ThinkPad T440s review

With this ultrabook, endurance comes at a price

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The ThinkPad T440s offers everything you would and should expect from a 14-inch business laptop – almost. Lenovo seems to have drawn a line in the sand on what matters most to business users, eschewing a dedicated GPU for better battery life. But was that the right line to draw?

Measuring 13.03 x 8.89 x 0.80 (1.23 with 6-cell battery) inches (W x D x H) and weighing 3.9 pounds (4.2 pounds with 6-cell), the T440s may be thin, but it's not that light in comparison. The HP ZBook 14 comes in at 13.35 x 9.33 x 0.83 inches and 3.57 pounds, while the 13-inch MacBook Air remains king at 12.8 x 8.94 x 0.68 inches and 2.96 pounds.

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s review

You couldn't fit much more on this side

So, does this notebook use its density to the best effect? Not really, considering the touchscreen alone adds nearly half a pound to the ultrabook's total weight. (Non-touch models start at 3.5 pounds.) And with the added 6-cell battery, this isn't even an ultrabook anymore. In this case, I wouldn't hesitate trading a touchscreen for a discrete GPU. Let's see what else Lenovo packed into this T440s, and for how much.

Spec sheet

This is the ThinkPad T440s configuration sent to TechRadar:

  • CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U (dual-core, 3MB cache)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • RAM: 4GB DDR3L
  • Screen: 14-inch 1920 x 1080 FHD with 10-point multi-touch
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Ports: 3 USB 3.0 (one with charging), VGA, mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, 4-in-1 card reader, SIM card reader, Smart Card slot, headphone/mic jack
  • Connectivity: Intel dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Webcam: 720p front-facing camera
  • Weight: 3.9 - 4.2 pounds
  • Size: 12.46 x 8.7 x 0.80 - 1.23 inches

The grand total for this configuration? $1,543 (about £935, AU$1,759) after a web coupon on Lenovo's website. Before that price scares you away too quickly, keep mind that a majority of these components come standard. Every T440s model within this SKU, titled the "ThinkPad T440s Touchscreen Ultrabook," start with the Core i5 chip, 1080p panel and fingerprint reader. Unsurprisingly, it's the solid-state drive that drives up the price from $1,363 (around £829, AU$1,558) after the coupon. Plus, this model comes packing Windows 8 Pro, which costs an additional $50.

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s review

What, couldn't squeeze a PS/2 port in there?

This asking price falls somewhere in the middle value-wise, considering a similarly-configured HP ZBook 14 would run you about $2,247 (about £1,363, AU$2,562). (However, HP's offering has a dedicated GPU in all configurations.) That said, you could grab a 13-inch MacBook Air with a faster 1.7GHz Intel Core i7 CPU, double the RAM and twice as much storage in its SSD for just another six bucks.

Keep in mind, though, that the ZBook 14 holds a larger selection of ports, easy access to its insides and the almighty dedicated graphics processor above the T440s. Inversely, the MacBook Air simply cannot compete in terms of ports and other hardware features, not to mention display sharpness.

Lenovo ThinkPad T440s review

That's your standard-issue fingerprint reader

A ThinkPad T440s upgraded to the nines would cost you a cool $2,049 (around £1,242, AU$2,332). That would get you a 2.1GHz Intel Core i7 4600U chip, 12GB of RAM and a 240GB SSD. Sure, that puts this laptop more in line with the maxed out ZBook 14, but still falls short without that discrete GPU.

At this point, your decision boils down to what matters most to you as a business user: raw power and options or longevity, portability and a penchant for design. The T440s falls somewhere in the middle between these two ideologies, excelling at neither.

Lenovo's notebook offers quite a bit in terms of connectivity and hardware features, but falls short in power. On the other hand, this ultrabook offers battery life unmatched by most competing ultrabooks, but loses its ultrabook status in the process. But a laptop is more than just a sum of its parts; it's about the experience.