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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