25 years ago today, IBM released its first-ever ThinkPad, the ThinkPad 700C. And now, Lenovo is celebrating this anniversary with its ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25, a throwback of sorts to the full-sized laptops that catapulted this brand to fame and fortune.
Lenovo is celebrating this anniversary at a special event near Tokyo, Japan, at the labs at which the first ThinkPad was designed. I was invited to attend the celebration—had, in fact, accepted the invitation and booked my travel—but as you may have noticed, I got rather sick while in Orlando for Ignite and ended up canceling on the eve of the trip. So I guess I’ll celebrate this anniversary remotely.
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As you may know, I’ve been reviewing PCs, laptops in particular, since 2000, when I began a “laptop of the month” segment for what was then called Windows 2000 Magazine. Since that year, IBM’s—and then Lenovo’s—ThinkPad lineup has factored heavily into my coverage, and if there’s been one constant over these past 17 years from a PC hardware perspective, it is the unwavering and ongoing quality and value of ThinkPad.
During this time period, Lenovo has taken the “thin and light” mantra to new heights, first with its T-series ThinkPads, which eventually split into S (for slim) and non-S variants, and then with its X-series devices. In more recent years, Lenovo has championed the X1 Carbon—first, as a single Ultrabook model and then, even more recently, as a family of devices—as the pinnacle of its premium PC lineup.
So I’ve focused largely on the X1 Carbon series in nearly three years at Thurrott.com. But the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 is no X1 Carbon. In fact, it’s based on the more traditional T470s laptop lineup. I reviewed its predecessor, the ThinkPad T460s, back in early 2016.
Internally and externally, we see some fairly standard components for a mainstream business-class laptop: It packs a 7th generation Intel Core i7-7500U processor, 16 GB of DDR4-2400 RAM, and 512 GB of NVMe-based SSD storage on the inside. Connectivity is provided by Intel dual-band Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.1.
The display is a Full HD 14-inch multi-touch unit, and there is no concession to the modern need for a bezel-less design. This is a pure laptop, with a full inch of unused real estate on either side of the keyboard, and about half an inch of bezel around the display.
The port selection is as excellent as you’d imagine: 3 (three!) full-sized USB 3.0 ports, one USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port, a full-sized HDMI port, a full-sized gigabit Ethernet port, a combo mic/headphone jack, and, somewhat humorously, a 4-in-1 media card reader and a smart card reader. What, no VGA?
The ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 is a laptop, not an Ultrabook: It weighs 3.7 pounds and is almost 20 mm thick. Both of these numbers are about double the typical Ultrabook today.
So what differentiates the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 from its more contemporary siblings? A number of things.
First, it ships in commemorative packaging that highlights the anniversary. That packaging was inspired by a Japanese Bento box, so it has a kind of delightful opening sequence that reveals the device.
Plus, there’s a nice book describing ThinkPad’s history and a selection of three TrackPoint caps.
The device is a wonderful throwback, with rainbow-colored ThinkPad logos on the lid and wrist rest. The arrow keys are bordered by a throwback, sculpted cutout designed to mimic fingers.
And unlike modern ThinkPad T-series laptops, the Anniversary Edition 25 marks a temporary return to both the old-style full-sized ThinkPad keys and the classic 7-row keyboard design with its iconic blue Enter key, round green-lit power button, and oversized Esc key.
There are even dedicated (non-Fn) volume buttons.
That said, the pointing devices are all modern: In addition to the classic ThinkPad TrackPoint nubbin, we see a modern glass touchpad that’s driven by Microsoft’s Precision Touchpad technologies, just like other 2017-era ThinkPads. There’s also a modern and lightning-quick ThinkPad match-in-sensor fingerprint reader to the right of the keyboard.
Underneath, you’ll find a removable battery—oh, the memories—and an old-school ThinkPad-style dock connector. That removable battery augments a built-in and non-removable battery, and they together deliver 13.9 hours of (rated) battery life. Bigger external batteries can provide up to a combined 27 hours.
Power is driven by the ThinkPad OneLink port, not USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 as with more modern devices.
Also, the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 ships with Windows 10 Pro, as it should, and as a Signature Edition PC, it is not loaded down with crapware: Only Lenovo’s useful and excellent Companion and Settings apps are included. That’s one bit of throwback we don’t need, so it’s nice to see Lenovo doing the right thing.
Lenovo, thanks for the memories. And for the reminder that, the more things change, the more than enduring quality and value matter. The ThinkPad lineup has always held a special place in our industry, and the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 is a wonderful reminder of why. Even today, this design is viable, desirable, and productive.
Happy anniversary, ThinkPad.