Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Review (Second Gen)

A business laptop built for work

Computers built for business and education need to be durable, packed with inputs/outputs, and able to last all day long on a single charge. That’s exactly what the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 is built for, and it does all that quite well. But let’s dive into the specifics of this laptop and see if it should stay in the office, or if it makes a good computer everywhere.



Specs and Design

Inside the ThinkPad 13 is your choice of an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, along with up to 16GB of RAM and plenty of storage options, starting at 128GB. For the display, you can get a 13.3 inch, 1080p, IPS display. The IdeaPad 13 is loaded with plenty of ports, including 3 USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C port, HDMI, power, a proprietary docking port, SD reader, and a headphone jack.

The design of the ThinkPad is certainly interesting. The body is primarily a silver finish, but the bezel around the screen is black. At first, I didn’t like it, but after using it for a while I realized that the black bezel helps it to blend in with the screen and not draw attention like an IdeaPad I previously reviewed.

Software Experience

Running on the ThinkPad 13 is Windows 10 Pro, although you can easily downgrade to Windows 7 if you so desire. If you’re familiar with Windows, then you know what you’re getting, so I’m not going to go into that. Instead, it’s important to note how well Windows works with the hardware. I was excited to see that my usual load of Chrome, Newton, Todoist, Slack, and Spotify did just fine. Nothing lagged to any major degree — even with only an i3 and 4GB of RAM. Granted, my workflow isn’t that demanding, although I’m sure having 20 or so Chrome tabs will have an impact on performance. If that’s what you’re looking at, then go for one of the higher specced models.

One nice aspect about the ThinkPad 13 is the fact that it’s a Signature Edition. This means that there’s no major bloat on here, only McAfee, Office, and some basic Lenovo settings.

Now, is the ThinkPad 13 suitable for business? Well, from an I/O standpoint, certainly. The docking feature and USB-C port allow for a variety of connections to old and new hardware. But from an internal standpoint, well it depends. Small to medium businesses could benefit from the durable hardware, but more demanding tasks like video editing, photo editing, or an intense amount of applications aren’t going to do well on here.

Display

As I already mentioned, the ThinkPad 13 has a 1080p screen. But not only that, it is a touch screen with up to ten touch points. Both of those aspects make for a really enjoyable screen experience. What’s also great is that the screen isn’t reflective, at all. Rather, the matte finish allows you to work in a variety of environments. Plus, the viewing angles of the screen are nice.

In my use of the laptop, the touchscreen was definitely an asset done right. My finger glides over it nicely, and it is also responsive. The only annoying aspect is that when you touch it, the whole screen wobbles back and forth. But, for quick inputs here and there, it works quite well.

It’s also worth noting that you will need two hands to open the display — we’re still waiting on a laptop manufacturer besides Apple to nail the hinge design.

Keyboard

As a writer, a good typing experience is important to me. Now, I’m quite comfortable with shallow travel keyboards — my main keyboard is the Apple Magic Keyboard. The ThinkPad 13 does have a nice amount of key travel, but my biggest gripe is how much the keyboard bends. If you’re typing with any amount of force, then the keyboard will noticeably bend in. This even applies to the trackpad too. This is not something I’m ok with, because, over time, it just feels like your fingers are sinking into the computer. If you don’t plan on typing on the built-in keyboard much, then you could live with this. Otherwise, I’d look elsewhere.

Another annoying aspect about this keyboard is the lack of backlighting. Not only does it prohibit typing in dim environments, it makes the whole laptop look a little drab.

There are some additional Lenovo settings for customizing the FN keys, which even include setting the F12 key to do a custom action. This is nice, but I’d really like to see play/pause and track skip buttons, as those are essential for a good music listening experience. Everything else about the keyboard, though, is pretty good. The keys are all a regular size, except for the arrow keys which are a bit smaller than the rest.

Trackpad

Few trackpads are done right, and sadly this isn’t one of the better ones. First, it’s quite small which is mostly due to the trackpoint buttons. Second, my fingers also stuck to it while using it, which isn’t comfortable for any period of time.

Speakers

Built-in speakers only get so good. But, these are certainly some of the better ones that I’ve heard. They get quite loud, but even at high volumes, the sound doesn’t get distorted. The bass is lacking, but the highs and mids are pretty decent. Of course, you’re better off connecting an external pair of speakers or headphones if you want good sound, but these will do just fine if you’re showing someone a quick video.

Other Observations

One of the first things I noticed when I got this laptop was the rubber feet. Normally, laptops stay in place with this type of feet, but not this one. Any pressure I applied to the laptop while typing would slide the whole thing around on my desk. It is worth nothing that my desk is made of wood with a smooth finish, but it still offers plenty of grip for other accessories. Interestingly enough, the countertop at the local coffee shop didn’t prove any problem. So, you can only try it out to see if it suits your taste.

The webcam on here is actually pretty decent. It will certainly work for videos calls in well-lit environments. Colors are pretty warm, but it’s definitely grainy. You’d be better off with a high-quality external webcam if you’re looking for high-quality video calls.

Final Thoughts

This laptop is aimed at a business market. I wouldn’t recommend it for home use, rather my home choice would be the IdeaPad that I previously reviewed or something like the Yoga 910. But for small to medium businesses, it will certainly work. It’s durable enough to handle day to day usage around the office, but for demanding applications, I am sure it would lag. As far as the pricing is concerned, the $629 price point is pretty reasonable as well. The ThinkPad 13 is available on Lenovo’s web store.

Get the ThinkPad 13 from Lenovo