Lenovo ThinkPad Edge Review

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The ThinkPad line has always been synonymous with "sturdy," "rigid," and, well, "plain." Flash and pizazz have never been calling cards for ThinkPad laptops, but Lenovo obviously thinks that it's time for a change. Of course, the entire ThinkPad line isn't straying from its roots, but the Edge is a welcome addition to a lineup that has grown to feel somewhat aged due to the lack of exterior change. As companies like Dell, HP, Asus and Acer all look to create more stylish machines, it was only a matter of time before Lenovo did the same, and the Edge feels like a fantastic first attempt at something different in the ThinkPad family.


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The entire machine weighs just 3.6lbs and measures between 0.67" and 1.23" thick, making it one of the thinner ultraportables out there. Clean lines and curves are abundant, and while the Edge is very much different than the conventional ThinkPad, it still maintains that familiar look of a Lenovo machine. But that overall feel is where the similarities end. There are silver accents around the ends, the ThinkPad logo on the palm rest has a red, light-up "i" and the keyboard is a chicklet-styled keyboard rather than the edge-to-edge keyboard that is on most classic ThinkPad machines. However, the switches beneath the keycaps are similar to other ThinkPad models.

    
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Thankfully, for the purists, Lenovo left a few key ThinkPad elements in the mix. A TrackPoint? It's there. The dual left/right click pads? Both are present. There's also a larger-than-average trackpad surface, and palm rest stickers are kept to a minimum. We did notice that the display bezel is much larger than average, but the glossy coating on the 1366x768 panel is quite common. Personally, we would have preferred a matte panel given that Lenovo is clearly encouraging users to work on-the-go with all of those connectivity options.


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On the right side panel, you'll find an SD/SDHC card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, a power input socket and a headphone jack. No ports are on the rear. On the left side, there's a lock slot, an exhaust port, VGA output, a full-size HDMI output, Ethernet port and one final USB 2.0 port.


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The trackpad surface is atypically smooth; a drastic departure from the highly textured trackpad on machines like the T400s. The chicklet keyboard feels like a standard full size keyboard, and the "Fn" and "Ctrl" keys are reversed, as Lenovo has always done. Those used to having the Ctrl key on the outside of the bottom-left of the keyboard will have to do some adjusting to avoid hitting the wrong key(s).

    
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Each key is also smooth, and typing on this keyboard was a real joy. The chicklet approach is one we dig, particularly on smaller machines. It's a fairly basic key layout, with a number of multimedia keys across the top tow (a nice touch) as well as dedicated Page Up and Page Down keys (which is unusual on an ultraportable). Key travel was perfect, and yet again Lenovo has proven that it really knows how to build productivity machines with highly attractive keyboards and mousing surfaces. Business users shouldn't worry; Lenovo has cut no corners in terms of usability and comfort on the input devices that you'll use most frequently to handle your duties.

    
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The overall casing is also remarkably sturdy. There's no keyboard flex whatsoever (which is highly atypical for a standard, sub-$1000 ultraportable) and all hinges and exterior parts feel very solid. The plastic on the inner casing isn't quite as robust as the more expensive ThinkPads, but that's hardly a major flaw. For having a base price of $549, we're astounded at the overall build quality. In this respect, it's a ThinkPad through and through.

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