My first thought upon seeing Lenovo’s radically different ThinkPad Edge 13 at CES was, “Oh man, the ThinkPad forums are going to burn tonight.” Why? The ThinkPad Edge has a glossy lid, a glossy screen, rounded corners, AMD processors (Intel’s CULV platform is optional), and can be ordered in “Heatwave Red.” When I said radically different, I really did mean that this is a radically different ThinkPad. Speaking of which, remember that legendary ThinkPad keyboard? It’s gone, replaced by a chiclet keyboard. Yeah, a chiclet keyboard. This is most definitely not your father’s ThinkPad T410.

The ThinkPad Edge, other than being obscene to the sensibilities of die-hard ThinkPad fans, is at its roots a slim 13” ultraportable offering good portability and battery life for a modest price. It starts at $579 MSRP with AMD Athlon Neo X2 processors (AMD’s lower cost, higher power consuming alternative to CULV) paired to the Radeon HD 3200 IGP and 2GB RAM. Along with the new X100e ultraportable, the Edge is the first ever ThinkPad to offer AMD processors. We have the Intel Edge 13 model for review, which has a $799 MSRP and uses the now familiar Core 2 Duo SU7300 processor and GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics chip.

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge Specifications

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 (45nm, 2x1.30GHz, 3MB, 800FSB, 10W)
AMD Athlon Neo X2 L325 (65nm, 2x1.50GHz, 1MB, 800FSB, 18W)
Chipset Intel GS45 + ICH9M
Memory 2x1GB to 2x2GB DDR3-1066
2x2GB DDR3-1066 Tested
Graphics Intel GMA 4500MHD
Display 13.3" LED Backlit WXGA (1366x768)
Hard Drive(s) 250GB 5400RPM
320GB 5400RPM
320GB 7200RPM
Optical Drive N/A
Networking Realtek Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Wireless WiFi Link 1000 802.11n
WiMax (Optional)
Qualcomm Gobi WWAN (Optional)
Audio HD Audio (2 speakers with headphone/mic jack)
Battery 6-cell 5600 mAh, 63 Wh
Front Side N/A
Left Side HDMI
Gigabit Ethernet
1 x USB 2.0 (powered)
Kensington Lock
Cooling exhaust
Right Side AC Power Connection
5-in-one card reader
3.5mm Headset jack
2 x USB 2.0
Back Side Battery
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Dimensions 13.07" x 8.98" x 1.23" (WxDxH)
Weight 4.0 lbs (with 6-cell battery)
Extras 1.3MP Webcam
Spill Resistant Keyboard
5-in-1 Flash reader
Warranty 1-year standard warranty
Remote diagnostics
2-year and 3-year extended warranties available
Onsite service and accidental damage protection available
Pricing AMD X2: Starting at $490
Intel CULV: Starting at $699

In addition to the CULV platform, our Edge packs 4GB (2x2GB) of DDR3-1066 memory, a 320GB 7200RPM hard drive, an LED-backlit 13.3” 1366x768 glossy screen, Bluetooth 2.1, and a 6-cell Li-ion battery rated for eight hours of run time, all topped off by Windows 7 Professional 64-bit and a matte black lid. (The Heatwave Red color option is only available on the AMD model, so you’re out of luck if you want to stand out and have good battery life.)

While the spec sheet is vanilla as far as CULV machines go, what the Edge really seems to offer over its competitors is the ThinkPad name and the reputation for build quality, reliability, and ruggedness that comes along with it. Looking at the similarly sized $745 ASUS UL30Vt, we see the same 13.3” WXGA screen, 4GB of DDR3-1066, a larger 500GB (but 5400RPM) hard drive, an overclockable version of the SU7300 processor, and a switchable NVIDIA G210M dedicated graphics card in addition to GMA 4500MHD. That’s the ASUS’ ace in the hole – the ability to give you significantly better performance with a dedicated graphics card and a 1.73GHz processor at the push of a button, and with a price lower than the Lenovo, those are definitely attractive features. However, the UL series isn’t known for build quality...and the ThinkPad is.

