A ThinkPad with an Edge
In its attempt to bring a modern addition to the long-standing ThinkPad line, Lenovo faced one perilous question; how do you change a design that's been enjoyed for the best part of 20 years?
The answer, it seems, is you don't - instead, you attempt to start from scratch and be as adventurous as can be.
The glossy red (and highly reflective) finish of our sample system is about as bold a ThinkPad design statement as we've ever seen, and the combination of the lid and the silver trim does make you wonder; is this really a business notebook? The rounded edges suggest the system has closer ties to Lenovo's consumer-orientated IdeaPad line, but if you associate your business needs with build quality, then the ThinkPad Edge should fit the bill.
In keeping with ThinkPad tradition, the Edge feels solid, well-built and precisely finished. There's little flex in the rigid main body and the hinges attached to the 15.6in display are about as good as they get - allowing for the screen to rotate backward a full 180°.
Yet despite the solid build quality, the ThinkPad Edge 15 also manages to remain relatively light - weighing in at just under 2.48kg with a six-cell battery.
It isn't all good news, though, as the system's overall looks are a mixed bag. The glossy red lid's kinda cool - albeit severely prone to finger prints - and the silver trimming is nicely done. Trouble is, those design statements encompass only half of the notebook. The bottom half remains effectively a traditional all-black ThinkPad, and the combination of the two isn't particularly easy on the eye.
The biggest chink in the notebook's cool armour, however, has to be its dimensions. You wouldn't expect a 15in system to be ultra-portable, but in a time where thin equals cool, the ThinkPad Edge 15 - measuring from 33.8mm to 39.5mm at its thickest point - comes across as... well, chubby. It's almost as chunky as my three-year-old Dell Inspiron, though an aside to that is that the bundled six-cell battery is able to sit flush within the chassis.
There are better-looking 15in notebooks out there, and the ThinkPad Edge seems to struggle to find a middle ground between the cute IdeaPad and the classy ThinkPad.
We clearly aren't entirely won over by the system's looks, but the larger-than-we'd-like design does allow for a wide selection of ports and features. A seven-in-one multi-card reader is found up front, whilst a single USB port and the standard six-cell battery adorn the rear.
To the right, you get a further two USB ports, an integrated DVD writer and a socket for the bundled 65W power adapter. Rounding things off on the left is Gigabit Ethernet, a USB/eSATA port, a headphone jack, and both HDMI and VGA out.
Future upgrades to the system won't be a problem, as the ThinkPad Edge 15 features an easily-removable panel that provides quick access to both the hard disk and system memory.