Lenovo has an extremely diverse lineup of laptops going under the IdeaPad, ThinkPad and Yoga monikers to name a few. The ThinkPad lineup may be the most familiar to business customers, and it includes the T460s Ultrabook I got to spend some quality time with.
The T460s Ultrabook is designed to be lightweight and compact for business users who prefer to travel light. The display is 14 inches, making it one of the larger Ultrabooks, but it was still quite easy for me to carry, weighing in at only 3 lbs and only 0.66 inches thick. The primary material is a very durable blend of carbon fiber and plastic, which has a pleasant, non-glossy feel to it. The screen can bend backwards enough to lay flat alongside the keyboard, though I’m not quite sure why one would choose this posture. The included fingerprint reader worked like a champ, making logging in much more convenient. Perhaps even more than the excellent audio and the 1080p IPS display, I’ll miss the fingerprint reader after sending the evaluation unit back.
The particular configuration I evaluated, which goes for $1,335.00 in Lenovo’s online store, has the following specs:
- 6th-generation Intel Core i5-6300U 2.4GHz, 3MB Cache
- Intel HD 520 graphics
- 8GB DDR4 RAM
- 256GB SSD SATA storage
- 14-inch 1080p IPS touchscreen display
- Fingerprint reader
- Windows 10 Pro
Lenovo tends to keep the bloatware in check on its PCs and the ThinkPad T460S was no exception. I found Lenovo’s settings app to be particularly useful, as it allows me to activate the keyboard backlight manually. I also found the Dolby settings useful, as it optimizes audio dynamically, or you can manually optimize it for movies, music, gaming or voice.
The ThinkPad T460S was a treat to use for the most part. The performance was exemplary, though there were occasional hiccups. I do a great deal of graphic design as I make icon packs, which means I use CorelDraw Graphics Suite (mainly CorelDraw and Corel Photo-Paint), Adobe Photoshop and Android Studio. When I have them running at the same time along with having several Chrome tabs open while listening to my Play Music playlists using a desktop player app, the system performs admirably.
However, CorelDraw occasionally crashes due to display driver issues (which happens regardless of how many other apps are running at the same time). Also, the native Hulu app crashes often for the same reason, as does the browser-based player. I suspect this issue is more of a Microsoft/Intel issue than a Lenovo one. While CorelDraw immediately returned me to the file I was working on after the screen recovered, Hulu never fully recovered.
Aside from the display driver crashes, the display is pleasing to look at, though I wouldn’t mind a slight bump in brightness. Thankfully it’s brighter than the 14-inch Yoga 3 I reviewed last year and I was able to see everything when I was using it in broad daylight. Also, there was never a dropoff in touchscreen responsiveness with the T460S after extended use as there had been with the Yoga. My only quibble is what I’m told is a common bug with Windows 10: the login screen is quite dim compared, even when the display is set to max brightness (the max only kicks in after the login process is complete).
The audio was excellent, powered by dual stereo speakers and a Dolby® Home Theater® v4 driver. The maximum volume is quite sufficient for business users – there’s no need to pack any external speakers when traveling. As long as you’re not planning to use it to DJ for a block party, you’ll be more than satisfied with the volume. The sound quality is exceptional for music and videos, controlled by the Dolby settings mentioned above in the Lenovo settings app.
Battery life was excellent, the dual 3-cell front and rear integrated batteries giving me about 4-5 hours for binge watching Person of Interest on Netflix on max brightness, and even when I have CorelDraw, Android Studio, Chrome, Hangouts and Slack all running I still can get 2-3 hours out of the laptop (again on max brightness).
The ThinkPad T460S is an excellent choice if you don’t mind plunking down just north of $1300 for the portability and the beastly specs. The display and sound quality please the senses and the performance is more than adequate for productivity and entertainment purposes. When I used it for graphic design and app development I far exceeded the performance demands of the average business user and the Ultrabook was more than up to the challenge, save for a few crashes of the display driver. The fingerprint reader was also a pleasant surprise, taking advantage of Microsoft’s Hello service for convenient login and app store purchase authorization. If you’re ready to pull the trigger, I recommend getting it from Lenovo’s site after having seen some ridiculous markups on certain third-party retailer sites.