back to article Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420s 14in Core i5 laptop

I have always been a fan of ThinkPads, ever since my father brought home a beaten 560e featuring a 150MHz Pentium which was rejected from the corporate pool due to travel abuse. Even though half of its 1GB disk was bad sectors I ran it well into this century and with all the cheap tat that is flooding the market these days, I've …


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  1. TS

    Nice, but...

    What annoys me is that there's no disk activity LED. It's useful if you're shutting down or hibernating to know when it's safe to toss it into the bag, with the Edge you just have to wait.

    The power LED is incorporated into the logo, which is nice, but if it's bright in the room, it's hard to see if the LED is on or off.

    And then the charge LED is off on the side above the power socket. I'm not sure I like it or not, maybe I'll get used to it.

    At least they're not all white LEDs like the Y series.

  2. AbortRetryFail
    Thumb Down

    Keyboard layout

    Really disappointed to see that they've chosen to make the bottom-left key "Fn" rather than "Ctrl".

    For some reason I just simply can't get on with that layout (I've tried) and that would put me off buying one.

    1. David Robinson 1

      Re: Keyboard layout

      I'm sure I've seen in the BIOS on my Lenovo x100e an option to swap the Fn and Ctrl keys over.

    2. Mark #255


      It is quite annoying (I have a slightly smaller, and much cheaper, NV337UK). The really big annoyance is that the F1-F12 are secondary: ie the top row of keys are multimedia (vol, brightness, etc) and only become F* when you hold down the Fn key. So Alt-F4 becomes Alt-Fn-F4.

      The screen res doesn't bother me; mind you, I graduated from an ageing heffalump with a 15", 1024x768 screen, so smaller, lighter, more pixels, and around 2 orders of magnitude more unplugged time is a definite win.

    3. zanto

      gnu screen users

      since i use gnu screen a lot the lower left ctrl and fn key layout drove me nuts as well.

      but after a few days of using it, i got used to it. it really is not that big a deal if you give it a try.

  3. CosmoNaught

    Too Short; Too Fat

    It would be a kindness to remind your readers that 768 vertical pixels are VASTLY inadequate for any serious use. Even browsing is a pain and 768 pixels are insufficient for any serious word processing and many spreadsheets. The only reason for that crazy screen shape comes in two letters: DV, followed by a repeated D.

    My T400s is better, 1440x900, but still insufficiently tall and at the price of teeny, tiny type. Anyone who actually works on a portable needs 4x3 or even a square screen, with as much vertical real estate as possible.

    So, please remind your readers that 768 pixels are not enough, unless the laptop is meant only for email and DVDs.

    1. Bassey

      Re: Low Res & Too Short, Too Fat

      Whilst I absolutely agree 100% about the verticle resolution thing there are things you can do to make it less painful. I've taken to sticking the Windows toolbar up along the right-hand edge of the screen so that, at the very least, I have the full verticle resolution available to me. A verticle toolbar can also display a lot more apps before they start disappearing. I also then set the toolbar to auto-hide but I know this drives most others mad :)

      1. Magnus Ramage

        Vertical resolution is so important

        My (work) ThinkPad T61 is 1440x900. It's the smallest number of vertical pixels I think is even slightly useful. I'd much rather have a 4x3 screen, especially since the advent of widescreen seems to have coincided with software using up more and more vertical space. If you use Google Docs within Firefox (pre v4 or on XP) or IE, a huge amount of your vertical space is taken up with toolbars, menus, bookmarks and the like. And the new Office ribbon isn't much better. Saving vertical space was the chief reason why I switched to Chrome for browsing.

        Widescreen is completely inappropriate for most working purposes. I couldn't care less about watching movies on my laptop. I have a television for that.

        I don't see it getting much better though.

        1. nichomach

          True, but...

 least you can shrink the Ribbon to a bar with just the text labels for each section.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I might get downvoted for this...

    ...but I recon this is not conservative enough. The logo's are too big, and it just looks cheaper, tackier somehow.

    Old pre-lenovo lappies (Sorry el-reg) were black-hole black, with the same feeling of indestructability and longevity. No huge logo's upsetting the blackness.

