The ThinkPad brand of laptops has long stood among the cream of the crop for Windows machines, with the W Series becoming the go-to workstation for many a road warrior these past few years. The newest iteration in the series is the ThinkPad W540, but instead of moving the line forward, the W540 stumbles in some key areas.
On the outside, Laptop Magazine says the ThinkPad W540 is "made more for function than form," with "a durable glass-fiber reinforced plastic material on the outside and magnesium roll cage on the inside to guard against drops." Notebookcheck notes it leaves a "sturdy impression in general," despite "the typical weak spots" and "some quiet creaking sounds from the palm rest." However, they also note that "one advantage of the case construction is the low weight," which Laptop Magazine says makes it "easy to carry under my shoulder because its weight feels evenly distributed."
However, open the W540's lid and you'll find its strengths aren't as evenly distributed, with some features succeeding while others merely disappoint. You can chalk up one in the "win" column with the display, which features "vivid colors with outstanding image quality" and TweakTown calls it "simply gorgeous." It's no slouch in the performance department either, with a "good score" that TweakTown says proves "that even in a mobile workstation, you can pack serious CPU power."
Unfortunately, when you turn your attention to the input half of the machine, the W540's frustrations are laid bare. At least typing on the keyboard is nice, with TweakTown liking its "good tactile feel," while Laptop Magazine even went so far as to call it "the best of the best." The feel of the touchpad is a completely different story. TweakTown finds it "a little clunky" and Notebookcheck says it "quickly results in frustration because the lower corners do not accept clicks or inputs, respectively." While they note it "requires a lot of patience to use," the frustration it causes is more evident in user reviews, with jxf noting the W540's touchpad is "incredibly finicky, doesn't always recognize right-clicks, and is hard to make precision movements with." Additionally, the "off-center keyboard makes it painful to use for long periods, because you'll have to angle your hands to the left to use the keyboard correctly." Overall, jxf says you'll "feel like you've suddenly become far less productive."
With a gorgeous screen and solid build, the W540 still has a lot of offer road warriors. They just need to be very patient road warriors willing to make a few compromises -- like buying a portable mouse.
How It Stacks Up
Yoga 3 Pro
MacBook (early 2015)
XPS 13 (2015)
Series 7 Chronos (2013)
Lenovo's convertible Chromebook is built with Android apps in mind
The Flex 11 Chromebook packs a phone processor and touch at a low price.
The next Moto Z Force will revive the headphone jack
Lenovo is reversing the trend of ditching old-school audio ports.