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
Bluetooth
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)
VGA
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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  • xerophinity - Saturday, April 10, 2010 - link

    This notebook doesn't deserve to have the name Thinkpad anywhere on it.. what the hell was Lenovo thinking? It's like BMW sourcing out a car design to GM and putting their name on it. Reply
  • orangesky - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    According to Lenovo's website, and just about every other review I've read of the Edge 13, it does NOT have an EC/34 slot. The 14 & 15 does, but not the 13. Some 13.3 CULVs that do have it include Sony VAIO Y Series and the Dell Vostro V13 / Latitude 13. Reply
  • jolly_jugg - Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - link

    "The CULV models start at $700 ($800 MSRP) and with few noteworthy benefits, the Edge is going to be a tough sell. The AMD model drops the price to under $500, but unfortunately battery life also plummets, so unless you're dying for a "Heatwave Red" ThinkPad the AMD Edge may not be the compromise you're after"

    I have to say your review appears pretty sarcastic. Lets assume the average battery life of both the machines (Average means all kind of applications like web browsing, word type, spreadsheet and multimedia) are 4 hours for intel machine and AMD comes 25% lower at 3 hours. Now are you implying a 25% more average battery power is worth compared to 60% higher average selling price for an Intel machine over AMD machine? Even if 50% of the folks agree with you, I am sure the other 50% will disagree with you. Sure battery power is important for a portable equipment, but equally as important is the price which in this case is 60% lower. For you that may not be the compromise you are looking for but for me its definitely a good compromise, particularly in these trying economic times where salaries are lower and returns are also pretty lower.
    Reply
  • Sky Park Schiphol - Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - link

    Very interesting. After all of the "you can only integrate the memory controller once" and "it locks you into a specific memory type" talk from Intel back in the Athlon 64 era, now they're taking that route with their ultra low power CPU/platform. Best machine ever, thanks for sharing and great comments. Thanks http://www.smartparkingschiphol.com/vliegvelden/sc... Reply

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