Testing the ThinkPad Edge

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2010-04-06 Print this article Print

The ThinkPad Edge is like a low-cost airline, certainly usable in the enterprise but oriented toward small business and consumer users. The battery, memory and hard drive are all accessible for depot service. My 14-inch test system had three USB ports, one powered, a combination eSATA/USB port, HDMI, a media card reader, and a VGA and network port. The Edge has a sufficient number of USB and media connectors so that the laptop would be useful in the office when connected to a external monitor, keyboard and mouse, especially when used with the optional USB port replicator.

The ThinkPad Edge user experience is unremarkable. The system I tested weighs about 5 pounds and has outside dimensions of approximately 13.5 by 9.25 by 1.5 inches when closed. The glossy screen is easy to see in normal office lighting. The typing experience is not that different from a standard Lenovo keyboard. It did take a few minutes to locate some of the repositioned keys. Most users for whom the ThinkPad Edge also doubles as a personal system will likely find the repositioned keys to their liking, since media functions such as volume control and screen brightness are the primary operation of the top row keys. These keys are secondarily function keys, which is the reverse of most business-class computers.

As is common with laptops designed to work with the Windows 7 operating system, start-up and shutdown are fairly snappy. Shutdown is much faster than start-up. When I started my system with only the original ThinkVantage tools and a mainstream antivirus product installed, overall start-up time was 41 seconds. Shutdown took 9 seconds.

The ThinkPad Edge comes with plenty of ports and connectivity features. In addition to the ports mentioned, my test unit came with 802.11 a/b/g/n and optional wireless WAN connectivity.

The Edge also comes with a suite of ThinkVantage tools including Toolbox for system diagnosis, Password Manager, Rescue and Recovery, and Power Manager. It also comes with tools designed to protect the system and encourage users to add security products as needed to the laptop, including antivirus and Internet security tools. Windows 7 is preloaded.

My out-of-the-box experience was quite pleasant. I wasn't bombarded with offers for third-party applications, and the preloaded ThinkVantage tools are easy to access and use. During my tests it took only a couple of key clicks to get to and use the backup and restore functions.

The ThinkPad Edge didn't replicate my normal experience with small-business-oriented systems, which is a good thing. I'm usually gun-shy about preloaded tools because my experience has been that these tools are a booby-trap for a sales pitch. The ThinkVantage tools are actually useful. I expect that small business users will be able to quickly access these tools and use the system maintenance options to actually enhance business productivity. In this category, Lenovo sets the standard for providing useful user productivity tools. 

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant has been with the Labs since 1997, and before that paid his IT management dues at a software publishing firm working with several Fortune 100 companies. Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility, with a focus on Android in the enterprise. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his reviews and analysis are grounded in real-world concern. Cameron is a regular speaker at Ziff-Davis Enterprise online and face-to-face events. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at csturdevant@eweek.com.

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