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Lenovo ThinkPad T520i review

Verdict

A typical ThinkPad: well built, with excellent design and a fair price, even if the internals aren’t quite so impressive

Review Date: 18 Aug 2011

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: £680 (£816 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

When most people think of business laptops they invariably think of ThinkPads, as few brands are as consistently reliable as Lenovo’s flagship. The ThinkPad T series is often the best of the lot, and the T520i effortlessly continues that fine tradition.

It’s a traditional 15.6in laptop, and it bears so many of the hallmarks that make the brand so popular: the curved protective lip on the lid and base, the red trackpoint partnered by a trio of dedicated buttons beneath the keyboard, and that instantly recognisable logo in the corner of the wristrest.

Lenovo ThinkPad T520i

It’s classic rather than stylish – especially compared to the A-Listed Sony VAIO S – but the ThinkPad outstrips the dearer Sony when it comes to build quality. That’s in part due to its larger dimensions, as a 15in, 2.9kg laptop is easier to make sturdy than one at 13.3in and 1.69kg. But the construction is excellent throughout: there’s hardly any give in the wristrest and base, and the lid is strong, requiring a hefty prod to produce any show-through on the display.

Lenovo ThinkPad T520i

Lenovo has stuck with a traditional keyboard layout rather than following the current trend for Scrabble-tile keys, and as such it offers a deep, comfortable and responsive typing action. The left-hand side of the keyboard suffers from a slightly bouncy base, but the right side is rock-solid, and we didn’t notice the difference in general use. The trackpad, meanwhile, is modestly sized but paired with clicky, comfortable buttons.

As with the Sony, the T520i’s screen has a matte finish to suit the bright lighting of an office, but the quality is merely reasonable. Its measured maximum brightness of 219cd/m2 and contrast ratio of 217:1 are both disappointing, and a decent average Delta E measurement of 6 isn’t enough to prevent the Lenovo from looking pretty pallid and muted on the whole. The native resolution of 1,366 x 768 is also disappointing for a 15.6in laptop. In the Lenovo’s defence, the screen is also the Sony VAIO S’s weakest point, and since neither is meant for entertainment, it isn’t a deal-breaker.

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User comments

High res screen for entertainment only?

Why have you recommended a business laptop at a business price that can't run mainstream applications such as Word and Excel properly? On an £300 machine this could be excused, but at £800 you have to question where the money went. Compare this with a MacBook Air 11" at near enough the same price and a higher spec.

Dell charge £41 for the screen upgrade, and Apple reserve this resolution for 11" screens.

Come on guys. Would you really want to use this yourself? If not why recommend it?

By tirons1 on 18 Aug 2011

Buy it in the states for $800

Just look at Lenovo's US website, to get confirmation this is a rip off.
There an i5 with 4GB RAM, HD+ screen and Nvida graphics costs £650 plus VAT, and this basic model is £480 plus VAT.

By tirons1 on 18 Aug 2011

It can't run Office 'properly'? Do behave

perhaps you could backup that ridiculous assertion, tirons1.

In what way can it not "mainstream applications such as Word and Excel properly"?

By alan_lj on 18 Aug 2011

@alan_lj

Try opening a spreadsheet, and see how many rows you can see. It won't be many once the ribbon has taken up the top part of the screen.

Perhaps you could try word, again you can either see a significant portion of the page, but everything is too small to edit, or you can just see one paragraph.

Yes it is possible to struggle on with such a small view of the document, but this is an £800+ business laptop not a netbook.

This is also the reason virtually no £800 laptop buyer has a basic 15" monitors on their desktop. It simply is not productive to only see a tiny bit of a document.

My company buys HP, and despite paying less we get high resolution screens.

By tirons1 on 18 Aug 2011

@ tirons1

The US prices may look tempting, but, they don't include tax & shipping. Furthermore, the US counterparts are only offered with 1 year warranty

By Duggie on 18 Aug 2011

@Duggie

I did list the US prices as plus VAT. Given the laptops are made in China shipping to the local reseller should be the same for the UK and US.

Your point about the warranty is valid, but it still looks like another case of rip off Britain.

By tirons1 on 18 Aug 2011

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