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 E420s LEDs

    Lenovo's E420s has a minimalist approach to LEDs. Apart from the small green LED next to the power input, which lets you know whether mains power is connected or not, all the notebook has is the two red lights that form the dots on the ThinkPad logos.

    The light can be constantly on, flashing or off, indicating different power states.

    Photo credit: David Meyer

  • Lenovo E420s keyboard

    One reason I chose the E420s was Lenovo's reputation for decent keyboards — I am a journalist, after all, and will be using this thing for work. I am not disappointed.

    The keys are sized and shaped as well as notebook keys could ever be, and have excellent travel and feedback. They're not backlit, but the excellent ThinkLight is present to illuminate from above when needed.

    The touchpad is enormous. However, its buttons are integrated into the bottom of the touchpad, and take a bit of getting used to. I've never really got to grips with the ThinkPad's little red TrackPoint nubbins, but this one seems to work all right, and I hear it's a skill worth acquiring. I'm already using it, together with the middle TrackPoint button, for some very smooth page-scrolling.

    I'm also trying to get used to using the fingerprint biometrics for logging in. Still feels odd.

    Photo credit: David Meyer

  • Lenovo E420s DVD drive

    This is also the first notebook I've had with a slot-loading DVD drive. It handles smoothly and certainly adds to the style of the E420s. I rather like the big yellow power socket, too. The SD card slot is to the right of the DVD drive.

    I have a slight concern about the speaker quality, though, and it may possibly have to do with the DVD drive. Here's what happened: I was playing Civilization IV, and the music started to cut out intermittently. Left the DVD in and watched a Tool video on YouTube, and the sound was slightly shonky there too. I then killed the game, ejected the DVD and watched the Tool video again — and it then sounded fine.

    Then again, I later tested a DVD of This Is Spinal Tap, and the speakers were handling that fine. I may report back later if I find further issues.

    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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  • 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.
  • 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

  • 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.