s a technology journalist, I keep reviewing laptops a lot and the one theory I have developed is that for getting work done without any nonsense, Lenovo’s ThinkPad laptops are easily the best machines. These laptops keep in mind all the essentials that a laptop user will ever need and they offer the best Windows experience. And that’s the reason that despite new and sleek ultrabooks coming in the market every month, Lenovo’s utilitarian ThinkPads keep selling.
However, Lenovo knows that technology demands upgrades and the ThinkPads also need the same. Hence, recently, it unveiled the updated ThinkPad series of laptops in India. The base model in the lineup, the ThinkPad T490, has received a lot of upgrades and now, with a starting price of Rs 1,02,000, it offers an interesting proposition to businessmen looking for a reliable laptop.
And to see how good the updated T490 fares in the real world, I used one as my daily driver for two weeks and here’s my brief review.
Design: Classic ThinkPad styling now slimmer
With a ThinkPad, the styling doesn’t change much. All these laptops look identical and depending on how much you wish to spend, the form factor only becomes lighter and slimmer. The T490 is the base model but it doesn’t feel so, until you compare it to the X1 Carbon.
The T490 looks like a utilitarian laptop that feels built to last. It weighs 1.4Kg which is quite light for a laptop of its class. It’s got the classic ThinkPad design cues — the same straight lines with flat surfaces meant to slot in most backpacks with ease. The matte finish with the black shade looks stellar and it feels nice to hold as well. The matte surface loves smudges but if you maintain it, it looks stellar on the office desk or on the coffee table. The classic ThinkPad logo with the glowing LED light gives this laptop its distinct presence.
Open the lid, the deck carries on the classic Thinkpad layout with a well-laid out keyboard, a massive trackpad with the three-button layout on top and a fingerprint sensor. The display has noticeable bezels around but it’s slimmer than the older models.
Lenovo says the laptop is tested to withstand the toughest condition on this planet and it certainly feels so. The laptop is built well and if you value quality, you will love working on this laptop.
Display: Just right for work
ThinkPad machines have always delivered nice screens to offer a great working tool. The ThinkPad T490 comes with great 14-inch screen options. The one I had came with the 14-inch Full HD display with Privacy Guard. The display produces vibrant colours with high contrasts and decent viewing angles. The screen can go up to 400 nits of brightness, which is decent enough for outdoors. The Privacy Guard option works well, with screen narrowing down the viewing angles. Onlookers won’t be able to read your screen content easily except you, which adds to the privacy options. However, I felt the viewing angles could have been wider when not using the Privacy Guard.
Performance: Works as intended
A ThinkPad laptop is suited for regular office work and the T490 excels at that. At the heart of the ThinkPad T490 is an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8265U CPU paired with up to 48GB RAM and 1TB SSD storage. There’s no dedicated GPU but you can opt for an Nvidia MX250 graphics card if you want to do some light editing. This might not be the most powerful setup but it does what Lenovo promises. For regular computing tasks such as web browsing, typing long documents, working on presentations, dealing with organisation applications and managing folder, the T490 will happily do whatever you demand.
What adds to the experience is the brilliant keyboard that along makes this laptop worth buying. The keyboard on the T490is extremely comfortable to work on, as the keys have high travel and they are spaced out well enough to avoid ghosting. The classic ThinkPad pinter in the middle of the keyboard is helpful for precision movement in documents and web pages. Adding to that, the accurate trackpad with the three-button layout makes for a very comfortable working experience.
Since this laptop will spend its live carrying valuable documents and files, the security provisions in this laptop are among the best in the business (pun intended). The fingerprint sensor helps with quick unlock but if you want something more instantaneous, you can rely on the face unlock system. The face unlock uses an IR sensor along with the webcam to unlock the laptop in a jiffy. However, in low light or against the bright light, the system struggles and a having the fingerprint system helps. And if you are cautious about your privacy while working, there’s the ThinkShutter system that allows the user to slide over a manual shutter over the webcam when it’s not required.
Battery life: Simply stellar
The ThinkPad T490 comes with a 50Whr battery and Lenovo claims a battery life of 16 hours on a single charge. In my usage that involved regular typing, web browsing and dealing with thumb drives, the T490 managed to last my entire workday without needing a refill. In hours, you can count it as close to 12 hours at a stretch.
Most businessmen/women will find this helpful. And what’s more helpful is that with a 65W rapid charger, businessmen and businesswomen won’t find themselves tethered toa all socket for long.
The ThinkPad T490 is the only model in the Thinkpad series that offers the essential computing experience without the bells and whistles. And for what it promises, it manages to fulfil it easily. The T490 is a great computer to work on, especially with is stellar keyboard and trackpad, a reliable battery life, a good display and, a tank-like build quality. Surely, At Rs 1 lakh, you can find slimmer ultrabooks with more features and interesting designs. However, after using a couple of ultrabooks for work, I can say that no laptop comes close to the comfort, versatility and reliability a ThinkPad offers. And the new T490 is the best proof of that. It’s a smartly designed laptop for the smarter breed of intellectuals.
Lenovo ThinkPad T490 review
- Tough build
- Great battery life
- Average performance
- Matte finish gathers smudges