- Review Date: 1/15/2014
- Bottom line: The Lenovo ThinkPad T440s is a very well-made business ultrabook, but even great battery life, decent performance, and a few unique features aren't enough to make it stand out above the rest.
- Pros: Solid performance from Intel Core i5-4200u processor. Speedy performance, thanks to solid-state drive.
- Cons: Local storage is small (128GB). No HDMI output. Touchpad quirks may not appeal to all users.
Lenovo has been making business laptops for several years, but in the world of PC manufacturers, the only way to stay relevant is to stay current, and Lenovo does this with the Lenovo Thinkpad T440s. A business ultrabook, the ThinkPad T440s delivers the thinner, slimmer form factor that's has reshaped the laptop category, while incorporating a touch screen, features designed around Windows 8, and a slew of business features that will keep you getting things done both in the office and on the road.
The ThinkPad T440s is built to get business done, wherever you happen to take it. The slim laptop measures 0.8 by 13.1 by 8.9 inches (HWD), but with an internal roll-cage, and a chassis made of magnesium alloy and carbon fiber, it packs a surprisingly rugged design into its 3.5-pound weight. Built to meet Mil-Spec testing requirements, the ThinkPad T440s is similar to the Dell Latitude e7240 Touch, built to withstand highs and lows of atmospheric pressure, temperature, and humidity, and capable of withstanding a fair amount of abuse in the form of shock, vibration, and dust.
The ThinkPad T440s is also made for use on the go, with a dual-battery system, which Lenovo calls "Power Bridge." The laptop packs its own internal 3-cell, 24Wh battery which is sealed into the chassis, but there's also a swappable rear battery that can be added for use on the go, and it's even hot-swappable, letting you switch out one battery for another without having to stop working and shut off the machine. Lenovo sells the ThinkPad T440s with a 3-cell, 24Wh battery as the standard configuration, or with a 6-cell, 72Wh extended life battery for only $5 more.
The 13-inch 1,920-by-1,080 resolution display looks great, and offers full HD (1080p) support for all of your video viewing, web browsing, and everything else. Because the higher resolution displays finer detail, it allows more effective multitasking with side by side windows. The flip side of this, however, is that higher resolution displays show text at smaller sizes by default, so you may need to adjust the display to something you're more comfortable with.
The full-size chiclet keyboard utilizes Lenovo's "precision keyboard" design, which has sculpted keycaps and a more tactile typing experience than the average chiclet keyboard. In addition to being a bit more comfortable, the keys are also more visible in low light thanks to a glowing white backlight.
Sprouting up between the keys is a red TrackPoint, and the TouchPad has five buttons--three along the top for use with the TrackPoint and two on the bottom for standard trackpad use. The touchpad has a smooth glass surface, which lets fingers glide easily and registers various swipes and gestures rather well. But while it's accurate, the touchpad is weird. It combines the right and left buttons into the touch sensor, like the usual clickpad, but the depth of each click is lower and has a light actuating force, making for an odd clicking experience. The entire touch sensor can be clicked with a tap, but it's clearly meant to be pressed more deeply. While your personal preference may differ, I didn't like it at all.
The ThinkPad T440s is made to get things done, and it's built with the ports and connections to get things done. On the right-hand of the laptop you'll find an USB 3.0 port, a LAN port for Gigabit Ethernet, an SD card slot (SD, SDHC, SDXC), and VGA output for connecting to older monitors and projectors. On the left are two more USB 3.0 ports (including one with charging capability), a miniDisplayPort, and a slot for an optional SmartCard reader. While that miniDisplayPort will connect you to plenty of monitors, I would have liked to also see an HDMI port, allowing broader connectivity with monitors and HDTVs alike.
On the palmrest, next to the bottom-right corner of the keyboard, is an integrated fingerprint reader, providing the ease and peace of mind of biometric security. Above the laptop display you'll find a 720p HD webcam, paired with two noise-cancelling microphones that isolate your voice and filter out background noise--perfect for video conferencing. The camera also has good low-light sensitivity, and face-tracking technology, so you don't have to worry about focus problems when shifting in your seat.
Inside, the Thinkpad T440s is equipped with dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0+HS for connecting wireless devices and audio accessories, and Intel WiDi (Wireless Display) for use with any WiDi equipped TV or adapter. Our review unit came equipped with a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD), which doesn't offer a lot of local storage space, but will ensure speedier performance than seen in similar systems with traditional hard drives. For larger storage capacity, the ThinkPad T440s can also be configured with larger drives for a slightly higher total price, up to a 512GB SSD (adds $200 to price).
On the drive Lenovo has installed a few extras for better out of box functionality. On the start screen you'll find apps like AccuWeather, Amazon Kindle Reader, Evernote, Skype and Zinio. Lenovo uses SugarSync for cloud storage and easier sharing of files with your smartphone or tablet. Trials of Microsoft Office and Norton Internet Security give you the option of purchasing either, but Lenovo also lets you configure the laptop with these options (the full-versions) preinstalled. Lenovo also has a few branded offerings in the mix, like Lenovo QuickCast, which lets you share files between multiple ThinkPads within a network, and QuickConnect, offering access to a few remote functions through your smartphone or tablet. Lenovo covers the ThinkPad T440s with a one-year warranty that includes repairs through either Lenovo-approved repair centers or Lenovo's own repair depots.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T440s is equipped with a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U processor, the same fourth-generation processor seen in the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus, paired with 4GB of RAM. As a result, the ThinkPad T440s offers strong performance, and completed PCMark 7 with 4,562 points and Cinebench with 2.37 points. While these scores indicate solid performance, it does lag behind the competition, like the Dell Latitude 6430u, which scored 5,006 points (PCMark7) and 2.58 points (Cinebench), or the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus, which scored 4,907 points (PCMark7) and 2.50 points (Cinebench). Despite lagging slightly behind competitors, the ThinkPad T440s will still offer all of the speed and performance oomph you need day to day, as seen in multimedia tests, where the Lenovo finished Handbrake in 1 minute 20 seconds, and completed Photoshop in 5:59. The ThinkPad T440s uses Intel's integrated graphics solution--Intel HD Graphics 4400—but it makes the most of it, completing 3DMark11 with 1,362 points (Entry) and 251 points (Extreme), which provide average graphics performance for the category.
With the combined internal battery (3-cell, 24Wh) and the standard external battery (3-cell, 24Wh), the ThinkPad T440s lasted a respectable 7 hours 21 minutes in our battery rundown test. By comparison, the consumer oriented Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus lasted almost an hour longer (8:15), while the Ultra hi-def Dell Latitude 6430 (HD+) fell behind (5:10). Between those two extremes, however, the Editors' Choice Dell Latitude 6430u lasted 7:40 and the ruggedized Dell Latitude e7240 Touch lasted 7:21, putting the ThinkPad T440s squarely in the middle of the pack.
However, while we weren't able to fully test the battery life of the extended battery (6-cell, 72-Wh) Lenovo reports that it offers twice the battery life. Our testing of the extended life battery isn't done yet, but preliminary results suggest more than 12 hours battery life. That's a pretty big deal for a battery that's only $5 more expensive than the standard configuration.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T440s offers solid performance and a design that will look good in the board room while still surviving the occasional cross-country business trip. While the performance is a bit average, it's a testament to the progress made in the Ultrabook category that such impressive performance has become standard. And though the battery life (with the standard battery) is on on par with the competition, the addition of an extended life battery and the hot-swap capability definitely adds an element of flexibility not offered by other systems. It's not quite enough to dislodge the Dell Latitude 6430u as our business ultrabook Editors' Choice.