- Dual mouse pointer controls
- Decent battery life
- The chassis feels cheap
- Mediocre screen quality
- Frequent WiFi signal loss
- Only available with Windows 7 at this time
The Lenovo ThinkPad E450 is designed to be a low-end to mid-grade business laptop. In spite of the E450’s modest size, it features a full HD display and comes in a variety of different configurations.
Build and Design
The Lenovo ThinkPad E450 is available in a variety of configurations. The unit that we tested was equipped with a 14 inch display and weighed in at 4.72 pounds. The unit’s physical dimensions are 13.54 inches wide x 9.17 inches deep x 1.46 inches thick (although some units are 1.25 inches thick).
The laptop’s physical size and weight made the laptop easy to carry. Even so, the plastic case felt at least somewhat cheap, especially when compared to some other laptops that use metallic cases. The chassis makes a hollow sound if you tap on it, and the screen ripples and distorts when touched. Flex in the keyboard tray makes the keyboard difficult to use on an airplane tray table, especially since flexing keyboards have a tendency to omit keystrokes even when used on a solid surface.
Most people will find these minor frustrations related to build quality are acceptable for a low to mid-grade business laptop. However, I do think that a stronger chassis would help the laptop to better survive all of the abuse that commonly occurs at airport security checkpoints.
The bottom of the notebook includes several air intake vents for the cooling fan as well as one removable access panel that owners or IT professionals can use to upgrade the RAM or replace the standard 2.5-inch SATA hard drive. You’ll also find the E450’s wireless card tucked away neatly in the corner. While most consumers won’t bother making upgrades to a laptop in this price range, IT pros will enjoy having easy access to the hard drive for managing employee computers.
Input and Output Ports
As is the case with most laptops, the Lenovo ThinkPad E450 is equipped with several different ports. The available ports include two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.0 with sleep-and-charge functionality, a headset jack (headphone and microphone), full-size HDMI-out, standard RJ45 Ethernet, AC power jack compatible with Lenovo OneLink Technology, and a Kensington lock slot. There is also a 4-in-1 SD card reader built into the front of the notebook.
Screen and Speakers
The ThinkPad E450 that we were given to review was equipped with a 14-inch, TFT display with a display resolution of 1920 x 1080. This screen features LED backlighting with a 16:9 aspect ratio and provides a contrast ratio of 500:1. There is a 2.0 megapixel, fixed focus Webcam built into the top of the screen.
This display is driven by an Intel HD Graphics 5500 graphics adapter. Some models however, ship with an AMD ATI Mobility Radeon R5 M230 GPU with 2GB of dedicated video memory.
Although purely subjective, the display quality seemed as though it could be more crisp and needed a stronger back light. Some of the smaller text was difficult to read without getting up close to the screen. It could be that the screen was small, or perhaps the dot pitch was too high. Whatever the issue, the display simply was not as bright or as sharp as some of the other budget laptops that we have used.
Still, at least Lenovo didn’t short change customers by using a low-resolution panel with only 1366 x 768 or a resolution of 1600 x 900 pixels. You’ll have plenty of screen real estate even if the image quality isn’t great.
The ThinkPad E450’s sound was adequate for a business laptop, but probably would not be acceptable for a gaming laptop. The sound quality wasn’t perfect, but was not distorted either. The only caveat to this is that we found that the sound quality varies considerably depending on the surface that the laptop is sitting on thanks to the downward-firing speakers.
The Lenovo ThinkPad E450 supports HD Audio and uses a standard Realtek ALC269 codec. According to the Lenovo Website, the E450 is equipped with stereo speakers, but the audio sounded as if it were being played in mono.
There were no issues with the laptop’s speaker volume. We played several music videos with the speaker at half volume and that was sufficient to allow those in the room to hear the music at a comfortable volume.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Lenovo website lists the E450 as being equipped with an 89-key keyboard. However, a count of the keys reveals only 84 keys. It is possible that Lenovo’s count may include mouse pointer keys and the power button. According to Lenovo the keyboard is designed to be resistant to spills.
Overall, the keyboard feels nice under your hands. We composed many pages of text using the laptop’s keyboard and found the touch to be much better than that of many of the other laptops that we have used. A number of the newer laptops on the market have a tendency to leave out keystrokes and to cause excessive hand fatigue when typing long documents. We didn’t encounter the hand fatigue problem at all. However, the keyboard was really bad about omitting keystrokes. It probably didn’t omit any more key strokes than any other laptop that we’ve tested, but it was still enough to be annoying. In addition to omitting keystrokes, the laptop also had a tendency to occasionally double type letters when keys were pressed. The end result was that every page of text that we typed contained more than a dozen spelling errors related to double typed or omitted keystrokes.
The Lenovo ThinkPad E450 provides two separate pointer controls. First, there is what seems at first glance to be a standard touch pad. The touchpad is however, multi-touch enabled. This means that the touch pad can be used for functions such as zooming the display.
The touchpad is relatively large given the laptop’s somewhat modest size. When measured diagonally the touch pad is about four and a half inches in size. There was initially concern that the large touchpad would get in the way of typing. On some laptops accidentally making contact with the touchpad while typing causes the cursor to end up in an unintended location on the screen. As common as this problem seems to be, we never experienced this problem with the Lenovo E450 even after typing approximately eight pages of text. The touch pad seems to be well positioned and is not overly sensitive.
The other device for controlling the pointer is a plastic “pencil eraser” controller that Lenovo refers to as a TrackPoint controller. The TrackPoint controller provides an exceptional degree of precision when moving the pointer, and because the controller is made of plastic it is almost certain to be more durable than some of the rubber controllers that were popular years ago.
It is worth noting that although the ThinkPad E450 provides two different pointer controls, there is a single set of pointer buttons that are shared by both controllers. These buttons are located just above the touchpad. However, the corners of the touch pad can also be used as pointer buttons.