If you have read my reviews over the past 8 years, you’d know I have used a lot of windows based computers in my day. So you can understand when I say no matter whom makes the system it’s pretty much always the same experience. Sure designs change, and specs improve but once you hit that power button it’s all the same, right? You have a start button, some icons and when you click on them, a window opens up. It’s all the same system to system to system. So I thought, until I met the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 420s.
I never used a Lenovo system before, sure I’ve seen them, and I’ve touched them, and I’ve played with them briefly at various events, but I never used one for more than 5 minutes. So I’ll admit it, I was a bit excited to get one for review a week ago. But at the same time I didn’t expect it to be anything but another notebook review, but it was like having a familiar but new experience. If it weren’t for the Windows 7 logo next to the touchpad, I would have guessed it was Windows 8.
I wasn’t sure why the Edge 420s made Windows seem different; I couldn’t put my finger on it, I think it was a combo of little things: like a ThinkPad logo here, a background change there, and software tailored to the system that just flowed together.
For example other OEMs love desktop widgets, Lenovo went the taskbar route. When Microsoft came out with Vista not only did they introduce the Sidebar but the Taskbar grew, and no one but Lenovo seems to have taken advantage of that extra real estate in the taskbar. Their ThinkVantage software places your Wi-Fi Signal Strength along with your Battery level in the taskbar, making both easier to view and access.
Looks pretty cool. So let’s finally talk about the ThinkPad Edge 420s.
I normally save my opinion for the end but in my opinion the Edge 420s is the most stylish business notebook on the market, it’s also one of the thinnest on the market, thinner than a nickel standing on its edge with the monitor open and it has an optical drive. It’s also feels lighter than the 4.2 lbs it weighs.
Powered by an Intel corei5/i7 processor, with support for up to 8GB of memory and a 750 GB Hard Drive you are sure to get the power and storage you need. The system I have, has the i5, 4GB of memory and 250GB HDD which is a pretty solid setup. But specs are just specs and the best way to find out if the E420s can deliver the power you need is to test it out.I don’t believe traditional benchmarks are realistic so I litterally use the machine as my own and see if it can handle my day to day workload.
I set up the machine by installing applications I use daily such as Office, Adobe Acrobat, Chrome, FireFox and various messaging programs. I also installed my favorite games, Star Trek Online, WoW and The Sims 3.
I live having the game I am playing opened in windowed mode while I work in Outlook or Word, it never hurts to quest a bit in between task. The Edge 420s handled my gaming and multi-tasking ways far better than I expected. If your curious, I normally have IE, FireFox, Chrome, Digsby, Seesmic, Word, Outlook, iTunes/Zune and Blackberry desktop along with one of the three games running. The Edge 420s handled my workload flawlessly. Just a side note, I am addicted to Farmville and Cityville on Facebook, if you play those games you know how taxing they can be on a system. Edge 420s handled my addiction well.
Now that we know it can handle my work load, it’s time to see how well the system can handle my after work life. I recently ditched cable TV, and rely on Hulu and Netflix for TV and Movies, and MLB.tv and ESPN3 for my sports. All of these services work great on the Edge 420s and when connecting the system to a TV the picture quality (PQ) was as good as you’d want it to be. I have experienced degraded PQ when connecting notebooks via HDMI to my television, but I can report the Edge 420s did not degrade the video quality at all.
The sound on the Edge 420s is amazing, the notebook sounded better than my television. From music to movies you are getting a full immersive audio experience, something that very few notebooks can deliver. Lenovo can thank DOLBY for that as they worked together to tweak the audio settings on their systems in order to deliver the great sound I experienced. There is even a home Theater Application (pictured below) that allows you to configure the audio settings and tweak them to your liking or use some of the pre-set settings. If you Skype or use any other VoIP chat software, it improves the sound quality of those conversations as well.
For those security conscious users like me, the E420s can be purchased with an optional finger print scanner. It also has a feature where if the webcam does not detect a face in front of it for a certain amount of time it will lock down the system. I think that’s a pretty cool feature because sometimes I walk away from my notebook and leave something important open.
So how does it detect your face you might ask? That leads us to the next feature on the E420s, the webcam. Like most notebooks now a days it has a built in webcam, which works great with Skype, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo just to name a few programs. The picture quality is great and had no complaints from anyone I webcamed with. Well not entirely true, they did complain about my hair and suggested I get a haircut.
So to recap, the E420 passed my day to day workload test and it delivers amazing sound quality. In my opinion making it one hell of a machine, one that will allow you to do whatever you need to do and get it done. It also delivers a unique experience that no other Windows based PC can. We award the Lenovo E420s our Editor’s Choice award for the month of May 2011.
For more information on the E420s and other ThinkPads visit http://www.lenovo.com