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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  • 8steve8 - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    This laptop needs a ULV arrandale CPU like the i7-640UM currently in this fujitsu laptop:

    Turbo boos on ULV is especially important, the clock rate nearly doubles when thermals allow, under normal usage this will speed you through the rare times CPU is limiting you, at turbo speed and will finish the task before the thermals throttle the frequency.

    The keyboard looks perfect, trackpoint is amazingly better than any touchpad, but yes, it needs a better screen and an arrandale.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    Unfortunately, that's $1500 for a 2GB, 160GB HDD laptop. Is it faster? Undoubtedly! But it's over twice the cost as well. Ouch!
  • PyroHoltz - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    I agree we NEED new arrandale ULV chips, but that Fugitsu isn't the answer. At 160GB is disk space, thats a waste and who needs an optical drive in an ultramobile...? Give me an 11.6" chassis w/ a 640GB HDD along w/ optimus graphics and 4GB of DDR3 an scratch the i7-640UM for the cheaper i5-520UM. If that notebook is around $700 then I'll get excited.

    Intel get that damn arrandale ULV chips out to the vendors in mass, this is a joke! The Core 2 CULV chips were great 2 years ago, but we need to move forward. I know plenty of manufacturers have shown their models to carry these chips, MSI x360, Asus' new UL series and HP along w/ Dell all are showing models but nothing is coming because the chips are still delayed!
  • 8steve8 - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    agreed, the fujitsu is just proof that the ULV arrandales are out in some form. and concerning the price, its not like the arrandale is the reason why its $1k more expensive... the cpu is only ~$300
  • PyroHoltz - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    Well I'm glad to see someone else knows what these new chips(Arrandale UM) are all about.
  • zeth006 - Thursday, April 8, 2010 - link

    Amen to that. Intel's taking its sweet time. Blames a supply shortage for the delay. That's pure incompetence on Intel's part. Even though we're in a recession, a lot of people foresaw the boom we'd experience in laptop sales. Windows 7 only helped catalyze the sales by unleashing the pent up demand!
  • ET - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    Still, definitely not my father's Thinkpad. He doesn't have one, and will never have, most likely. Me, I'm just happy thinkpads still have a trackpoint.
  • miniguyverona - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    I've got a couple 13's, to go with 3 macbook pro 13's. The Edge 13 running anything other than the AMD Processors throws the cost/benefit off.

    Mine are all dual core AMD 1.5GHz, with 4GB, and running Windows 7 you never notice a slowdown with normal apps, You can run full 720p flash apps and minor web gaming. And these cost me around $500 each, which is exactly the same as the Dell and HP Atom machines, and the Edges are significantly, and noticeably, faster. Perception of performance is better, and the Atom machines were running XP, and Edges Windows 7. So it's faster, even when running 1.5 generation newer software.
  • Belard - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    Really... the IdeaPad is line... they are also very good notebooks. And better looking too.

    And the thing is, Lenovo makes a "thinkpad" Netbook anyways for about $500.

    As a ThinkPad owner, I agree the Edge doesn't belong under the ThinkPad name... perhaps as an Ideapad but its in competition with other IdeaPad models. Hmmm... makes me wonder if its an Idea pad under the hood.
  • pugster - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - link

    I agree. About 3 months ago, my company brought an x200 thinkpad for about $1100. Why? Because of name and service. I really think this is a bad move for Lenovo and put $500 for a thinkpad because of the difference of looks and design compared with the other thinkpads. They should just spend some money promoting their ideapads instead and put the thinkpads name and design in the higher end ones.

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