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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