It's CES, which means if a company is going to show up, it may as well go all out with the product announcements. Lenovo, for its part, is getting a head start. The show doesn't actually kick off for another two days, but the company has already unveiled a slew of desktops, laptops and Ultrabooks (and one travel monitor, to boot). Now it's rounding things out by introducing a couple notebooks for its small business customers. These include the ThinkPad Edge E431 and E531, both mainstream laptops with optical drives and optional touchscreens.
More important than speeds and feeds, though, the company is ushering in a redesigned trackpad, one that gets rid of those secondary buttons meant to be used with the TrackPoint. (They're now built into the touchpad, clickpad-style.) Eventually this will become the standard across all ThinkPads -- a move that will probably cheese off ThinkPad diehards, but please newcomers who'd rather have a larger touchpad. Additionally, the company unveiled a proprietary new charging standard called OneLink, which uses a single cable for charging, video and data. To go with it, Lenovo also unveiled the OneLink dock, a peripheral with four USB ports, HDMI and an Ethernet jack. Lenovo says OneLink will also become standard for the ThinkPad line, so we're guessing more accessories like this aren't far off.
Other than the difference in screen size (14 and 15 inches, respectively) the specs on those two laptops are largely the same: up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, eight hours of battery life and a Core i7 option at the high end. The screen resolution tops out at 1,600 x 900, and if you get the 14-inch version, you can choose between a glossy or matte finish (the 15-incher is matte only). They'll also be offered with a 1GB or 2GB NVIDIA GPU, though Lenovo hasn't said which one. As for the dock, it sports USB, Ethernet, HDMI, VGA and audio inputs. It also sounds like it's just the first in a series of OneLink accessories, so look out for more news on that front. For now, though, this first batch of products is scheduled to ship in May, with the laptops starting at $539 and the dock priced at $99. For now, check out some hands-on photos after the break along with a quick video highlighting the new trackpad and charging port.
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Lenovo ThinkPad E531 and OneLink Docking Station hands-on