Over the last few days I’ve been testing the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge, Lenovo’s new ThinkPad lineup that’s aimed at the value-conscious small/medium business owner. While it may not look particularly ThinkPad-ish (on the outside, at least), the guts and usability are the same tried-and-true, workhorse quality that you’d expect from any PC with a ThinkPad badge on it. My ThinkPad Edge is the 14”, 4.9lb model that comes with a Core i3 processor, 3GB of RAM, a 320GB drive running at 5400rpm, Intel HD graphics, and a standard 1366 x 768 resolution display. This model is available from Lenovo.com for about $700.
This ThinkPad Edge has been out at several events that required very specific software loads, so it’s been imaged with Microsoft Signature, the same software load that you’ll find on PCs from the Microsoft Store. Even with the laptop’s modest specs, I found performance to be good, particularly under normal workloads. Working with my normal battery of test applications – Outlook, Word and PowerPoint 2010, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger, Internet Explorer 9 beta and Zune – was easy. I didn’t notice any significant bottlenecking on my 5400rpm drive, but for those looking for a bit more speed, there is a 7200rpm option available. The short version of this is that if you’re using this PC for work, which you probably are, you’ll have no problem getting the job done.
In terms of fundamentals, the non-scientific stopwatch tests I ran using my Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph – one of the most accurate watches in the world – yielded the following results:
– Startup (cold boot): 25.3 seconds
– Shutdown (no apps open): 7.2 seconds
– Sleep (from lid close to power-down): 2 seconds
– Wake (from lid open to desktop): 2 seconds.
Video performance was pretty good. I easily played a clip on YouTube and caught up on Sunday’s NFL games on ESPN.com with both videos running simultaneously with no lag. When I added in a third video from Windows.com, though, I did notice some buffering delays and skipping. Most people won’t run three simultaneous video streams though, so don’t let that test throw you – performance under “regular” video load (i.e, running one video at a time) was good, particularly for the price point. It’s not an entertainment machine, but then again, that’s not the main purpose of a ThinkPad. If you’re hot on Lenovo and want a great entertainment PC, check out the IdeaPad lineup.
The only game I played on the ThinkPad Edge was my current favorite casual game – Plants vs. Zombies. This isn’t a graphics intensive game, obviously, but it is an outstanding time waster (this was my longest part of my test, BTW) and played beautifully.
On the Lenovo website it states that the ThinkPad Edge gets approximately 4.5 hours of battery life. I got around 4 in my testing, but as I always say, your mileage may vary.
Look and Feel
Did I mention that the ThinkPad Edge is red? While that may not be earth-shattering in terms of industrial design, it is a very welcome departure from the standard matte black that most ThinkPad’s use. That’s not to say that the design is bad, of course – it’s actually quite iconic. Pull a ThinkPad out of your bag and people know you mean business. With the ThinkPad Edge, you get that feel of rock-solid business performance with a bit more character. That relaxed attitude spills over to the keyboard as well, which is just a bit more contoured and softer than a “normal” ThinkPad. The huge trackpad, keys and TrackPoint (the “eraserhead” in the middle of the keyboard) are super comfortable and easy to use.
The ThinkPad Edge’s display is the right level of glossy and features a huge viewing angle, although I do wish that it was a tad brighter with deeper color. Sound is surprisingly loud and clear from the soundbar-style speakers that are directly underneath the display, and my country station playing on Pandora sounded quite good.
If you’re looking for an entry-level business PC but want something with some personality, the ThinkPad Edge is worth adding to your “must see” list. It’s a ThinkPad, to be sure, and offers the dependability, comfortable ergonomics, and solid construction of its traditional brethren, but comes with a style that helps it straddle the line between work and play.