    It's only a small thing; i'm sure these fully deserve the 85% rating otherwise.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "downvoted for this"

      Only for apostrophe misuse

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @ AC 14:46

        ..What a pedantic...

        Oh wait look - you've not used a full stop yourself; downvotes for you too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @ AC 08:16

          Surely you mean the noun "pedant", not the adjective "pedantic"...

          So you know what's coming!

  5. Simon143

    Low res

    Even the "businessy" models have started this slide to the mass market, cheap-as-chips 16:9 low-res panels. Does nobody realise just how badly they murder productivity? Or do people just watch films on the train these days?

    2GB of dedicated graphics memory and a 1366x768 screen? It's like a match made in hea.... no, wait a second...

  6. Steve Evans

    Suits more than suits...

    I'd say with only 768 vertical pixels on that widescreen setup, it won't suit the suits that do anything more that powerpoint presentations. Widescreens that small are only fit for watching movies on a plane.

    The world is vertical, webpages scroll vertically, emails scroll vertically, why would anyone choose to view the world through the IT equivalent of a Panzer's port hole?

    Mine's the one with the "Campaign for 4:3 laptops" pin on the lapel.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Still behind the time, these laptops

    I still think that pc laptops are quite behind the times with regards to usability. The macbooks are a bit more advanced but also not quite there.

    When will they sell the laptops with the touchpad asimetrically placed? if i'm writing with both hands what should i use to reach the touchpad in the middle, dirty thoughts come to mind but not that wouldn't work. Hands are made to be put on the side not in the middle normally, it just doesn't feel right.

    And for God's sake, please stop putting the bloody FN key on the corner where CTRL belongs, how often do you need to touch the effing thing during a day? maybe 6 times if you're really busy with meetings and moving around a lot. The FN key makes it no go to me (macbooks have the same problem)

    1. Mark 65


      "When will they sell the laptops with the touchpad asimetrically placed?"

      So you want to sell right or left-handed laptops?

      1. Anonymous Coward


        yepp laptops for lefties and righties indeed.

      2. nichomach

        Well, with...

        ...right or left handed touchpads; why not? The touchpads are usually built into the plastic keyboard surround; it's not as though you'd have to move other stuff around to fit, or as if the actual part would be expensive. I've seen figures of about 1 in 10 being left handed, and I'm sure they buy laptops too. There's left-handed guitars, watches, scissors etc. Maybe shops wouldn't keep large stocks of southpaw laptops, but you could easily have them as a special order item.

  8. Greg J Preece

    I love these things

    We have a number of the earlier Edge machines in the office, with the same casing and keyboard layout, and they're great. They feel solid and well built, look understated and classy in matte black (unlike their predecessors, the N300/N500 range with their tacky silver lids), and as business machines are reliable, quick little machines. The keyboards are nice too, with my only criticism being the arrow key/paging arrangement being a bit fiddly. They also run Mint perfectly out of the box. ;-)

  9. 100113.1537

    Pretty Think-Pad? Sacrilege

    Well I for one don't want shiny chrome edges! There, said it.

    What is the point of looking pretty when it is closed? It's what it does that matters - and how long it does it for (as the actress said the the bishop!). By going down this route, Lenovo are legitimizing the style-over-function movement started by Apple and are in danger of losing the confidence of ThinkPad owners.

    As for the fingerprint reader - not a gimmick at all, but the easiest (secure-ish) way to start up. I don't think I've used the start button more than half-a-dozen times in the past 2 years and takes away from either typing long passwords or dangerously making boot-up passwords too simple. I wish my 'phones had this as I now have nearly as much sensitive info on that!

    1. Xappux

      All that glistens...

      'features actual chromed metal edge trim – a flourish to broaden its appeal beyond the boardroom'

      Think you'll find that that trim is cheap plastic painted to look like real metal too.

  10. John Latham

    I'm done with Thinkpads

    After 15 years of using Thinkpads daily, I've finally had enough.

    My 11 month old x201 has suffered from:

    - USB port failing and then falling out (the really useful yellow one that stays powered on during standby)

    - Keyboard light failing

    - Screen going washed out for no apparently reason, then fixing itself, all apparently at random

    - Overheating when sitting on desk during high CPU, causing shutdown with no warning and losing my work, so I now have to run it upside down.

