Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lenovo Thinkpad E520

I noticed a slight burning plastic smell coming from my Toshiba laptop last week.  I wasn't sure if it was about to die or just a passing thing or what, so I spend a day searching for potential replacements just in case. 

The guys at work told me to quit messing around.  If I'm going to get another laptop, make it a ThinkPad or a Mac.  I don't have the desire for a Mac and the ThinkPads are usually as pricey as a Mac, but I did agree with them.  If I was going to get a new laptop, it was going to be a ThinkPad of some sort.

Much to my surprise, Lenovo (formerly IBM's PC division) has some new ThinkPads that not only offer exactly what I'd be looking for, but the price is about 1/2 what they were for a comparable model the last time I checked!  I was pretty psyched.

The main specs of the E520 for $469 are as follows:

  • 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i3 processor
  • 4GB of DDR3 memory
  • Genuine Microsoft Windows® 7 Professional 64-Bit operating system
  • 320GB hard drive
  • HDMI and low-light sensitive HD camera
  • Upgraded spill-resistant keyboard with numeric keyboard
  • Large multi-touch touchpad

One of the big things for me was that it's the 2nd generation version of the new Sandy Bridge processor from Intel that has very good performance, but also greatly extends battery life.  Battery life is 6 hours with the standard 6 cell battery.  In addition, it has all the other standard features of laptops in this price range, but also has HDMI output to hook the laptop to an external monitor or TV, the hard drive is a faster 7200RPM drive, it has a faster eSata port to hook up an external drive and also has the integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 graphics chip.  It's usually better to have a separate discrete video chip with it's own dedicated memory, but as far as integrated chips go, from what I read this one will actually allow you the ability to do some light gaming as well.

Also, it comes with 1 - 4GB memory chip and it's only around $25 to add an additional 4GB chip, for a total of 8GB of memory.  That's insanely cheap and would be well worth the upgrade  It also comes with an anti-glare screen, which is good if using it outside or in high light situations. 

IBM ThinkPads were always the most reliable laptops used anywhere I worked.  I have two very old ones in my closet that were no longer needed and after more than 15 years, both still power up and on one the battery actually still works for about 5 minutes.  Now that Lenovo took over the IBM PC division, I'm not quite sure if the reliability of the ThinkPad is the same as it used to be, but at that price level, it's comparable to just about every other laptop out there and it would be well worth the risk to find out. 

Needless to say, I was hoping my laptop would actually die the next time I started it up, but no such luck.  It's been running fine and I haven't noticed the strong smell of burning plastic again, so I won't be needing to place an urgent order just yet.  However, if/when that time comes, I would definitely purchase this one for sure.

I thought I would include this post in case anyone was in the market for a new laptop.  Of all the ones out there in this sub-$500 price range, this seems like a really great deal.  I haven't been able to find any ThinkPads in stores locally, but if it came down to it I wouldn't have a problem ordering one without laying my hands on it first. 


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