Lenovo ThinkPad Edge (13-inch)

With a relatively affordable starting price and a new design, the ThinkPad Edge loosens up the ThinkPad look — but losing an optical drive keeps it a yard short of being a top-choice compact business laptop.


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Do looks matter in a budget business notebook? Budget laptops are necessary for the self-employed and those without lots of money to burn, but those same users might also be entrepreneurs who prefer affordable, nicely designed machines that do double-duty as personal laptops rather than boxy generic systems. Lenovo clearly felt the same way: the uptight ThinkPad image has been taken in a relatively bold new direction in the new Edge line.

Using AMD Neo or Intel ULV processors, these laptops add gloss and silver touches, and skip the optical drive — an increasingly common move in 13-inch laptops. The new ThinkPads even come in red — at least in the States. For the moment in Australia, we're limited to the matte black version.

Is that enough to entice someone who otherwise might lean away from the ThinkPad brand, or has Lenovo compromised its image into something stuck halfway between the consumer IdeaPad and biz ThinkPad lines?

At first glance, the 13-inch ThinkPad Edge doesn't seem so unlike a ThinkPad, save for the extremely glossy lid. The Edge has a low starting price of AU$999, although that's with an AMD Neo X2 L325 processor; the Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 config will set you back AU$1149. At the lower end of the range, the Edge could represent great value for someone looking for a thin laptop with business software built in. However, when you're getting up to AU$1149, there might be better values elsewhere, especially considering Lenovo only sells SKUs with 2GB RAM.

The Edge is compact, clean and has a battery that only protrudes slightly from the laptop's underside. Covered in glossy black plastic on the outer lid and somewhat cheap-looking silvery edges, the Edge has an appearance much closer to an IdeaPad.

The overly flat and slick lid was a little much for us, and the inner lid's over-abundance of matte plastic surrounding the 13.3-inch LED screen gave it a somewhat budget look. But the Edge is a budget machine, so we forgive it.

More impressive is the Edge's newly redesigned raised keyboard, a replacement to the venerable ThinkPad tapered keyboard. The slightly concave keys do a good job at mimicking the feel of a Lenovo traditional keyboard and prevent the slippage some raised keyboards have. The larger multi-touch touch pad also feels very comfortable, along with the ample and smooth matte-surfaced palm rest. For lovers of the old trackpoint nubbin, no worries: it's been retained. The Edge's entire lower half, including keyboard, touch pad and palm rest, is our favourite part of the new ThinkPad. It might be the most comfortable raised keyboard we've ever used, and the large pad is an excellent improvement.

We're less fond of the upper lid, which contains the screen. The screen itself, with a 1366x768-pixel resolution, is as bright and clear as other ThinkPads to our eyes. The system sound, however, is slightly soft. The Edge is designed as a business thin-and-light, and the embedded speakers don't make this ideal for media playback.

With three USB ports, an HDMI port, VGA and a memory card reader, the ports are fairly standard on the ThinkPad Edge. However, there is no optical disc drive. Though the Edge does have an ultra-low-voltage processor, it's neither truly thin nor truly light enough to merit dropping the DVD/CD burner. We wish it had been included here, or the Edge made even slimmer. It seems that many people still desire optical drives in larger laptops, and the omission here simply didn't seem necessary. Unless you're a MacBook Air, it might be better to keep the optical drive.

All variants of the ThinkPad Edge run Windows 7 Professional as opposed to the more common Home Premium. Our configuration responded snappily and performed in line with other business machines: great for everyday work, and decent for media consumption, but not ideal for any sort of gaming or video editing. Its performance fell right in the middle of equivalent SU7300 laptops, its closest performance equal being the HP Pavilion dm3-1002.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Asus UL80VT
1336
Dell Inspiron 1470
1662
Lenovo Thinkpad Edge
1810
HP Pavilion dm3
1854

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Asus UL80VT
180
Dell Inspiron 1470
251
Lenovo Thinkpad Edge
276
HP Pavilion dm3
280

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Asus UL80VT
228
HP Pavilion dm3
300
Lenovo Thinkpad Edge
301
Dell Inspiron 1470
323

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion dm3
430
Lenovo Thinkpad Edge
320
Asus UL80VT
317
Dell Inspiron 1470
301

The included six-cell battery on the 13-inch ThinkPad Edge, when subjected to our benchmark tests, lasted for five hours and 20 minutes. That's off from Lenovo's claim of eight hours, but it's right on mark for what we'd expect from a dual-core ULV running continuous video playback. That's a good number, and the battery life should exceed that under lower-intensity work conditions and by adjusting power settings.

System configurations:

Lenovo Thinkpad Edge
Windows 7 Professional; 1.3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV; 2048MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 320GB Seagate 5400rpm

Dell Inspiron 1470
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV; 3072MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 128MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 250GB Seagate 5400rpm

Asus UL80VT
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 512MB Nvidia G210M+Mobile Intel 4500MHD; 320GB Seagate 5400rpm

HP Pavilion dm3
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV; 2048MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 797MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 500GB Western Digital 5400rpm

Via CNET.com

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Susiemoo96
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Susiemoo96 posted a review   

The Good:Nice size. Nice keypad. Decent battery life

The Bad:A bit heavy

Good, but heavy.

 

FeanorLobelia posted a comment   

Uh...this new Edge is /more/ generic than a normal thinkpad. The design of the thinkpad is incredibly distinctive, whereas this is just more of the same shiny dell-esque 'let's put silver rims on everything' look.




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User Reviews / Comments  Lenovo ThinkPad Edge (13-inch)

  • Susiemoo96

    Susiemoo96

    Rating7

    "Good, but heavy."

  • FeanorLobelia

    FeanorLobelia

    "Uh...this new Edge is /more/ generic than a normal thinkpad. The design of the thinkpad is incredibly distinctive, whereas this is just more of the same shiny dell-esque 'let's put silver rims on e..."

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