Lenovo said today that it was updating its line of ThinkPad laptops in 2017 to include newer processors, more authentication features, and improved trackpads — something that has been a point of weakness with previous iterations of ThinkPad laptops.
Several new laptops, including the ThinkPad X270, the ThinkPad Yoga 370, four new ThinkPad T Ultrabook models, and the less-expensive ThinkPad 13, will include support for Microsoft’s Windows Precision Touchpad, a new-ish set of drivers and interface for configuring touchpad gestures that was released with the launch of Windows 10. ThinkPad trackpads for years have been iconic at best and awful at their worst, with their little red TrackPoint buttons and sometimes-jittery touchpads. The TrackPoint button still makes an appearance on these newer laptops, but at least with the Precision Touchpad support there’s the promise of a smooth, fluid trackpad.
The new ThinkPads will also run on Kaby Lake, the newest architecture for Intel’s Core processor. And some will get updated authentication features, like support for Windows Hello, a facial recognition feature that utilizes an infrared camera; and biometric matching on a fingerprint sensor, which includes onboard firmware for fingerprint matching. This was added to newer machines partly to support customers in Europe, Lenovo says, where there are more stringent security requirements.
The new ThinkPads include: the 12-inch ThinkPad X270 with a touch display option, starting at $909 and available next March; the "bendy" ThinkPad Yoga 370 with a full HD 13.3-inch display, also shipping in March, for $1,264; four new ThinkPad T Ultrabook models, starting at $909, that come in a variety of customizations; the rugged ThinkPad L 14-inch and 15-inch laptops, which start at $779 and $909, respectively; a less-expensive ThinkPad 13, which is aimed at small business owners or students and sells for $674; and an array of new docks that support Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C. Some of the new laptops, like the new Yoga 370, will come in silver in addition to standard black, a first for ThinkPad computers.
Lenovo, which is the world’s largest PC maker by shipments, first acquired the ThinkPad business from IBM back in 2004, and it’s by far the company's biggest business. However, an overall contraction in the PC market hasn’t been good for any computer maker, including Lenovo. In its most recent earnings report, Lenovo said its personal computing and smart device business group shipped 14.5 million units for the quarter, down 3.3 percent from the previous year.
The ThinkPad announcement is coming just ahead of CES, where it’s widely expected that Lenovo will have more news around its consumer line of laptops and tablets.