Lenovo W550s Design and Layout
There are few notebooks for which a sturdy, well-designed keyboard doesn’t matter, but they’re especially important for business laptops like the ThinkPad W550s. A complete number pad sits next to the QWERTY section and all of the keys are large and sturdy, with decent resistance. It has large Backspace and Delete keys. The white backlighting is sharp and also easy to toggle off to conserve battery power.
The fingerprint reader sits off to the side of the touchpad, well out of the way. Speaking of the touchpad, it’s a welcome upgrade from the one in the older W540 that we looked at awhile back. We have no complaints about the sensitivity of the touchpad, even at the corners, and it has three discrete mouse buttons that are easy to reach and press. It’s worth noting that the buttons are at the top of the touchpad, which won’t surprise veteran ThinkPad users who are accustomed to the TrackPoint button that sits in the middle of the keyboard. As precise as this new touchpad is, we always like having the TrackPoint around as well for nitty-gritty mouse work.
When it comes to ports and connectivity, the ThinkPad W550s is reasonably well-equipped, especially considering its size. It has a Gigabit Ethernet port and Bluetooth and Wireless-AC comes courtesy of Intel’s Dual-Band Wireless-AC 7265 adapter. The system also supports a SIM card for additional connectivity.
Interestingly, the extended battery is barely noticeable. It has rubber feet on it to keep the notebook in place and it lifts the back end of the W550s just a bit, which tilts the keyboard just like a keyboard stand would. Most importantly, it doesn’t change the rectangular shape of the notebooks, meaning that it should fit fine in any standard laptop bag designed for a 15-inch device.
Durability is a hallmark of the ThinkPad line and the W550s certainly comes off as being tough enough for heavy travel. The MIL-spec chassis features carbon fiber-reinforced plastic and the notebook has very little give to it. Holding the notebook by a corner (to show the screen to others) didn’t result in any flexing and was surprisingly easy to do, considering that it’s wide enough to house that big keyboard. As for that keyboard, it’s spill-resistant too.