There’s just something about ThinkPads that, to me, was very appealing. I’ve been using ThinkPads since their IBM days and I’ve known ThinkPads that have lasted years and had to be replaced only because the hardware was obsolete. They were incredibly built, very user-friendly and stood up to abuse that I wouldn't dare subject a laptop to today.
As far as I’m concerned, the classic “bento box” ThinkPad was the best. The simple, boxy design, that little light (ThinkLight) above the screen — keys weren’t backlit at the time — and that lovely keyboard, I loved it. On a rather discordant note, I’d like to point out that I’ve never understood the point of the ThinkPad nipple (TrackPoint), however. I’ve used it for years but never actually fell in love with it.
Over the years, ThinkPads lost some of their charm to the likes of Dell and Apple. I saw glimmers of inspiration in devices like the ThinkPad Carbon, but few ThinkPads have inspired that same emotion since.
This year, the ThinkPad celebrates its 25th birthday and Lenovo commemorated the occasion with a special edition ThinkPad called the ThinkPad 25.
This commemorative ThinkPad marries retro design with modern sensibilities. The classic, 7-row keyboard is back, but there’s no ThinkLight and the keyboard is backlit. The Enter key gets back its old blue accent, as do the sub-keys. The hinge also looks like the classic ThinkPad hinge, and it can open to 180 degrees. The logo on the device is new, and probably unique to the device.
Obviously, the hardware’s been bumped up to 2017 specs. You get a 7th Gen Intel Core i7 7500U, 16 GB DDR4 RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce 940MX GPU, 512 GB of SSD storage (PCIe), stereo speakers with support Dolby Audio Premium certification and a 14-inch FHD IPS screen with multitouch support.
For wireless connectivity, you get Wi-Fi 802.11 ac and Bluetooth 4.1 support. Ports include 3x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3, 1x 3.5mm combo audio hack, 1x HDMI port, 1x RJ45 Ethernet port and a 4-in-1 card reader. The laptop also includes a fingerprint reader and the 720p HD IR camera with dual array mics is compatible with Windows Hello facial recognition. Oh, and that iconic TrackPoint nub is still there.
Providing power for all of this is a 48 Whr battery that Lenovo claims will provide up to 13.9 hours of battery life. This configuration will set you back $1,899. All of this comes in a package weighing just 1.6 kg.
Sadly, this laptop is only available in the US for now.
Is it worthy of commemorating a 25-years of ThinkPad? I'm not sure. As ArsTechnica's Peter Bright — another ThinkPad fan — points out, "Lenovo has opted to err on the side of modernity". It's a new ThinkPad with a nod to the original, but if you were to describe it as just a 2017 ThinkPad with a 1990s keyboard layout, you wouldn't be far wrong.