05-05-2012 05:02 AM
I recently acquired the ThinkPad Edge E430 to play around with and review, if anyone is looking to buy this as a budget system alternative to the T420/T430 and has questions on how it compares feel free to ask questions. I also used the ThinkPad E420 so know how it compares to that system -- it is very much similar with a few minor changes. Anyway, short review below or check out my
The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E430 is a 14.0” screen notebook targeted at small business buyers or really anyone that’s on a budget but still wants a laptop with good build quality. The E430 starts at a very reasonable price of $549 when configured with an Intel Core i3 2nd generation processor. At the current time the latest 3rd generation of Intel Core i3 and i5 processors are not available, though we expect that will change in the coming months. However, for most small business or home office users, there’s no real need for the latest and greatest technology. Rather, what you’ll be looking for is a durable and reliable work horse that’s got at least some portability factor.
Let’s go over the ThinkPad E430 specs as configured for this review unit:
- Screen: 14.0” 1366 x 768
- Processor: Intel Core i3-2350 2.30GHz
- Memory: 4GB RAM
- OS: Windows 7 Premium 64-bit
- Graphics: Intel HD 3000
- Storage: 320GB HD 7200RPM
- Battery: 6-cell Li-Ion
- Optical Drive: DVD Burner
- Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
- Weight: 4.74lbs
- Dimensions: 13.36" x 9.21" x 1.12-1.33"
- Ports: 2 USB 2.0 (1 powered), 2 USB 3.0, HDMI, monitor out, Headphone/Microphone port
- Warranty: 1-year
Design and Build
The ThinkPad E430 comes with a rubberized matte black lid finish, making it easy to grip when picking up. There is an option for a red lid or brushed aluminum finish, both of those upgrade options will cost you money though. The standard black finish is going to be the choice for most, it’s professional looking, classic and an unmistakably ThinkPad look. Around the edge of the lid is a silver plastic trim which helps break up the otherwise all black color. There is no latch used for closing the lid down, it relies on tension from the hinge.
The edges and corners of the laptop are all noticeably curved, this prevents any sharp edges and makes for a less boxy look. The lid and keyboard area have a ThinkPad logo in which the dot on the “i" lights up, an interesting design touch. The keyboard uses a chiclet style design, while we would say this is different from a typical ThinkPad, rumor has it all future models will adopt this. You still get the red pointing stick and multi-navigation buttons at the bottom of the keyboard, along with a touchpad that has integrated mouse buttons as well.
One interesting design change with the Edge series is that they now have a drop hinge. This is good for those who need to use a laptop when traveling as it makes the screen height slightly less, if you’re on an airplane with the person in front tilted back you’ll come to understand why. It’s worth noting that the hinges are strong, stiff and prevent any screen wobble from occurring as you type.
The E430 weighs in at 4.74lbs, that’s not exactly light for a 14” laptop but still means you have a good degree of portability. If you’re a student you could easily slip this into your backpack and it’d pretty much feel just like another textbook.
In regards to build quality, the casing is all plastic and does not feel as high quality as the flagship T-series ThinkPads, however it’s far from being chintzy and given the $500 or so price tag you’re getting an above average build and durability for the price. The keyboard is of course very good, we’ll cover more on that later in the review.
The ThinkPad Edge E430 has a 14.0” screen with 1366 x 768 resolution. There are no options to upgrade the resolution, though you can choose between either glossy (VibrantView) or matte (AntiGlare). If you’re a business user I highly recommend sticking with the standard matte screen finish, it reduces eye strain which is important when you have to stare at a screen for several hours on end. As far as screen quality, the E430 screen is nothing to write home about, but it gets the job done and is certainly bright enough for indoor use. The viewing angles are just so-so, below are some pictures I took of the screen tilted at various angles:
Keyboard and Touchpad
The ThinkPad Edge E430 has a chiclet style keyboard, something you’ll see in most laptops today and rumor has it will make its way into all of the ThinkPads released this year. The use of an island style keyboard does have the benefit of offering more spacing between keys and also preventing my personal peeve of seeing crumbs get between keys never to be seen again (I know, you shouldn’t be eating or drinking over a keyboard, but many still do it). The downside of a chiclet style design is that if you have long fingernails they may get caught under the more raised type keys, and if you really hate change then the different key spacing may throw you off.
With that all said, despite the different design the E430 keyboard feels much like a regular ThinkPad keyboard -- each key has a nice travel distance and a very solid stroke, there is no flex or “clickety-clack” going on at all. The keyboard allows you to move your fingers fast and the noise is minimal even if you’re a key punishing typist like myself. One complaint is that the The Page Up and Page Down keys are ridiculously small and poorly located on the lower right side.
The touchpad on the E430 is a generous size which is nice for moving the cursor around the screen if you prefer the touchpad over the pointing stick. There are left and right mouse buttons integrated into the bottom of the touchpad, just like the clickpad you get with the MacBook Pro. Personally I prefer using the red pointing stick Lenovo puts in the middle of the keyboard, it’s nice to have this feature on a laptop that cost just over $500 – generally it’s reserved for expensive $1,000+ business laptops.
ThinkPad Edge E430 Review Conclusion
If you’re on a budget, as many small and medium business buyers are these days, then the ThinkPad E430 with its quality build and good performance is a great buy in the mid $500 range. The E430 is small and light enough to carry around from meeting to meeting and can easily be plugged into a larger monitor via HDMI or VGA out when you’re at your desk. The design of the Edge series is a little more modern than the boxy classic ThinkPads; the curved edges, option of a colored lid and illuminated ThinkPad logo are just a few examples. That said, the E430 is still not going to really turn heads in public. Nonetheless, if you’re a practically minded person and you don’t need a flashy computer but rather one that is built well, costs a reasonable amount and gets the job done then the E430 should be on your short list to consider.