If you have ever worked in a corporate, then chances are you may have given a ThinkPad as your primary machine. The ThinkPad can be described as the gold-standard in the laptop market with a cult following among professionals since the first model launched in the early 1990s.
So, when Lenovo — the Chinese PC major which acquired IBM’s PC business in 2005 — recently launched the ThinkPad T490, many wondered whether the company can reimagine a business laptop with modern specs without altering the classic design of a ThinkPad. That was a huge challenge, because a ThinkPad laptop is known for certain design elements that have been consistent for a good reason.
I have spent roughly a week with the Lenovo ThinkPad T490, which aims to be the workhorse for business users. Here are my few thoughts.
Lenovo ThinkPad T490 specifications: 14-inch FHD IPS display| Intel’s 8th gen Core i5 processor| 16GB RAM| 256GB SSD storage| Windows 10| micro-SIM card slot| All-day battery
Lenovo ThinkPad T490 price in India: Rs 102,000 (16GB RAM/256GB SSD storage)
Lenovo ThinkPad T490: Design and build
From a design point of view, it is a typical looking ThinkPad laptop with everything you have come to expect in one of these: the signature red TrackPoint, a clean look, a snappy and responsive keyboard, and solid build. But the ThinkPad brand is changing with the times. And Lenovo wants to sell a ThinkPad laptop that is made for a modern era.
When you look at the old ThinkPad laptop versus this new one, there are obvious physical differences. This one is light and compact enough to be easily lugged around in a laptop bag or backpack. Whether you are a marketing executive or someone in the retail industry, you would want to have a laptop that has a thinner, lighter body.
What I really liked about the T490 is that it’s a ThinkPad at the end of the day. The chassis has this soft black paint and the build is solid as we’ve come to expect from a high-end laptop. As usual, the laptop meets MIL-STD 810G, which means it can survive in extreme conditions.
Also, I have noticed the ThinkPad logo is on the right-side-up when the laptop is open. There’s another ThinkPad logo on the lid with a glowing red. Plus, there’s an integrated mouse button and a mid-sized trackpad.
It’s interesting to note that Lenovo has packed a ton of connectivity ports into the machine. On the right is an RJ45 Ethernet port, a USB-A 3.1, Ethernet port, and an optional Smart Card reader, and on the left is a USB-C for charging, Thunderbolt 3, USB-A 3.1, HDMI 1.4, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a microSD card reader.
The laptop also features a few security options including a fingerprint reader set into the right palm rest, a web camera with a built-in cover, the dTPM 2.0 chip, and a Kensington lock slot. In case you travel a lot and need an optional LTE connectivity on the go, the laptop does offer a Micro-SIM card slot as well.
Lenovo ThinkPad T490: Display and audio
My review unit had a 14-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. It’s not a touchscreen—but the display is sharp looking and bright in nature. Those who edit photos and videos will appreciate the display.
An important security feature is PrivacyGuard, which essentially reduces the viewing angles of the screen so that others sitting next to you can’t look at what you are doing. I tested this feature, and found it effective.
The stereo speakers positioned along the top of the keyboard can fill a medium-sized room. Sound quality is average, though.
Lenovo ThinkPad T490: Keyboard and touchpad
ThinkPad laptops usually have the best keyboards, and the T490 is no different. The spill-resistant backlit keyboard offers plenty of travel and feels snappy. I bet you can type for hours with no discomfort. The keys are large enough with enough spacing between them.
The touchpad, even though mid-sized, feels fine. Oh yes, the T490 retains the ThinkPad series iconic TrackPoint nub at the center of the keyboard, along with dedicated left- and right-click buttons above the touchpad.
Lenovo ThinkPad T490: Performance and battery
Don’t worry about performance. The ThinkPad T490 is fast, though it depends on which model you opt for. My review unit had a 1.6-GHz, dual-core, eighth-generation Intel Core i5 processor coupled with 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage.
It’s not the latest processor, but still performs well. If you are someone who edits a lot of photos and 4K videos, the ThinkPad T490 isn’t the option for you. It will, however, handle up to 20 browser tabs at once, let you edit photos in Pixlr, run apps without any hiccups. This machine can handle light games, in case you’re interested.
This notebook has a 50‑watt‑hour lithium‑polymer battery. Lenovo says battery life should last all day. In our battery tests, the ThinkPad T490 lasted six and a half hours, which isn’t great by any scale. The big relief though is a 65W rapid charger which will battery to 100 per cent in less than an hour.
Lenovo ThinkPad T490: Conclusion
Starting at Rs 98,244, the ThinkPad T490 isn’t cheap. But for business users, the price won’t matter. The ThinkPad lineup always commands a high price, owing to its solid build and business-friendly features. I do think corporates would be ready to drop in a lakh on a notebook that is light and thin, has the best keyboard and offers strong performance along with a number of security features. Where the laptop lacks, and I think that’s critical to any organisation, is the lack of swappable battery and SSD storage option.