At CES 2022, newly announced ThinkPad Z series is one of the most exciting ThinkPad evolutions to date. With two new laptops, Lenovo is addressing a specific high-end market where great functionality and performance come with sustainability and design.
The sustainability aspect could focus on new corporate policies promoted by investors and board members around the world. It is a pretty good idea to have products that meet such requirements as they can be an impact factor if everything else is the same.
This ThinkPad Z series will have two screen sizes: 13 and 16 inches, called ThinkPad Z13 i ThinkPad Z16, respectively.
Lenovo offers a variety of materials and colors, including dark (vegan) leather and silver (recycled) aluminum options. Sustainable construction is great, but Lenovo also ships these computers in recyclable packaging, including bamboo packaging that is compostable, which is even better than just recycling.
After opening the laptop, it is obvious that the screen has a high screen-to-body ratio (92.3% according to Lenovo), which is another way to talk about thin frames. This relationship is made possible by moving the webcam hardware into an independent module, which frees up space inside the frame.
That is a good idea. Other OEMs have tried to move the webcam to the bottom of the screen, but that’s not a great point for capturing users. And since the webcam module allows more space, Lenovo has upgraded its camera hardware with a seemingly much better sensor and lens. We are curious to see new shooting opportunities in action.
On the Z13, the full-size keyboard goes from edge to edge and you can see how compact the width of the laptop is. The full-width glass palm rest is new to Lenovo, with a 120 mm trackpad. If you’ve followed our reviews of Lenovo laptops, you know this is a significant increase in size, although Lenovo has been slowly increasing the size of the trackpad in recent generations.
The top area of the TouchPad also serves as the TrackPoint buttons, so all the typical ThinkPad input function is intact. Double-tapping on the TrackPoint now opens the acworking menu, and this is new.
The Z16 version has a lot more space around the keyboard, which seems to be used for a superior speaker system. That’s why I expect the ThinkPad Z16 to have significantly better audio output, but we’ll see when we can try them out.
Inside, both laptops are powered AMD Ryzen processors. The ThinkPad Z13 has a Ryzen PRO U-series and an integrated GPU, and it’s the only CPU SKU that AMD makes for Lenovo, with slightly higher performance than usual. The ThinkPad Z16 can be optionally configured discrete AMD Radeon GPU next to its Ryzen PRO H-series, so that’s what you can get if you need serious graphics muscle.
AMD’s CPU will also include a security unit compatible with Microsoft’s Pluto architecture that is designed to move some security layer within the CPU. Pluto makes things even safer because some data may have been attacked earlier between the CPU and the motherboard chipset during transport.
All processor manufacturers that are compatible with Windows (AMD, Intel, Qualcomm) will have Pluto compatible hardware, but there is still an exciting security improvement.
All in all, the new ThinkPad Z looks like a great addition to the ThinkPad family and goes for the high-end corporate “thin & light + design” laptop market with very healthy competition (XPS 13, HP Specter, Huawei Matebook, etc.). The Z series could help Lenovo gain a bigger stake in the hotly contested area if it succeeds, because I don’t think other OEMs have pushed sustainability that far.
Reported. Read more about CES, Ces 2022, Editorspick, laptops, Lenovo and Lenovo laptops.
Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.