    I'm sick of the crap build quality which has been derioriating with every new generation.

    Lenovo support tell me I have to send it off and wait a couple of weeks to get it back fixed, and that the USB port falling out is my own fault.

    And then there's the stupid widescreen display and lack of HDMI.

    Much as I hate Sony, a Vaoi Z will be replacing this heap of junk. At least I'll get a decent screen resolution.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      less IBM

      Moving away from IBM engineering?

      They're Thinkpads in the same way that BMW small SUVs are Minis.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    cheap tat...

    you are to used to dell laptops, try a mac book pro - then the think pad will feel like tat.

    1. NorthernSands

      Er, just no.

      Sorry but I have to disagree. I've extensively used several models of Thinkpad, from 486s to the T410s. My own laptop is a 14" T60p with a 1400x1050 res screen. I've also used numerous Mac Books; Pros & Airs, PowerPC & Intel. I couldn't agree less with your statement. Don't get me wrong, Mac Books are well made, and they have some nice features (the magnetic power plug is awesome), but better build quality than a Thinkpad? No. And don't even get me started on the keyboards they fit to Macs. Ugh!

      One may argue that the aesthetics and the nipple mouse are 'each to their own', but you can't argue with the build quality of Thinkpads (except the 570E, that was a tad flimsy), including the ability to easily take them apart and upgrade them. But if you use Macs then you won't know what I'm talking about. There's nothing in a Thinkpad I've not replaced at some point or another.

      But it's a pointless argument; Thinkpads and Mac Books are aimed at completely different markets, and I'm a Thinkpad person.

      Well, except the fact that Lenovo have no back-bone to stand up to the panel makers and demand 4x3, or even 16x10, high res screens. Gone are the glory days of a Thinkpad with a 12" or 14" screen and a res of 1400x1050. Very sad indeed and I rue the day I have to replace my T60p. :-(

      1. Steve Evans

        Re: Er, just no.

        My 1400 x 1050 R52 said it wanted to wave to your T60p.

        I'm sure my 1400 x 1050 A30 would have done too, but it's gone to a better place.

    2. Shaun Dormon

      Author Here

      I own and use a 17" MBP on a daily basis. I still like the ThinkPad's keyboard.

  12. N13L5

    too many things ommitted in this review

    given how you loved the old 560, you could have at least mentioned how the keyboard is on this in detail, is there flex in the keyboard? does it have a nice tactile action? the layout?

    Well, ok, I can see from the picture that the layout is crappy, I despise half size arrow keys.

    And with that crummy resolution, i'd prefer buying an MSI U210 for less than 300.

    I think you were overly influenced by nostalgic love for some laptop that won't be coming back.

    The resolution is really an insult at that price, and turns the machine into a clunker...

  13. Ilgaz

    just don't ditch that radeon for intel gpu(!)

    If you plan to purchase it and you are a business/desktop user, you may get the neat idea of going with Intel graphics.

    Just don't do it. 3d is not for only games anymore. Everything, even IE is GPU accelerated. Whatever displays on screen will go through the GPU and in that case, Intel isn't the way to go.

  14. pPPPP

    I hate my lenovo

    I've got a T61 with 1440x900 Intel graphics and I hate it. There are nowhere near enough pixels, so I shudder to think how I would cope with fewer. The contrast on the screen is also pretty terrible.

    On the plus side, it still has a decent thinkpad keyboard (not shrunk down like the more compact models) and it has the trackpoint, which I never use, unless my hands are wet (like when I've just washed them, in case anyone's getting the wrong idea.....)

    I get people's point about the function key, but you get used to it. I get annoyed with laptops where the control key's there. I also hate even more when home, end, pgup and pgdn require a fn key to use, especially as they're needed virtually contstantly when typing anything.

    I wish I still had my old Z61. It was chunky, but it had a good graphics card, and a 1680x1050 screen which was crystal clear. Changed jobs though :-(

    1. nichomach

      And that, yer honour... why I now but 15.6" machines with 1920x1080 screens. Still telly resolutions, but about as good as I can get at a reasonable price.

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