Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Review

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Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

Lenovo may be pushing the Thinkpad 13 (starting at $591.75, Amazon) towards corporate offices, but there's plenty to like about this machine for home users, as well.

The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 runs an Intel Core i3 CPU, which is just a bit faster than the CPUs in most budget systems. The laptop also has an integrated Intel graphics chip and Windows 10 Home OS. It comes with 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD hard drive. The black base model's 13.3-inch display has a resolution of 1366 x 768, but buyers can upgrade that to a 1080p IPS display for $55, or simply go with the silver model where higher resolution is standard (there are several other customization options available, as well). It also has a memory card reader, three USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C port, and an HDMI port. It supports 802.11ac wireless connections and Bluetooth 4.1. The unit has a 3-cell battery and weighs 3.2lbs.

A Digital Trends expert likes the ThinkPad's tough build -- not surprising given it meets several military standards (MIL-SPECs) for ruggedness. The keyboard is excellent, providing just the right tactile feedback. The touchpad is a bit small, but quick and responsive. A reviewer from Computer Shopper reports that the audio sounds clear and loud, but lacks bass, which isn't surprising in a small, modestly-priced laptop.

These reviewers diverge slightly on their assessment of the ThinkPad 13's display, however. The Digital Trends expert says even with the higher resolution its colors are a little dull, the contrast isn't that great, and it rates less well than many others on several basic visual scales. The Computer Shopper reviewer had a better personal experience with the ThinkPad's 1080p display, saying its colors are rich and the screen is sufficiently bright.

The Intel Core i3 CPU gives this laptop a little more kick than most budget competitors, though it's still not quite powerful enough for intensive graphics or video games. The SSD hard drive is pretty fast when reading files, but a little slow when writing them -- though that shouldn't be an issue unless several large files are being written to the hard drive. The battery performed respectably in testing, managing 9 hours and 13 minutes in Laptop Mag's battery test which focuses on continuous web browsing, and 9.5 hours in Digital Trend testing when playing movies nonstop.

The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 offers users just a little bit more of just about everything you'd find in a cheap laptop -- a little more power, a little more storage, a slightly better display than some, and a few more connectivity options. But these extras come at a slightly increased cost. At almost $600, it's a little outside of the Cheapism price range, but if a bare-bones model just isn't enough, the ThinkPad 13 may satisfy without being way too spendy.

Michael Sweet

Michael Sweet writes about consumer electronics. If something runs on electricity or ones and zeroes, he's interested in it. Sweet has written about PC technology and consumer electronics for 14 years.

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