Unlike IBM, Lenovo hasn't been afraid to tinker with and otherwise modernize the ThinkPad formula. As The Verge Reports, the company is about to take another step away from tradition with a new ultrabook: the ThinkPad T431s, which is due out next month with a $949 starting price.
The T431s looks unmistakeably like a member of the ThinkPad lineup, and yet it's distinct from previous models. There are no hardware buttons for either the trackpad or the red TrackPoint nub, and the classic ThinkPad latch has been decommissioned in favor of a "latch-less lid mechanism." Lenovo has also rejiggered the keyboard (adding "media and Windows 8-specific actions"), changed the color from black to "Graphite Black" (albeit without sacrificing the classic soft-touch finish), introduced a new hinge that can open as wide as 180 degrees, and changed the orientation of the ThinkPad logo on the lid (which now looks the right way up when the system is open).
You can see more pictures of the ThinkPad T431s here in The Verge's gallery.
Design tweaks aside, the ThinkPad T431s doesn't seem to break the mold very much. It weighs 3.6 lbs, measures 0.8" in thickness, and features a 14" display with a 1600x900 resolution and a matte finish. The default config includes a 1.8GHz Core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 320GB mechanical hard drive. (The Verge says hybrid and solid-state drives will be on offer.) Oh, and there will be an eight-hour battery. The only unusual twist is the system's connectivity, which will include Ethernet and VGA ports in addition to USB 3.0 and MiniDisplayPort.
The ThinkPad T431s does look like an interesting compromise between the slick, bare design of ultrabooks and the old-school ThinkPad look. It's only too bad the default build has a mechanical hard drive. For almost a thousand bucks, I'd expect solid-state storage to be standard. A display resolution denser than 1600x900 would be nice, as well.