For the past 2 months I’ve been putting the Lenovo Edge 13 Notebook to the test in a tour de force that covered the normal home to office beat as well a roundtrip high intensity trip to CES and back that really tested the power — and the portability– of the 13″ notebook.
The ThinkPad Edge 13 is a break from the old for Lenovo in terms of style and design but in the transition they kept many of the ThinkPad favorites such as the famous TrackPoint which helps this notebook look new without providing too much of a shock to users who want the same ThinkPad experience they are used to.
Oh, there’s also a glowing LED dotting the “i” in the ThinkPad logo that looks adds a little pizzazz to the otherwise blank lid and palmrest.
Along with the new design the Ultra-Portable Edge comes with a lower price than the traditional ThinkPad series starting at $799 for an AMD powered version and climbing to $1,199 for the WiMax equipped model which we are reviewing. The good news, for shoppers on a budget, is that the AMD model is routinely on sale for below $600 and the Intel Core 2 Duo model can be had for $799-$899 on a regular basis.
Glossy lid of the Lenovo Edge 13
Left to Right: Kensington lock, vent, VGA, HDMI, Ethernet, Always On USB (charge your gadgets)
Left to Right: SD card reader, Mic/headphone jack, USB, USB, Power connector
The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 13 unit that we reviewed comes with the following specifications:
- Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 Processor ( 1.30GHz 800MHz 3MB )
- Windows 7
- Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD
- 4 GB PC3-8500 DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz
- 13.3 ” HD Glare with integrated camera 1366×768
- Industry Standard 2 button touchpad with TrackPoint
- 320GB 5400 RPM hard drive
- 6 Cell Lithium Ion
- Intel Centrino Advanced-N + WiMAX 6250
- Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
- One year warranty covering parts and labor
Not as svelte and swirly as many notebooks on the market today but for a ThinkPad it is a little flashy. The Edge trades in the matte black that has long been the hallmark of ThinkPad notebooks for a glossier finish available in black and red which looks very elegant without appearing looking like you borrowed your tween’s notebook to make a boardroom pitch.
Keyboard and Mouse
My first impression of the Lenovo Edge 13’s keyboard came with a few key placement gripes, but I was able to fix them in a matter of minutes and have been happily typing every since. In a given day I can easily type close to 1,000 words, and that’s just what I track on Notebooks and WalletPop, so I am as picky about keyboards as golfers are about their clubs.
These keys will spoil you for any other notebook
If you’ve read any of my other reviews you’ll remember that I typically settle for a keyboard but with the Edge there’s no settling, this is one of the best keyboards I’ve used on an ultra-portable notebook; and perhaps on any notebook in recent history. The keys on the Edge are of the new chiclet style which translates into perfect spacing, great feedback and an incredibly enjoyable typing experience. The Edge’s keyboard even gets the little things right with a giant right shift key and recessed page up and page down keys that round out the great typing experience. My fingers are already aching at the thought of typing on any other notebook and especially at the prospect of picking up more of my mobile writing on a netbook.
Both the trackpad and the TrackPoint nub provide an enjoyable mousing experience including the ability to use gestures. Personally I can’t understand how users can make do with the TrackPoint nub on an extended basis as it drives me crazy but from what I gather you’re either nub user or you aren’t so I’ll keep my comments on the TrackPoint to the fact that it performed just as every other ThinkPad pointer stick has. The mousepad is on par with the keyboard when it comes to usability thanks to a large size and two separate mouse buttons.
Performance and Screen
During my use, the Edge did everything from web browsing and writing to editing movies with Windows Live Movie Maker and handled it all without complaint. The only issue I had during my 2 months of use in terms of performance came from having Firefox open for a few days and putting the computer to sleep multiple times per day; but this problem was fixed by restarting and switching to Chrome so it isn’t so much an Edge issue as an observation of how Firefox handles on it in an on-the-go setting.
The Edge’s 13.3″ screen performs well providing ample workroom thanks to a 1366 x 768 resolution and minimal glare, even outside, despite the glossy finish on the screen. The brightness settings were sufficient, though there were a few opportunities where I would have preferred the screen to go just a little brighter.
While Battery Eater wouldn’t run for me to give you a benchmark battery life my real world experience with the ThinkPad Edge has been one of 5-6 hours, with 5 hours occurring while using Wifi with the screen set at a usable “12” out of “15 on the brightness scale. I didn’t use the Edge to watch much video, not because it wasn’t capable, but it should be able to get your though a downloaded movie with no trouble. When you need to recharge, the Edge can fill up quick — from 3% to 99.1% in an hour and 15 minutes — which will turn this 5-6 hour battery into an all day one assuming you can find a half hour at a outlet over lunch.
Heat and Noise
When it comes to heat and noise the Edge scores well on both fronts. While you can hear the fan humming along slightly at times the Edge is overall a very quiet machine and it wasn’t too hot to use on my lap. The fact that the Edge didn’t scorch my lap like my HP Mini 1000 and HP tx2000 do is a welcome change.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge is a very capable notebook and using it for the past two months has brought me to a conclusion similar to the one Matthew Dillon had when he abandoned his various sized netbooks in favor of a Macbook; a powerful 13″ notebook is the perfect compromise between size and use. Thanks to solid performance, good battery life and light weight the Lenovo Edge 13 is a great notebook for professionals or students and provides a glimpse of what ThinkPad’s can look like when they loosen the corporate tie a little.