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Review: Judge a ThinkBook by its cover

Review: Judge a ThinkBook by its cover

To some the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s-IWL might initially look a bit boring but in my opinion the laptop has a very sleek and minimalistic look and feel. This device, however, is more than just a pretty face and fulfils its mission as a tool in the business environment. Its most noticeable features are the perfectly clear screen with barely any noticeable bezels on the side, superb wide backlit keyboard, secure fingerprint scanner and a huge battery life. But let’s get into all of that.

The first thing that comes to mind with regards to a ThinkPad/ThinkBook is that they are primarily intended for business users but we’ve learnt the hard way that the ThinkPad laptops, despite their reliability and comfort are usually bulky devices.

Now Lenovo have responded with a model that could be considered a fusion of their ThinkPad series and their ever so popular Yoga. This laptop, I think, is primarily designed for business users, but most certainly will catch the eye of someone who appreciates an elegant and a practical device.

The body of the 13.3 inch 13s-IWL is made of aluminium alloy, which underlines the impression of reliability and elegance. The small dimensions of this model feel good and Lenovo have definitely made sure to capture premium feel. It’s a sophisticated, premium laptop and is not lacking in the style department either. But enough with its good looks…

The Lenovo ThinkBook 13s-IWL is not your classic Ultrabook. It’s a powerful mobile platform that comes with the comfort and speed needed for a lot of business solutions. It really is an ideal business notebook.

Surprisingly, the ThinkBook’s Intel Core ii 785 65 processor demonstrated some good performance and maintained very high operating speeds during its use. Since its firmware is tuned for high clock speed, you end up with a very powerful and fast laptop. With Microsoft Office package opening up almost immediately.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s-IWLThe ThinkBook has slim side bezels, giving it less of a business and more of a consumer look. I love the fact that the screen folds all the way flat, not only because you get different viewing angles but we all know accidents happen – having a bit of leeway with a foldable screen is always good in my book. I can assure you though, that the hinges are very strong, so where you fold the ThinkBook open to, is where it will stay.

But how about entertainment, how did it do there? Well, its performance was just as good. Watching high res movies or listening to music, the ThinkBook didn’t faulter. The picture quality is mouth-watering and rich with amazing saturated colours, while the text and detail on the screen are crisp and crystal clear.

One of the best features of this laptop is its display. It’s a 13.3 inch IPS non touch anti-glare display which means no reflections and no glare. Watching Netflix and YouTube is a total pleasure. Not only is this a really nice display, it’s also a Dolby Vision HDR display, so watching High Dynamic Range content is really good. The display is also bright: 308 nits means the ThinkBook can be used indoors and outdoors – sunlight won’t be an issue because it’s an anti-glare. The blacks are nice and deep, the contrast is good and the colours are vibrant. It’s everything you need in a full HD display.

This laptop also comes with a built in HD webcam (a 720 p 30 frames per second webcam), which is accompanied by a stereo microphone that has noise reduction and with us all “zooming” in on every meeting now, conferencing and meetings are well taken care of. I really liked that the webcam offers a security think shutter option. You can actually slide and cover the camera lens – not a soul will be able to access or watch your camera without your knowledge. Nobody will know you just rolled out of bed to attend a Zoom meeting if that thing is closed. The shutter switch is just a great little feature to turn your webcam on and off and inherently just gives you more control over your security and privacy.

And I like the touchpad as well, it’s very responsive.

The keyboard itself has large comfortable keys, good tactile feedback, good key travel and overall is a cool typing experience. The two stage backlight is pleasant and lets you get to work in a dark environment. The key caps are coated in a colour finish, giving them a sophisticated look and feel. It is also worth mentioning, that the keyboard is resistant to any accidental spillage of liquids.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s-IWLThe power button doubles up as a fingerprint scanner with almost a halo. I managed to set that up quite easily and it worked really well every time. That same button acts as enhanced security when you need to log into a Windows working environment. Speaking of which, the ThinkBook comes with the windows 10 Pro pre-installed.

Let’s chat ports. On the left side is your power port, your HDMI 1.4 USBC Gen two, and the 3.5 millimetre audio jack. Over on the right there’s two USB 3.1 type A ports, and that’s it! Two notable ports are missing. There’s no Thunderbolt three and no microSD or full size SD card slot.

Okay, but look at performance. It’s actually really, really good. The review unit that Lenovo sent me is the ThinkBook 13s with the core i582 65 view. That’s an eighth generation Intel processor, it’s a quad core processor with eight gigabytes of DDR four RAM. As far as graphics are concerned, you’re looking at the Intel u HD graphics 620, so nothing special there and there’s no dedicated GPU option on the think book 13s. The ThinkBook 13 s is really good for productivity, doing Microsoft Office email web browsing, and easily consumes media like Netflix, YouTube without any hiccups.

I was so impressed by its low power consumption and its battery life – around nine hours, pretty much an all-day battery. You really want that from a thin and light laptop.

Lenovo ThinkBook 13s-IWLSo to sum it all up, here’s what I liked:

  • the bright sharp Dolby Vision display
  • the sleek metal design
  • good performance
  • very good battery life
  • and the overall good value for money

What I wasn’t so keen on, and this is a short list:

  • lack of Thunderbolt three ports
  • the missing SD or micro SD card slot

All in all, the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s has proven to be a very serious contender for the laptop market. It’s a thin and light laptop with a lot of premium features, and it won’t break the bank.

Clare Petra Matthes

Hi, I'm Clare and I am a freelance writer and Tech journalist as well as the owner and founder of where I review tech devices and also cover emerging technology news. Outside of I write for a number of publications and have regular tech slots on chaiFM radio station and eNCA's Tech Matters national breakfast TV news show.

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