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By Mike Joubert 22 February 2010

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The Lenovo ThinkPad range has a proud heritage. First introduced in 1992 under IBM, the ThinkPads were trusted by companies around the globe for their uncompromising design, unfaltering reliability and a workhorse-like approach to computing. Two problems exist though- they are expensive, and let’s face it- they look boring.

Lenovo tackles these problems head on with their ThinkPad Edge aimed at small-to-medium sized businesses. The Edge drops the ThinkPad’s “any colour as long as its black” design policy by also appearing in, gasp, ‘Heatwave Red’. ThinkPad traditionalists should further brace themselves as Lenovo also substitute arguably one of the best keyboards in the business for a more modern “chicklet” individual key approach. We loved the old keyboard, but after working on the new board for a bit we felt the same as when John Smit was replaced by Bismarck du Plessis at hooker- both are quality players.

What we really like though is Lenovo’s reversal of the F-keys. Instead of having to press Fn + F6 to switch your display, you simply press F6. All you F keys thus are now shortcut keys to important functions like brightness and volume adjustment, without the hassle of pressing the function key first.

Trackpad

Lenovo retains their TrackPoint cursor control, and expand the size of their trackpad to allow multi-touch pinch-and-zoom capabilities. We found the trackpad just too flush with the palm rests, so scrolling up and down using the side of the trackpad becomes difficult. We can’t forgive Lenovo fordumping the cool keyboard light however.

Onboard

We received the entry-level 13.3” model for review, with the AMD Turion Neo X2 dual core L625, running at 1.6 GHz, doing the processing, with 4MB worth of RAM. Included was Windows 7 Professional, and we found the whole system not just very fast from boot-up, but also speedy when handling a whole bunch of open windows, including Word, Firefox, photos and VLC playing a video in the background. That said we did struggle with adjusting the sound.

Although not the thinnest or the lightest notebook available, the Edge weighs a manageable 1.75 kg.

HDMI

We thought that the three USB ports and SD card slot were sufficient, but the addition of an HDMI slot to handle HD equipment made it more than satisfactory. The LED backlit screen needs a mention too, since it has a wide viewing angle and its 16:9 screen ratio makes it great for watching video on.

Conclusion

The Lenovo Edge slides in between Lenovo’s traditional ThinkPad offerings and their more consumer orientated IdeaPads. While traditionalist might scoff at its funkier design, red cover and loss of regular keyboard, we think it’s a welcome change. You’ll still have your traditional black beauties in the ThinkPad range, with the Edge just being a Joseph with his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

The cheaper price point puts ThinkPad quality in the scope of a larger audience: available for R10 799, visit www.lenovo.co.za for more info.

PROS
Reworked keyboard, HDMI and impressive styling.
CONS
May put-off some ThinkPad traditionalists.
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