Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431 And OneLink Dock Review

Posted: Jun 1 2016, 5:46pm CDT | by , in Deals


Time left: 12372 days


The traditional PC market may have become stagnant in the past year or so, but that hasn't fazed Lenovo, now the world's No. 1 computer brand in terms of market share. How'd Lenovo ascend to the top spot? Part of the reason undoubtedly has to do with the OEM's reputation in the business category, and also the fact that it doesn't discriminate against businesses large or small.

To wit, Lenovo's ThinkPad Edge family is designed specifically for small businesses. They offer productivity-friendly features and functionality at affordable price points, and that rings true for the ThinkPad Edge E431 reviewed here. Starting at $599, these systems maintain a lower price point by staying several feet back from bleeding edge. With that in mind, the configuration Lenovo sent us costs $649 (though at the time of this writing, an automatic eCoupon on Lenovo's website has it marked down to $571.12) and is built around Intel's 3rd Generation Core processor technology (Ivy Bridge) instead of the chip maker's 4th Generation Haswell line.

It also has a 14-inch HD display, 4GB of DDR3L-1600 memory, 500GB hard drive (7200 RPM), and a DVD burner, the latter of which is becoming a rare feature in today's slimmer notebooks, though still useful in business environments.

To go along with the system, Lenovo sent us its OneLink Dock. This external accessory is a $120 add-on with USB 3.0 support, HDMI output for beaming the Edge's display to another monitor or TV, and the ability to charge the Edge as well as phones and tablets.

Does Lenovo have another winning product for business users on its hands? Let's have a look.

  • 14-inch HD (1366x768) antiglare display
  • Intel Core i5 3230N (3.2GHz, 3MB cache)
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • 4GB DDR3L-1600 RAM
  • 500GB hard drive (7200 RPM)
  • Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 & Bluetooth 4.0 (2x2 BGN & BT4)
  • DVD burner
  • 720p HD webcam
  • Backlit keyboard
  • I/O: 2 x USB 3.0; 1 x USB 2.0; 3.5mm headphone/mic combo; Express Card 34mm/ Smart Card Reader; GbE LAn
  • Display Connectivity: VGA, HDMi, Mini DisplayPort with audio
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (Windows 8 64 optional)
  • Dimensions: 13.54 inches (W) by 9.40 inches (D) by 0.98 inches (H)
  • Weight: 4.7 pounds
  • Warranty: 1-year and 3-year options
  • Price: $649 MSRP (cheaper with eCoupon codes)

What We Liked:

    • Good Benchmark Scores: Lenovo's system posted some solid scores for its price range. In SiSoft Sandra, every metric except for disk performance was higher than some of the more powerful Ultrabooks we've evaluated in the past year. We're also a bit surprised that it held up as well as it did in 3DMark 11 with a score 1,080 using the Entry preset. Let's not confuse this for a gaming laptop by any means, but for the casual foray into lightweight titles, the embedded GPU (Intel HD Graphics 4000) has a bit of spark.

    • Comfortable Keyboard: Lenovo continues to deliver a better-than-average typing experience, which is not something we can say of many notebooks. The curved, full-sized keys, ample spacing, and tight click action makes typing long winded documents a breeze. There's not enough room on the 14-inch model for a dedicated Numpad, but there are media keys integrated in the Function keys. There's also the handy TrackPoint pointing device wedged in the middle of the GHBN keys, and the TrackPad with 5-point click integration is another high point for productivity.

    • Business Friendly Features: Though it costs relatively little, the ThinkPad Edge E431 offers quite a bit in terms of features for small business owners. There's a fingerprint scanner, a password vault, low-light sensitive 720p HD webcam, dual noise canceling microphones, USB blocker, automatic cloud backups, after-hours maintenance (schedule Windows Updates and other chores for after work hours), and more.

    • Optical is No Illusion: Despite measuring less than an inch at its thinnest point, the ThinkPad Edge 431 comes standard with a DVD burner. Optical drives are fast becoming obsolete in today's notebooks, though there are still situations where they come in handy, especially if your business is holding onto legacy software that needs to be installed via CD or DVD.

  • Docking Port: Lenovo's OneLink Dock is a fair value at $120 and a useful add-on if you need the features it provides. We especially like that it charges the ThinkPad Edge E431 as well as mobile devices you plug into its USB ports. Some might be put off by its vertical design, but it's a small, unobtrusive dock that integrates nicely with the laptop.

What We Didn't Like:

    • Poor Battery Life: In our evaluation of battery performance, we use a program that stresses the system until it gives up the ghost. Prior to doing that, we configure the laptop to run in performance mode so that it doesn't enter into Hibernation or Sleep mode. We also turn the LCD brightness to 50 percent. With those parameters in place, the ThinkPad Edge E431 lasted just 78 minutes. Real-world battery life is significantly higher, but still not great compared to other laptops in its class.

  • Hard Drive Huffs and Puffs: Maybe as solid state drive (SSD) prices come down in price, Lenovo will manage to equip one in systems like the ThinkPad Edge E431. Unfortunately, today is not that day. The HDD it comes with does spin at 7200 RPM, but it's definitely a bottleneck in terms of overall performance, both in benchmarks like PCMark 7 and in real-world use scenarios.

Our Verdict:

Lenovo understands what features are important to business uses, and the ThinkPad Edge E431 is yet another reflection of that. It's a well-built laptop with a host of functionality to make life easier on business owners and employees alike, and though it's not rocking the latest and greatest hardware or discrete level graphics, it has plenty of power for productivity chores. Furthermore, you won't have to spend hours trying to balance the budget sheet considering the ThinkPad Edge E431 costs $649 MSRP (around $571 with online coupon).

The $120 OneLink Dock pairs nicely with the laptop Lenovo sent. Drivers are pre-installed, so all you have to do is plug it in and you're good to go. When you do, it becomes a functional extension of the ThinkPad with various ports to play with and a power button that is able to control the laptop.

It'd be nice if the ThinkPad Edge E431 featured an SSD option for those who are willing to spend more for increased performance, and we're not thrilled with battery life. However, Lenovo makes up for these shortcomings with a surprising amount of features and relatively low price tag. Business users on a budget, this is your laptop.

Our Score: 4 out of 5


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Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431 and OneLink Dock Review

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