doesn’t budge or give.
The 5.5mm bezels are pretty narrow and give this 13.3” laptop the form factor of an older 12” notebook, but this trend has long trickled down to cheaper laptops, so it’s nothing particularly interesting.
Usability and ergonomics
At just under 1.4kg, the ThinkBook 13S is appreciably light, though it’s still heavier than some of its more expensive 13” thin-and-light competition, as well as what I think is its closest competitor, the 13”, 1.2kg ASUS ZenBook UX333 series.
The keyboard is nice and wide, with each key having a fair amount of travel and lacking that spongy feeling I got out of some previous IdeaPad laptops. The layout itself is fine, though I wasn’t happy with the arrow key quartet and its uneven sizes. This kind of arrangement is pretty common and I’ve never been able to get used to it.
The one-piece touchpad is amazingly responsive. Fingers glide over the surface with little resistance, and multitouch gestures are accepted without missing a beat. The clicking action is also solid, although like many laptops, it becomes hard to actually push down on the thing when your finger is on the upper one-fourth of the surface.
In an unfortunate design choice, the lid doesn’t have any kind of notch or tab that helps you grip it when closed. Because the ThinkBook is so light, opening its lid requires you to use a nail or press down with a dry thumb on the edge to lift it open.
Display and sound
The ThinkBook’s 13.3” 1080p IPS display is relatively bright, rated at around 300 nits. It’s definitely enough for everything except using it directly in the summer daylight. It also has Dolby Vision certification—though the display isn’t actually bright enough to meet the HDR spec.
Speaking of colors, the ThinkBook’s screen actually has very good color accuracy, and I’d feel comfortable doing basic color correction or color grading on it. It doesn’t have very vivid colors, but it compensates with very wide viewing angles with almost no color shifting or backlight bleed.
The ThinkBook’s USB options are great for a 13.3” laptop. There are two full-size USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports, with one being an always-on port that’s useful for charging devices while the laptop is off. There’s also a USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port which supports DisplayPort output, but not Power Delivery charging or Thunderbolt.
There’s also a full-size HDMI port, which is great for media enthusiasts and office workers who do a lot of presentations.
Another sorely missing port is any kind of card reader. Photographers will feel especially left out—though I have to say that I’m very happy with my own USB SD/microSD reader, the Kingston MobileLite G4, and its top speed exceeds that of many internal card readers anyway.
Perhaps the best part about the ThinkBook is its performance.
In the matter of raw performance, the ThinkBook delivers a potent punch in its small frame. With its quad-core Intel Core i5-8265U, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 512GB PCIe SSD, the Thinkbook flies through spreadsheets, browsing, video and photo editing—you name it, the ThinkBook can do it well.
However, it’s the little things that really make the ThinkBook a glorious choice.
For example, the ThinkBook takes just 7 seconds to boot from cold shutdown to the Windows desktop, ready to be used.
It also features Modern Standby, a power state that allows Windows to selectively sleep most of the system while keeping certain apps alive and connected to the Internet. Among other things, this allows the ThinkBook to get back to work nearly immediately from a sleeping, closed-lid state.
The ThinkBook gets a solid seven to nine hours of battery life, and in my tests I lost about 11-12 percent per hour while browsing, writing articles on Google Docs, and taking occasional Google Meet calls. What’s more, the ThinkPad has a great Rapid Charge feature that can take it from zero to around 80 percent in just 60 minutes.
Warranty and conclusion
What really seals the deal for me is the kind of technical support that Lenovo is giving to ThinkBook owners. Lenovo is giving ThinkBook owners near-enterprise-grade support, with access to a 24/7 support hotline, and even provides On-Site Next Business Day response with technicians who can go straight to you to provide support, repair, and component replacement. No more ambling around the Metro looking for a Service Center.
What’s more, the ThinkBook features Accidental Damage Protection, which I find extremely rare in consumer laptops. This means minor spills, screen damage, and drops are part of the free warranty repair—something you almost never get with standard warranties.
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I opened the gorgeous ThinkBook, and found an entire world of beauty that was far more than just skin deep. Its narrative of ergonomics and connectivity might stumble here and there, but the totality of the result is a must-buy.
The ThinkBook I reviewed is the variant with Windows 10 Pro and integrated UHD 620 graphics, and it clocks in at Php58,990. As a gamer, the variant that I’d purchase for myself is the one with Windows 10 Home and the Radeon 540X GPU, which costs Php54,990.
For more information, visit Lenovo.com/ph.