Lenovo is kicking off the new year with a new look for its ThinkPads, unveiling a new Z-series lineup. Designed to compete with the best ultrabooks, the ThinkPad Z13 and Z16, will launch in May 2022 with next-gen AMD Ryzen Pro processors, including an exclusive R7z U-series option.
The laptops look a bit different from the ThinkPads you're used to, with options for an aluminum chassis with silver accents, or a black vegan leather version (made from PET plastic) with bronze, for that mid-century modern look.
|Lenovo ThinkPad Z13||Lenovo ThinkPad Z16|
|CPU||Next-gen AMD Ryzen Pro U-series, optional R7z exclusive||Next-gen AMD Ryzen Pro H-Series|
|Graphics||AMD Radeon (integrated)||AMD Radeon (integrated), Discrete AMD graphics option|
|Display||13.3-inch, 16:10, 1920 x 1200 IPS touch or 2560 x 1600 OLED touch||16-inch, 16:10, 1920 x 1200 touch or 3840 x 2400 OLED|
|RAM||Up to 32GB LPDDR5||Up to 32GB LPDDR5|
|Storage||Up to 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD||Up to 2TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD|
|Battery||50 WHr||70 WHr|
|Networking||Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, 4G LTE||Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, 4G LTE|
|Availability||May 2022||May 2022|
|Size||11.59 x 7.86 x 0.55 inches||13.95 x 9.35 x 0.63 inches|
|Weight||2.76 pounds||4.3 pounds|
The Z13's keyboard goes edge-to-edge, while the Z16 has a bit more room on the sides for speakers. Both use a haptic touchpad and have all-glass palm rests. Both sizes also have a "communications bar” with a 1080p webcam with a larger sensor, an 87-degree field of view and dual-microphones. Unlike the notch on the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros, this juts out above the top of the screen.
ThinkPad aficionados will either be delighted or horrified (the ThinkPad fan base really cares!) that the TrackPoint will get a new feature: double tapping it will open a menu with settings for the camera and microphones.
At a Lenovo demo, we had a chance to see an early version of the control panel you get when you double tap the TrackPoint. It allows you to configure the mic, set brightness and contrast for the camera, mute and enable Microsoft dictation. We'd rather have the ability to change a setting or launch an app directly rather than bringing up a menu, but adding a new gesture to the TrackPoint seems like a nice improvement.
I'm particularly curious to see how the haptic touchpad works with the TrackPoint. Typically, people use buttons at the top of the touchpad to click while using the nub, but here they'll be expected to use the very top of the standard touch surface. The early sample we tried at Lenovo's demo suite had fairly light feedback, but a representative told us that the level of response would be configurable with software when the Z series laptops come out.
The keyboard has Lenovo's traditional snappy feedback and felt good in our limited hands-on time. It has a solid for its size 1.35mm of travel, which is slightly less than the 1.5mm on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon but the same as the ThinkPad X1 Nano.
Lenovo's collaboration with AMD means more than just the latter's silicon in the laptops. There will be an exclusive next-gen AMD Ryzen 7 Pro processor for Lenovo, and the Z16, which will use new Radeon discrete graphics, will also get AMD technologies like Smart Shift Max to boost the CPU and GPU and Smart Shift Eco to maximize battery life.
These two laptops also represent the highest screen-to-body ratios among all of Lenovo's ThinkPads. The Z16 goes up to 92.3% (with up to a 3840 x 2400 OLED screen) while the Z13 has a 91.6% screen to body ratio and up to a 2560 x 1600 OLED touch screen.
Lenovo reps said sustainability is also a key part of the ThinkPad Z's story. The chassis are made from partially recycled materials and the packaging has been redesigned to use recycled cardboard. The interior packing material, which has traditionally been some kind of foam, is now cardboard and the plastic handle for the outer box has been replaced with a paper one.
It will be a few months until we get our hands on production models of these new ThinkPads, but we hope to get to test the Z13 and Z16 when they release.