Lenovo ThinkPad Edge Review

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User Experience



Using the ThinkPad Edge is a real blast. There's just no two ways about it. As far as an ultraportable experience goes, let alone one that can be had for as low as $859, this is about as good as it gets. As we'll detail below, there's just one major thing missing from the overall package, but it's one that can't easily be had in notebooks of this size to begin with.


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From the moment you take the machine out of the box, you know you're dealing with something that's high in quality. Lenovo's ThinkPad line is known for its toughness and rigidity, and while the Edge isn't quite as sturdy as the T400s, it's easily one of the most well built that we've seen at this price point. There was no keyboard flex at all, and the trackpad was easily the largest and most enjoyable to use for any small machine that we've tested below the $600 price point.


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In fact, even with our $899 test unit, we had a tough time accepting that this machine was priced as low as it was. Lenovo has really created a value-packed package here, and the design is one of the nicer ones that we have seen. Opening and closing the lid was a cinch, and the LCD screen held in place once we positioned it. Bootup was super quick for a CULV-based machine, and again, we can't express how nice it is to have Windows 7 out so these chips aren't overwhelmed by Vista. We were also thrilled to see Lenovo stuff 4GB of DDR3 memory into this frame.


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The 1.3GHz SU7300 chip isn't the most powerful processor out there, but it's a real energy sipper and is plenty fast for most applications that one would find themselves using on an ultraportable. The integrated 4500M GPU is the real weak spot in the system; as we alluded to earlier, this prevents users from being able to have an enjoyable gaming experience, and you can pretty much assume that any major first-person shooter is out of the question. It's possible that some older, non-graphically intensive games would run with low, in-game detail and at a sub-native resolution, but it certainly won't be ideal. The silver lining here is that the GPU is more than powerful enough to handle even the most burdensome multimedia; 1080p playback is buttery smooth, even on battery power.

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The typing and mousing experience was top notch. The chiclet keyboard was easy to use, and required basically no adjustment from our traditional full-size keyboard on the 15" machine that we typically use. The trackpoint is also a huge bonus for Lenovo loyalists who prefer it, but the unconventionally placed Fn key (which is to the left of the Ctrl key in the bottom-left of the keyboard) might take some getting used to if you've never used a ThinkPad keyboard before. We're also blown away by the connectivity options here, and all of them worked well in testing. Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G connections synced up in a jiffy, and while we did manage to confuse the system once by jumping between connections, a simple reboot remedied things.


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Using the system daily was also enjoyable. Windows 7 is a perfect fit here, and multitasking was never a problem. Applications loaded quickly, including 1080p movie trailers, and all of the multimedia we tested played back while barely putting a strain on the system. We were actually fooled into thinking that the machine had a faster CPU in it than the 1.3GHz chip it had, and that's always a good thing. The general lack of bloatware, Windows 7, and well-rounded hardware configuration enabled the Edge to blast through tasks with ease, and aside from not being able to play Half-Life 2 at a decent frame rate, we didn't see any signs of sluggishness.
 

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