Lenovo ThinkPad 25 – Full Review and Benchmarks

 In Technology
This one’s for the fans, but it’s also great for anyone who needs to be productive. The first ThinkPad shipped in October 1992, and to celebrate 25 years of innovation, Lenovo has released the ThinkPad 25. This special-edition laptop takes the ThinkPad T470, our favorite business laptop, and adds a handful of classic ThinkPad design elements, including an old-fashioned 7-row keyboard, a luxurious soft-touch palm rest and a special anniversary logo.

Available in only one configuration, the ThinkPad 25 carries an MSRP of $1,899. But considering that it comes with high-end components such as a Core i7 CPU, discrete graphics and a 512GB SSD, it’s worth every penny.

Design

The ThinkPad 25 is a modified version of the ThinkPad T470 so it shares the same aesthetics, with a couple of classic design flourishes that are meant to remind you of classic Lenovo laptops. The first classic reference you’ll probably notice is the modified ThinkPad logo on the lid, which has the letters in “Pad” colored red, green and blue, a callback to the multicolored IBM logo that appeared on many ThinkPads before Lenovo bought the brand in 2005. 


However, the most important change is on the inside where the T470’s modern chiclet-style keyboard has been replaced with the classic ThinkPad 7-row keyboard, a keyboard that hasn’t appeared on a Lenovo notebook since 2011 (more on that later). The palm rest is made out of the same soft-touch material that’s on the lid, a huge improvement over the hard plastic deck on the T470. There’s also a ThinkPad 25 logo above the keyboard.


Other than the changes to the logos, keyboard and deck, this is a ThinkPad T470, with the same rectangular shape, dimensions, approximate weight and raven-black color as its less-expensive sibling.


At 13.25 x 9.15 x 0.79 inches and 3.56 pounds, the ThinkPad 25 is more than light enough to carry in your bag, even if you switch out the default 3-cell battery for a 6-cell unit that adds 0.4 pounds to the weight while more than doubling the battery life. If you’re looking for lighter, Lenovo’s svelte ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a mere 2.49 pounds  and 0.6 inches thick. The Dell Latitude 5480 is thicker and heavier at 4 pounds and 0.9 inches thick.

Specs

Packaging

The original ThinkPad was made to look like a bento box so it’s fitting that the ThinkPad 25’s packaging looks just like one. It’s a very attractive black box with a set of cardboard doors that open to reveal the laptop sitting on a bright red (TrackPoint-colored) platform, which rises up as you fold back the doors. Underneath the laptop is a sleek setup with a ThinkPad anniversary book and a set of three TrackPoint caps (in all three styles of TrackPoint) beneath it.


The short, paperback pamphlet is written by long-time ThinkPad designer David Hill and contains a number of interesting facts about ThinkPad design, including what the black and red colors represent. It’s not a history book; fans who want to learn more about the evolution of the ThinkPad should check out “How the ThinkPad Changed the World — and Is Shaping the Future” by Arimasa Naitoh instead.

Security and Durability

The ThinkPad 25 has the same tough-as-nails chassis as the ThinkPad T470, which means it has passed MIL-SPEC tests for shocks, vibrations, extreme temperatures and humidity, along with Lenovo’s own proprietary bump tests.


IT managers will be pleased to know that, like most other Lenovo business notebooks, the ThinkPad 25 comes with vPro remote management and dTPM encryption. End users will appreciate the one-touch fingerprint reader and infrared camera, which allow you to log in to your computer via Windows Hello using your choice of facial or fingerprint recognition.

Classic Keyboard

Classic ThinkPad keyboard, oh, how I’ve missed you. In 2012, the world (of classic Thinkpad keyboards) came to an end as Lenovo switched to chiclet-style keyboards, and shrank them from seven to six rows. On ThinkPad 25, the old-fashioned 7-row keyboard is back, and it has never looked better or been more relevant and useful.

The seventh row leaves room for dedicated mute, volume and microphone buttons, which is a lot better than having to share these controls with the F1 through F4 keys. The Esc and Delete keys are twice as tall, making it much easier to hit them when touch-typing. Lenovo has brought back the Scroll Lock and Pause keys, which still have a few limited use cases (Excel lets you scroll without changing cells if you hit scroll lock), along with a right click key near the spacebar.


