Review: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge

What do you do when you’ve tapped out the deep-pocketed customers and sold all the $5,000 laptops you can? If you’re Lenovo, you go cheap.

Lenovo continues its march into lower-cost notebooks with its latest laptop, the ThinkPad Edge, at once a departure from traditional ThinkPad design but with enough of its forebear’s DNA to merit keeping the name — unlike, say, the IdeaPad series.

Cosmetically, the Edge has some major design differences that will immediately tip you off to its generational divergence. The glossy black (or red!) lid is just the start. There’s also a silver band that runs around the edge of the machine, both base and lid, a clear departure from the monochrome ThinkPads of yore — and yet, it’s still handsome.

ThinkPad is also rightfully renowned for its keyboards, and even here Lenovo mucks with the formula, using the trendy chiclet-style keys in lieu of the more-traditional mashed-together configuration. At first it seems like a disaster to mess with a classic, but the new chiclets have excellent, satisfying travel and arguably better action than even the ThinkPad T500. We became immediate fans after just a few minutes of use.

Less effective is the Edge’s touchpad: It’s enormous, especially compared to the typical, puny ThinkPad surface, but it’s far too touchy. Chalk it up to the multitouch craze — the extra features usually just got in the way of the accuracy of the pointer.

You won’t find many 13-inch screens as bright as the ThinkPad Edge’s (1366 x 768 pixels), and spec-wise the computer is solid as well: 1.3-GHz Core 2 Duo, 4 GB of RAM, and a 320-GB hard drive. That’s on par with machines like the Dell Adamo — but the Edge comes in at 40 percent the price, a mere $900 as configured here. The Edge is lighter, too, at 3.9 pounds — and its compact design makes it feel even smaller than that.

Even the benchmarks are good, with the Edge turning in more than 4 hours of run time on battery, and impressive benchmarks across the board. It’s no gaming laptop, of course, but at a price like this you’ll be able to afford an Xbox on the side.

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