This story is part of CES, where CNET covers the latest news on the most incredible tech coming soon.
The ThinkPad business laptop line turns 30 this year and while ThinkPads aren’t quite the black boxy laptops they were decades ago, most don’t look strikingly different either. The new ThinkPad Z series, announced Tuesday at CES 2022, shakes things up with a new design made from sustainable materials and powered by AMD’s Ryzen Pro 6000 U- and H-series processors.
The 13.3-inch ThinkPad Z13 and 16-inch Z16 have the highest screen-to-body ratio of any ThinkPad, which translates to ultrathin display bezels and trimmed chassis. Like most new business laptops, these ThinkPads have 16:10 aspect ratios giving you that extra bit of vertical workspace to keep scrolling to a minimum.
The Z13 will be available with a 2.8K OLED touchscreen while the Z16 will have a 4K OLED touchscreen option. Above the displays is a new Communications Bar, which is a fancy way of saying it has a full-HD webcam with larger pixels for better low-light performance, an IR camera for facial recognition and dual-array microphones. The laptops will also have an electronic privacy shutter to block the camera when not in use.
Moving away from the basic solid black or gray body colors of other ThinkPads, the Z-series models are made from recycled aluminum in gray or black with bronze or gray accents or even recycled black vegan leather on the lid. And like other ThinkPads, these are tested to mil-spec durability standards. Lenovo also used 100% recyclable packaging from bamboo and sugarcane and the included power adapters are made from 90% post-consumer material.
Along with the edge-to-edge backlit keyboard, Lenovo used a larger 120mm glass haptic ForcePad that’s part of the all-glass palm rest for a seamless look and feel. The red TrackPoint in the keyboard also gets some new functionality: Double tapping it launches a settings menu for the camera and microphones. That’s a nice extra for people like me who don’t regularly use it.
Inside the Z13 you’ll get an AMD Ryzen Pro 6000 U-series processor including an optional exclusive Ryzen 7 Pro chip that’s optimized for audio and video performance with improved battery life for apps such as Teams and Zoom. With the Z16, you’ll get a more powerful Ryzen Pro H-series processor with the option for AMD discrete graphics.
The AMD Pro processors have a Microsoft Pluton security chip embedded in them for chip-to-cloud protection for your data and identity. Based on the security architecture used in the Xbox One game console, Pluton adds better protection against physical attacks as well as firmware attacks as it gets regular firmware updates as part of Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday updates.
Both models support up to 32GB LPDDR5 memory and up to 1TB PCIe NVMe Gen 4 SSD storage in the Z13 or 2TB in the Z16. Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2 and optional 4G LTE mobile wireless are also onboard.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 is expected to start at $1,549, which converts to roughly £1,150 or AU$2,150. The Z16 is set to start at $2,099. Before you get too excited about running out to get one, Lenovo said they won’t be available until May.