The ThinkPad T431s is Lenovo's slimmed down T series laptop model that shares just enough DNA with the Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 to quality as a sexy business ultraportable. This is a 14" Ultrabook that's currently available with third generation Intel Ivy Bridge ULV Core i5 and i7 CPUs. At 0.80 inches and 3.6 lbs. it's quite portable, yet as you'd expect from a ThinkPad with an internal metal roll cage, it's rugged. Yes, the T431s is a bit heavier than 3 lb. Ultrabooks, but there's a reason: the hard drive, RAM and wireless card are upgradable. The 47Whr battery is sealed inside (there are no latches to swap it out easily), so you'll have to open the machine to access the battery (which isn't hugely difficult). The ThinkPad T431s is available with 4, 8 or 12 gigs of DDR3 1600MHz RAM (4 gigs are soldered on board and there's one standard SODIMM slot), and it ships with your choice of a conventional hard drive or an SSD drive. The price starts at $925 for the base Intel Core i5 model with 4 gigs of RAM and a 320 gig 7200 RPM HDD.
Lenovo's excellent Accutype keyboard is here with the smile shaped keys and great tactile feel. Travel is quite good for a highly portable machine, and this is a typist's dream. Keyboard backlight is available as an option, and our model has that feature. Yes, this is the new style Lenovo keyboard introduced last year so the PrtScr key is gone (I doubt most will miss it). The revised, oversized glass trackpad is the trendy buttonless type. Doubtless, ThinkPad traditionalists will lament the loss of dedicated buttons for right and left click, but we found it very functional and responsive. Lenovo's TrackPoint is here (the red eraser stick pointer nestled between the G and H keys), and the top edge of the trackpad functions as the left and right click buttons for the TrackPoint.
The machine has dual band Intel Centrinoo 6235N WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, RJ45 Ethernet and two USB 3.0 ports (one on each side). It has a mini DisplayPort but no HDMI (you can use a mini DisplayPort to HDMI dongle adapter), an SD/MMC card slot, SmartCard slot/fingerprint reader/TPM option and a Kensington lock slot. There's a dock port on the bottom that works with Lenovo's dock and mini dock. So all the creature comforts you'd expect from a Lenovo ultraportable ThinkPad are here.
Now for the bad news. The 14", 1600 x 900 resolution is perfectly fine for a display this size. I don't see a need for full HD on a business machine, at least not until Windows 8 handles scaling better on the desktop. But the TN panel is wholly mediocre. Viewing angles are narrow (at least this is a boon for privacy), so you'll have to angle the panel back and forward to find the sweet spot. Fortunately the display hinge has wide range and you can even open it flat at 180 degrees, a Lenovo signature feature. Regardless of angle, contrast is poor and the color gamut is limited. Granted, the ThinkPad T431s targets business professionals rather than graphics jockeys, but contrast is something we all appreciate and it's sadly lacking here. Text is simply more challenging to read due to the lack of contrast, and we wish that Lenovo had an IPS panel option. This is not a touch screen laptop. It's available with your choice of Windows 8 64 bit or Windows 7.
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Lenovo ThinkPad T431s Video Review
(Core i5, 4 gigs RAM, 7200 RPM HDD, no SSD so PCMark scores are low)
We love the new, slim look that Lenovo introduced with the ThinkPad T431s. For those who appreciate ThinkPads, this is a great looking, much more modern machine. From the thinner design to the drop down hinges and 180 degrees of display rotation, it’s all good. Tradition hasn’t gone with the wind, and the carbon fiber top, magnesium alloy bottom and roll cage are thankfully still here. As ever the keyboard is a typist’s dream, the large trackpad works well and performance is solid. But the display holds the ThinkPad T431s back from business portable greatness: it’s simply tear-inducing after an hour or two of use.
Display:14", 1600 x 900 TN display (anti-glare). 250 nits brightness. Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. VGA port and mini DisplayPort.
Battery:3 cell, 47 Whr Lithium
Ion rechargeable, sealed inside.
Performance:1.9GHz Intel Core i5-3437U dual core, third gen CPU. Turbo Boost to 2.9GHz. Also available with Core i7-3687U and Core i5-3337U CPUs. 4, 8 or 12 gigs of DDR3L RAM (4 gigs soldered on board, 1 RAM slot). Available with SSD or HDD.
x 8.90 x 0.81 inches. Weight: 3.6 pounds.
Audio:Built-in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard combo stereo headphone-mic jack. RealTek HD Audio, Dolby Home Theater v4..
Networking:Integrated dual band Intel
Centrino-N 6235 WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet and optional 3G/4G with SIM card tray.
Expansion and Ports: w2 USB 3.0 ports (one charging), VGA, mini DisplayPort, combo audio 3.5mm, Ethernet RJ45 and
SD/MMC card slot. Has docking port.
Security: AuthenTec fingerprint reader on keyboard deck, Power On Authentication.