However, my favorite resurrected buttons are the page forward and page back keys that live next to the up arrow, because they allowed me to go back and forward in web browsers with a single press. I also like the splash of slate-blue color on the Enter key and some of the icons.

All the extra and larger keys would be meaningless if the keyboard didn’t also provide a world-class typing experience. The keys offer a deep 1.8 millimeters of vertical travel (1.5 to 2mm is typical) and a strong 67 grams of required actuation force, but the real star of the show is the soft-touch palm rest, which felt absolutely fantastic against my wrists.

To be fair, the ThinkPad T470’s chiclet keys feel even snappier, with more travel (2mm) and greater actuation force (70 grams). When I took the 10fastfingers typing test on the ThinkPad 25, I scored 95 words per minute, which was 7 wpm less than I got on the T470. However, the ThinkPad 25’s palm rest made the overall typing experience much more comfortable, and comfort leads to greater speed and accuracy over time.

Backlight, But No ThinkLight

Modern users have come to expect a keyboard backlight and the ThinkPad 25 has a fine one, which you activate by hitting Fn + the PgUp key. However, what’s sadly missing is the ThinkLight, an overhead LED that shined down from the top bezel in older ThinkPads.

MORE: Best Lenovo Laptops

By excluding the ThinkLight, Lenovo missed a huge opportunity to bring back a fan-favorite feature that’s just as useful today as it was when it disappeared from the lineup a few years ago. Imagine sitting on a dark plane or train and needing to look at a piece of paper, such as a business card or pamphlet. An overhead light would help you read in the dark, something that a backlit keyboard cannot do.

TrackPoint and Touchpad

Like almost every other ThinkPad in history, the ThinkPad 25 has a TrackPoint pointing stick. However,  it comes with the “classic dome”-style rubber cap, which is somewhat narrower and a lot rougher than the “soft dome” that comes on all modern ThinkPads. The box includes all three cap types: the classic dome, the soft dome and the “soft rim,” which has a concave shape. It was fun using the old-fashioned cap, but most users will probably want to switch to the soft dome.

The 3.9 x 2.2-inch buttonless touchpad is a 0.5-inches shorter than the pad on the T470, but it feels smoother and more pleasant, thanks to a Mylar surface. The pad was extremely accurate as I navigated around the desktop and executed gestures such as pinch-to-zoom and three-finger swipe.

Display

The ThinkPad 25’s 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 touch screen provided images that were vibrant and detailed but not particularly bright. When I watched a trailer for Blade Runner 2049, the orange and yellow sunlight really popped. and I was able to make out details like a date carved on a tree trunk. Lenovo uses “on-cell” touch technology, which more tightly integrates the digitizer into the screen and eliminates a lot of the glossiness we see on most touch-screen laptops. As a result, viewing angles were strong, with colors fading only slightly after 45 degrees to the left or right.


Though it looked good in our testing, the ThinkPad 25’s screen isn’t quite as colorful as the average 14-inch laptop. According to our colorimeter, the display can reproduce 77 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is quite a bit less than the category average (103 percent) or the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (104 percent). However, the ThinkPad T470 with a non-touch display (73 percent) and the Dell Latitude 5480 (71 percent) were less vibrant. In fact, when I played the same trailer on the T470 with the non-touch screen and ThinkPad 25 side-by-side, the oranges and reds looked much better on the 25.

The ThinkPad 25’s 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 touch screen provided images that were vibrant and detailed but not particularly bright.

The ThinkPad 25’s display is more than bright enough for indoor use, but in measuring 221 nits on our light meter, it’s dimmer than the T470 with non-touch display (234 nits), the category average (255 nits) and the X1 Carbon (275 nits). The Dell Latitude 5480 (202 nits) is a lot dimmer.

Audio

The ThinkPad 25’s front-mounted speakers are loud enough to fill a midsize conference room and accurate enough for presentations, video watching or occasional music playback. When I listened to AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” the music was hollow and the guitars were ever-so-slightly tinny, but not harsh or unpleasant.

In the Settings app, you can choose among music, movies, voice or gaming profiles. You can also disable the Dolby enhancement, which is turned on by default, but doing so made the music sound much more hollow.

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