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Lenovo ThinkPad T440s

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What's Hot: Nice full HD display with wide color gamut, superb keyboard, durable build, Power Bridge battery system.

What's Not: Ultrabook CPUs and integrated graphics are your only options.

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Reviewed February 12, 2014 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

The ThinkPad T440s is the slimmed down version of Lenovo's 14" T Series business laptop. With each iteration the "s" model gets even slimmer and lighter, and the new Intel Haswell model weighs just 3.6 pounds and is 0.8" thick. No, it's not Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon thin and light, but the T440s isn't meant to be the slimmest and lightest Lenovo you can buy. Rather it's highly portable minus the compromises of a super-skinny laptop. It has a full depth keyboard for better key travel and that inimitable ThinkPad typing experience and room for plenty of ports. Like the ThinkPad X240, it uses Lenovo's new Power Bridge design, with an internal non-removable battery and a standard battery bay that can accommodate 3 or 6 cell removable batteries.

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s

Specs at a Glance

The ThinkPad T440s runs on 15 watt Ultrabook ULT CPUs and you can get it with a Core i5 or i7 CPU and between 4 and 12 gigs of DDR3L RAM. It's available with your choice of a conventional spinning HDD or an SSD and single or dual band Intel WiFi 802.11n or dual band Intel WiFi 802.11ac. It has a backlit keyboard that's spill resistant, an internal roll cage for strength and a carbon fiber and magnesium casing. You can order the machine with an HD+ 1600 x 900 or full HD 1920 x 1080 display or a full HD 1920 x 1080 touch screen (all are IPS with wide viewing angles). For $20, you can order your ThinkPad with a fingerprint scanner that works in conjunction with the TPM. The scanner lives to the right of the keyboard. Our review unit is the Core i5-4200U with 4 gigs of RAM, a 128 gig SSD and dual band 802.11n WiFi.

Design and Ergonomics

It's a ThinkPad folks, and that means an understated business black matte casing, a rigid and rugged design and a TrackPoint pointing stick embedded in the keyboard above the trackpad. As ThinkPads go, this is a relatively slim model and for a 14" laptop it's highly portable and Ultrabook-like. It's not an X1, but it's no chunky box. In fact, the footprint isn't much bigger than the diminutive 12.5" ThinkPad X240. Still, those of you who love sexy consumer-oriented designs will probably pass on the T440s based on looks alone. But for business users who don't want to be flashy, and for ThinkPad aficionados, it's a good looking machine. Note that the touch screen model is surprisingly heavier at 3.9 pounds (a 0.3 lb. touch screen?).

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s

The lid is carbon fiber and you have to use some force to flex the display. If you press down on the lid, it will give a just a tiny bit (emphasis on tiny). The bottom cover is magnesium and the bottom cover is affixed with small Phillips head screws. If you remove the bottom cover you'll see a single RAM slot, the battery, a 2.5" SATA drive bay, a socketed wireless card and an M.2 slot for either a caching SSD on HDD equipped models or a WWAN 3G/4G Sierra Wireless Gobi 5000 card (a $280 option). As with many ThinkPads, there's an internal roll cage to increase structural rigidity and drain holes on the bottom for the spill resistant keyboard (water should be OK, but sticky stuff like orange juice or beer not so much).

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s

On the left side you'll find the rectangular charging connector, a mini DisplayPort to drive greater than full HD resolution monitors, two USB 3.0 ports (one with charging) and an optional Smart Card slot. On the right there's VGA, gigabit Ethernet, the third USB 3.0 port, a full size SDXC card slot (the card doesn't stick out), a SIM card slot and 3.5mm combo audio jack. LEDs are minimal and the dot on the letter i in the ThinkPad logo on the lid pulses red to indicate sleep, while inside you'll get a sleep indicator embedded in the power button and audio mute indicator.

The laptop has a conventional docking port on the bottom that's compatible with Lenovo's ThinkPad Basic, Pro and Ultra Docks ($199 to $269). You can also use their USB 3.0 but not the One Link dock.

