Lenovo ThinkPad Edge by ohedim


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									Lenovo ThinkPad Edge

If you're a fan of Lenovo's ThinkPad line, you're willing to put up with a boring industrial design
because the machines are so rugged and usable. The new ThinkPad Edge marks the first
significant change to the look and feel of the line in years, but thankfully, it retains almost
everything you love about ThinkPads.

The design of this ultraportable is still quite conservative; you won't be embarrassed to pull it out
in a serious business meeting. It's simply more modern, with cleaner lines, a smooth, glossy lid,
and silver accents along the edges. The lid's glossy finish looks great, but it's a magnet for
fingerprints. You might opt for the matte finish if this is a concern (it costs the same). If we had to
pick a nit about the design, it would be the location of the ethernet jack, which is quite far toward
the front edge of the left side. Open the lid, and the system has the same basic, utilitarian look of
other ThinkPads with a large keyboard and touchpad. But...

Still Great to Work On

Users considering the ThinkPad Edge may be shocked to see a Chiclet-style keyboard inside.
These are notoriously tough to type on, especially compared with the standard keys found on
other ThinkPad models. Fear not, readers! This is easily the best Chiclet keyboard we've ever
used. The keys have a slightly scalloped curve to them, lots of travel, and a good "clicky" feel,
rather than the mushy, rubbery one of most Chiclet keyboards. The keys are still large, with nice,
big Shift and Backspace keys, and the Ctrl key is placed inside the Fn button key, where it's more
natural to press. Not once did I accidentally hit Fn instead of Ctrl, a record I can't claim for most
other laptops.

Fans of the ThinkPad line also love the way these notebooks always give them lots of pointing
options, and the Edge is no exception. It has a large touchpad--smooth and accurate--with
distinct left and right buttons both above and below the pad. If you prefer Lenovo's little
"TrackPoint" eraser nub for pointer control, you'll be relieved to see it still nestled between the
bottom corners of the G and H keys. Nevertheless, a few corners have been cut in this
inexpensive and lightweight model. The keyboard is not backlit and has no ThinkLight illumination
on the lid, so it can be a little hard to use in the dark. Apart from those small omissions, nothing
about the Edge stands between you and getting things done, which is precisely why ThinkPads
are so popular.
Slightly Subpar Performance, Great Battery Life

Though its 13.3-inch screen size puts this notebook in almost the same category as all-purpose
machines, it is billed and sold as an ultraportable. It's slim and light enough (under 4 pounds
without accessories) to qualify. As with many ultraportables, it utilizes an ultra-low-voltage
processor that sacrifices performance for battery life. Our test system came equipped with an
Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 processor at 1.3GHz, and starts at $799. A less-expensive, AMD-based
system is available for as little as $579, but our experience with these processors tells us it would
be a bit slower than the Intel flavor.

This low-voltage processor is largely responsible for the Edge's somewhat low WorldBench score
of 65, but it's still fast enough for day-to-day business needs. Fortunately, the system comes
equipped with 4GB of DDR3-1066 RAM and a fairly speedy 7200-rpm hard drive, so system
bootup and application launch times are quick. It takes about 5 seconds to wake from sleep--
snappy, but not the fastest we've seen. Battery life is excellent, lasting 6.5 hours in our battery
run-down test. You could probably go more than 7 hours simply browsing the Web, checking e-
mail, and working on office documents.

An ultraportable ThinkPad is clearly aimed at the business road-warrior market, and we'd be
remiss if we didn't mention the great connectivity options for this audience. The Edge has
802.11b/g/n support, of course, but it also has built-in 3G mobile broadband with GPS, and even
WiMAX support.

In general, the ThinkPad Edge is a very successful updating of a staid notebook line that has
been in desperate need of it for years. We found a few minor complaints (not enough status
lights, for hard-drive access and Wi-Fi, for example), but the Edge still hits all the important
notes--everything you love about ThinkPads is here, including a great keyboard (despite the
switch to Chiclet-style keys). With a few minor tweaks, we'd love to see this new design
proliferate through the rest of the ThinkPad line.

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