In some ways, Lenovo's ThinkPad brand is the anti-Mac. While Apple offers just a very few laptops -- primarily the MacBook Pro and MacBook, with the aging MacBook Air still hanging on -- Lenovo has built a ThinkPad for every possible user preference.
But that's as long as those preferences don't demand much pizzazz in the way of looks. The classic black ThinkPads aren't even trying to play in the same league as the MacBooks on style.
Still, while Lenovo's strategy of selling so many niche varieties is very un-Apple, the actual user experience with many ThinkPads is in fact on par with that of Macs.
The latest Lenovo laptop we've been trying out in the CRN Test Center is the ThinkPad T470S. It's the third ThinkPad we've tested in the past few months, with the others being the X1 Carbon and the X1 Yoga.
Like those laptops, the T470S gets the most important things right, in our view. The touchpad is close to flawless, and the keyboard is a pleasure to type on. It's very fast with a top Intel processor, and fairly light, too, at 2.9 pounds. The battery life is solid; we got 5.5 hours on a charge in our tryout, with heavy usage and the brightness set to 75 percent.
To Lenovo at least, there are enough differences from other premium ThinkPad machines to warrant offering the T470S as a device of its own. Unlike the X1 Carbon, the laptop offers a touch-screen display option. But unlike the X1 Yoga, the touch screen only folds 180 degrees backward, rather than the full 360 degrees.
The T470S also isn't as thin as the X1 models, which no doubt helps keep the price down while giving space for large ports such as Ethernet (RJ45 Gigabit LAN). All around, there are a lot of ports on the laptop, with others including three USB-A ports, USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, SD media card reader, micro SIM, and an optional smart card reader.
Maybe the biggest differentiator of all from the X1 models is on the price, with the ThinkPad T470S starting at $1,079. By comparison, the X1 Yoga starts at nearly $1,700 while the X1 Carbon has a starting price of $1,400.
We think that price helps make Lenovo's ThinkPad T470S a worthwhile consideration for anyone who's drawn to getting a workhorse ThinkPad with some, but not all, of the premium features out there.