David Artiss

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11


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A few years ago I bought a netbook – an Acer Aspire One, which I considered the best netbook at the time. It’s worked brilliantly and its only limitations were those imposed on netbooks in general – small resolution screen, limited memory, performance, etc.

However, I’ve since realised that I need a bit more… erm… umph! More speed and a higher screen resolution to be more precise. However, I still didn’t want anything large. Hence, an “ultraportable” was what I needed – a full blown laptop but in a compact size. What I never understand is how these ultraportables cost more than their larger counterparts – they sport smaller screens, often lack optical drives and ports, have less powerful processors, etc, but cost more simply for the privilege of them being “shrunk” in size. However, there are some exceptions to this rule and the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge is one such device.

It has scrabble-tile keys and a glossy red case, but the Edge is still considered to be business “offerings”. None-the-less, that’s what I’ve now gone and bought thanks to its combination of features and price (and generally positive reviews).

As the name suggests it has an 11″ screen (11.6″ to be more precise) which is (mumble, mumble) glossy but is LCD and has a good resolution of 1366 × 768. Indeed, all the Edge laptops, up to 15″, have the same resolution screen. It doesn’t have an optical drive, but that’s no unusual for this size of laptop.

So, let’s look at some of the stats…

  • It’s just 1.1 inches thick and weighs 3.3 pounds.
  • Input is via a touchpad or Touchpoint
  • It has both Bluetooth 2 and Wireless N connectivity
  • Ports include a 5-in-1 card reader, 3 USB ports (1 always on), LAN, HDMI and headphone socket
  • It has a built-in microphone and webcam above the screen
  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit is the installed operating system

The model I have has an Intel i3 U380 processor, 4GB of memory and a 320GB hard drive.

Ok, so what is it like? The keyboard is excellent – the little-used Function keys have become 2nd function to system and  media keys (i.e. instead of having to press Fn and then an F key to access system options, it now works the other way around). Both input methods – touchpad and Touchpoint – are easy to use (i usually use the latter).

The screen isn’t quite up to Lenovo standards as the viewing angles aren’t brilliant, but it’s still pretty good. Power wise, it’s exactly what I wanted – the i3 kicks out enough performance to keep me happy, although I’m hardly editing videos on it 😉

The Edge 11 has a 6-cell battery which sticks out of the back of the laptop – this isn’t an issue for me at all and provides quite a few hours of usage (sitting on my desk at work it will quite happily run for 6+ hours).

It comes with Lenovo’s own software – the majority of which I don’t use but it’s driver update software is particularly useful.

The box that the laptop comes in is unusually small – but that’s mainly because there’s so little in it. Only the laptop itself is protected with everything else “rattling around” inside – this is to minimise packaging and caused no issues for me. Other than the laptop, power supply and brief leaflets there’s nothing else. If you don’t have a bag or laptop sleeve, you’ll need to get something.

The Edge has some lovely touches that make it a pleasure to use..

  • The chrome coloured trim around the screen and keyboard look very nice.
  • The build quality is excellent – sturdy metal hinges and no flex in the screen
  • The power light is is the dot above the “i” in “ThinkPad” – this lights up both on the wrist rest but also on the back of the lid.

Criticisms? I have some, but none of them are major…

  • The aforementioned poor screen viewing angles
  • It’s supposed to have some enhancements to improve boot times but, I have to say, I’ve not seen any differences.
  • It has no hard disk activity light. Okay, it doesn’t have any keyboard lights (num lock, etc) either, but I can live without those. The lack of a hard drive light is quite an annoyance.
  • The Edge 11 came out last year and, although only a year old, it’s already showing it’s age – older processors, no USB 3, etc. A refresh of the range must be due soon.

Now, just for fun, and no criticism of Lenovo, I thought I’d share the details of the delivery of my laptop, and a soft case that I also bought for it. Upon ordering they’re despatched from Hong Kong and China and go all round the world. Below are the details – click on a thumbnail to zoom in. The fun one is the 2nd – the delivery of my laptop. Yes it really did come to the UK and then fly out again only to be returned again 😮

I have to say I got a bit of a bargain – Lenovo had a special offer at the time, and I used Quidco for cashback so ended up getting it for quite a lot below £500. Currently the same spec model is £621 – I didn’t get that much discount, so I think the model has had a recent price hike.

You can reduce this cost with a 2GB memory version and, in the past, they’ve had variations with AMD processors – however from reading reviews of laptops with these processors in them they run a lot hotter and therefore you get a lot of fan noise. However, AMD models of the Edge 11 are not currently available.

Indeed, the Edge 13 is not available at all and the Edge 15 is only available as an AMD version – this would suggest to me that Lenovo are discontinuing these products. This was why I thought they were running the recent money off – the fact this has ended and they’ve actually increased the price of the models is therefore puzzling.

[review]An excellent mini laptop which looks gorgeous and runs smoothly. Why Lenovo consider this to be a business model I don’t know – it would make a great consume model.

I’d give it a full 5 stars if it wasn’t for the current price level – as it is, it loses one mark. However, if you can get the 4GB Intel model for less than £500, it’s well worth it.[/review]

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4 Comments

  1. Hi. I’ve just bought the same model (core i3) only a few days ago. I agree with all your comments, however I am quite disappointed with the fan noise. I didn’t realise it would be on constantly in the background, maybe this is normal for such a small machine?! It is frustrating and slightly annoying. I am wondering whether to return it to the retailer to be checked or if this is normal?

    • I’ve not had that problem – the fan only comes on sometimes. If yours is on all the time then it may be a fault.

      • Thanks for your reply and confirmation. The fan is on constantly and has quite a high pitched whirring sound. I’ll have to re-pack it all and remove all my installed bits and pieces!
        Incidentally, are you allowed to disclose where you purchased yours from? You got a great deal!

        • Just check the CPU usage on your laptop – I’ve had an issue with my Windows 7 desktop in the past where a rogue program was eating up CPU. That would certainly get the fan going on a laptop. I use the desktop gadgets to do this – you can use one of these to display HD activity too.

          I got the laptop directly from the Lenovo site – they had 5% off and I got 6% cashback from Quidco as well.

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