Build and Design
What can be said about a ThinkPad’s design – these notebooks have always placed function over form. ThinkPads as we know them have changed subtly but steadily from their introduction over 20 years ago. The L420 has an unassuming black plastic exterior with a matte finish. Unlike older ThinkPads the L420 does not look boxy thanks to its inward-cut sides and slightly sloped front. An interesting design feature is the speakers located in the lid below the display; most business notebooks put speakers under the palm rest or on either side of the keyboard.
|Overall build quality is excellent; despite its all-plastic exterior, the L420 feels solid. The plastic is thick and durable. The palm rest surface barely moves when pressed down upon, meaning there is excellent support underneath. The chassis hardly bends when twisted by the corners, which is another good indicator of a strong internal frame.|
|The two metal display hinges are well-positioned to support the lid; they are unmovable. Being all plastic, the display twists a bit more than I prefer; furthermore, pushing in on the back of the display causes some ripples on the screen. This should be a non-issue assuming the notebook is not thrown around. Those looking to upgrade the L420 will find easy access to the RAM, hard drive, and wireless card; simply remove the large main panel on the bottom of the notebook.|
Ports and Features
The L420 has an above average port selection for a 14-inch notebook, including DisplayPort, eSATA, and an ExpressCard/54 slot. It also has a docking station port on the bottom of the chassis. The L420 does not have USB 3.0. All picture descriptions are left to right.