The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11 is a small laptop, with a correspondingly smaller 11.6in screen. Interestingly, it wasn’t the lightest in our recent ultraportables group test, at a still-portable 1.5kg. Updated, 11 May 2011

Its design is eye-catching, and not at all like the ugly bricks released by IBM under the ThinkPad brand, which looked as though they would survive the apocalypse. It’s still a tough cookie, but its rounder edges are more pleasing to the eye. 

This laptop feels heavier than it looks, and for good reason: the Lenovo has been built to take a battering, and can withstand bashes and bumps without any vital components getting damaged.

Also pleasing is the price. Lenovo includes a copy of Windows 7 Professional 64bit, an Intel Core i3-380UM CPU, 2GB of DDR3 RAM and a 320GB hard drive. Although it delivered only 67 points in our WorldBench 6 speed test, the Lenovo still offers good value at £475.

The screen is a decent matt version, with none of the distracting reflections of glossy displays. Despite having a smaller screen than the competition, it matches their 1366x768-pixel resolution. As a result, pixels are more tightly packed and offer a sharper image. 

Laptop Advisor

The keyboard is one of the most impressive things about the ThinkPad. Although the space available is smaller than with the competition, the keys are well sized and spaced. 

The trackpad gave us some concerns, however. It offers left-/ right-click buttons above and below, reducing the space available for the trackpad itself. A trackpoint in the middle of the keyboard can also be a nuisance, with the G, H and B keys sitting flush to it.

Connectivity options stretch to wireless 802.11b/g/n, gigabit ethernet and Bluetooth 2.1. You’ll also find VGA and HDMI outputs, a four-in-one card reader and two USB 2.0 ports, but no USB 3.0.

Relying solely on the graphics-processing capabilities of the Core i3 processor, the Lenovo turned in the lowest gaming framerates of the group in Fear (‘Medium’ quality settings).

Battery life was also towards the bottom of the pack, with the Lenovo's 56Wh power pack lasting just 392 minutes in our MobileMark 2007 Productivity test.

Despite its diminutive proportions and light 1.5kg body, the ThinkPad Edge 11 boasts almost astonishing build quality. It feels like a piece of precision engineering.

Despite its diminutive proportions and light 1.5kg body, the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11 boasts an almost astonishingly high level of build quality. It feels like a piece of precision engineering: rugged, sturdy and no-doubt helped by its smaller 11.6in screen size, totally devoid of any of the flexing and creaking you might expect from a laptop.

Given the constraints on size, the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11's keyboard couldn't be better. It's fast, responsive and has just the right amount of springiness to make it a joy to use.

This is complemented by a small touchpad with left and right buttons that sit flush with the outer rim of the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11's casing. Above the touchpad is another set of buttons designed to be used in conjunction with the pointing device in the middle of the keyboard. Even on the keyboard there's room to rest your hands comfortably while typing and mousing.

A 1.33GHz Intel Core i3-380UM ultra-low voltage processor powers the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11 laptop at a speed we would describe as "quite slow", which is a little unfortunate. However, our review sample came fitted with a large 57Wh battery which enabled the ThinkPad to keep running for 349 minutes under MobileMark 2007. That's almost twice as long as Dell's thin-and-light competitor, the Vostro V130. While it's certainly not as thin as the Vostro, it is lighter.

Our review sample had 4GB of DDR3 memory and a 320GB hard drive, which is good basic specification. Three USB 2.0 ports are provided, along with a gigabit network port, VGA and HDMI connectors. Audio connectivity comes in the form of combo headphone/mic socket and there's a card reader installed on the right hand side.

The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11 is however missing a few desirable features such as a fingerprint reader and 3G modem, although the latter is available as an option.

Lenovo has installed some useful and for the most part quite non-intrusive bundled software designed to simplify system maintenance and provide general help; unfortunately a large proportion of the help comes in the form of suggestions to buy further products, which are less than useful.

Next page: Our expert verdict >>

See also:

HP TouchSmart TM2 review

Toshiba Tecra M11–17W review

Group test: what's the best laptop?

Group test: what's the best laptop for under £1,000?

Laptop Advisor

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11: Specs

  • 1.33GHz Intel Core i3 380UM processor
  • 11.6in (1366x768) matt LED backlit screen
  • Windows 7 Professional 64bit
  • 2GB DDR3-1333 RAM
  • 320GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA 3Gbps hard drive
  • Intel HD graphics (Integrated)
  • VGA
  • HDMI
  • Mono speaker
  • headphone microphone combo jack
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • MMC/MS/MS-Pro/SD slot
  • 0.3MP low-light webcam
  • secondary pointing device
  • 57Wh Li-Ion removable battery
  • 284x211x15.6-29.5mm
  • 1.5kg
  • 1.33GHz Intel Core i3 380UM processor
  • 11.6in (1366x768) matt LED backlit screen
  • Windows 7 Professional 64bit
  • 2GB DDR3-1333 RAM
  • 320GB 2.5in 5400rpm SATA 3Gbps hard drive
  • Intel HD graphics (Integrated)
  • VGA
  • HDMI
  • Mono speaker
  • headphone microphone combo jack
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • MMC/MS/MS-Pro/SD slot
  • 0.3MP low-light webcam
  • secondary pointing device
  • 57Wh Li-Ion removable battery
  • 284x211x15.6-29.5mm
  • 1.5kg

OUR VERDICT

The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11 is an excellent piece of kit, and Lenovo’s attention to detail and outstanding level of build quality inspire absolute confidence in its reliability. However, if you want it for more than rather light computing duties, you’ll probably find the slower performance somewhat frustrating.

Find the best price