With its entry-level ThinkPad E14 Gen 2, Lenovo is offering customers ThinkPad quality for well under $1000. Will the value outweigh the compromises?
My guess is that it will, based on the build quality and the nice selection of ports and other features. The only major downside, at least up front, is the weight: pulling the E14 Gen 2 out of its box, I was struck by its heaviness. As it turns out, it weighs about 3.5 pounds, which doesn’t seem all that terrible for a 14-inch laptop. But it feels denser than that, if that makes sense. The weight is noticeable.
The other minor issue, and this is less problematic in the E14 Gen 2’s price class, is its 16:9 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) display, with enormous top and bottom bezels. More premium laptops are moving to 16:10 or even 3:2 display panels these days, and either would fill the laptop’s display lid with more screen.
Beyond that, there’s a lot to like. The ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 provides the top-flight build quality one would expect from this brand, with a professional black anodized aluminum form factor instead of the carbon fiber/magnesium blend of more premium models.
It features the vaunted ThinkPad full-sized keyboard and dual-pointing system, and there’s an optional fingerprint reader integrated into the round power button to the upper-right of that keyboard.
The webcam is just 720p, but Windows Hello facial recognition is available as an option too.
The innards are modern enough, with your choice of 11th-generation Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processors, Intel UHD (Core i3) or Iris Xe Graphics, up to 32 GB of DDR4 RAM, and up to two 1 TB PCIe-based SSDs. The review unit provides an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of storage; I would have upgraded the RAM to 16 GB were I spending my own money.
Port selection is decent, too, with a single USB4/Thunderbolt 4/USB-C port, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, an HDMI 1.4 port, and a combo headphone/microphone jack on the left.
Things are a bit barer on the right, where you’ll find two anomalies: an Ethernet port and a USB 2.0 Gen 1 Type-A port. There’s also a Kensington lock slot. But a second USB4/Thunderbolt 4/USB-C port would be nice.
Connectivity follows a similar path, with Intel Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. There are two 2-watt speakers for sound, and there’s a manual webcam cover for privacy. Battery life is rated at 8.7 to 11.9 hours, depending on the model, and the bundled 65-watt charger provides rapid charging capabilities.
On that note, I suppose battery life could be an issue, too. But I suspect that a ThinkPad this inexpensive will target non-mobile customers. And that the battery life may be thus less of an issue. I’ll test it.
Curious about the cost, I checked out Lenovo’s website, which suggests that prices start at about $633 and can rise to the north of $1000 depending on the configuration. The review configuration, which in addition to the components above includes a few optional features, lands at about $882. (It would be about $940 for a configuration with 16 GB of RAM.) Interesting.
I’ll have more soon.