At CES 2022, The newly announced ThinkPad Z Series is one of the most exciting ThinkPad evolution to date. With two new laptops, Lenovo is addressing a particular market at the high-end where excellent functionality and performance comes with sustainability and design.
The sustainability aspect might target new corporate policies promoted worldwide by investors and board members. It’s a pretty good idea to have products that address such requirements as they might be a sway factor, everything else being equal.
This ThinkPad Z-Series will feature two display sizes: 13 and 16 inches, called ThinkPad Z13 and ThinkPad Z16, respectively.
Lenovo offers different materials and colors, including dark (vegan) leather and silver (recycled) aluminum options. Building with sustainable materials is excellent, but Lenovo also ships these computers in recyclable packaging, including some bamboo-based packaging that is compostable, which is even better than just recyclable.
Upon opening the laptop, it’s apparent that the display has a high screen-to-body ratio (92.3% according to Lenovo), which is another way to talk about skinny bezels. This ratio is made possible by moving the webcam hardware into an independent module, which frees up space within the bezel.
That’s a good idea. Other OEMs tried moving the webcam to the display’s bottom, but that’s not a great vantage point to film the user. And since the webcam module allows for more space, Lenovo has upgraded its camera hardware with a seemingly much better sensor and lens. We’re curious to see the new imaging capabilities in action.
On the Z13, the full-size keyboard goes edge-to-edge, and you can see how compact the laptop’s width is. The full-width glass palm rest is new for Lenovo, with a 120mm trackpad. If you’ve followed our Lenovo laptop reviews, you know that this is a significant size increase, although Lenovo has slowly inflated trackpad size in recent generations.
The upper area of the trackpad also serves as TrackPoint buttons, so all the typical ThinkPad input functionality is intact. A double-tap on the TrackPoint now opens a collaboration menu, and this is new.
The Z16 version has much more space around the keyboard, which seems to be used for the superior speaker system. Because of this, I expect the ThinkPad Z16 to feature significantly better audio output, but we’ll see when we can take them for a spin.
Inside, both laptops are powered by AMD Ryzen processors. The ThinkPad Z13 has a Ryzen PRO U-Series and its integrated GPU, and it’s a unique CPU SKU that AMD makes for Lenovo, with slightly higher performance than normal. The ThinkPad Z16 can be configured with optional discrete AMD Radeon GPU alongside its Ryzen PRO H-Series, so that’s the one to get if you need serious graphics muscle.
AMD’s CPU will also include a security unit compatible with Microsoft’s Pluto architecture which is designed to move some security layer inside the CPU. Pluto makes things even more secure as some data could previously be attacked in-between the CPU and the motherboard chipset during transit.
All Windows-compatible CPU makers (AMD, Intel, Qualcomm) will have Pluto-compatible hardware, but it’s an exciting security improvement nonetheless.
Overall, the new ThinkPad Z seems like a great addition to the ThinkPad family and goes after the high-end corporate “thin&light + design” laptop market with a very healthy competition (XPS 13, HP Spectre, Huawei Matebook, etc.). the Z Series could help Lenovo gain more share in a hotly contested area if successful, as I don’t think other OEMs have pushed sustainability as far.