 

Deals and Shopping:

 

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s Video Review

 

Display

We have the full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS touch screen, a $120 upgrade from the base 1600 x 900 non-touch IPS option. Our display has an anti-glare finish that has a bit of gloss but is not nearly as mirror-like as gloss displays. It looks great in moderate office lighting, but in a room with lots of light (large windows that let in the sun), the anti-glare surface looks a tiny bit milky. The display is reasonably bright at 244 nits with Windows' auto-brightness disabled, and it has very wide color gamut. That's a welcome feature for graphics professionals, and the ThinkPad T440s manages the same wide color gamut as the best laptop displays on the market. The full HD touch panel achieved 97% of sRGB and 75% of Adobe RGB with a healthy 800:1 contrast ratio and good black levels. Lenovo ThinkPad displays are often middle of the road when it comes to color gamut representation, which makes the T440s a real jewel for those who need accurate color reproduction. The factory color calibration was close to ideal, according to our Spyder 4 Pro colorimeter. There is no digital pen option on the ThinkPad T440s; you'll have to look at the smaller ThinkPad Yoga and ThinkPad Helix models if you need a Wacom pen.

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s Lenovo ThinkPad T440s

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Keyboard and Trackpad

Say what you will about that staid ThinkPad look, the T440s like the Lenovo X240 has one of the best keyboards in the business. You'll get more key travel with these two compared to the slimmer ThinkPad Yoga with its lock and load keyboard, and a more standard layout than on the newest version of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. The keyboard has Lenovo's concave, smile-shaped keys to keep your fingers properly located and tactile feel and travel are excellent. This is a backlit keyboard and as always with ThinkPads, pressing the Fn and spacebar keys turns backlight on and off and toggles between two brightness settings.

The TrackPoint eraser stick pointer is nestled between the g and h keys and works in conjunction with the glass Synaptics trackpad. This is a buttonless design where the entire trackpad moves and clicks rather than the conventional buttons on older ThinkPad models. Old school ThinkPad users will grumble about this, but I found it perfectly usable, and in fact downright pleasant. You can tap to click, and that includes the upper virtual buttons for the TrackPoint (you might need to download the latest driver to enable that feature).

Performance and Horsepower

Like the ThinkPad T440 (no "s" at the end), the T440s runs on 4th generation Intel Haswell Core Ultrabook CPUs, as do the ThinkPad X240, ThinkPad Carbon X1 and competing brands like the Dell XPS 12, XPS 13 and XPS 14. The ThinkPad T440p ("p" stands for performance) ships with full mobile CPUs that are higher wattage and faster, and your choice of Intel HD 4600 graphics or NVIDIA GT 730M graphics. The ThinkPad T440s however is available only with Intel HD 4400 integrated graphics. You have a choice of the 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U, 1.9GHz Intel Core i5-4300U and 2.1GHz Core i7-4600U (all with Turbo Boost and the last two with vPro).

The "business Ultrabook", as Lenovo calls it, has 4 gigs of RAM soldered on board and one standard SODIMM RAM slot. So you can put up to an 8 gig RAM module in the slot for 12 gigs max RAM. The machine uses 1.35v, 1600MHz RAM like other Haswell Ultrabooks. There's a 2.5" SATA drive bay and you can order the T440s with your choice of HDD or SSD, or an HDD with a small caching drive in the M.2 slot. Our machine has a 128 gig SSD made by Samsung (not an 840 model) and it scored decently though not at the top of the list in speed tests.

How fast does the ThinkPad T440s feel? Our Intel Core i5 unit feels similar to the sea of similarly equipped Ultrabooks on the market today. It's fast and responsive, and ThinkPads aren't littered with bloatware to slow them down. If you do productivity work in MS Office, in web-based applications, work with email and social networks and relax with casual games or stream full HD video, it will do the job admirably. It's not a gaming machine and it's not designed for CAD work or professional video editing like the ThinkPad T440p. Sure, you can play more forgiving modern games like Left 4 Dead 2 and Civ V, and even do occasional HD video editing, but it's not well suited for serious Battlefield 4 sessions or lots of full HD video edit and export jobs.

Benchmarks

PCMark 7: 4684

3DMark 11: P815

wPrime: 23.24 sec.

Geekbench 3 (single/multi-core): 2314/ 4521

PCMark 7 Benchmark Comparison Table

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s (Core i5, 128 gig SSD) 4684
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga (Core i5) 4769
Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus 5050
Acer Aspire S7 (Core i7-4500U) 5075
Sony Vaio Pro 13 (Core i5 Haswell) 4549
Sony Vaio Flip 13 (Core i5 Haswell) 4434
Asus Transformer Book TX300 4495
Acer Aspire R7 3981
Samsung Series 7 Ultra 4469
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A Touch (Core i5) 4670
Dell XPS 12 (Core i5, Haswell) 4889
Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro 4737
Microsoft Surface Pro 2 4905

CrystalDiskMark SSD Scores

crystaldiskmark results

 

Heat and Fan Noise

Nothing to see here, move along. The ThinkPad T440s runs cool and quiet. It helps that this isn't a super-skinny Ultrabook with no room for cooling, and the ULT 15W CPU + integrated GPU don't make a lot of heat. The fan will kick on audibly for a Civ V gaming session, when installing large programs and when exporting HD video, but otherwise it's a near silent laptop.

