Usage, Battery Life and Closing Thoughts
Build quality of the ThinkPad Edge is top notch. The notebook feels very sturdy and the glossy lid adds to the overall style of the system -- be prepared for plenty of fingerprints to accumulate on it, though. The 1366 x 768 resolution of its 13.3" LCD screen looks nice, although brightness isn't as high as on some other systems we've tested, and the rather wide bezel around it gives the impression that the display is smaller than it really is.
The island style keys on the Edge are great and feel very natural when typing. There is very little -- if any -- flex and the slightly concave keys seem better than the flat top island keys used on the Acer Timeline, for example.
The decision to leave out some commonly unused keys was a good one, and I can even see myself getting used to the Function key configuration that Lenovo proposes. However, I don't particularly care for the placement of the Fn key in the bottom left corner where Control usually is. Even more puzzling is not having the Delete key in the top right corner of the keyboard like most other portables we have tested do.
If this is your first experience with a Lenovo business class notebook the TrackPoint might take a bit of usage to get used to. Over time, however, I definitely can see how it would be preferred over the TouchPad for pointing, and those users will find the two mouse click buttons directly below the Spacebar very thoughtful.
The TouchPad is very large. Perhaps even a little too wide. I found that while resting my palms on the deck and typing, my left palm would touch the corner of the TouchPad and rendering it unresponsive at times when trying to move the cursor using my right hand. Unable to fix this problem adjusting settings in the extensive UltraNav options menu, I had to consciously lift my left palm off the TouchPad each time to move the mouse cursor.
Audio quality from the two speakers on this system is very good. There was no distortion even at max volume levels where the speakers were pretty loud but not overly so. Overall, sound quality was very acceptable. I was a bit disappointed about the lack an optical drive, especially considering the notebook's business orientation. Perhaps Lenovo sees the optical drive as only being useful for entertainment purposes.
Battery life on the ThinkPad Edge was good for 5 hours and 28 minutes while sitting idle at the Windows desktop with all power saving features disabled. When the screen brightness was brought down to 50%, it ran for 7 hours and 21 minutes. This is a good bit less than the MSI X-Slim X340 and the Acer Timeline, but in fairness, those systems use a Core 2 Solo CPU while the ThinkPad here is equipped with a more powerful Core 2 Duo.
The dual core processor in the Edge had plenty of horsepower for everything we threw at it. HD videos on YouTube, HD videos from the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games via Microsoft Silverlight and Hulu.com clips all played back extremely smooth and stutter-free. Multitasking in Windows 7 also proved to be a pleasant experience and thanks to the speedy hard drive we noticed no slowdowns.
The cooling system in the Edge does a decent job of keeping the system cool under heavy use. The notebook does get a bit warm, especially around the hard drive area. This is likely due to the 7200 RPM drive which performed exceedingly well in our testing. I would gladly trade some extra heat for a fast drive like the one in Lenovo's ThinkPad Edge.
The ThinkPad Edge configuration we tested sells for $899 with the Intel Core 2 Duo processor and WiMAX card. Dropping the latter brings the price down to just $799. However, in this competitive price range there seem to be several other arguably better options, like the Asus UL30A with slightly longer battery life or UL80VT with Nvidia Optimus switchable graphics for around $850.
Dell also updated its business-oriented Vostro line recently with similarly priced models -- all carrying newer Core i3 or i5 processors, optical drives and discrete graphics options.
Starting at $579 at the lower end of the range, the Edge could represent a better value, particularly when you consider it also ships with a dual core part (AMD Athlon Neo X2 L325), offers decent battery life, and keeps the same superb keyboard and lightweight design as its more powerful sibling. All in all, the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge is certainly a compelling choice for professionals or students who value great build quality, stylish looks and solid performance.
Pros: Classic ThinkPad look with a bit of flare (three color options), low entry-level price, good battery life, quality display, great keyboard, no pre-installed bloatware.
Cons: TouchPad a little too wide, screen bezel looks too large for the display, no optical drive.