- Portable OneLink Dock
- Good durability
- High quality keyboard
- Weak battery life
- Limited Screen Viewing Angles
- Bulky Design
With solid specs and a sturdy design the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431 is ideal for users looking for the basics without spending too much.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431 is pragmatics in practice. The practical business-oriented notebook doesn’t waste money on high-grade build materials or over-the-top specs. Instead the Edge E431 offers a sturdy plastic chassis design and a capable third-generation Intel Core processor. Adhering to the basics allows Lenovo to offer a number of different configuration options (including both Windows 7 and Windows 8 operating systems) at an attractive $500 starting price.
While the ThinkPad Edge delivers on most fronts, the durable plastic chassis makes the notebook a bit heavy for a 14-inch device and the limited battery life is not ideal for travel. Still with a number of customization options and an affordable mid-tier price, the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge is a viable option for business users who aren’t looking to break the bank.
Build and Design
As expected from a Lenovo business-oriented notebook, the ThinkPad Edge offers an aesthetic that closely mirrors Lenovo’s traditional ThinkPad design. The device is outfitted with a black charcoal matte plastic lid. The lid offers a smooth texture, is soft to the touch, and proves resistant to fingerprint marks. On the face of the lid, “Lenovo” and “ThinkPad” silver lettering adorn the top right and left hand corners respectively, complete with the company’s iconic back-lit dotted “i”. A thin silver plastic strip runs along the outside edges of the display case which contrast nicely against the device’s dark black plastic chassis. Keeping in line with the traditional think pad design, the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge offers the same “ThinkPad” lettering on the bottom right-hand corner of the notebook’s deck.
Measuring in at 13.54″ x 9.4″ x 0.98″ and weighing at 4.6lbs. the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge proves easy enough to travel with, but the device does find itself on the heavier side of its competitors. The 14-inch ThinkPad Edge actually proves more comparable in weight to the Sony VAIO Fit 15 and Asus Vivobook V500CA despite both devices having 15.6-inch screens.
Despite the lack of high-grade materials the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431 boasts considerable durability. The chassis holds up well against pressure only flexing slightly. The display case proves to be just as sturdy holding its form when strained. Small ripples did appear along the outer edges of the display when the back panel was heavily pressured, but with the machine’s durable hinge design the infrequent ripples hardly offer consumers anything to worry about.
It’s not flashy and it’s not the lightest device, but the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431 provides a clean understated design that is sure to hold up during travel.
Ports and Features
|Left: Kengisington lock slot, VGA connector, two USB 3.0, HDMI connector, audio jack||Right: Lenovo Onelink combination power jack, Ethernet connector, DVD optical drive, USB 2.0 port|
As expected from a business-oriented notebook the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431 offers solid connectivity with a wide selection of ports. The left side of the device features a Kensington lock slot, a VGA connector, two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI connector and a headphone jack. The right side of the device is outfitted with a “Lenovo OneLink” combination power/docking port, an Ethernet connector, and DVD Optical drive, and a USB 2.0 port.
The unit that Notebook Review tested came with the optional OneLink dock. The dock costs an additional $120, but it adds a significant amount of connectivity and utility, especially for users looking to regularly connect their device to an external monitor or keyboard. The Dock is equipped with a cornucopia of ports including four USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet connector, an HDMI connector, and a 3.5mm audio jack.
The dock connects directly to the power port making it easy to quickly connect and detach the device. Additionally, its portable form factor makes the dock ideal for limited travel. Its small lightweight design is perfect for users like college students who want to set up a workstation at both home and school; or traveling professionals like auditing accountants who often work out of a new location every few weeks.
The unit that Notebook Review tested was also outfitted with a finger print scanner. Users looking for that extra bit of secure can opt for the scanner for an additional $20. The Edge 431 is equipped with Lenovo Fingerprint Manager Software, which allows users to quickly link their prints to a set profile. The scanner requires users to register a number of successful prints before attaching a specific fingerprint to an account to ensure great accuracy.
Display and Speakers
The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431 houses a 14.1-inch Matte display. The unit that Notebook Review tested was not outfitted with a touch-enabled display, but Lenovo does offer a number of touch-screen configurations, which cost roughly $90 more than the comparable non-touch-enabled counterparts. With a respectable 160 nits brightness and a standard resolution of 1366 x 768 the ThinkPad Edge offers a serviceable experience. Images are sharp, text is easy to read and the color contrast is accurate.
Unfortunately the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge’s viewing experience is easily marred by the display’s limited viewing angles and sensitivity to light. The ThinkPad Edge fares best on the horizontal axis where image quality remains consistent at around 90 degrees, past that point colors quickly begin to fade. The Edge is far less forgiving on the vertical axis as images quickly wash-out when tilting the display forwards or backwards. The same effect takes place when the screen is faced with direct lighting.
The ThinkPad Edge E431 house two speakers along a single bar positioned on the front face of the chassis. The speakers are pleasantly boisterous providing audio levels that are more than adequate to fill a modestly sized room. The speakers offer solid audio quality as well as the pair managed to accurately detail a number of different audio tracks and video streams with limited distortion.
The ThinkPad Edge E431 is also equipped with Dolby Home Theater software, allowing users to switch between an array of audio presets (music, movies, ect.), along with a graphic equalizer for those that want to fine tune their audio experience on a more granular level. The software certainly makes noticeable difference, as the audio was considerably flatter with the software package disabled.
Keyboard and Touchpads
The Edge just wouldn’t be a business-oriented Lenovo ThinkPad notebook without the company’s iconic spill-resistant Island style keyboard. The keys are comprised of a braised plastic that provides a bit of friction and is soft to the touch; while inward curved design of each key provides allows for added grip. As expected the device offers exceptional key travel distance and the responsive feedback ensures that users are able to type quickly and efficiently. Very few notebooks offer the same kind of keyboard quality found on the Lenovo ThinkPad, even fewer do it at the Edge’s price point.
The TrackPoint stick — another staple of Lenovo ThinkPad design– also makes a return in the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431. The stick is located directly above the “B” key, and as previously seen on the Lenovo ThinkPad T431 the company has done away with dedicated mouse buttons for the track stick. Instead the top and right corners of the touchpad serve as right and left mouse clicks respectively. However, the top right and left portion of the touchpad will only function as right and left mouse buttons when using the track stick, meaning that users don’t need to worry about accidently registering a click when navigation the top-portion of the device’s touchpad.
The ThinkPad Edge offers a generously sized touchpad with a rubberized texture that allows for both added grip and fluid movement. Again similar to the Lenovo ThinkPad T431 the Edge is devoid of mouse buttons and utilizes the bottom portion of the pad to act as a right and left mouse buttons. The issue remains that Edge provides no visual or textured information to let users know where these portions of the Pad begin or end, making it easy to miss-click. Luckily the touchpad also offers multi-finger gestures controls as well allowing users to simply opt to use a two-finger click as a right-mouse click.