At first glance, the Lenovo T470 looks like another T-series laptop of indeterminate age. It has the same flat black skin with few features beyond the ThinkPad logo and an array of ports along each side.
On closer inspection, however, the latest in the ThinkPad line is thinner than before. Pick it up and you’ll find it’s lighter. But open the top of this laptop and you’re greeted by the legendary ThinkPad keyboard, complete with the red eraser tip trackpoint button as well as the touchpad along the front of the keyboard.
Turn on the T470 and it boots instantly giving you the choice between using the fingerprint reader to the right of the keyboard, entering a PIN or a password.
This computer ships with Microsoft Windows 10 Pro Signature Edition, meaning that Lenovo hasn’t burdened this computer with any of the bloatware that continues to accompany laptops from other makers. Depending on your choice of options, the full HD screen may be touch sensitive.
The keyboard continues Lenovo’s practice of excellent typeability. According to the company, this is because the keys have an island style design with a scissor lift key mechanism. Regardless of how they do it, Lenovo once again has the best keyboard of any laptop I’ve tested since the last time I tested a T-series ThinkPad.
Touch-typing is easy because the keys fall naturally to hand. They have a positive feedback when you type and the keyboard is large enough that adjustments to your typing style aren’t required.
Unlike many business laptops, the T470 is available from Lenovo nearly any way you want it. The Lenovo’s sales website will allow you to select either Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, memory ranging from 4GB to 32GB and storage ranging from a 500 GB hard disk to a wide selection of solid state disks, with capacities ranging from 128 GB to 1 Terabyte. A minimally-configured T470 starts at $881.10 and a model with high-end options can exceed $2,000.
The tested unit was configured with an Intel Core i7 7600U processor, 16 GB of memory, a Terabyte of storage and a full HD touchscreen. Above the screen is a 720P camera. Lenovo places the optional fingerprint reader to the right of the keyboard, but unlike earlier versions, this reader is improved and reads your finger quickly. The fingerprint data is stored in a secure location in the reader itself.
The unit I tested was equipped with two three-cell Lithium Ion batteries that will keep the laptop running for nearly 14 hours, however you can get larger batteries that will allow the laptop to run for up to 27 hours.
The T470 includes a feature called Power Bridge, which charges the internal battery first and then charges the battery attached to the lower rear. Discharge starts with that rear battery, but when that battery is exhausted, the computer switches to the internal battery, allowing you to hot swap batteries.
Lenovo calls the T470 an ultrabook, which it is, even though it’s somewhat thicker than some other ultrabooks at 0.79 inches. The computer weighs just under 3.5 pounds with the standard battery. The 14-inch screen means that the device is slightly over 13 inches wide and slightly over 9 inches deep.
Because the T470 is somewhat thicker than most ultrabooks, there’s room for a collection of real ports along the sides without requiring dongles. For example, there’s a full-sized Ethernet port on the right side, along with two USB 3.0 ports, a full size HDMI port, a four-way SD card reader along with a headphone jack and an attachment for a security cable.
On the left side of the machine are another USB 3.0 port, a USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 port along with the DC power connector. You can power this computer with either the standard power supply or through the USB Type C port. There’s also space for an optional smart card reader.
The T470 maintains the T-series tradition of ruggedness with a magnesium alloy top cover and a glass fiber reinforced bottom cover. The computer meets or exceeds the military’s MIL-STD 810G including 12 mil-spec certifications for vibration, shock, sand and temperature.
The most important test for most users is how the T470 feels to use on a daily basis. This laptop is a delight to use. The excellent keyboard goes a long way in making it pleasant, but so does the extremely fast operation, the clear screen, and the thoughtful design of the computer. There are no awkward key placements. The touch screen is highly responsive without being twitchy. The embedded pointing devices work well and are responsive.
The slightly thicker profile of the T470 actually improves the typing, allowing your hands to reach the keys at a natural angle and the area in front of the keyboard works as a palm rest.
Your IT service team will appreciate the new design of the ThinkPad chassis, which provides improved accessibility, easier servicing and a much less complex procedure for removing the keyboard to access the components beneath it.
The T470 is by far the best business laptop that I’ve looked at over the past year. While it may not be as sexy as the ultra-thin ThinkPad X1 Yoga or the recently tested Toshiba Portégé X20W-D it’s far more practical for everyday use, and for travel.