Somewhere between the buttoned-up utility of the ThinkPad and the sleek efficiency of the IdeaPad sits an untapped sweet spot for affordable, entry-level notebooks. At least, that’s clearly what Lenovo is banking on with their new ThinkPad Edge series.
The ThinkPad Edge purports to be targeted towards small and medium-sized businesses, but it’s just as easy to say that it’s equally unfit for both casual users and serious professionals. While it’s a perfectly capable machine in most respects and a decent buy for the money, it often feels like a compromise to an argument no one was having.
Price and Configuration
The system we tested was loaded up with a 1.3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV processor and Intel GS45 chipset, and 4GB (2x2GB) of DDR3 RAM (1066MHz). You can also customise up to 500 GB of HDD storage. That set-up will run you $US899, while the $US549 base model ships with either AMD’s Turion (clocked at 1.6GHz) or Althon (1.5 GHz) dual core processor, 4GB (2x2GB) of DDR2 RAM (667MHz), and a 160GB HDD.
The mash-up is clear the instant you unbox the Edge. The rounded corners and glossy black finish are reminiscent of the IdeaPad, but when combined with the ThinkPad-like flat display back, the 13.3-inch model I reviewed (14-inch and 15-inch models will be available in the spring) brings to mind a futuristic cafeteria tray.
The Edge also has the distinction of being a thin and light notebook that’s not that thin (one inch, although the 6-cell battery in our test model adds another .5 inches in the rear) and not that light (1.6kg with a 4-cell battery and about 1.8kg with the 6-cell). But it’s still portable enough that it wouldn’t be cumbersome to take on all of those small and medium-sized business trips.
This isn’t a computer you’re going to want to do intensive gaming on (thanks largely to the integrated graphics), but then again it’s not supposed to be. To its credit, the Edge does handle streaming HD videos without a hitch for when you need a Muppets Bohemian Rhapsody fix at the office.
As far as benchmarks, the Edge falls where you’d expect it to: somewhere between the IdeaPad U350 and the ThinkPad T400. A more appropriate comparison would be another 13-inch thin-and-light like the Asus UL30A, and our GeekBench testing indicates that the two are pretty evenly matched.
Here’s where the Edge really delivers. Lenovo claims that the 6-cell Intel model gets an impressive 7.8 hours of battery life. I tested our system with higher performance settings, medium screen brightness, Bluetooth off, and a page automatically reloading every 30 seconds on Firefox to simulate active web browsing.
Total Run Time: 5 hours, 20 minutes
And that obviously can be further improved by settling for lower performance/higher battery life settings.
The Reason of Edge?
At its introductory price point, the Edge sounds like a competitive machine, but remember that you’re also losing most of the things that distinguish it in the first place-the ULV Intel processor and the 6-cell battery, in particular. Honestly, if you’re in the market for a new notebook, there’s a good chance Lenovo already has something that fits exactly what you’re looking for. And that it’s called either IdeaPad or ThinkPad.