Look and feel
We're still of the mindset that 11.6-inch laptops are an ideal size – the Edge 11 isn't as small or cramped as a 10-inch netbook, but it's still light and slender enough to fit into a small shoulder bag and leaves some extra room on the airline tray table. (Although we still started longing for our larger-screened 13-inch machine after about four hours of use.) We're not thrilled that the Edge 11 has a vertically-protruding battery bump like the x100e, but at least this time it pays off in runtime. Fear not, we'll be coming back to that soon enough, but now we've got to tell you what ports surround this sucker – there are three USB sockets along with combo headphone / mic, VGA, HDMI, and Ethernet jacks.
Keyboard, touchpad and screen
Like the X100e, the Edge has the signature red ThinkPad TrackPoint in the middle of the keyboard and a smaller touchpad below. We're pointing stick or nub people – call it what you'd like -- but the touchpad is decently sized if that's your thing. Unfortunately, it's not dimpled like most of the other ThinkPads.The multitouch capabilities are finicky, though we got the hang of two-finger scrolling in Internet Explorer 9 after a bit of trial and error.
Sadly, Lenovo didn't take the X100e's matte screen -- instead, the Edge has glossy 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768-resolution display. A 720p Social Network trailer was plenty bright and clear, but, as per usual, tilting the screen back caused Justin Timberlake's face to blend in with the background. Horizontal viewing angles were also narrow, but tolerable when sharing the screen with a friend. Similar to the Edge 13, the top screen bezel is home to a low-light webcam, which displayed our face fairly clearly during a video call in a dark room. And yes, this "feature" never ceases to creep us out. The speaker strip on the front lip of the machine produced decently loud sound, but didn't seem a loud as the speakers on the Dell Inspiron M101z.
Performance, graphics and battery life
Graphics-wise the Edge relies on Intel GMA HD graphics, which is fine for playing back 720p or 1080p video, but unsurprisingly not meant for slaying someone looking to play Civilization V. According to the benchmarks, AMD's integrated ATI graphics are still more powerful than Intel's integrated card.
|Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11||2964||1105||4:42|
|Dell Inspiron M101z (Athlon II Neo K325)||2572||1311||3:35|
|ASUS Eee PC 1215N||1924||181/2480||5:42|
Acer Aspire One 721 (Athlon II Neo K125)
|Lenovo IdeaPad U160 (Core i7 ULV)||3863||1175||3:10|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X100e (AMD Athlon Neo)||1511||1060||3:27|
|ASUS UL50Vf (Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300)||3724||827 / 3438||6:10|
|Alienware M11x (Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300)||2689||654 / 5593||4:30|
So, how's the battery life on this one? That's what you've been waiting for, right? Undoubtedly, it's better than both the U160 and the X100e. The 63Whr six-cell battery lasted for four hours and 42 minutes on our video rundown test, which loops the same standard definition video at 65 percent brightness and WiFi on. That translated to about five hours and 15 minutes of cord-free computing when just using the system to chat with friends, check Twitter / websites and write this very review in Word. The runtime is actually better than any of the AMD Nile ultraportables we've reviewed, but obviously not as long as most Atom-powered netbooks with similar batteries. Still, it's a major step in the right direction for these sorts of machines. Also, we should mention we saw no heat issues when testing the Edge 11 – the keyboard stayed cool as did the bottom of the system when working with it on our lap in bed.