Lenovo's ThinkPad E420s: A personal take

Lenovo's ThinkPad E420s: A personal take

Summary: ZDNet UK's David Meyer bought the new 14-inch Lenovo ThinkPad Edge laptop, the E420s, with his own cash. Here he tells us whether he thinks he got his money's worth

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  • Lenovo Thinkpad E420s

    I've finally done it. Four years and a bit after purchasing my first notebook, a Dell Inspiron 6400, I've bought a new machine: Lenovo's ThinkPad Edge E420s. Here is my review.

    The decision process has already found its way into a blog post in which I explained why I decided against integrated 3G. It also alluded to why I picked the E420s over Sony's VAIO SB, which would have been a marginally smaller and more expensive choice — the E420s is a 14-incher, while the SB's screen is a 13.3in. affair.

    I will admit, when I opened the box I did find the E420s a bit bigger than I'd anticipated. Seeing as it only has a 1,366-by-768-pixel resolution, this does mean I'm not getting the crispest images out there. It's also not especially bright. For that, I'd need to get a Samsung Series 9, which is extremely pricey and lacks discrete graphics — a must for me, as I like the occasional game. As it is, the E420s configuration I chose comes with a 2GB AMD Radeon 6300M GPU, which I haven't had a chance to seriously test out yet.

    Now, the E420s also comes with Intel's 2.3GHz Core i5-2410M CPU, which has pretty good integrated graphics — good enough for DVDs and web-surfing, but unlikely to handle Civilization V. Because the GPU is AMD, it doesn't use Nvidia's Optimus graphics-switching technology.

    However, Lenovo has included the ability to assign the option of low-power or high-performance graphics to the profiles of various applications. This is how Optimus works, more or less, but the AMD implementation is a lot more opaque, and I find myself longing for a simple speed/stamina switch, as is found on the VAIO.

    Photo credit: David Meyer

  • Lenovo E420s screen

    The E420s's screen uses 'Infinity Glass' — that is, it stretches from one end to the other — and is very reflective. It is readable in direct sunlight, but judicious angling is recommended.

    By the way, have a look at that battery gauge on the bottom right of the screen. It does give a good indication of how much juice is left, graphically speaking, but its estimates of remaining battery time are way off. This is another reason why I'd like to know whether integrated or discrete graphics are in use.

    At least it's a chronic underestimator of remaining battery time, rather than promising what can't be delivered. I haven't done a lab test on battery life, but it easily manages five hours. Lenovo promises seven hours, and simple web surfing with a dimmed screen could probably achieve this.

    Photo credit: David Meyer

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Reviews

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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6 comments
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  • Those reading this review should note that I have had very serious problems with Lenovo's sales and repair systems. Please read: http://www.zdnet.co.uk/blogs/communication-breakdown-10000030/ordering-a-laptop-from-lenovo-a-survivors-tale-10022358/

    UPDATE (5 June): All sorted out now, with Lenovo having given me compensation for the many delays and other general snafus.
    David Meyer
  • Just got mine this week. I've got to say, this is probably the best keyboard I've ever used. However, it's also probably the worst touchpad. Two finger scrolling doesn't work for crap and occasionally my cursor jumps randomly across the page, which can be a real problem when I'm trying to type something.

    Are you having better luck with yours? I'm wondering if mine is defective.
    Benjamin77
  • Have you done the Lenovo tools system update? That might fix matters - it certainly worked out the sound card issue that was making my microphone unusable for Skype.

    I find the trackpad to work very well, although it almost feels too big! In any case, I've become a convert to the Church Of The Little Red Nubbin - it's extremely accurate and scrolling with the middle button beats scrolling on any trackpad.
    David Meyer
  • Hi David,
    Read your comments, interesting
    thinking of going ahead and ordering form Lenovo- have done quite a bit of background for a new laptop- looking one that will be fast essentially - have come down to Lenovo- but is there any difference between the E520 & the T520? And be interested to hear what everyone thinks- is Lenovo thinkpad best choice , better than Acer etc- What laptop best review sdon't seem t mention Lenovo - but I need a machine that sfast and reliable with good build quality ( resistant to toddler tumbles!)- cheers

    Karl
    gjk11
  • I don't understand regional pricing policies. An E420s from Lenovo's US website is about £300 cheaper for identical spec. Although they don't currently have an option for a graphics card.
    Yelling Melon
  • I would really recommend against the Lenovo E420s. There seem to be major problems with the battery software and engineering (per my own experience and the web forums). I've owned the machine for less than 2 months, and it is already getting a third motherboard. I haven't been able to use the machine more than a couple of weeks, and the servicing has been unbelievably slow and dishonest. I was actually told by the servicing agents that these kinds of problems are not out of the ordinary with Lenovo.
    sap2