ThinkPad Edge Woos SMBs with Color Cases, New Keyboard

With the ThinkPad Edge, Lenovo adds AMD processors to its usually Intel-based ThinkPad lineup and prices the laptops to appeal to smaller businesses that buy from retailers.

The latest addition to the ThinkPad family is filled with firsts, most of which skew toward making the newly minted Edge appealing to business buyers who are walking the aisles of the local big box.
Enterprise IT managers who encounter the ThinkPad Edge should have no problem applying standard enterprise desktop management tools. The ThinkPad Edge has standard serviceable parts, comes preloaded with ThinkVantage management tools and can be covered by extended warranty plans.
There is a USB port replicator but no traditional docking station. The keyboard, the standard setter for laptop systems, has been redesigned to emphasize media player use over function key operation.

To further lower prices while offering business-class performance, Lenovo for the first time in a ThinkPad is offering Advanced Micro Devices dual-core processors as an option in addition to continuing its long reliance on Intel processors. Even with this change, my test unit came with an Intel Core i3 processor. These adjustments to a laptop bearing the ThinkPad brand make the Edge more appropriate for smaller organizations that buy directly from retail as opposed to being designed for large enterprise IT managers.

For a look at the ThinkPad Edge, click here.

The ThinkPad Edge, which started shipping March 25, comes in black or red and brings high-end Lenovo features including hard drive protection and a spill-resistant keyboard in a low-priced laptop.

The ThinkPad Edge starts at $599 and comes in three sizes, 13.3 inches, 14 inches and 15.6 inches, with a variety of hard disk drive and memory options. I tested the ThinkPad Edge 14". At the Lenovo online store a unit similar to the one I tested-with the Intel Core i3-330M processor, 2GB of PC3 1066MHz RAM and a 5400 rpm hard drive with 250GB storage-was listed at $649. This is competitive with similar "prosumer" laptops and a low price for a ThinkPad-branded laptop. The ThinkPad Edge comes with a one-year carry or mail-in warranty. Lenovo offers a variety of extended warranty and service plans.

I ran the full suite of tests in FutureMark's PCMark Vantage 32-bit professional edition. Running at full power, the ThinkPad Edge scored a respectable 4058 overall PCMark. The lowest score was for gaming, which is unsurprising given that this system was using the integrated Intel graphics hardware. The overall Windows experience score for my system was a 4.0, again bounded by the integrated graphics. It's worth noting that the graphics subsystem is more than adequate for most multimedia applications and that the ThinkPad Edge is by no means intended as a high-performance gaming system.