In a nutshell, the Lenovo ThinkPad T420s is a powerful business portable that's a pleasure to use, but not exactly a looker. With its contourless, black plastic body and sharp edges, it looks like it has climbed straight out of the 90s.
Open it up and things improve. The inside is still black, but there's a large keyboard, a host of function buttons which adorn the top, and a large textured track pad. The focus is on usability, so the mouse pad has two sets of buttons, two above and two below. It's also light at 1.8kg.
The keyboard is extremely comfortable to use. It's easy to really get to grips with and we were firing out long documents without mistakes after a few hours. The cushioning on the keys is incredible, and it feels the closest to a proper keyboard we've seen on a laptop.
The track pad feels natural to use, and we reserve special praise for Lenovo for keeping the mouse buttons basic and functional. The screen is a matte-finished 1,600 x 900 panel, which is packed into the 14-inch frame. It's a great non-reflective panel that's ideal for working outside and in direct sunshine. What's more, it's really sharp, if a little pale, so you can still enjoy a movie on long business trips, even if it's not a great media laptop for the home.
Feel the power
Inside the Lenovo ThinkPad 420s is plenty of power, which makes this a business laptop suited to people who need real grunt for demanding applications. The Intel Core i7 2640M is clocked at a whopping 2.8GHz, making it one of the most powerful processors in Intel's Sandy Bridge line-up.
In our lab tests, the T420s flew, topping out with a score of 11700, which is nearing gaming PC performance. This means you can run the most demanding programs, multitask demanding applications, while simultaneously surfing the web and transferring large files. If you're the kind of person whose toolbar is packed with tabs, you need this level of computing power.
Elsewhere, the T420s has 4GB of RAM, which is standard for modern laptops, and a 160GB SSD drive. SSD drives help the system feel responsive, start faster and are less prone to failures, which can be devastating. Normally these drives come in 120GB iterations, so it's great to see a bigger 160GB drive, which means you'll have more space for apps and files.
Battery life: 125 minutes
3DMark 2006: 3800
Despite all the praise, it's not all good for the Lenovo. There's a definite heat issue and battery life is also disappointing - you'd be lucky to get three hours office use away from the mains.
The final issue is the price: just over £1,500 is a serious outlay. While you do get top quality, you can get more for less. If you need a good business laptop, features such as encryption, fingerprint scanner and added security levels make it worth it. But if you're just looking for a powerful home laptop, the Asus X54E will serve you much better.