Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E220s review: first look
The first thing you’re likely to think when you first set eyes on the ThinkPad E220s is this: it looks fabulous. It takes that iconic black finish Lenovo is famed for and twists it by adding a matte, almost rubberised finish to the lid and the entire chassis.
It’s slim too, and the numerous polished metal highlights – the hinges, the sides of the chassis, the edges of the screen itself – mean it packs a visual impact we’ve certainly never seen from a Lenovo laptop before.
It’s not just looks either. When you feel the E220s, that rubberised finish gives it a very nice tactile feel. I particularly liked the fact the feel spreads to the bottom of the chassis, which means that when you pick it up you still get the feeling you’ve bought something a little special. Of course, tastes vary, and it’s also the sort of feel I can imagine some people taking against.
DISPLAY & KEYBOARD
The screen again packs a real impact. It’s bright and vivid as you’d rightly expect from a premium machine, but what sets it apart is its “Infinity” screen. Ignoring the near-blasphemous misuse of the word infinity – it really means is that the glass finish extends all the way to the sides of the lid – the glossy finish to the whole display area helps it make an impact.
Lenovo has applied an anti-glare finish to reduce the effect of overhead lights, but we’ll wait until we get the ThinkPad into our Labs before giving a verdict on how well this works.
I’m not such a fan of the keyboard. Lenovo claims the travel is identical to the ThinkPad X100e (which happens to be my work ultraportable, so I’m well used to it by now) but the keys don’t feel quite so nice. They give a little too easily; I like a bit of resistance when we’re typing. It’s also a little noisy.
To be fair to Lenovo, this is an engineering sample so we’ll hold judgement for now. And there are some nice touches. One is the row of shortcuts at the top rather than being dominated by function buttons; this makes it much more obvious what to press if you want to reduce screen brightness, for example. If you prefer these shortcuts to be F1, F2 etc, then you can change the settings in software.
The trackpad is more interesting still. In a similar manner to the recent MacBooks, when you press it the whole thing clicks. Press at the bottom left and it’s like a left-mouse click; bottom right for a right-mouse click. It’s multitouch, naturally, and its sheer size makes it very easy to use.
PORTS & BATTERY
Another feature borrowed from Apple’s designs – and this won’t draw universal praise – is the enclosed battery, which can’t be removed by users. Lenovo won’t yet be drawn on what the battery life is, but it assures us the battery will be replaceable by IT repair shops. At least it means the bottom of the device is nice and smooth, with only vents to break things up.
There are no ports on the front or rear to interrupt the design either, but the right-hand side of the chassis offers two USB 2 ports, one of which doubles up as an eSATA port. There’s also a full-sized HDMI port sitting there. All the left-hand side you’ll find one further USB 2 port, which also charges when in Sleep mode, D-SUB, Gigabit Ethernet and a 4-in-1 card reader (SD, MMC, Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro). Note there’s just one combo mic/line out socket.
The ThinkPad E220s is due to go on sale in April, at which point we’ll also find out precisely what specifications the UK models will offer. We’d expect a variety of Core i3 and i5 processors, all based on Intel’s new Sandy Bridge designs, which should mean this machine flies along.
We don’t expect it to be cheap, however. Lenovo describes the E220s as a premium laptop, and that will probably translate into prices between £600 and £1,000 depending on spec. Even so, it looks to be worth the premium at this early stage, and I’m looking forward to seeing one in our Labs running through some proper benchmarks.
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