ThinkPad Edge 13: Design and Build
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  • Belard - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    Lenovo has been making $500~600 low end notebooks for some time. They are the SL & R series with slower/smaller parts. To get the $500 price, its usually a Celeron system with 1 GB.

    A basic Core2Duo SL starts at $600... a friend added Wifi and WAN, more memory brought the price up to $700. The R series is now about $800 with Core2... The Ts at $1000. About 2 years ago, I bought an R61 for $550 off the shelf... not bad.
  • OCedHrt - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    it is a piece of shit. The IBM branded T60 is infinitely better. The T61 doesn't feel much better than a regular off the shelf HP or Dell or any other regular laptop.
  • hangthe9 - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    Aside from the article being nothing about the T60, the T60 and T61 have pretty much identical chasis and specs. T60, T61, T400, all hard to tell apart, all solid build.
  • Belard - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    Hmmm.... there are slight differences between the R/T-60 and R/T-61... in most reviews, the 61 series are considered an improvement.

    The IBM logo looks better thou.

    Compared to typical HP and other computers, they are easily better... for not too much more money.

    In this market, there is no way to continue selling R / T Thinkpads for $2000~4000.

    The SL is the cheapest THinkPad that looks kind of like a Thinkpad with some of the feature sets.
  • jabber - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    So it sits in the middle of a range of benchmarks. Big deal.

    Whats this going to be used for? Mainly web browsing and maybe the odd word doc.

    CULV is the ideal choice for this kind of machine. It doesnt need anymore power.

    I have a 13" laptop with the same CPU and a Nvidia 105M. Runs everything just great. I even get around 60fps in Eve Online bonus! I can use it for a days work without mains power...even bigger bonus.

    If you gave most of those machines to a group of users to do what they normally do on a laptop I bet they could hardly tell the difference performance wise between any of them.

    Benchmarks...make me dispair.
  • jabber - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link loss there at all.

    Who hooks up this kind of machine (or most laptops) to external stuff except the odd USB device...maybe less than 2%?

    Thats why they dont have the slots. Listed as 'mostly useless'.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    There was no "whining" in this article--merely pointing out that unlike most CULV laptops, this one has EC/34. It's the only feature that's out of the norm. As for being stuck in the middle, with a price that's higher than average it's certainly a problem. I don't get why you bring up other points as though we missed them. This will work as well as any CULV laptop, but it gets less battery life, it costs more, etc.

    You mention your laptop with a 105M, but the Edge doesn't have the NVIDIA 105M (or any discrete GPU option) so that's a non sequitur. For the record, it also doesn't have a Blu-ray drive, and I have a laptop that plays Blu-ray movies perfectly! Hmmm....

    No one is giving away laptops here, and that's why we have to review in comparison to other offerings. A lot of people would take any free laptop and not complain, but that doesn't mean they got a good laptop. I actually like the Edge (with matte finish) more than the Acer 1810T, as it has a nicer keyboard and feels more solid to me. It's definitely not solid like the ThinkPad T series, but many consumer laptops feel flimsy at best.

    The question still boils down to whether you'd pay $100 more for what is essentially a change in appearance. If you're willing to get an SU4100 processor instead of the SU7300, you could even get the price down ~$200. So in a crowded market, the Edge is stuck in the middle because it does nothing to stand out. We should all celebrate the athletes that finish in the middle of the pack as well, I guess?
  • Shinobi123 - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    From the picture I can't see any latch to hold the lid closed.
    And why a glossy screen? Who still uses that anyway?
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    You're correct: no latch on this "ThinkPad". It's one of the points Vivek mentioned (on page 2):

    "Most of the traditional elements of a ThinkPad are missing from the Edge. The rubberized black lid, the high-res matte screen, the ThinkLight, the lid latch, the metal hinges, the best mobile keyboard in the business, the blue enter key, the internal magnesium frame, the industrial grade casing, the boxy styling – it’s all gone. Other than the angled ThinkPad logo in the corner, the singular link the Edge shares with the classic ThinkPads is the red TrackPoint located in the center of the keyboard."

    It's not a bad CULV laptop, but it's not spectacular either. It's a middle of the road, slightly more expensive alternative to designs like the Acer 3810T.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, April 8, 2010 - link

    Unfortunately just about everyone still uses glossy screens

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