Lenovo’s New Vegan Leather ThinkPad Is a Shocking Departure

Lenovo’s New Vegan Leather ThinkPad Is a Shocking Departure
Photo: Lenovo

Lenovo’s ThinkPads are beloved among business users who value clicky keyboards, red rubber nubs, and durable chassis, but at CES 2022, the series is taking a turn with the launch of the company’s ThinkPad Z-series laptops.

Lenovo’s new ThinkPad Z13 and Z16 are all about modernising the business laptop by using unique materials and colours with a focus on sustainability. It’s why these are made of recycled aluminium and recycled vegan leather and packaged in 100% compostable bamboo and sugarcane.

Image: Lenovo Image: Lenovo

Lenovo also talks about bringing fresh new colours to its ThinkPads, but to me, the Bronze and Arctic Grey available on the ThinkPad Z13 and ThinkPad Z16 don’t stand out much. I’d personally go with the more interesting black vegan leather option on the off chance that somebody might actually want to strike up a conversation with me.

Image: Lenovo Image: Lenovo

I haven’t seen the Z13 and Z16 in person, but what’s clear from press materials is that the duo shares genes with Lenovo’s Yoga series, particularly the Yoga 9i, which also has a webcam notch, brushed edges, and can be outfitted with a vegan leather lid. Yes, there is a notch, and on these business models, Lenovo calls it the Communications Bar because it houses a 1080p webcam with a 1.4μm sensor and dual-array microphones. I don’t want to get too hopeful, but it sounds like you might not look like a grainy blob when taking Zoom calls on this laptop.

On the deck is a larger 4.7-inch haptic touchpad centered on all-glass palm rest instead of the soft-touch you might associate with a ThinkPad. Don’t worry, though, the invincible red rubber TrackPoint nub is still around and can now be double-tapped to quickly access mute and camera on/off settings.

Also making the Z-series feel more like a consumer line are these laptops’ lack of ports. On the Z16 are three USB Type-C ports, an SD card reader, and a headphone jack. The 13-inch model ditches the card reader and drops one of the Type-C ports. And that’s it: no USB Type-A or HDMI. Clearly, the priority was keeping these notebooks thin and lightweight; the Z16 comes in at 13.95 x 9.3 x 0.62 inches and 2 kg while the Z13 is only 0.55 inches thick and weighs 1 kg.

Image: Lenovo Image: Lenovo

On to the display. The Z13 flaunts a 13-inch, 1920 x 1200 (16:10) IPS touchscreen maxing out at 400 nits of brightness, though the best picture quality comes from the 2.8K OLED display option. The Z16 upgrades you to a 16-inch, 4K OLED panel.

Both laptops are powered by “next-gen” Ryzen Pro 6000 chips, with the 13-inch model sporting low-power U-series processors and the 16-inch version more powerful H-series processors. Lenovo didn’t specify which SKUs but we’ll update this article with specifics once the dust settles on CES 2022. Interestingly, Lenovo says there will be an optional “exclusive” Ryzen 7 Pro chip option for the Z13. Paired with these chips is Microsoft’s Pluton Security Processor, the replacement to TPM 2.0.

Image: Lenovo Image: Lenovo

Not only will the Z16 benefit from a higher-powered CPU, but there will be discrete graphics options as well — but again, we don’t have specifics. As for the other components, the Z-series computers can be equipped with up to 32GB of DDR5 RAM and up to 2TB of PCIe Gen 4 SSD on the ThinkPad Z16 or 1TB on the Z13.

Lenovo didn’t provide battery estimates, only telling us the ThinkPad Z13 has a 50Whr cell whereas the Z16 relies on a 70Whr battery. We’ll find out soon enough, though; the ThinkPad Z13 and Z16 will launch in May starting at $US1,549 ($2,138) and $US2,099 ($2,897), respectively.