Wireless

The ThinkPad T440s is a available with ThinkPad 802.11b/g/n (single band from what we can tell but with a 2 x 2 antenna configuration), dual band Intel 7260-N WiFi 802.11b/g/n or dual band Intel WiFi 802.11 ac. Our unit has the 7260 N dual band wireless card and as usual with ThinkPads, wireless performance is excellent. Signal strength and range on both the 2.4GH and 5GHz band are strong. Bluetooth 4.0 is integrated on the same wireless card.

3G/4G LTE is $280 additional, and Lenovo uses the same Sierra Wireless 7355 Gobi 5000 unlocked card and full size SIM card slot found in other recent ThinkPads. The card comes in the form of an internal M.2 card. If you select the WWAN 3G/4G option you can select the additional M.2 slot option if you want an HDD with 16 gig solid-state M.2 cache drive for HDDs.

Battery Life and Power Bridge

Like the ThinkPad X240, the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s uses Lenovo's new Power Bridge design with an internal (not removable unless you dissemble the laptop) 3 cell battery and a conventional removable 3 or 6 cell battery. Simply release two latches to slide the removable battery out, and there's no need to power down because the internal battery keeps everything powered up. Lenovo designed the machine so the removable battery drains first, ensuring that internal power is always available for battery swaps. In Windows, battery status will report power level for each battery separately. We applaud Lenovo's execution--we've seen several two piece convertibles with less predictable and practical secondary battery management. Even better for you IT folks who are buying several X240, T440s and removable batteries: both laptops use the same batteries.

We doubt most folks will use this with an empty cavity where the removable battery would live; rather most will probably use it with the 3 cell 23.5 Wh that matches the internal battery capacity for a total of 6 cells and 46.4 Wh capacity. In our tests, the T440s lasted 7.4 hours on a charge with brightness set to 40% in a mix of productivity work, social networking and an hour of streaming HD video playback. The 6 cell, 72 Wh removable battery (just $5 more if you order it instead of the 3 cell) extends that to 12 hours according to Lenovo, though we managed an hour less.

The laptop ships with a 45 watt compact AC adapter with the new rectangular connector.

Conclusion

The ThinkPad T440s is the slim 14" business portable to beat. Lenovo calls it an Ultrabook, which might be stretching what you think of as an Ultrabook, but it meets Intel's criteria for that name (Intel invented the marketing term "Ultrabook"). No, it's not quite as sexy (in a Lenovo sort of way) as the X1 Carbon, but for those who want more keyboard travel, the Power Bridge battery system and more ports, not to mention upgradable RAM and HDD, the ThinkPad T440s is hard to beat. In fact, you can literally beat on it, and it will survive.

Website: www.lenovo.com

Price: Starting at $1,050

Related Reviews:

Lenovo ThinkPad X240 Video Review

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga Review

Lenovo Flex 14 Review

Dell XPS 12 Review (Haswell)

 

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s

The Lenovo ThinkPad X240 on top of the ThinkPad T440s.

 

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s

 

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s

 

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s

 

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s

 

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s

 

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Specs:

Display: 14" IPS display. Resolution options: 1600 x 900 HD+ and 1920 x 1080 non-touch and 1920 x 1080 multi-touch. Intel HD 4400 integrated graphics. VGA and mini DisplayPort.

Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable 3 cell, 23.5 Whr internal battery and removable 3 or 6 cell (72 Wh) battery using Power Bridge.

Performance: 4th generation Intel Haswell ULT 15 watt. Intel Core i5-4200U, Core i5-4300U and Core i7-4600U available. 4 to 8 gigs DDR3L RAM (4 gigs soldered on board and one RAM slot). 2.5" HDDs and SSDs available.

Size: 13.08 x 8.89 x .80 inches. Weight: 3.6 pounds (non-touch screen), 3.9 pounds (touch screen).

Camera: 720p webcam.

Audio: Built-in stereo speakers with Dolby Home Theater 4 audio, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated single or dual band Intel 7260-N WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Intel 7260 ac 802.11ac dual band options, all with Bluetooth 4.0.

Software: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro or Windows 7.

Expansion and Ports: 3 USB 3.0 ports, mini DisplayPort, VGA, gigabit Ethernet RJ45 and SD card slot. SIM card slot and optional Smart Card reader slot.

 

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